If you're flipping though your favourite Sunday paper in Sri Lanka, the emerging wonder of Asia, you're sitting pretty in paradise. We all know that our island-nation is a strategically important economic centre of the world. In romantic terms, our land is the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and a soft smooth stop on the erstwhile Silk Route (whoever opts for it will only post that it is tops, being pots about the spot).
If only we could capitalize on our geographic location effectively, our motherland could become a hub of all sorts - aviation, naval, commercial, knowledge, trans-shipment, energy - in a shorter span of time than it takes to say 'vision for the future' backward in Mandarin. We are poised on the verge of being a key link between east and west, and north and south, and north-north-east and south-south-west, and … but you get the picture, don't you?
Now, as anyone who has eyes can see, our future is one in which we will become a technologically advanced, knowledge-based, and self-sufficient economy. In the past we were hampered by terrorism, but the present is all about peace and development. We are a prosperous country, a land of plenty, and we have the strength and resources to conquer the world. (Ah, yes indeed!) We have a developed road network and transport system, a focus on modern education and knowledge systems, and a healthy society. We enjoy comforts, convenience, and a satisfactory lifestyle; and our shared values based on a caring people, and a unique culture and national heritage, will ensure balanced regional development with diversity.
Are you shifting uncomfortably, dears? Do settle down… It gets better as we go along!
We see sustained economic growth of - well, the figure is somewhat suspect; but we'll let that pass for the nonce. We have been able to reduce unemployment and reduce poverty - don't ask me for numbers; it's the big picture that counts, isn't it? We have raised per capita income; raised access to water, power, and telecom; we have raised school enrolment rates, general literacy, computer literacy, and life expectancy. If we are able to jog along at this rate, we may well be able to position ourselves at the top of the Gross National Happiness rankings on the planet. South Asia today, the region tomorrow, the world will be our oyster next… hmm…
At home we have an economy characterized by rapid sustainable development and a good track record in matters green. We aim to consolidate ourselves as an emerging market economy which is integrated into the global economy and is internationally competitive. (Yes, we know about all that now.) We aspire to be a stable society with a high quality of life for all of our people, with all-round easy access to the amenities and facilities that make for a healthy, wealthy, and happy nation. We have no worries, have no care…
Why are you reaching out for that drink, dear? Feeling a tad unsteady, are we? Don't go yet! Stick around for the grand finale!
We have a regime which understands that growth and development and progress alone do not necessarily mean health, wealth, and happiness. They see that it is important to maintain the best of Sri Lankan culture, traditions, and longstanding global identity. (Er, whatever it is.) The goal is to share the benefits of growth across all segments of the population. There is no surer way to safeguard against developmental inequities, socio-economic exclusion, and adverse political, cultural, and environmental repercussions that we have witnessed in other rapidly growing countries with an eye on becoming middle-income nations with a knowledge-based economy.
On that last note…
We know that empowering people must work hand-in-glove with nurturing wholesome family values at home, in schools, in workplaces, in politics, in every walk of national life. Our prophetic leaders rule righteously, their kingly ministers set salutary examples of conduct and in governance, and the priestly supporters of the state are splendidly above reproach. This is why such a holistic approach will enable our entire society to reach new heights - not only in terms of our living standards and quality of life, but also set a new standard in civilization that will last centuries if not millennia. We have raised the bar in regard with what it takes to be a country, an island-nation, the acme of independence, a truly great democratic socialist republic.
Got all that, dears? And you do get it, don't you? Now get up. Take a short walk to the nearest wall calendar or flip open your well-thumbed management diary, or perhaps check your phone or laptop or PDA or whatever palm device you use. Reality check re the date! You get it now!