Readers please note it is essential that all letters to
the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to
appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.
Lankans residing in Victoria, Australia, whom I met have expressed
their disappointment that they have made donations to several
charitable institutions such as elder’s homes, orphanages,
handicapped children’s homes, schools etc., in Sri Lanka These
institutions have written to them to make donations to upkeep their
Once they have received these funds by way of money orders, bank
drafts, cheques, food and clothes etc, that is the end of it. They
do not have the common courtesy to acknowledge the receipt of these
donations sent promptly.
Several Sri Lankans living in Australia who had generously
contributed towards the rehabilitation of the 2004 Tsunami disaster
are too disappointed and angry that their generosity did not reach
the needy. They collected money, clothes, food items, medicines,
building materials, beds, tents etc., but have found to their horror
that these items did not reach the people they were really meant
It is very important that these charitable institutions should
remember that to get continued assistance from Sri Lankans in
Australia, they should be in close touch with the donors and forward
their annual progress reports etc, and acknowledge promptly any
money or kind sent from abroad.
Ingratitude is an unpardonable crime in society. Perhaps this letter
may catch the eye of these institutions.
Now the war has been won and the Sri Lankans living in Australia are
prepared to help the people really affected, and with the escalation
cost of living, specially the poorest of the poor, who are suffering
in silence in Sri Lanka.
We hope and pray the people will now live in peace and harmony in
|Education system needs reforms, not
It was reported in the press that opening
of private universities has been proposed, which no doubt, is
another move towards the privatisation policy and practice that
would lead to the eventual elimination of the free education system
of our country.
How would the proposal if implemented affect the future
generations, especially the poor, which constitute the vast majority
of the population? This question cannot be left entirely in the
hands of the political elite.
There is, it has to be conceded, no perfect education system in our
We have been experimenting but without any substantial improvement
to meet the county’s needs for national consciousness, unity and
The system therefore needs change and should continue to be
changed as and when the need arises.
Any changes in the education system should, however, be introduced
only if such changes suit the economic and social structure of our
There has not been an effort made to study those aspects
realistically. If any study was undertaken, the proposals have not
been made public.
Hence the proposal is nothing more than an attempt to expand the
privatisation process to the education system without the slightest
concern for the country’s needs on a long term perspective.
Resources, capital, machines and labour are instruments of power
which could be acquired and used in a practical and purposeful
manner only through education. Education, as such, being part and
partial of economic and social development, schooling is an
investment contributing to the wealth and well being of a nation.
It is these reasons and the necessity to make opportunities for
education available to all alike without discrimination on the basis
of wealth, class or creed that the right of education has been
included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The UN Convention against Discrimination in Education asserts the
establishment and maintenance of separate educational systems or
institutions for persons or groups of persons which are not of
equivalent standards as discriminatory.
This would mean that the maintenance of educational institutions
which help the richer sections of the society to steal a march over
the rest of the community or the maintenance of schools of unequal
standards for the rich and the poor is discriminatory.
The craze to admit children to the so called prestigious schools,
projects the existence of educational institutions that are not of
equal standard and it is well known that corruption and political
interference in admission of children to prestigious schools exists
and persists. That situation should be arrested.
Then again, teaching standards in schools have nose-dived paving the
way for the spread of “private tuition” at high cost.
There is no doubt that the competitive nature has also
contributed to private tuition mania.
It is said that when the child is unable to attend the tuition class
due to sickness or other reasons, the mother attends the class and
takes down notes for her child. Teaching standards should therefore
be improved and school principals and teachers should be held
responsible for falling standards.
Education therefore has to be based not only on equality of
opportunity but also on equity, if we are to move towards social
equity and economic development whilst adhering to ethics and
standards as proclaimed by the UN.
We should not permit international money lenders and their agents
to undermine or override those lofty ideals taking advantage of
yearn for foreign loans and investment.
Our education system, even as it is, on one hand, does not meet our
national aspirations, whilst on the other, falls short of the UN
There is no national system of education that suits our culture and
society meeting our needs for economic development. Discrimination
in education exists and persists.
The village school is without good and specialised teachers, and is
often under-staffed. The facilities there cannot be compared with
those where the affluent have access to.
The denominational schools, though not open to other beliefs on the
basis of merit, receive government grants over and above what is
given to rural schools which procedure does no exist even in the
western countries, which standards we aim at.
The denominational schools, should, in the first instance, be
democratized in respect of school admissions.
Religious discrimination in admission or admissions on the basis of
financial contributions (highest bidders) should be done away with.
The existence of such discrimination is a shame on our education
We have been led to treat the English-speaking gentry as the
educated elite. The Swabhasha (Sinhala and Tamil) educated do not
come within this parameter. Those from so-called prestigious schools
and rest of the other schools do not mix. This then is a division
based on the discriminatory system of education that exist, which
certainly does not help foster national unity and amity.
What is needed to be done is to change our education system, to
remove the voluntary and involuntary discrimination that exist
between the rich and poor, the rural and the urban children and
different religious groups.
The tragedy is that, whilst no measures have been adopted to remedy
the situation, discrimination has been permitted to become more and
more deep rooted.
Upali S. Jayasekara
|Police view on rights of motorists
The readers of your newspaper are thankful to Dr Mareena Thaha for
publishing the rights of the motorists, and a couple of other
We are thankful if the Traffic Police enlighten us on the official
stand of this issue so that one can respond the traffic cops
|Smuggling of contraband items
smuggling of contraband items and drugs is on the increase in the
mid-sea strip of Beruwala area.
It is reported that some wealthy racketeers have been carrying on
this illegal business since a considerable period of time.
Large quantities of foreign made tobacco products, electronic items
and drugs are among them smuggled into the country, coming mainly
from India, Pakistan and the Maldives.
The people of this area are wondering why the law enforcement
authorities are turning a blind eye to this illegal activity.
C M Kamburuwala
come in swarms
With droning buzz, their nightly charms.
Their appetising food - blood of Homo sapiens
Continue to pester and prey on them for aeons
Like the terrorists who strike at any time
These flying creatures cause havoc in every clime
They’re armed with the sting; the other the gun
Deadly, dangerous they’re we fear, we shun
Rich and poor, high and low, everywhere dread
Because of danger in the diseases they spread
These weightless creatures of the deadliest kind
For a long time, the dangerous enemy of mankind
The household they visit like some special guest
But their presence the host very much detest
And in privacy of rooms like robbers they invade
To launch an attack presenting their serenade
They dance and glance, displaying their talent to sing
And cause pain and suffering with their vicious sting
These ordeals we are subjected to daily
As victims of terrorists which are deadly
They buzz and buzz; oh, the buzzing they make!
Force the household to break rest and keep awake
These tiny, spineless enemies enjoy immense power
To conquer the hapless mankind at any hour
Man’s deadly enemy number one is the mosquito
He is to be blamed for the growth of its embryo
He is callous; his surroundings in a poor state
He reaps what he sows; and that is his fate!
M. Azhar Dawood
The port of
Toward trading and maritme history
Amid Chinese expertise
Awaits Indian Ocean’s tiger economy
May all beings be neighbourly...
Irene de Silva
Vidya Jyothi Dr Philip Revatha (Ray)
An outstanding and innovative
Lanka lost an outstanding scientist in Dr Ray Wijewardene earlier
An engineer par excellence, his contributions to agricultural
development will be remembered for a long, long time.
A legend of the modern times, he used his training in engineering to
focus on agricultural development very effectively.
Dr Wijewardene was the inventor of the two-wheeled tractor, well
known in the farming community as the Land Master, the first brand
of two-wheeled tractors made in England.
Although his desire was to continue to make it in Sri Lanka (Ceylon
then) he did not succeed in doing it, much to his regret.
They are now made under number of brand names in Japan, Korea,
China etc. and is a testament to the success of the machine. It has
become an invaluable farming machine to small farmers, not only for
cultivation purposes but also for haulage.
He was an outstandingly innovative scientist, always with an
inquiring mind. He loved things mechanical, and would tinker with
anything new which came his way. He was far ahead of his
contemporaries, and would never give up experimenting with new
ideas, however theoretical they may be.
In the 80s, his business card carried the GPS co-ordinates to his
house when very few people knew about GPS positioning. He had a
penchant for inventing. He honed his skills during his tenure at the
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria. In the
late 80s, he invented a 3-wheeled bicycle which looked outrageous.
However, he took great pains to explain to me the aerodynamic
properties of it, and demonstrated the ease with which it could be
pedalled, with him riding it in a prostrate position. I was
persuaded to try it, which I did in his drive-way, but I soon
discovered how easy it was to ride with a minimal effort that I took
it to the main road and continued to ride it for a while.
I was privileged to be closely associated with him when he served as
a Member of the Coconut Research Board and in its Research Committee
for almost a decade. His incisive mind contributed greatly in
focussing on new areas of work.
He would challenge the researchers into new thinking, but always
understood the difficulties faced by them.
In the early 80s, he together with Dr U P de S. Waidyanatha,
authored a well illustrated booklet titled Conservation Farming.
This was at a time when the term conservation was hardly heard.
He brought out the thesis of conserving soil moisture, particularly
in the dryer areas of the country by avoiding such agricultural
practices as tilling, clean weeding etc.
He challenged the scientists to think about these aspects.
He would often lament that paddy farmers flood the paddies merely to
control weeds; an extravagant use of a precious commodity, water.
He demonstrated how better rice yields could be obtained using
much less water. Agricultural practices built on saving soil water
were not well practised in the country; perhaps because soil water
deficits were somewhat uncommon those days. Yet he saw what the
future would be, and on every possible occasion, extolled to virtues
of conserving soil moisture. The booklet, Conservation Farming, is
even more relevant in today’s context, and the booklet was
translated into Sinhala last year.
Dr Wijewardene was an avid aviator.
It was his hobby to build all sorts of aircrafts. He would fly them
to Karawita tank to get to his estate. One of his small planes was
used in a James Bond Film.
In the 80s, he fell out of the sky but refused to blame the plane –
rather he admitted that he did not complete the check-list before
Many have forgotten that he represented Ceylon at the Olympics in
Mexico at sailing.
He also participated in Asian Games held in Manila and won a silver,
but was very unlucky to have the missed the gold.
Working more on soil moisture conservation, he was a strong
promoter of cover cropping for improving soils conditions, and to
bring back the age-old practice of ‘green manuring’. Gradually, he
started work on Gliricidia. In the hill country, he strongly
advocated Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) to reduce
erosion and to enrich the soil, and turning sloping lands into
productive upland farms. Likewise, he started popularising
Gliricidia planting in coconut lands, and persuaded the Coconut
Research Institute to undertake research on it. Later on, he
ventured into using Gliricidia wood as a source of power, and was a
strong advocate of dendro power as an alternative form of energy. He
demonstrated this by installing a small power plant powered by
burning Gliricidia wood in his estate, which not only became
self-sufficient in electricity but also had a surplus. He canvassed
the authorities for a long time to have reasonable tariff policies
for purchase of dendro power. He was a very happy man when the
Government made the changes in support of his submissions.
He was a competent agronomist as well.
Although he had a Harvard Business School degree, he felt that
economics of agricultural practices should take into account
He would argue that poor returns today would not necessarily mean
poor returns in 10 years.
His estate, Kohombe, was a veritable research field with all manner
of experimentation. He could afford to do it, and used his wealth
for the benefit of research.
He was a rare persona, who would apply research to test how it
works, truly an applied researcher.
He loved his estate, and I had the privilege and good fortune of
accompanying him there several months ago.
It was an exhilarating experience to engage in discussions with him,
on any subject, be it agriculture, engineering, on the construction
aspects of his little stilt house at the estate and the bata pelali
that unconventionally folds to the floor, the bats that visit from
the nearby thickets, or the gassifier. It was rare opportunity to
Dr Wijewardene lived a good life.
He was a colossus, a truly great son of Sri Lanka.
His loss is irreparable, and we shall sorely miss his friendship,
camaraderie, and above all, the wisdom he imparted. May he attain
Kind-hearted and unassuming
The death anniversary of our dearly loved mother, which fell on
August 12, was remembered with deep sorrow by her loving children,
grandchildren and other relations and friends.
She was born in Kandy in 1899.
Her father was an Ayurvedic Physician of much repute and respected
by so many who came to consult him day and night for the efficacious
treatment of all ailments of the body (sarwanga).
He did not charge any fee as he was a very wealthy landlord. The
prescriptions were of family heritage for his generations were
She was educated in Sinhala and English.
She also had a colloquial knowledge of Tamil having come to live at
Talawakele, an area of predominantly Indian Tamil tea estate
workers, after her marriage to my father, the late V. K. V.
Ramanayake, Korale Mahathmaya of Dimbula Korale in the Nuwara Eliya
District. He was the one and only Korale Mahathmaya of Dimbula
Korale as the post of Korale Mahathmaya was abolished in 1945.
My father was working at the Nuwara Eliya Kachcheri and as his
work was excellent, the Government Agent, E.T. Dyson, (an
Englishman) created a post of Korale Mahathmaya for Dimbule and
Our mother was blessed with five children, Damapali Jinadasa,
Budhaprema, Gunasoma and Ariyawansa.
She passed away very peacefully after a brief illness on August 12,
We were told by the elders that vast crowds paid their last
respects, among them was the GA, AGA, N’Eliya Kachcheri staff,
planters, businessman of the Korale, which consisted of Talakele,
Kotagala Watagoda, Great Western, Dindula, Dimbulle.
The funeral procession was very long, spanning from the residence
to the general cemetery, a distance of about two kilometres. It is
said that never in the history of Talawakele such a vast gathering
was seen for a funeral.
All business establishments of the Korale were closed as a mark of
respect to her.
All sons and daughters contributed Rs. 10,000 each towards charity
in memory of her. The eldest in the family, Jim Ramanayake, offers
an almsgiving annually and confers merits on her.
She actively participated in the religious and charitable activities
of her husband. She went on pilgrimage to Anuradhapura, Tissa,
Kataragama, Dambana and Sri Dalada and Maligawa for she was deeply
She was a very kind-hearted, unassuming with gentle manners.
Whenever less fortunate ones came to her, she helped them
financially and never sent them without refreshments.
Merits so gathered will surely help her to attain the Supreme Bliss
V K B Ramanayake