Development or destruction: Why Asia should go back to its roots
by Janaka Goonetilleke on 11 Oct 2015 3 Comments

Since Vasco da Gama attacked and took over the peaceful international spice market in Calicut, Asia embarked on five centuries of violence and subjugation that continues to this day. At the time 50% of the world’s GDP was of India and China. Today the joint percentage of GDP is about 20% after the recent increase in economic activity, China vastly improving its status to 16%, but with a greatly increased environmental damage that was not evident then.


The present system of destruction continues with monetary pressure from the IMF/ World Bank, geopolitical pressure and military pressure of the neo-colonial powers with the agreement and the connivance of the bankers, corporatist and politicians. Lord Macaulay’s education system of enslavement is still working perfectly. Sri Lanka is a microcosm of the so-called developing Asian countries, be it Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, examples to understand the rest of Asia.


Today humanity is made to breathe polluted air, eat polluted food, drink polluted water, with cancer rates proliferating at an unbelievable rate, and more importantly, dehumanizing society. A process created by money economics’ and the illusion that the rulers are in control when they are not. Mindlessness in pursuit of greed and quick fixes of creative destruction is the philosophy.


The rulers have embarked on a process of self-aggrandisement to impress on the people their infallible nature, a mental disease defined as narcissism of emotion; but narcissism of materialism – greed – is not defined as a mental disorder as yet. This is evident by the number of cut-outs of politicians one sees on every street corner, ironically with a beggar begging at the bottom of the cut out.  


Unknown to the many, the country is now at debts door, perfectly presented by the media of a successful progressive country awaiting yahapalanaya (good governance), the answer to all ills when in reality the country is in regression, with environment damage of landslides, flooding et al and unpayable debt.  All the time the rulers are selling the rights of its citizens to slavery and debt or selling off the country’s wealth. They have bankrupted the country that even made their children abandon the country. More cynical people will say they leave to enjoy the ill-gotten wealth of their parents.


Unless serious rethinking of the bankrupt policies of JR Jayawardena is undertaken and a new economic sustainable path found for the country, it will become a failed state. Jobs should go to the people and people should not be going to the jobs. That is the only way society that has been completely dismembered, where families are separated, can stabilise. A revival of the rural economy would be least disruptive.


FDI and slavery


In the last ten years there was a new program of infrastructure development by Chinese aid and loans with little care for the effects on the environment, and highly overestimated costs to attract Foreign Development investment (FDI). This is a new prerequisite for development, a new name for neo-colonialism as FDI will only go where there is slave wages. The world bank/IMF and USAID designed the whole project in 2005 as a plan to Regain Sri Lanka. Instead the plan is a white elephant where overestimated costs burden the country, which has been pushed towards bankruptcy, not forgetting the environmental costs. This is nothing more than predation or stealing; the only beneficiaries are the Mr. 10% or is it Mr 50%.


The rest are sent to the Middle East for slavery. The death rate of Sri Lankans in the Gulf is more than the death rate in Sri Lanka. Oblivious to all this, the country boasts of foreign earnings that unfortunately are also misused. The poor pay the price of social disruption and modern day slavery so that the elite can have their lavish existence of whiskey, dances and extravagance.


Instant gratification is promoted by the advertising media to enhance growth of markets, the aim of the new world order. More capital growth by more capital investment whether it is necessary or whether it is of value is the driving force of economy and development. This incestuous relationship between politicians, economists and bankers is destroying society.


By advocating secularism, the input of morality and societal values by religious authorities are legally excluded and the native culture abandoned so that the natives are excluded from their own culture. It is interesting that Adam Smith, godfather of the present world economics, through his book, Wealth of Nations, advocated morality in markets in his book, Moral Sentient, which present rulers conveniently ignore. In the process, human values are abandoned and self becomes more important. This is a process of dehumanizing of humanity, the consequences of which are felt in every aspect of social life. Professionalism and service to others, which are part and parcel of all professions, has been abandoned in search of self-gratification.


The internet and newfound technologies are geared to remove the human connection in interpersonal communication, thus exacerbating the anti-human behaviour unleashed by market forces. Urbanisation and apartment living has restricted living space and created increased insecurity; most people living in apartments rarely interact with the next-door neighbour, unlike in the rural areas. This is a form of emotional disconnect, an essential element of humanity destroyed by self-centeredness encouraged by this economy. Research in New York has confirmed an increase incidence of domestic violence and substance abuse when people are confined to restricted areas. In Holland, a study confirmed a decrease in incidence of diabetes, hypertension etc in societies living away from the metropolis.


A recent World Bank report advocates further urbanisation as a means to improving the economy of Sri Lanka. It is said to improve the GDP growth. Of course it will improve the GDP as housing and utilities have to be provided. But is it necessary? This growth is at the expense of the welfare of humanity.


Motherhood is a basic need of humanity that has been ignored as women are recruited into the ever-increasing markets as cheap labour. In 1970, a boy of 16 years had a better chance of the mother being at home than a 6 month old child in 2005 in the US (Elizabeth Warren, Professor, Harvard). A recent study from Oxford University has confirmed that children who go to nurseries have a higher incidence of mental disease. If this is not inhumanity, what is? Emotional deprivation results in inhuman behaviour.


Self-centeredness and emotional deprivation are causes of inhuman behaviour – rape, indifference to killing, corruption and social irresponsibility. The recent rape and killing of a 5-year-old girl in Sri Lanka is a standing example, the gun violence in the USA is another. Age is no barrier as children are now exposed to the internet at an earlier age with maternal deprivation adding to the stunting of their emotional growth. Recently in the US, an 11-year old shot an eight year old as he was not allowed access to a litter of puppies. This inhumanity is an accepted form of behaviour in the new world order; JR Jayawardena, ex-president of Sri Lanka, pardoned a rapist. 


Mindless development policy


Mahaveli accelerated irrigation project is an example of a mindless development programme carried out by so called foreign experts with no idea of local conditions. The fertilizer poisoning of the water in North Central province has created kidney disease in 15% of the populace. Insecticides and weedicides used in the tea industry in the catchment area of Mahaweli River was directed to North Central Province, and made worse by felling trees and deforestation in the last 10 years. Then, there are the insecticides and weedicides for the high-bred varieties of paddy…


The promised self-sufficiency in electricity? Mr 10% has disappeared in thin air!


Genetically modified plants are another example of mindless development. This has changed the biodiversity and new pests have been introduced that have destroyed jak, breadfruit and banana trees and native flora; only varieties that need insecticides are left. It is difficult even to get a local variety of papaya today in Sri Lanka.


Carbide is liberally used to ripen fruit and insecticides used to preserve grain (mung beans, dal). The liberal usage of insecticides, weedicides has become a health risk to humanity As the earth accumulates these substances. The recent scare of industrial pollution of water in Rathupaswala and Keleni rivers is well known. But government suppressed local protests in Rathupaswela, killing one person. This is democracy in this new world order. Greed and corporate profit take precedence over humanity. The high incidence of mental disease, diabetes, hypertension and virtual doubling of cancer rates point to the effects of this market economy. In Sri Lanka detection of cancer per year has increased from 8 per thousand in 2005 to 14 per thousand in 2014.


Asian philosophy


The Asian philosophy of Oneness in Hinduism, Harmony in Confucianism and the Buddhist philosophy of Dependent Origination were the guiding principles of development in years gone by. It is a holistic assessment of development, which is cyclical in nature, and the analysis of the reality as of this moment, conjunction with a policy geared to the benefit of the many and hence least risky and most sustainable.


The western philosophy is one of objectivism; the basis is a plan decided on logic and informed decision-making and planning geared to earn money. The present western order uses a philosophy of Might is Right and creative destruction to achieve financial aims. The long-term effects on humanity are ignored by a format of creative accounting. Most times the objectives are only partially achieved. It is said in jest that if you wish to make god laugh you should tell him your plans. This philosophy is not sustainable and this is proven by the immense damage it is causing to the environment and humanity. It is time to rethink.


Should we in Asia blindly follow present western civilisation or should we review our heritage of thousands of years, analyse and what we have lost before we plan our future? It is said that the problem with Mexico is that it is too close to America and too far from God. The problem with Asia is that we are too close to the West and too far from our own Culture. It is time Asia unites to save humanity and ends the slave mentality.  

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