Sri Lanka… aaahh !

Like when the God’s created Sri Lanka they must have been so jealous of their own abundance that they created a war over it’s ownership, and that is the war that is being reflected in Sri Lanka and tearing the country apart. But it is impossible to go there, as I did last week, without just letting out a deep breath at the sheer beauty of the place and become one with nature. How often do we feel that urgent need to let go of the individual self ? Sri Lanka will do that you.
Most people bemoaned the lack of development. The lack of tourists. And though I completely understood, I thought of what we have done to our environment in India ( has anyone been to Goa recently ?) and the question that streaks to my mind is ‘what price development ?’. Is development something that lives as a deep desire within ourselves, or do we become slaves to development because someone has created a false aspiration for us, to profit from it themselves ? Just look at the city of Mumbai and ask whether it is worth putting your life’s savings into a matchbox that you call a house, surrounded by the greatest filth and pollution that a city can generate. Why ? because you are told that ultimately someone else will be willing to similarly sacrifice their life at a higher cost. We have become slaves to the God of ‘capital growth’ to whom we sacrifice the quality of our lives. We have become slaves to ‘ownership’.
Despite a war that has lasted 25 years, despite very little industrial growth and stagnation, Sri Lanka still has one of the highest per capita incomes in our region. Is there a lesson here that we are not learning ?

5 thoughts on “Sri Lanka… aaahh !

  1. Sir,
    Your point is well taken. And it has a deep profound meaning to it. A sincere introspection is due.
    I have a question..What is the cost of democracy? A region with so many diversities. A land of 1.20 Billion human beings, where pure drinking water is not reached to all.
    An old joint family system. The elder one sacrifices so that the younger gets education. The elderly the British exploited so that we dont prosper.
    The younger the first generation independent citizens are still thinking whether they are the elderly to sacrifice or they are the younger of the British to exploit more.
    To conclude One man earns and feeds more than ten. How is the per capita income of 1.2 billion supposed to rise?
    If you exclude wealth owned by those on Forbes List what will be the per capita income?
    You have to make roads so that Trucks come in. You have to make Airports to allow Aircrafts to land. You have to have High rises to make way for the Helipad.
    If you want to have higher per capita income exploit the mother nature and sell it to the biggest bidder.
    Lesson learnt well?
    Vinod Agarwal – Aspiring Producer Motion Pictures.

  2. Dear Shekhar,
    I think the question is more of unregulated development and lack of civic sense that has led to the situation you are talking about in Mumbai or Goa. Real estate development is taking place all over the world and it’s the govt’s job to make sure it is regulated well, that it is planned at a city level, that there are enough resources to sustain that development and it does not hurt the environment.
    One of the perfect examples of massive real estate development in our region is Singapore and it’s development never ceases to amaze me. And it is all because of carefully planned city level development and a triumph of human spirit to create/develop things for profit. None of the countries in the region can reach anywhere close to the per capita of Singapore. They also have one of the lowest corruption rates in the world and one of the highest life expectancy (higher than the US). The lesson to be leant is to have a govt. that truly carees about developing the country the right way, to give the right permissions, and the execution of that without corruption.
    Then only we’ll be able to make such great cities which provide jobs, security, healthcare, hygenic living and a great standard of living. If they can do it in Singapore – a place with no resources of its own – we can do it anywhere.
    Best Regards,

  3. Dear Shekhar:
    Could it be that in Sri Lanka the wealth of the land is spread more evenly and equitably, that the absence of development has fostered the desire to live life with a more measured approach? Could it be that the people in Sri Lanka have not allowed themselves to be duped into believing that development will bring affluence and riches to a majority of them rather than just a few chosen ones? It increasingly appears that the progress of a country is solely measured by its rate of economic growth. If a year sees little to no growth economists consider it a lost year and talk about recession and doom. Has it ever occurred to the dispensers of this dubious wisdom that in the absence of economic growth people might finally have time for personal growth, for the evolution of the heart and the mind?
    How can this insane price explosion of real estate be explained? Pointing to the laws of supply and demand is simply not cutting the mustard. There is a far greater dynamic at work, the dynamics of greed, self-delusion and a healthy portion of the artificial pressures of keeping up with the Joneses. The ones who castigate this worship of the gods of never ending capital growth run the risk to be looked upon as people who dispense socialist thoughts. We listen too much to the apostles of an unrestrained rush towards material wealth, towards a growth at all cost. Our affluent societies have become so attuned to the code words of success that happiness mistakenly is equated with a rising index of economic powers. Quiet contemplation is swallowed by the frenetic cadences of a society that has committed itself to a rat race most cannot win. At the end of the day it will be an ever-decreasing number of people who count their ever-increasing riches. For the overwhelming majority of contemporaries nothing changes other than that their uneasiness imperceptibly grows.
    Can this all end well without finally learning that there can only be a finite amount of growth without destabilizing the foundation upon which we build these risky structures?
    With best regards.

  4. I hope all is well..not long till I go to Sri Lanka …6 weeks…What part did you go too?? I am going to Kalutura….x

  5. Dear Mr Shekhar Kapur,
    I’m from SriLanka and reading your article I wish I could see the same paradise you see in my country.
    But to get the best SriLankan experience you ought to come and stay here for one year. I assure you by the end of your stay you might consider rewritting this article.Just giving you a small example,an average SriLankan would not consider making a long term future plan.You have to do what you want this very minuit, for in the next couple of hours you might either be making your way to heaven (or hell)or you might find your self seriously injured in a fly-filled hospital thanks to a bomb hidden with a bunch of bananas, in a parcel, and kept under your seat.
    Well anyway I sincerely hope you don’t consider my advice and come to live hear because, well… I really love your movies and it would be sad if you got abducted in a white van (ofcourse since you are trying to reach self attainment it might be a fun ride for you but I’m talking in general terms)with all your wonderful ideas.
    yours truly

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