Nation building is an art, laying foundation and creating the framework is a science

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King Solomon, the great King of Israel, in building the nation of Israel during his reign to be one of most successful nations at that time, said: “Where there is no vision, people perish.” He was the third king of Israel, who built Israel to become a most powerful nations with great prosperity its people at that time. History records that many leaders from the many countries visited him to learn from his wisdom and strategy. The story of Queen Sheba from Ethiopia visiting him learned from his wisdom is well known.   Where there is no vision, people perish It is this statement ‘Where there is no vision, people perish’ of King Solomon that was taken in seriously by global corporates in building their business empires to become forces to be reckoned with. It is first the artist’s impression that counts. If you are building a house, bridge or a city. Thereafter planning and working on the processes to lay the foundations and create the framework to build on. President Maithripala Sirisena in his Independence Day address to the nation articulated priority of nation building and bringing in economic, social, cultural and political transformation toward this. He also requested the nation to ponder on achievements and milestones reached as a nation in the 67 years of the post-Independence era, if all as the citizens of the country could be contented with these achievements. One thing is very clear. President Maithripala has a vision for building Sri Lanka and the artist’s impression he has conceived in his mind having understood the aspirations of all the segments of our multi-ethnic and multi-religious people. It is an equally advantageous position he is in as he could not have ask for better collaborator and partner than Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe who has a technocratic mind and very scientific approaches.   Scientific mindset for implementing the vision Simple and humble as he is, President Maithripala Sirisena was not only able to led one of the best coalitions to defeat Rajapaksa at the recently-concluded election but most uniquely for first time got the TNA leaders and other Opposition leaders to participate at the Independence Day celebrations, which we failed to see in decades past. Hopes and aspirations are high; expectations and desires are high, not only for the short-term 100-day program that needs to be facilitated but more permanently for Sri Lanka to stand as one of the strongest nations where benefits and economic prosperity equally shared with all the people irrespective of their diversity and differences. Getting every stakeholder to see the big picture and then eye-to-eye is a challenge politically, economically, culturally and ethnically, but the challenge is properly identified by both the President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and they are carefully focused on moving progressively towards achieving this goal. The role of the key Government departments and other public sector institutions is critical to lay the foundation and create the framework for the nation building. There has to be a very scientific processes and procedures have to be in place in these institutions with well-oiled mechanism to support the progressive movement and flow to make things structured. The leadership of these institutions has to be in the hands of scientific-minded professionals who understand the fundamental principles along with the practical processes, procedures and solutions. By appointing political stooges, kith and kin, friends and supporters of the political parties as a practice in the past will not achieve desired results and instead will continue to ruin the nation. We have seen that past regime having people with checkered track records being appointed to noble institutions that drive the economy of the country. We also have seen an institution senior economists should have spearheaded having a jobless accountant with a political mandate ruining the entire landscape of the industry. There needs to be Parliamentary fit and proper testing mechanism in place when appointments are made to all the key public institutions.   Interdependent public and private sector in nation building The role of the private sector business community is key in the framework creation for the nation building. Via the so-called ‘Sura Sardial Budget’ we have seen how taking from the rich and giving to the poor is taking place, in other words the excessive super taxing of corporate business and affording the benefits to majority. The private sector is directly responsible this build up. Over the years the ‘make hay while the sun shines’ approach the private sector adopted created exclusive business engagement as opposed to greater social inclusivity through their business practices, which resulted in harsh treatment in the budget. They were very narrowly focused on their own business performance and their own industry sector wellbeing instead of being nationally thoughtful. Responsible and accountable revenue generation was not in their DNA. The respective chambers too should take the blame; instead of aligning their membership to look at the nation building big picture, they too were very narrowly focused only on their business and industry sectors. By doing so they completely forgot that they are operating on large economic landmass as micro entity. The private sector expertise on visioning, strategising, planning and managing need to flow in the fabric of the Sri Lankan economic framework in strong partnership with public institutions while maintaining respective independency between public and private sector in addition to solid interdependence on each other as responsible and accountable partners in nation building.   Engaging multiple stakeholders and partners for inclusive nation building Like in a natural eco system, a diversity of species in different shapes and sizes exists and contributes to sustainability, progress and development; similarly in a country too, a diversity of entities exists in every realm, whether it is political, social, cultural or economical. There are may be different sizes and shapes of these entities, however their existence and collaboration is vital for wellbeing of the eco system. Therefore with this unique opportunity the country has come under two unique individuals Maithree and Ranil with the courage of their convictions not only uniting the whole of the country and all of its people under one banner but also ensuring no segment, community, sector or group is marginalised but made critical partners and collaborators in building the nation by placing country interests before any political party interests, business interests, community interests or any individual interests. If Sri Lanka is to stand strong as an Asian nation, the partnerships and collaborations on social, cultural, religious, political and economic inclusivity is the way to go from now onwards.     [The writer is the Chairman of Asia’s largest microfinance network Singapore based Banking With The Poor Network (BWTP). HE is also the chairman of the CSR Sri Lanka the national apex body for corporate social responsibility. He serves on boards of number of Sri Lankan and International financial institutions. He is an innovator, advocate and practitioner of financial inclusion in Asia. He can be contacted at chandulaabeywickrema@gmail.com.]

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