Sri Lanka, presently, compared to some countries in the region, is falling behind in terms of economy, infrastructural development, FDIs, innovation, education etc.
Sri Lanka, as an important South Asian country, has always had an advantageous edge due to its strong geographic location in the Indian Ocean which can make us contribute immensely towards the global maritime industry.
We have the capabiliy of working hand in glove with countries such as Singapore and Dubai as well as regional countries who can use our ports and resources which can be a win win opportunity for us as well as our global partners.
We are a blessed island, where our resources are plenty, soil is rich, literacy is high and talent is immense.
However, what pulled us down as a country, before 2009, was the three decade long civil conflict, which was successfully eliminated from our shores due to the strong leadership skills of Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan security forces.
Following the elimination of the Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, Sri Lanka’s former government had a vision to finally give Sri Lankan citizens a chance to grow. To experience development, talent, jobs, etc so that we too could compete with the region and the world. We were no longer a country pulled down by terrorism. We were a country waiting to show the world what we were capable of. Special emphasis was also put on our tourism sector which is why today Sri Lanka has emerged as one of world’s best travel destinations.
Back then the Rajapaksa government started many innovative projects. Especially to encourage Sri Lankans to begin their own start ups and create more entrepreneurs. Infact, Sri Lanka, under the former government was expanding so rapidly that it entered many global rankings. We were also at one point, surprisingly producing, the fastest millionaires.
Investors found us very attractive and very soon we began to develop with the help of many friendly nations who invested in the island country. While we received the FDIs, there was a rapid growth in Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and today many of our local start ups have entered international markets. They have expanded and are competing with global companies, which has not only boosted our economy but has also created job opportunities here among many talented youth.
In 2015, however, when the present government came to power, due to the adhoc decisions taken by the ministers, Sri Lanka lost its advantageous edge. First, many FDIs were suspended which sent out the wrong signals to the international markets, while strengthening the local entrepreneur market only remained as a talk. Even basic sports programs which were launched by myself and my team, which provided athletes the opprtunity to train and compete with international countries, was discontinued, for reasons best known to this government.
Today, it has been four years, since Sri Lanka has been facing a downward trend. The Easter attacks on April 21, has been one of our hardest blows because what the country least expected was facing terrorism again. It has been over two months, but the government is still trying to get its act together to move the nation forward. However while the government’s political dramas see no end of day, the opposition has begun our journey to portray to the world as to what Sri Lanka truly consists of and how we cannot and should not be judged by isolated terror attacks and petty political squabbles.
Recently, my team and I launched FitSri Lanka, which is just one of our many start ups launched to lead Sri Lanka towards an innovative eco system. FitSriLanka is the country’s first crowd sourced sports policy directive launched to achieve a healthier and stronger Sri Lanka.
Through this new launch, the FitSri Lanka team will travel to all parts of the country gathering information and advise from the youth, the elderly, the athletes, the students, the teachers etc as to how we could build a consolidated sports policy.
It is no secret that Sri Lanka has immense talent in the sports sector, but this has just been ignored by the present leaders as sports seem to be the least important sector for this government. However, our youth must be given a chance to grow, their talents need to be displayed to the world and they must be given an opportunity to move this country forward.
Through FitSriLanka, we also hope to be hearing many other issues facing our youth and people and how we could encourage our citizens to start their own start ups whether it is in the field of sports or any other sector. We need to listen to out citizens because it has been too long since their voices have been silenced due to the present political instability and if Sri Lanka is to leave its recent hardships behind, then we have to build policies based on the needs of our people.
These policies must remain consistent no matter which government is in power as Sri Lanka has well witnessed that inconsistent policies have only driven away golden opportunities from this island.
Last week, I had the opportunity to highlight all these points at the international ‘Innovfest Unbound 2019’ forum held in Singapore where I highlighted the mission of FitSri Lanka and the capability Sri Lanka has in creating an innovative eco system and produce a higher number of local start ups.
There is no point, shaming this country with petty political squabbles and selfish attitudes maintained by many present ministers. Our citizens are not to blame for the stupidity of our politicians. It is time we only move ahead because the world is waiting for Sri Lanka to show what it is truly capable of.
And Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa is committed to show the world, just that.