Despite the affluence at malls and other places where those who after lifting of restrictions can afford gather for their leisure and amusement, it is undeniable that the overall prevailing atmosphere and feeling in the country is not the brightest. One would not be wrong to state that it is one of pessimism especially for the upcoming generations for whom opportunities are closing elsewhere as well due to the contraction resulting from the Covid-9 pandemic. When one hears young people who are, thank goodness, earning an honest income by dint of hard work and perseverance, and tending to their families while at the same time anticipating for rainy days – nevertheless opining that ‘the future does not look bright here!’, there is reason to worry.
This despondency arises from the labyrinthine hurdles that they have to face with officialdom in their efforts to find their place under the sun, as they are confronted not only by bureaucratic impediments but also by the over-politicisation in the process. Nothing is straightforward, every demarche assumes political colouration. And that is indeed a sad comment on the polity and not a reassuring signal for those who still believe in their country and want to be part of it as useful and productive citizens.
Unfortunately what is happening on the national scene reinforces this negativism, and it cuts both ways as the opposition is not showing the kind of united strength that would make of it a credible alternative. It is unable to obtain from the government the answers and viable solutions to the burning issues of the day.
Jobs lost, swelling unemployment figures, industries shutting down, our receding international image, being on the European Union black list, inflation and the continuing depreciation of the rupee, the swelling national debt apparently at the rate of Rs10 bn per month, the price rises despite the package of Rs 500 M to the sector – they don’t seem to be getting the serious attention and thinking that they deserve so as to find the viable, short- and long-term solutions that they are crying for.
Instead of fulfilling its due role of addressing these matters, politics continues to be increasingly concerned with defending the indefensible as it tries to salvage the lost reputations of those that have earlier savaged it from within the ranks, diverting its energies and resources away from attending to these issues of more immediate importance and relevance to the livelihood of the masses. Now more resources will be engulfed in the aftermath of the Britam affair. There seems to be no end to the ramifications of precipitate actions taken in the previous mandate, and it is the people who will have to bear the costs and the consequences.
Apart from economic security there is also the visible disintegration of the social fabric, and responsible to a large extent is the explosion of the drug culture that has been hastened by the advent of synthetic drugs for one. But another major factor is the running after easy money by all means, and that the irregular practices at the high levels have no doubt spurned. Can one prevent those so inclined to think that if the top guys can do it why can’t we? Except that they are the ones who get caught more easily and get convicted, and that causes further erosion of the social fabric. Time and over again the media has appealed for the implementation of the recommendations of the Lam Shang Leen Drug Commission Report, but to no avail.
Complicating all this are the uncertainties facing students in the education sector, the genuine and harrowing difficulties regarding quarantining especially where parents are brutally separated from their children, the lack of humaneness in handling these delicate situations attended by much emotional distress, the violence that is vitiating the law and order situation… one can add to this seemingly endless list.
There is urgency in shifting focus to these problems instead of wasting energies elsewhere, to prevent the country from sliding further down both nationally and internationally.
* Published in print edition on 3 August 2021
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