Amunugama: Growth sans democracy, social justice self-defeating


Achieving growth without democracy and social justice is of little use to a country as its development won’t be sustainable in the long run, Special Assignments Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama says.

 Dr Amunugama, addressing the 12th General Assembly of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development recently at BMICH, said Sri Lanka was now dealing with a very fundamental issue related to the development process.

"It is found in the writings of the Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen. That issue is the role of social justice and social equity in the development process. Unless a country is committed to social justice for all, social equity for all and democracy for all, it will be an impediment to growth. You can have growth without democracy and social justice. But, that growth will not last.  So, it is very important that as representatives of the people you ensure that democracy and social justice are incorporated into the social life and the development process of your country. Otherwise development will not last."

Dr Amunugama said: "In the heart of that struggle for social justice is the emphasis we place on women, on youth and on children.  Today we have to say - and that is the sense of this assembly- that the way we treat our women in many of our countries is a scandal.  They are not educated properly. They have unequal access to health. Infant mortality is still a problem. They have differential access to education and jobs. 

"You know that demography is today a very crucial element of planning for growth.   Today we are seeing the results of some of the policy decisions that were taken in the 70s.  Some countries went for one child policies, some for two children policies including Sri Lanka and today we are seeing the generation of the 70s now merging into, first the education system and then into the work force, and finally into retirement.  So this is a matter that all Parliamentarians, all people who are interested in social welfare, should give the highest priority to.  I think our voices have to be heard."

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