Monday, March 17, 2008
far thinking or elitism
I may sound patronizing and elitist when I say that as a nation we do not think things through, especially our actions and inactions. We make trouble for ourselves and then try and find a way out of it. It is human nature to behave in a hot headed manner sometimes and then regret ones actions, but in life one has to have an element of planning as there are so many imponderables that one cannot control, it is better to control what one can and therefore limit ones exposure to risk.
You may wonder what I am going on about. Just to quote an example from today. Sudath one of my staff who is in charge of the operation in Hingukagoda, I thought was a responsible person. He has two children who he has to in some way take responsibility. While they live at his ex-wives family home, and his wife deserted him, his sisters immediately arranged a marriage for him.
Sudath has no savings or money, and with the advances he has taken from me actually owes me money. However he agreed to the marriage and brought his wife to live with him in my property. His wife has some personal possessions she wants to bring, and frankly there is no space to put any of it here. Even I am living off a suitcase not having even a cupboard for my clothes.
In addition he gets her pregnant within days of marriage, and looks to me to advance her the money to get her the fortified milk powder she is supposed to need to see her through the pregnancy. The latter at 750/- a can is not a joke. So I have to advance him the money for that as no one else can. In this situation, and this is just an example and all my staff are no different and I am not just using an isolated case, I do not know why he has not thought out the process of how he is going to fund all this expenses.
I have had to forfeit all personal expenses in order to build a business under a lot of very tough obstacles, mostly unforeseen that I have had to and continue to face. Any enjoyment or recreation I may seem to enjoy is thanks completely to the generosity of my friends to whom I owe an incredible debt, and have to repay in some form once I make it!!
While this carefree life is part of the culture borne out of being thoroughly spoilt as a race, never having to really suffer, and constantly complaining if something small is not to their liking, we cannot conitnue along this path too long as we seem to have exhausted all our resources by wasting and not investing in the future. It is endemic to Sri Lanka, like we used up a surplus in the treasury soon after Independence to waste it on giving free rice to the people in an election ploy for a government to get elected on promises, in this democratic system of government where no one takes responsibility for ones mistakes and blames someone else when they occur.
Humility is a sure fire way of losing elections. Making promises that cannot be kept is a great way of ensuring longevity and continuity.
I would like to give another example. There is a road that connect two main roads. Namely the Habarana Polonnaruwa road to the Habarana Trincomalee road. It runs between Minneriya and Hatharakotuwa and is about 12 KM long. The main train station of Gal Oya junction where the Trincomalee and Batticaloa train lines meet is on this road as well as the Kaudulla National Park entrance.
This road is in a sorry state. Two years ago it was repaired in the tried and tested way we repair the roads in Sri Lanka, namely patching up holes. This road is used by cement lorries carrying 50 tons of cement as the Cement is off loaded from the Mitsui plant in Trincomalee and loaded on to lorries for the journey to Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa. Apparently Mitsui had offered to build and concrete this road at their cost as they are the heavy users. The local government or Pradeshiya Sabha had rejected this offer as the officials had seen that the yearly contract to repair the road would now not be needed and the money they make from that will not be forthcoming and rejected it on those grounds.
This petty reasoning has resulted in a severe loss to the people, the road users and merchants who ply their trade, to say nothing of the tourists who have to use it to get to the park. The time it takes to go on this road, the buses that refuse to travel and the kids who have to walk instead of taking the school bus are all factors that the politicians and the bureaucrats take no note of. The long term benefits of a motorable road to anyone is so elementary. There are mounds of soil now heaped on the sides of the road for the next repair and filling a mound with soil before putting tar when a 50 ton vehicle goes over it on a wet day is tantamount to a surface patch that will last a matter of hours. Who passes these projects, recommends them and overseas them is a mystery and no one likes to take responsibility for their actions.
This is another example of the culture of not planning effectively and looking forward to making life simpler and easier for one and all before plunging into something.