ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 06
Financial Times  

A time to ‘Pay it forward’

Cheer up business leaders and professionals! ‘Pay it Forward’ is not an endorsement of the suggestion reported in The Sunday Times two weeks ago, as floated by the Revenue Authorities and concurred to by the Treasury Head, to enhance the falling tax revenue by changing the law and make tax payers liable to pay upfront all assessments, even before lodgement of appeals.

‘Pay it Forward’ is also not a part of an easy money high return ‘Pyramid’ scheme canvassed against by the Central Bank. “Pay It Forward” according to the web “is a book written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, but it's also an idea. It's an action plan within a work of fiction. But does it have to be fiction? We're hoping not.

In fact, since the book was released in January of 2000, a real-life social movement has emerged, not just in the U.S. but worldwide. What began as a work of fiction has already become much more.

Reuben St. Clair, the teacher and protagonist in the book “Pay It Forward,” starts a movement with this voluntary, extra-credit assignment: THINK OF AN IDEA FOR WORLD CHANGE, AND PUT IT INTO ACTION. Trevor, the 12-year-old hero of “Pay It Forward,” thinks of quite an idea. He describes it to his mother and teacher this way: "You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to pay it forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven." He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. "Then it sort of spreads out, see.

To eighty-one. Then two hundred forty-three. Then seven hundred twenty-nine. Then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?"

In the current socio economic situation in Sri Lanka, with the majority of the households with incomes below the poverty line, lacking in basic amenities (housing, water, electricity, sanitation and garbage disposal) with men, women and youth lacking requisite capabilities for effective deployment as value adding human resources with scarce access to productive resources for value addition (capital, land, technology, best practices and marketing/distribution chains) lacking savings for old age, emergencies, betterment of life styles and advancement in life lacking effective connectivity networks (roads, transport, easy access to health and other national infrastructure) and householders negatively impacted by bad governance, break down in law, order, justice systems and human security lacking guidance of positive ‘role models’ exposed to ‘negative’ news versus ‘positive’ news under pressure from unlawful, unruly and criminal elements and distributors of narcotics, illicit alcohol, and dangerous substances exposed to indiscipline (homes, roads, schools, work places), murder, mayhem, robbery, deceit impacted by corruption, waste, abuse, lack of transparency and meritocracy based recognition paying little attention to preservation of the environment, ecology and welfare of the community around them and the entire society negatively impacted by the ongoing war, lack of development, investments and essential improvements in national infrastructure, a total breakdown in values and norms of society, an ego, personal, party needs driven national leadership (not statesmen seeking sustainable emancipation of the society) who are poor ‘role models’, business persons, professionals media leaders must realize that they are a part of a privileged few sharing the majority of national income, wealth, privileges, and influence.

Successful business persons and professionals are encouraged to develop “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” (BHAGS) and strive to accomplish them for sustained and enhanced returns for businesses, benefiting family and network partners. Media reports of incidents of murder, grievous crime, corruption, abuse, environmental and social degeneration have low impact, with leaders in “No Care and No Concern” mind set.

It is an opportune time to attempt big national changes with small steps, remembering that ‘big shots are small shots that keep on shooting’.

“Pay it Forward” shows a possible way in which business persons, professionals and media can draw up BHAGS in the service of society and encourage their families, friends, network partners and employees to plan and implement these big impact yielding actions with commitment targeting selected segments of society and encourage those benefiting from these actions to “Pay it Forward” in society.

May the good men and women of business, professions and media with the guidance and support of Religious Leaders begin early, establishing and promoting a dedicated movement to “Pay it Forward” targeting priority segments and in the process address some of the key economic and social issues of the day. It is a fervent hope that the Chambers and the OPA with the Media Moguls will give leadership to a ‘Pay it Forward’ Movement.


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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.