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No visible increase in GNH (Gross National Happiness)

The effort of most rulers - ancient and modern - in this country has been to transform this country into a land of righteousness. It is clearly evident, however, that such efforts have failed to produce the desired results. What one observes today is the phenomenon of proliferating vices amid fervent participation of devotees in various religious rites and rituals. Practice of double standards has become the common pattern of behavior in society.

by Milinda Rajasekera

(May 26, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) President Mahinda Rajapaksa while giving good advice to both schoolchildren and their parents at the Colombo Hindu College diamond jubilee celebrations held recently, urged the adults to refrain from arousing hatred and envy by highlighting unfortunate incidents in the past. He has said that hatred, envy or having grudges can do nothing except arouse feelings of discontent and resentment regarding others. He has also pointed out that adults are duty-bound to build a strong bond among all ethnic groups.

These sentiments, most people agree, are impressive and enlightening. The problem, however, is to get the people to act according to these cherished ideals that form the basis of all religions pursued by them. Greed, hatred, jealousy, delusion and other evil impulses that are inherent in human nature could be conquered only through incessant and determined struggles waged within each individual. Religions only show the path for a person to free himself from these unhealthy impulses and lead virtuous lives.

It is indeed the failure on the part of people and their various organizations to face this struggle satisfactorily that creates all forms of clashes, conflicts and upheavals in the world today. There is, no doubt, a discernible surge of interest created in people to protect and promote their respective religions. They build magnificent places of worship and conduct various programmes and events to instill greater devotion to their religious principles and also to draw more adherents to their religions.

Despite all these efforts to create greater interest in religions ostensibly aimed at raising the moral standards of people, the gap between precept and practice seems to be growing instead of narrowing. The vices that religions exhort people to shun, such as violence and destruction are widely indulged in, even by fervent advocates of religion who are expected to follow religious precepts and principles and lead exemplary lives for others to emulate. The fact that destruction of life has become a cause for public celebrations demonstrates the extent of the present moral degeneration. Don’t the celebrations to mark military victories scored after a spate of destruction of life and property, raise hatred and envy at least in some sections of people?

The effort of most rulers - ancient and modern - in this country has been to transform this country into a land of righteousness. It is clearly evident, however, that such efforts have failed to produce the desired results. What one observes today is the phenomenon of proliferating vices amid fervent participation of devotees in various religious rites and rituals. Practice of double standards has become the common pattern of behavior in society.

The statements that President Rajapaksa generally makes in public are in conformity with the Buddha Dhamma which he seems to be endeavouring to pursue. It is his avoidance of heaping vitriolic criticism and abuse on his political opponents, his innate amiability and his shrewdness in winning the hearts of people that have enabled him to keep the present administration comprising a group of disparate political parties intact for so long.

Obviously, some sections of his administration and some segments of his supporters do not strictly fall in line with his policies and objectives, although they ostensibly commit themselves to pursuing the present policies. In the first flush of the government victory over terrorism, President Rajapaksa declared that there are no minorities in this country any longer indicating that all sections of people could live together enjoying equal rights. But it is unfortunate that he has not been able so far to remove the doubts and misgivings that those belonging to minority groups have about the promised regime of equal rights and opportunities.

President Rajapaksa is apparently prepare

d to right the wrongs and injustices that the minorities had been subjected to in the past. But certain component parties of his administration, as mentioned above, believe that the present status quo of majority community domination should be continued without any concessions being given to the Tamil minority who, in their view, do not have any grievances to complain about. These parties are certain to resist any attempt at reaching compromise with aggrieved minority parties.


The President has said that as a result of the peaceful situation in the country, the people of this country are united and living peacefully as one nation under one flag. “All can live happily without any fear. The way of living with kindness and compassion is learnt through Buddhism. There have been close connections between Hinduism and Buddhism,’' he has pointed out.

True, the people were relieved of the fear psychosis they had experienced, with the elimination of terrorism, but it is a moot point whether the people in this country are living happily. Although the rate of GNP (Gross National Product) is reported to have increased, the GNH (Gross National Happiness) does not seem to have increased. There are many reasons for this outcome. The living conditions of the vast majority of people have deteriorated with most of them finding it difficult to cope with the rapidly increasing cost of goods and services. Public complaints about other impediments they have to contend with are also many and varied. Tell a Friend

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