|Can Poverty be the cause of Terrorism? - Eastern Model can deflect the LTTE cause|
|Friday, 27 June 2008|
I like being an optimist given that most of my life has been in the world of business. But my gurus have always said it’s good to stop and take stock of the reality. Go to the details behind the numbers and understand the insights.
The Reality – Key indicators very low
As per the 2003/2004 Socio Economic indictors the access to pipe borne water in the Northern Province is only 3.1% whilst in the East it records a 17.4%. The National average stands at a high 30.8%. Even though we cannot be proud of the National Performance the fact remains that for a majority of people who live in the North and the East, life is not as comfortable as it is for the people in the neighbouring regions. The non access to toilets which is a stronger indicator of the quality of life of a household, the Northern region is registering 14.4% and the East a staggering 29.2% whilst the National average stands at a respectable 5.6% which gives us an idea of the disparity that exists at a regional level even though the top line reflects a healthy situation. Even though there has not been much studies done on the implications of the social indicators on terrorism the insight is that these factors create social tension that in turn can lead to conflicts. This can end up in aggressive behaviour that can then result in extreme behaviour like terrorism. This is my hypothesis.
If we move on to indicators which are related to income and health in the North and the East, may be one can develop inferences on the root causes of terrorism. As per the labour force survey of 2002, the labour force participation number is at 50.3% nationally whilst in the North it drops to 33.8% and a 40.3% drop in the East which can be directly attributed to the marked health gaps in these regions. 46% of the children below five years of age in the North and the East are underweight compared to the 29% in the rest of the country. The percentage of babies born underweight in the country is 18% but the reality is that in the North and the East it is as high as 26%. These figures are worse in the districts like Batticaloa and Vavuniya, where one –half of the children are under weight. A deduction that can be made from these figures is the tension that exists within a family in comparison to ones relations in the other parts of the country. A typical family in such a state of deprivation can be easily coerced to extreme behaviour based on strong ideological principles that can finally result in making of a terrorist is my hypothesis.
Poverty Terrorism Link?
Research says that isolation is the prime cause of un-socialized behaviour. If we analyze the relevant indicators in Sri Lanka like access to Electricity and Communication, the North and East once again emerges as a deprived region. The connectivity through mobile and land phones is at a low ebb of 10% in the North and 15% in the East as per the 2003/4 census. Even though the penetration of electricity is at a high 64% of the households in the North and the East, the insight is that in remote areas of Kilinochchi, Mannar and Mullativu the non availability of power can reach a dizzy height of 90%. Which can give us an idea of the deprivation and isolation that exists and the opportunity for idolism to be indoctrinated.
GDP focus –drives in equality
Regionally, this issue is glaring into our face with a 50 percent odd contribution that is generated by the Western Province to the national GDP whilst the North and East are contributing a mere 7%.
The growth of the service sector has led to a neglect of the agricultural sector and the indications are of rural households getting into a poverty trap given that Sri Lanka is essentially an agriculture driven economy from a geographic point of view. The result of this investment strategy is what we see in Sri Lanka now where we are facing severe challenges in the Tea, Paddy and Coconut industry. In fact the overall productivity in the agricultural sector has declined due to the age old agricultural practices yet being followed. There are studies done globally that geography and climate tend to have a strong relationship with terrorism by way of providing a safe haven for training and hideouts for terrorism. The geographic terrain in Mullativu is a classic example in Sri Lanka.
Rest of the Country – poverty drops to 15.2%
Recent research reveals that the overall poverty levels have dropped down to 15.2% which means the pro poor approach of driving the economy is working on this count. In fact it is the best in the Asian region. The challenge however is that the levels of inequality can be greater.
War in Colombo?
Eastern Model – Opportunity to deflect LTTE
May be the key initiative that can create an enabling environment is the launch of Development Banks, improve the connectivity of the villages, and provide a better access to telecommunication so that rapidly the agricultural and animal husbandry can be developed to improve the livelihood opportunities. The launch of the Peace Collection – the range of products from the North and the East, SME’s will add to the opportunities that have been provided the people living in those areas. May be its up to us to help strengthen the governance structure, and there by deflect the very purpose and vision of the de facto state of the LTTE - A mantra that has been chanted across the world by LTTE supporters.
There are many other theories in this analysis if Poverty is the cause of terrorism. Some arguments are that material conditions do not drive poverty but it is a person’s beliefs and values. However other studies reveal that even a terrorist sleeps at night and it is the fundamentals that drive extreme behaviour. Russel Ackoff, Emeritus professor at Wharton School of Business designed to promote private businesses role in combating terrorism says ‘The basic problem that spurs terrorism is mis - distribution of wealth within a country. The challenge is that we don’t understand how to close that gap that makes matters worse”
Regarding the 9/11 attack in the US, politicians and policy experts drew a quick correlation between Terrorism and Poverty. Much of the existing academic literature state that poverty drives conflicts and this can lead to terrorism with the administrative system in play. But our task at hand is not to debate which school of thought is correct but in identifying the golden opportunity at hand and chasing after this with passion and purpose – which is making the Eastern model work.
(Courtesy : Economic Division - SCOPP )
|Last Updated ( Monday, 02 February 2009 )|
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