If India has produced people who have achieved world fame in a variety of fields and Sri Lanka has not, it is because the Indian social, educational and political systems have been geared to the production of “elites”, while the systems existing in Lanka are not, asserts Lankan sociologist, Dr. S. T.Hettige.
A Senior Professor at Colombo University whose books have been published by Routledge of London and Sage of New Delhi, Hettige points out that despite determined efforts to democratize a highly unequal traditional Indian society through affirmative action since independence, India has not abolished “elitism” as such.
“India has nurtured elitism, by which I mean excellence, through encouragement of talented persons even as it has striven for a social leveling through democratization,” he said on Monday.
In his latest book: “Towards a Sane Society”, Hettige quotes French sociologist Louis Dumont to say that hierarchies are entrenched in India. ”Inequality is not alien to Indians in spite of continuous contestation of the fact over time,” Hettige added.
“India has struck a judicious balance between continuity and change,” he says.
Contrasting Sri Lanka with India, he said: “Sri Lanka has not been as tolerant of inequality as India is. In Lanka, the accent has solely been on populist measures to level the society. Everything has been brought down to the lowest common denominator.”
The Lankan bid for equalization has led to a fall in educational standards, he observed. Recruitment to state institutions are made, not on the basis of talent or qualifications, but on political and other extraneous grounds, he said. He points out in his book that the flawed recruitment policy has created social and political discord in the country.
Non-recognition of talent has resulted in a continuous brain drain, Hettige said. And because of brain drain, there are no role models to emulate. “Successive generations of young Lankans are deprived of the opportunity of emulating exemplary role models in diverse fields,” he writes. (Newindianexpress).