Calamities and crises have the ability to add rationality and sanity to otherwise capricious human mind. They awaken men to the reality and that nothing else but life itself is the most precious thing in life. It’s not that posh car or the highflying top job or that much awaited cruise to Alaska. What you thought necessary all these years out of greed, is now redundant. Your social status or prestige hardly matters. Being alive and breathing is the most important thing in life. It’s simple healthy living with family that matters.
For centuries, if not millennia, right-thinking men took pains to drive this point home. However, the overambitious and the greedy stifled their voices and got the human race into a vicious cycle of instability and greed. The consumerist agenda urged people to fulfil their greed at any cost instead of managing them.
As Coronavirus or COVID-19 rages the world, the informed people are recalling the wise words by philosophers, academics, economists and others, which the human race have ignored all these years only to fall into the depths of misery.
There is a long list of thinkers. Among the many names that come to mind is E. F. Schumacher with his iconic book “The Small is Beautiful”. Published in 1973, the book by this German-born British economist went on to expose the fundamental flaws of the modern western civilization and its economies and urged the world to replace it by more self-sufficient, manageable systems, which have average man’s happiness in the forefront. Among his many proposals was a suggestion to the Buddhist countries to go with what he called ‘Buddhist Economics”, which he saw as the ideal model. Schumacher lamented that the Buddhist nations had started following the alien western model which is based on economic liberalization that had proven to be a massive failure, instead.
"Despite this pathetic state of affairs, some hundreds of thousands of determined farmers toiled on. Thanks to them today, though the country is locked down, still there is enough rice for a few more months"
“……therefore, production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life, while dependence on imports from afar and the consequent need to produce for export to unknown and distant people is highly uneconomic and justifiable only in exceptional cases and on a small scale,” Schumacher argued in his book.
Nothing better could have been suggested to an island nation like Sri Lanka which realized the importance of food security belatedly. In fact it is in the process of figuring it during this phase of the coronavirus epidemic.
Till two weeks ago, for nearly four decades or so, political leaders happily imported rice citing the high cost of production here. Farmers were neglected and hundreds of thousands of paddy lands were abandoned due to poor patronage by consecutive regimes. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) continued to harp on the need for food security for governments here. But nothing worked.
Despite this pathetic state of affairs, some hundreds of thousands of determined farmers toiled on. Thanks to them today, though the country is locked down, still there is enough rice for a few more months. It is anybody’s guess as to what would have happened, had the remaining farmers too given up agriculture. With no ships coming, Sri Lanka would have been forced to starve!
It is high time the rulers realize their mandatory duty towards farmers. There is no other option left for us, but to be self-sufficient and if possible, make Sri Lanka the ‘Granary of the East’ once again.