There is a saying that people are prone to see only the lonely black dot in a paper which is pure white except for it. Similarly the negative news is more attractive to the media. If one goes by the media everything in the world may seem black and negative.
These are perceptions grilled into the mind of the ordinary citizen by parties with vested interests. In the current election campaign the white is totally ignored by the Opposition to the extent that one wonders whether it is colour-blind.
The thirty-year war ended only seven months ago. It left so much destruction and nearly 300,000 displaced in their own country with no means of livelihood and no shelter.
Looking after the internally displaced, by itself, was a colossal task seldom met by any nation. Even feeding them daily, safeguarding them from diseases and ensuring their physical safety was a gigantic challenge. This challenge was well taken. Not only did none of the IDPs suffered from hunger but most of them have by now returned to their original settlements and have started a new life. In the Trincomalee district, for example, there are only less than five percent of them to be resettled. They too would be resettled within the course of one month. Just compare this record of the victims of hurricane Katrina in the United States. Still the displaced have not completely returned to their original settlements.
A moment`s reflection would help you to understand how much the country has changed post-war. First of all there is no fear of life, anymore. Every one could go about their daily work without fear and anxiety that was their lot for almost three decades. The feeling of relief is immense. It would be utter hypocrisy to deny it.
Freedom of movement, which was hindered during the war, has been completely ensured. There is a massive movement of persons throughout the length and breadth of the country. The opening of the A 9 has seen a massive influx of people to Jaffna. It was quite recently that the authorities of the Nagadeepa Vihara told the media that they could not cope with the pilgrims visiting the place daily as sufficient accommodation could not be provided. The same situation exists in Trincomalee and elsewhere in the East too. Aren`t these signs of normalcy returning to the war ravaged North and East?
Business chambers and traders would vouch for the revival of business and trade in these areas. Children could now attend school without the fear of being conscripted by the LTTE. Parents have a sigh of relief that their offspring would be safe.
The High Security Zones are being dismantled and more areas opened up for habitation and cultivation. All this was a sequel to the clearing of mines for it was a must before human settlement and economic activity to begin.
Fishing restrictions on the Eastern and Northern coasts have been removed. There is 24 hour fishing off the coast throughout the country. Further most displaced people have been provided with livelihood support to start a new living. Vocational training centres have been newly opened up. Existing physical and social infrastructure has been upgraded in addition to providing new infrastructure facilities.
It must also be recalled that these gigantic tasks were undertaken by the public sector with little cooperation from the private sector. Two factors were decisive. First was the political will on the part of the Government. The second was the availability of capital and manpower. In the latter several friendly countries, the United Nations and other international agencies did help. However, the bulk of capital was local.
All these mean that normalcy has returned quickly within a span of seven months. True, there still exist some constraints. They too will be handled in the immediate future.
It is due to the return of normalcy that the New York Times found it best to recommend Sri Lanka as the best destination for travel in the Year 2010.
The voters surely would take stock of these positive developments in taking their concerned decision on January 26. Not to do so would be the height of folly.