At the advent of globalization many other socio economical aspects have sprang up either directly or indirectly related to the globalization process. One such phenomenon is consumerism which defines the aspect of a particulate society systematically adopting ever increasing desires to purchase goods and services even in greater numbers. Economically it refers to all the policies in place to promote consumption. Consumerism is about informing consumers, protecting them through such practices as honest packaging, guarantees and advertising. This is geared to improved safety standards. The ‘Mahinda Chintana’ vision for the future has become the basis upon which the Sri Lankan economy is projecting to. In this vision it is postulated that Sri Lanka faces two economic challenges namely that the present economic benefits and growing economic prosperity filter down to the people and secondly the laying down of a long term sustainable development foundation.
Sri Lanka is seeking to redefine herself as an aviation, commercial, naval, knowledge and energy hubs which will serve as a key links between the East and West.
It is assumed that this will be achieved based on Sri Lanka’s strategic geographical location. At face value this appears to be the truth. Sri Lanka’s fossil fuel based human civilization presently is based on consumerism and mobility.
Consumerism in Sri Lanka is already placing demands on the energy sector which is now facing major challenge over the next decade with the need to start producing ‘green energy’ which must be done while maintaining security of supply as well as simultaneously minimizing the cost to the customer.
Meanwhile with all this in the offing the plight of the Tamil people is still an issue that elicits negativity towards the government of Sri Lanka. This conflict has continued to affect the international relations that Sri Lanka has had directly impacting consumerism.
The vision for the future’ statement quite rightly says that the ‘comforts, convenience and satisfactory life styles’ which are tenets of consumerism are priority. There is a plan to create ‘a country with housing, electricity, water and telecommunication services for every citizen’. In addition it is necessary to recognize strategic geographical location related new strengths for the sustainable development of Sri Lanka (Abeygunawardana, 2010).
In a liberal economy consumerism as a concept will play a major role. This in turn reduces the cost of living while providing citizens with consumer items of high quality at affordable prize. In the west consumerism is a powerful concept. By organizing themselves with the media and civil society backing consumers can make their voice heard. In other parts of the world too consumerism is vibrant and powerful with the exception of Sri Lanka where this concept is still in the primitive stages. The Asian consumer will need to borrow and spend more not less (Asia Focus, 2006)
In summary while looking at consumerism in Sri Lanka we well must understand that the consumer’s activities are not in isolation. A conducive economical environment must exist for consumerism to be realized. However with Sri Lanka there is yet to be both a stable internal and external environment in which consumerism can thrive. Honesty and transparency are of great value in many business initiatives but are a rare occurrence in present day Sri Lanka. Consumers on their part are required to sometimes sign blank papers in which the contents are written in a language not understood (Wijesinghe, 2010).
Abeygunawardana, A. (2010). Vision for the future: Consumerism or frugality. The Daily
Mirror.Retrieved on 27th April 2010
Asia Focus (2006): Asian Consumerism More not Less Retrieved on 27th April 2010
Wijesinghe, S. (2010). Is your money managed by others really belong to you? The Sri Lankan Guardian. Retrieved on 27th April 2010