Why every Sri Lankan on the planet should be concerned! – By: Aubrey Joachim

Why every Sri Lankan on the planet should be concerned! – By Aubrey Joachim

 

SRI LANKA NEWS (JUNE 2021) Compiled by Victor Melder

Aubrey JoachimTwo days ago my son was returning from Italy to London when the Italian border force officer at departure control looked at his British passport and said ‘Sri Lankan eh? What is happening there?’ Of course his passport divulged his country of birth. My son has lived in Sri Lanka cumulatively for less than a few months as he left Sri Lanka for overseas soon after birth and has only returned on short holidays. Thirty something years on he is reminded of his Sri Lankan DNA for all the wrong reasons.

At this moment every Sri Lankan on the planet is glued on to every form of social media watching by the minute what is transpiring back in the country of their birth. Facebook and Whatsapp are in overdrive. Data usage on mobile devices has skyrocketed. Rightly so most Sri Lankans living affluent and peaceful lives in countries of better fortunes are concerned for family and friends who are undergoing immense hardship – without power, fuel, essential medicines and food prices that are exorbitant.

What started off as small silent street-side protests in the suburbs of Colombo have mushroomed into people-power and even crossed continents to gatherings across global cities – any place where there are Sri Lankans residing. And there are many! Those of a more spiritual bent are on their knees praying to the Almighty for his divine intervention. Such diaspora cannot find financial or economic solutions to a national crisis of this scale. Only time will tell how this mega crisis is resolved but one thing is certain – the national pain and personal endurance of the people will have to last for many years. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

The consequences of what is happening today will slowly translate into other areas. Belts will need to be tightened and the luxuries will disappear following drastic fiscal policies that will have to be enacted. Increased taxes will result in less residual income and therefore consumption will drop off and back feed into areas such as marketing, advertising and production. From a national perspective structural assets will deteriorate due to less affordable maintenance strategies. The highways, buildings, ports, hospitals, stadia etc. will fall into decay. Pubic services will need to be drastically cut. All of this will translate into job losses. This cycle will last for decades. One only has to look at how the once booming Rhodesia – at one time more prosperous than South Africa – and now as Zimbabwe has fallen into wreck and ruin with streets and buildings crumbling and decades on has still not revived to its former status. The level of poverty is staggering. Sadly, this seems to be the bleak prospect for Sri Lanka. The parallels are strikingly similar. A once booming agricultural economy (known as the food bowl of Africa) was ruined by foolishly stubborn policy decisions. Its wealth was unscrupulously siphoned out. It is well known that Zimbabwe has no standing in the international community. Every smart Zimbabwean aspires to get another passport. Predictive analytics suggests that Sri Lanka will follow the same trajectory.

So what does this mean for the Sri Lankan diaspora scattered across the globe? Sri Lankans who domiciled in any country from whatever era were proud to flaunt their heritage and motherland. They have always been held in high esteem in their adopted environment. They were always associated with a nation of smart people with a rich history of culture, skills and talents. Even in Australia Sri Lankan migrants always were a step ahead of the various other migrant groups. This would also be the case in other countries where Sri Lankans have been the cream. What now for this diaspora? How has the fall from grace of the country impacted on Sri Lankans everywhere? My son went on to tell me ‘Dad looks like from now on I will always have to face the embarrassing observation – Sri Lankan eh!’

So while the people back home undoubtedly face the challenges of picking up the pieces and carrying on with life under austerity, the Lankan diaspora will have to face challenges of another type. They will always be identified with a failed state and be lumped together with those whom we once looked down upon as we always held the moral high ground. This will reflect negatively in a number of ways; when we front up for interviews, when we mix and mingle in social circles, when new migrants arrive and their qualifications are being reviewed with suspicion or when their work experience is being assessed. Unfortunately this is the ignominy that the Sri Lankan diaspora will have to live with for a long time. Technically speaking the Sri Lankan brand value has been trashed. And with that ours too.

Therefore, it is not only Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka who are impacted by the unfolding crisis or the disappearance of the country’s wealth but indeed every Sri Lankan anywhere on the planet who in some way, shape or form associated with a once proud nation.

It is a sad time for Sri Lanka and it will be years before it will regain stability. Meanwhile every Sri Lankan anywhere on the planet should be concerned! May God look kindly upon our beloved Sri Lanka.

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