November 3, 2008

Sri Lanka vs. Qatar – the Differences and the Tragedy

I love my country. In fact, I came back to Sri Lanka at a time when I had the opportunity to stay permanently in the US because I loved my country (and my family, of course :p). And since coming back, I have not taken up several opportunities to go elsewhere again because I enjoy being in Sri Lanka and have had hopes for its future. But no more 🙁

I’ve always said that the only thing wrong about Sri Lanka is it’s politicians. Doesn’t matter which party they are from, what doctrine they profess to espouse, the only thing they really are here for is their own enrichment at the expense of the nation and its citizens. Sure, we had politicians who left power with only the same amount they had in their bank balance that they had when they came to power. But all of them are dead now. What we now have are the rapacious bandits who want to make as much money as they are in power and damn the country and the people who elected them!

In fact, the country has been impoverished so much by these robbers that they’ve turned to finding new ways to fatten their own coffers. The latest such attempt is detailed in this story. Now I must say that I don’t know if what is mentioned in the story is true – watching the news or reading the newspapers over here just makes me so mad that I’ve stopped doing that. However, the story is in line with all the other stuff which has gone before. They will enact some sort of draconian law which gives the media ministry (and hence, the minister) the power to decide who can broadcast in the country. Then he will levy fat fees to "facilitate" the process for anybody who approaches him. In the mean time, any international corporation interested in doing any media work in the country will (if they have the least bit of integrity) will run far away from such corruption. Typical, just typical.

On the other hand, take Qatar. I had been aware of Qatar only peripherally for most of my life. I knew that it was one of the Middle Eastern countries where a lot of Sri Lankans went to work but that was about it. I didn’t know anything about the nation’s history or politics or government. Till recently that is ..

I came to learn about Qatar, quite by accident, on reading the above Wikipedia article that I’ve linked to. What I learnt was that in Qatar, the current Emir came to power after a bloodless coup where he deposed his father, the previous Emir. He didn’t do it because he wanted the wealth or the power. He did it because he wanted to see his country flourish and he knew that he could do the job.

Apparently, the previous Emir was not interested in the country. He was content to amass wealth, enjoy the privileges of royalty, and make frequent foreign trips (much like our Sri Lankan politicians, in fact). The current Emir took on the reigns of the country after consulting all the members of his family (who constituted the powers that be) and since then, has done away with the pomp and ceremony of a royal court and instituted a government that works like a business – a government that gets things done.

In fact, under the new Emir, enormous changes have taken place in the country. I believe Qatar is the only Middle Eastern country where women can vote. But that’s not all, they’ve done a lot of work in creating a nation that its citizens can be proud of and where everybody benefits, not just the ruling class. In fact, it’s said that the Emir will personally call up a minister if he sees something wrong while travelling through the city. Contrast that with here where the rulers don’t want to see anything while they are travelling through the city and are only worried about whether somebody will attack them.

When I read about Qatar, all that was wrong about Sri Lanka and the political blight slowly draining the lifeblood out of the nation was brought home to me all the more clearly. No, I’m not a revolutionary calling for the blood of the politicians :p In fact, I don’t see a solution for Sri Lanka because it isn’t one political party – it’s all of them and the people keep electing one party or the other in the hope that things will improve. But will they? I’m not so sure …