Daily News Online

Wednesday, 14 March 2012








Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Youth unemployment issues

In relative terms, Sri Lanka's economy is reportedly doing well and we are now considered a Middle Income Country with a very substantial per capita GNP. No doubt, these are notable developments when seen against the backdrop of the deepening recessionary trends of the global economy. We are "sailing along" and this is to be warmly welcomed.

In addition, we are given to understand by some ministers and state functionaries that poverty in Sri Lanka is fast becoming something of the past. On this score too there could be much gladness all around but some state officials are also forthright on the fact that youth unemployment is a matter for worry.

It could be argued that youth unemployment-particularly educated youth unemployment - has always been with us and would always be with us.

It is one of those things which has a stubborn presence in countries such as ours and is likely to prove an intractable problem, it could be argued. Moreover, it is now not only a worldwide phenomenon but one that is aggravating globally - it is likely to be pointed out.

True, all this is quite plain to see, but youth unemployment should not only have us worried on account of its implications for social stability but also in consideration of the issues it throws-up for development planners and other decision-making sections of this country.

We apparently have in our midst, economic growth to a degree, coupled with unemployment among youth. How come we have this unlikely combination? This issue should engage us as we go along with the task of keeping the local economy in fine trim.

There are some curious facts on the global economic scene currently, which could be of relevance to us in this connection. Brazil, for example, is growing in economic terms at a remarkably rapid pace but its literacy rate, reportedly, is leaving much to be desired. Brazil's economic planners are currently addressing this issue because as they very rightly see it, it is to the degree to which a country is literate that its citizenry would be productive and self-sufficient.

Moreover, in Brazil, the wealth gap between the microscopic rich, who are exceedingly wealthy, and the rest of the populace, is growing considerably. This issue too is being countenanced by the country's authorities but Brazil is continuously showcased by the champions of economic liberalization in particular, as a most successful economy.

No generalizations could be made on the basis of Brazil's development experience but the issues it is beginning to face could have some instructional value. One could say on considering Brazilian issues that growth should accompany equity if a country's development trajectory is to merit attention.

However, here in Sri Lanka we apparently have a degree of growth coupled with equity to some extent, but youth unemployment is beginning to have us worried. How do we account for these contradictory trends, particularly considering that we are a highly literate country?

Apparently, although the school recruitment rate in Sri Lanka is quite high at all levels, we need to question whether the education imparted at secondary and undergraduate levels in particular is relevant to national needs. That is, could the education that is imparted help in furthering the development process? Is it of relevance to employers?

These are just two questions that need to be answered in this connection.

If unemployment is considerable among our educated youth, then, the question needs to be asked whether the education which has been imparted is utilizable by the productive sectors of our economy.

Or else our economy is not moving at the desired pace. This too could account for some of our youths being unemployed. All these and more queries need to be answered by the Lankan polity and other relevant sections as we move along. Apparently, fresh and innovative thinking on these issues is needed.

A renewed determination for revitalization

Japan has made remarkable progress in responding to the disaster over the past 12 months. We renew our commitment to learn from the great difficulties we have faced. I firmly believe that this period of difficulty must, and indeed will, come to mark the start of a full-fledged revitalization of Japan,

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The Human Dimension

Why do you want to be someone else?

Trying to look like someone else or trying to emulate someone else's life is not the road to take. It is the road to avoid. The world may pressure some of us into conforming to its standards of beauty, style and elegance. But those standards are not necessarily the right ones, as some of us have discovered at great personal cost,

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South Asia: overcoming terror with a regional commitment to peace

First of all, let me thank Indian Council World Affairs and Association of Asian Scholars for inviting me to this prestigious venue, Sapru House, to participate in the Asian Relations Conference. Since the ICWA's beginning in 1943, I understand great scholars and leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and many others have voiced their ideas at this renowned institute.

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