ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44
Financial Times  

Sri Lanka’s winning habits?

Business & Corporate Affairs

By Sunil Karunanayake

Ever since Sri Lanka clinched the cricket World Cup in 1996 there’s been healthy debates on Sri Lanka’s potential to be world beaters.
Over 2500 years of history and culture backed by the modernization and industrialization inherited from the British rulers gadve Sri Lanka a head start in the region and it’s no wonder that the country was better known as the Pearl of the Indian ocean. Very recently Ismail Radwan, a renowned economist from the World Bank and a keen student of Sri Lanka, emphasized the need for Sri Lanka to impart the winning habits of the cricketers to other activities and bring in an era of economic prosperity to the nation.

He said here is a team of cricketers playing like world champions and what’s the secret behind this success; it’s the best available talent playing selected on merit and not on political, racial or religious basis, well coached by experts, playing in level playing fields within the rules of the game and maintaining a world class wining streak.

Radwan boldly advised Sri Lanka to follow his model, go for the best talent, maintain level fields and be world class. Radwan is not alone in giving this wake up call to a nation once considered as a model by Lee Kuan Yew who turned conflict-ridden Singapore into a powerful nation with limited resources.

Then there was Tibetan monk Rev. S. Mahinda who through his articulated poetry motivated the Sri Lankans to wake up from their slumber. Even at this moment Sri Lanka cricketers have shown their prowess in the World cup now being staged in West Indies giving the much needed momentum for a nation torn apart by conflicts with increasing suffering to the poor.

This team does not come from the elitist’s quarters of Colombo but is well represented by players from all parts of he island who earned their places purely on merit and after years of hard work and sacrifice. World renowned author Stephen R. Covey in his latest book on “8th habit ‘states, “The greatest and most inspiring mountain climbing achievements in history are not so much of individual achievements, but are stories of the extra ordinary power of a unified, talented prepared team that stays loyally committed to one another and to their shared vision to the end.

Most climbing teams that set out to climb Mount Everest never reach the summit, only very very few. For one reason or another most people and teams when pressed to their limits by the extreme conditions, drop out along the way and either choose to or are forced to turn back “.

Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and closer in the region Lee Kuan Yew and Dr Mahathir Mohamed have left us enough lessons on leadership and what it takes to build a winning nation. Well the message is no different to what our cricket team has shown to the world. But whatever the ails of our country, though paralyzed to an extent by war for over a quarter decade of conflict and destruction, we are still in the running for better days.

However inflation, unemployment corruption, indiscipline poverty, energy crisis are certainly the evils we have allowed to grow among the political instability in this environment. We have a “lost generation “of youth struggling and aspiring to see a freer country similar to what the today’s elders enjoyed in their youth. Do we have a hope for them? True of late we are observing certain developments in our vital infrastructure assets like Ports, expressways which are necessities in today’s context but do we have a hope for better days for our future generations.

In different words Economist Ismail Radwan, Author Stephen R Covey and poet Rev S. Mahinda have given one message: unity, commitment, shared vision and hard work can take you to any peak. Why are we still blind to what’s happening around us? Vietnam once devastated by war and conflict is now becoming a major threat to us in many commercial areas.

China a bastion of communism is said to have moved over 500 million people out of the poverty zones in the last few years and many of the major brands in the world have set up manufacturing plants in China. India a land of diversity not without conflicts is moving ahead with sustained high growth.

Our country is still far too engaged in petty conflicts putting aside the big picture. In the global village we cannot live in isolation we must strive ahead and create the right environment for future generations. A conducive investment climate is a necessary ingredient for employment generation.

We must put our literacy assets to good use to meet the modern needs, still 85% of those qualified to enter universities are shut out due to lack of facilities and the alternatives available are limited. Let our leaders governing the country and the alternative think seriously of these issues and its long term repercussions. It is their duty.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.