Premadasa had a great
determination to full fill the basic needs of the people such as foods, cloths
and shelter. With that idea he introduced several programs not only for the
economic development of the country but also the spiritual development of the
people. Premadasa always admired the Lee Kuan Yew, as he build Singapore not
only as economic model but a model of good discipline.
Premadasa is the
founder of Sri Sucharitha Movement, which mainly focused on uplifting the
social, economic and spiritual development of law income people. Jana-Saviya
program introduced to help the poor people living in shanty areas as there was
no specific national policy for rural development on that period. He advised to
build model villages with clean water, decent roads, schools and health
centers. Gam Udawa project launched with having the idea of building millions
of houses for those who did not have proper houses.
also remembered in India for being the only Sri Lankan President to build a
village under the Gam Udawa project in the State of Bihar near the sacred city
of Bodh Gaya as he noticed the living condition of poor people in the State of
Bihar while he was attending to the SAARC meeting in India.
under Li Xiannian was impressed by the Gam Udawa program and sent officials to
sought advice from the Premadasa regime to emulate similar projects in China.
countries followed this housing concept as they understood it was a great
achievement for the mankind which put the first step towards the development of
the nation. Gam Udawa was introduced to the international community as “The
Village Re-awakening Programme” at the 35th United Nations General
Assembly in 1980 by Premadasa himself. Taking his request into consideration,
the 37th United Nations General Assembly unanimously agreed to
declare 1987 as the “International Year of Shelter for the Homeless.” It was a
great achievement of Premadasa, which brought out his thinking to an action.
He gave the
guidance for the development of small-scale industries specially the garment
related industries in rural areas and released loans for law interest rates.
And also gave them a share in textile quotas for the market of Europe and
United States. Gam Udawa led to the “200 Garment Factory Initiative” which
contributed to the improvement of foreign income into the country because it
paved the way for essential infrastructure developments in rural areas thus
attracting international fashion brands to outsource their manufacturing arm to
Sri Lanka. These projects were attracting foreign direct investment, increasing
exports and in overall the economy of the country. Premadasa’s speeches in opening
ceremonies of these garment factories revealed that the main target of 200
Garment Factory Program is to solve the national problem of ‘unrest’ through
poverty alleviation. According to Premadasa only qualification of getting a job
in these factories was “object poverty” and no concern on ethnicity, cast,
religion, education and political affiliation. Premadasa’s objective under 200 Garment
Factory Program is to “bind the employer and employee, the poor and the rich in
a bond of love”. Families of the employees who got the job in 200 Garment Factory
Program were discounted Jana-Saviya benefits.
program was successful effort to mitigate the negative imbalance in the
society. Program of distributing free school books and educational equipments for
the students who underwent hardships, was also a concept Premadsa.
Most of leaders followed
his steps by continuing his development programs. Ministry of Housing launched
a housing program called “Dayatakirula” which perfect replica of “Gam Udawa”,
providing one million house-holds for the people who don’t have proper places
to live. And “Samurdhi” program is “Jana-Saviya” by another name. However,
after his unfortunate demise Gam Udawa came to a sudden standstill.
Fortunately, after a hiatus of 22 years, his son, the Minister of Housing and
Construction, Sajith Premadasa has taken over the mammoth task of continuing
his father’s legacy.