Focus on the Eradication of Poverty NOW

Mervyn De Silva, former Director Ministry of Plan Implementation, Ex-Member of Parliament, has formulated a Scheme to eradicate inquality and poverty …. and sent it to Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga recently (see text below)


Poverty And Inequality Continue As Persistent, Unjust Socio-economic Issues Of Our Time

In his 84 – page document or, Apostolic exhortation as it is called, Pope Francis, firmly and eloquently drew the attention of all global leaders, big and small, to fight poverty and growing inequality with the sharpest words and phrases ever, on the dominant economic system, which he pointed out derives from “the tyranny of unfettered capitalism and the ideology of money”.

The world is at present mid-way into the second decade of the 21st century, yet, still lacking the political will and moral courage and resolve, to delve deep into the policies, and structures that perpetuates poverty and inequality; and, to conscientiously adopt whatever socio-economic adjustments and policy changes that are imperative, in order to end the scourge affecting the lives of billions of Human Beings on the face of the world.

The fact, is, that no definition of poverty can ever hope to truly fathom with accuracy what it really means to be poor – the desperation, the powerlessness, and the callous oppression in many forms experienced. Perhaps, the only way of truly grasping what it actually means to people who are condemned to suffer it, is, to examine with empathy and sensitivity the lives of the poor around us. Thus, Pope Francis made a point in this context by alluding to the irony of the difference in the manner in which we react to a news item of an elderly homeless man who dies of exposure to the harsh elements, and, the news item of the stock market losing two-points!!

Not too long ago, author, A. Giddens in his celebrated book entitled “The consequences of Modernity” (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990) described globalization, the twin partner of unfettered capitalism, as the primary cause of all the socio-economic and political issues that are be devilling mankind at present.

He defined globalization “as the intensification of world-wide social relations which link distant, faraway, localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice-versa”. As many enlightened people, know, and, remember, globalised capitalism is quite a different kettle of fish to the wave of Internationalism, that blew across the Globe for many years. On the other hand, when globalization arrived, it brought with it a trail of different multidimensional agendas, one of which was the integration of real national economies leading to the geographical reach of world capitalism receding within a short period of time. It not merely confined itself to gripping the economic sphere, but, more pertinently, impinged on a wide range of existing local socio-economic and political institutions and their policies, no less, on the culture and style of living traditions and values.

These influences gradually became hegemonic, with the ability and strength to force changes in the power structures and balances of societies in decision-making mechanisms and governance. Following these changes, radical changes came about in the political philosophy, ideological constructs, institutions and processes in society, social organizations, and, far more damagingly, in the way people relate to each other in public, in private, and in their personal life, which resulted in the fractured societies and the now chaotic world we live in today. The print and electronic media presents daily, heart rending scenes of restless youth, frustrated students, under paid workers, forced workers, abducted workers, wounded young and old women, child-labour and child-soldiers, and alarmingly, oppressed and silenced intellectuals, academics, and civil society activists, mainly journalists.

Any innovative alternatives to capitalist development can be evolved only when the background and magnitude of the present crises are understood and realized. Globalization has no space for people-centered ideologies and socio-economic policies which are challenged, distorted, and emptied of their real relevance. The market and capital must dominate the world of intellectual discourse, not the compelling issues of the vast majority of the global population, even, it billions have to go the bed hungry.

“The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and dictatorship of an impersonal economy, lacking a truly human purpose” wrote Pope Francis; “The world-wide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their real concern for Human Beings”.                                                             

Poverty alleviation projects with a plethora of high-sounding names have been formulated at huge costs for implementation in response to the widespread evidence of prevailing poverty in practically every country sitting in the United Nations. These are supremely mere palliatives, and considering the magnitude of the global problem, they are by no means a substitute for a genuine, determined, and committed fight against poverty and inequality. What conjures in the author’s mind is a global “Marshall Plan” to do away with old economic structures, global and national, that embody and promote socio-economic injustices and, mass poverty, deprivation and, hunger throughout the world, despite the advances in technology.

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The world today, for those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear and for intelligent and objective observers, has sunk into decadence, economically, socially, culturally, morally, ethically, and seems to be immersed in a quagmire of unprecedented superficiality. There are wars between nations, ethnic and religious groups, social upheavals between haves and have nots, heinous forms of crimes, domestic violence, political violence, break down of law and order, revolutions and counter revolutions; corruption by the mightiest, politicians, bankers, and businessmen, blatant violations of time honoured principles and codes of conduct and decency; blatant violation of constitutions, democracy, the judiciary and the executive organs of administration.

All of these have emerged, slowly but surely, as the inevitable consequences of a model of development that harshly tread on all alternative models of development, and imposed itself through-out the world. This model has been intrinsically exploitive of nations and people with little power between nations and, of course within nations, and ruthlessly, the environment and our planet as well. That is precisely why Pope Francis was constrained to remark that “unfettered capitalism is an amoral pursuit where the guiding stars were not good or bad”, but only, “profit” and “loss”, which will be harder to sustain, sooner than later!!                                                                                                                         

The world remains in this chaotic state because, we, the people, are now experiencing an “existential vacuum”. We are confused, distracted, uninterested, selfish, self-centered and, self absorbed. It is imperative that all peoples wake-up to this reality before there is some form of universal calamity. Mankind has to urgently, and conscientiously, search for a alternative model of development that is fundamentally respectful of people and of mother Earth. Governments, civil society, and religious organizations should actively engage themselves in developing and promoting a more just and sustainable mode and style of living, not by rhetoric but example. It is the bounded duty and responsibility of intellectuals, professionals, businessmen, academics, politicians, in particular, and religious leaders to wake-up and come to the aid of the world and its people that are in a state of anguish.

This is a small and weak voice, in the wilderness!!

***********   ****************


FROM  ………………………………………………………………………………..240/11, Torrington Avenue, Colombo – 07.

TO ……………………………...Mrs. Chandrika Kumaranatunge,, Ex-President of Sri Lanka.

Dear Madam,

Resurrect the original SLFP

  1. I am taking the liberty of sending you a copy of my short article entitled “Poverty And Inequality Continue As Persistent, Unjust Socio Economics Issues Of Our Time”, in the fervent hope that you will reflect on it, and then try to resurrect a modernized SLFP, based on its original founding principles.
  2. In my humble, honest, sincere, and unsolicited opinion, the Party, its image and principles were crudely undermined during your two terms in office and, continue under the current dispensation.
  3. I am, in retrospect, saddened to think that the rare opportunity and power, providence placed in your hands, to make the Party and the country shining examples to the rest of the world had gone to waste. Hoping for the best,

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Mervyn D. De Silva, ….. Former Director, Ministry of Plan Implementation &  SLFP Ex–MP (National List)




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