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The Rajpal Abeynayake Column:

A state de-moralizing its 'troops', when it needs to inspire them?

A recent survey had it that Sri Lanka was the unfreindliest country in the region to invest in. Perhaps it wasn't much like the 'failed state' survey which was a grand fib, given that we are talking of a state with a 8 per cent growth rate, which had been dubbed last week in an international strategy magazine as the most prosperous country of the region.

But, the unfriendliest country in the region for investment?

There may be some point there.

This brings me to a brainstorming session I had with an American expert on Sri Lankan investment. "Investment in your country,'' he said, "is an obstacle course. They make it a challenge to invest - making it harder and still harder for the investor, as if investment was an adventure in which all obstacles had to be cleared for arriving at the ultimate prize - which was to invest in the country.''

But having done that, the BOI, which secured massive investments despite all these constraints, was getting a shelling for not getting more!

Shades of this may have been seen in the President's address to the diplomats last week. On page 5, Mr Nanda Godage, a diplomat, assess the President's speech. He says that Sri Lanka cannot draw as many tourists as Cuba does for the simple reason that there is a conflict in the country, which is reported often adversely by the international media. (The President faulted the diplomats for not attracting as many tourists as Cuba does.)

Read Mr Godage who also adds that the E.U. ban did not materialise from thin air and that the diplomats worked their bottoms out for it.

Dwelling on a few failures and forgetting the successes could be a way of demoralizing team-workers, more than anything else.

The forces need a shot in the arm - - but so do all the other 'forces' that work in tandem to keep the national effort and the effort of the forces at its best trim.

But the tendency could be that the armed forces are 're-moralized'/inspired, while the other forces in the national effort are de-moralized by dwelling on a few of their perceived failures. Why not inspire them by underscoring their successes?. Nothing after all, succeeds, like success.

Obviously the President said many things that were true about the DPLs. We hear that he also invited the diplomats for dinner after the dressing down was done.......

It's the elementary psychology of the strategy that we place under scrutiny.

It's a know management strategy that managers do not dwell too much on failures, but dwell on the successes, particularly if there is a team that is getting things right.

There is a team that is getting things right in this country, and that is the team that is lubricating the wheels of government. That includes the diplomats, the media, and of course, foremost among them, the armed forces.

Is the way to inspire this team -- which is winning, to dwell on a few of their failures, or to inspire them with

A hurrah for their successes?

There seem to be the right strategy at the top echelon of state as far as the armed forces are concerned. But the army marches on its stomach, and much more than its stomach.

The army also marches on the inspiration it get from the media, the sustenance it gets from a burgeoning economy -- which economy is a result of organizations such as the BOI.

The BOI should be given nothing but bouquets for its grand performance in the face of adversity --- in a country which has been dubbed the unfreindliest place to invest in the region due to its bureaucratic hurdles.

It means the BOI is getting it right -- and it means that many other state arms are getting it right which is one reason the army is getting it right, with this team behind it.

It begs the question then, why is the army inspired by its successes -- but why aren't the diplomats inspired by their own successes, or the investment wizards inspired by their achivments?

Probably because there is the flawed strategy of seeing their failures, when they should be told "chuck your paw chum, you did great.''

Mahinda Rajapakse's detractors told him one thing when he trounced the opposing candidate in the Presidential election. They said you may win, but you wouldn't have the expertise to govern.

He got the experts to work for him, but perhaps not all of them.

It begs the question, why his team's management strategy one of demoralizing his troops other than his armed troops?

All of his troops are troops, and that includes the diplomats, and the other accessories of the state effort which range from foreign investment promoters, to the media to the historians!

It could be asked -- how is it deduced that his team -- all of them -- are performing?

Read our editorial, our news articles and our political commentary. Read the same in other newspapers. All of it this week is packed with the story of the opposition hoping to join the government.

Which opposition wants to join a failing government? Its military successes are known - - and the government's economic success need no more than the 8 percent growth figure.

It's a team that works. It needs re-moralization as a whole, and not just in part for the armed forces only.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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