The vision of the Mahinda Chintana and the people’s expectations

Today almost every minister or government politician quotes the Mahinda Chintana and it appears to be a mantra for their actions. In fact even bureaucrats seem to emulate them and justify their various acts, even if they are contrary to the expectations of the people, stating that they are working according to the Chintana.

 One really tends to wonder whether they really understand the actual idealism and the vision incorporated in the Chintana. It was not only to make the country the wonder of Asia but to give its people the benefit of a sustainable livelihood and a better quality of life.

Shanty dwellers were to be provided better houses with facilities of water and electricity. Rural roads were to be developed and infrastructure provided  and proper supervision of such construction was to be carried out by the responsible representative of the area,  and his officers .In many areas yet unprotected railway crossings exist and nobody seems to be bothered . If one reads the provincial news or speak  to the rural folk they will have innumerable tales to tell of bridges been built across waterways to people to cross but yet none have been done and often children have to walk through these steams or in some instances have to be carried across .

One wonders where the representatives of the people are when such problems face the rural poor and how on earth can we talk of development when development means essentially a better way of life for the poor and marginalized, the voiceless who are yet waiting for their representatives to redress their grievances. It is not the display of a plaque that is important but the actual reality of providing the marginalized a better way of life.

Tourism maybe one way of creating employment but investment in tourism alone will not dramatically change the agricultural community and it is that rural sector that is in a sense deprived of the necessities to obtain a sustainable livelihood. For instance if we were to take the small scale poultry farmers , many a time has their associations urged the government to take action to reduce the price of poultry food . At one time valuable foreign exchange would have been expended to bring eggs and chicken from India and most of the eggs were destroyed because their shelf life expired before people could be persuaded to purchase them. Surely a study would have shown that if the price of poultry food was reduced, the farmers could have easily produced the needed eggs and chicken, even to date no such action has been taken and it is sad to hear of large scale egg and chicken producers airing their goods by advertisement stating that theirs is the only safe chicken in the market when the poor rural poultry farmer is desperately trying to subsist.

Presently in the upcountry areas there is a glut of tomatoes , radish and various other vegetables but the prices offered for them by even the newly set up economic centres is so low that like one tomato grower recently said it is better to pull out the plants rather than grew tomatoes or other vegetables again .

Surely Cool rooms could be set up in the so  very hyped economic centres to pay a reasonable price to vegetable growers and during a glut period preserve such vegetables for release to the market at a later date .

Government officials are not that bothered about the needs of the people they serve, in fact the earlier system that prevailed of SLAS officers and other government officers been transferred within three years from their places of service to other areas had a more impact on the officers to show more concern for the development of the area they served and led to less corruption and lack of accountability. Now apparently the service period is to be extended to six years in which case they too will get so entrenched in the areas that they will not be that bothered in implementing development activities. Service disciplines, responsibility and transparency will be less discernable as they will especially if their service station is comfortable be more prone to satisfy the whims and fancies of the political representatives rather than the see to the actual realities that exist. In fact a recent news item referred to the fact that 858 primary sections among those selected for the 1000 secondary schools upgrading programme will be gradually closed. Of course the Minister has added that Past pupils associations etc would be consulted regarding this matter and that each divisional school would get at least three such upgraded secondary schools , one cannot help wondering where those kids from the primary schools will go. Most politicians fail to realize the financial constraints parents face to send their children to distant schools and if and when the bus fares are further increased the drop out rate of primary school children will be much higher tan it is now.

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