Thursday, 22 October 2009

Attracting back Diaspora retirees

Apart from attracting the Lankan diaspora to invest in specific projects and enterprises, I am skeptical that many would actually move back entirely, especially those who are younger and have more at stake. Except for a champion few who have moved back to launch path breaking initiatives since the end of the war.

HOWEVER, I think if we can mount a clever marketing campaign to attract diaspora retirees - Lankan diaspora members in the 55+ age group, I think we may be on to something. Most expatriates I've spoken to say they would 'love to retire in Sri Lanka', with a nice house by the sea etc. And having provided for their children and seeing them all settled down and financially independent, and also with a slight onset of arthritis (which is miserable when you're living in wintry Toronto) they are more likely to be wooed back to sunny, easy-living Sri Lanka.

We could start marketing the new Eastern beach fronts, and even some of the Negombo, Puttalam, Kalpitiya lands for retirees/holiday homes etc. But of course it's not just the land-by-the-sea factor. We need to open up more private participation in health care, so they know they should they need it they have access to super medical facilities; better transportation links; fewer bureaucratic burdens etc.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Embracing Civic Responsibility

It's actually very simple; the next time a police officer demands a bribe for a violation that is more of a banal inconvenience, rather than an actual violation of traffic procedures or law, make sure you get his/her badge number and lodge a report to the Bribery Commission. Transparency. Accountability. Good governance.

A number of civil institutions exist that will take on complaints on bribery and/or extortion.

Be a part of instituting progress.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

More traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and spot fines!

Most Sri Lankans use public transport, walking to and from the bus stop to get to work, school or the shops, day in and day out, sun or rain. Try crossing the road and you will begin the understand the dangers of even standing by the roadside, hoping for someone, anyone, to stop and let you cross.

Most of the zebra crossings are gone, washed away by yet another ill-planned road construction. When they re-emerge they show up in places such as right in front of a bus-stand. The traffic lights often don't work, even in the busiest streets. There are fewer to be seen as you move away from the city to the suburbs and into the regions.

As urban planning goes, we have none of that. But surely, how much does it take to protect the life and limbs of us law abiding, tax-paying, long-suffering Sri Lankan pedestrians? Can someone write up a funding proposal to our friends in the ADB for example, to bring back our pedestrian crossings and traffic lights? There is all this money they put into builing roads to far and distant places while we rush across the Galle Road, avoiding yet another private bus screeching towards us!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Colombo cops don't need AK-47s, it freaks tourists out. Give them discreet hand guns instead

Over the last 2 days I've noticed an sudden re-emergence of armed policeman on every road and streetcorner. It's probably because there were so many functions which the President and Defence Sec were attending. But it got me thinking, do these basic policemen really need to brandish assault weapons like AK-47s on every streetcorner? Most of them are probably recent recruits and barely know to handle one effectively. Why not just give them smaller arms, which are far more discreet and less intimidating? - hand guns - like metro police in every other country, including our closest neighbour India.

Seeing cops brandishing assault weapons standing every ten metres in the capital of a country that is no longer at war, and looking to attract visitors back - us Colombo-ites might be used to it, but it makes tourists uneasy.
I'm all for continued vigilance and security, but surely we can make it a bit more subtle and less conspicuous now?

Better railway connectivity in SL can build peace faster than any politician!

A better connected, more efficient and faster railway system in Sri Lanka has the potential to connect Sri Lankans with each other better than any other govt policy.If high-speed railways connect Trincomalee and Hambantota, Jaffna and Colombo and all the other cities, the socio-economic connectivity that comes with it will be better than any reconciliation policy would achieve.

If a journey of 11 hrs, can be cut down to 5, we’d see a Kaththankudy trader commuting to Kandy to do his business….and a Ruhunu lecturer travelling to Jaffna to give a guest lecture.

Osaka to Japan took a 7hr drive, now it’s a 2.5hr train ride on the Shinkansen. You have Tokyo residents commuting to Osaka when the new airport construction was under way. Labour was perfectly mobile. Sri Lanka needs this.

People from all parts of the country would travel with ease to anywhere, where employment opportunity lies. And return home for the weekend. Connectivity is key. And connectivity fosters peace.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

What is 'Ideas for Sri Lanka' about?

Have a good idea for Sri Lanka that you'd like to share, but don't have lots to say?

'Ideas for Sri Lanka'
is for short, punchy ideas of new thinking, thoughts on policy changes and key initiatives that can build a better country.

Contributors do not have to necessarily 'justify' their ideas with a long post. This blog is about ideas, in one or two lines. But if you have a bit more to say, feel free to elaborate a bit on it.

Also, the spirit of the blog is not to have an intensive debate on each idea that is posted, but instead for each post to be 'food for thought'.
  • To one reader your idea might seem mundane. To another it might be innovative thinking.
  • To one reader your idea might be contentious. To another it might be refreshing and groundbreaking.
  • To one reader your idea may sound cliched and oft-used. To another it might be the first time he's hearing it.
As you read through some of the posts, you'll no doubt get the hang of it.

If you would like to be a regular contributor, we'd be happy to add you as one. Pls email us and we can link you up.

If you are not a listed contributor, and you have a great idea, sign up for Twitter and send us a tweet @ideas4srilanka. Had a sudden idea while on the move and don't want to forget it? Just login to Twitter from your phone or mobile internet device and tweet @ideas4srilanka. All your tweetideas will be visible in the twitter feed on the top right of the blog. If we like your idea, it might be selected for posting on the main blog, citing you of course.
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