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sanctity of Buddhist temples
Buddhists visit the Sri Maha Bodhi for
religious observances venerating the Bodhi. In
the Uda Maluwa, in one of the covered areas
meant to offer flowers and pay respects to the
Bodhi, two or three kapuwas, standing in front
of a picture of Kalu Kumara Bandara shout
prayers to him with misled devotee gathered
round them handing over panduru to them. What
relevance has the ritual to the place of
The ritual disturbs the devotees offering
flowers and reciting gathas and those
meditating. It is wrong for laymen to be allowed
to commercialise the premises with rituals that
have no relevance to Buddhism. Those kapuwas
should be removed from the precincts of the Sri
Then again robes are offered to the Bodhi by
devotees and they have to hand them over to a
person with a sash on, invariably an employee of
the place. He takes the offerings to the Sacred
Bo Tree area. I noted that this person insists
on currency notes being placed on the offerings
as panduru. What happens to the panduru? Are
they accounted? I believe that the person
concerned pockets the panduru. That too is not a
pleasant sight and should be discontinued. Even
at the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, a receptacle
made of palm leaf (wattiya) is placed for
collection of money under the watchful eye of a
member of the Sangha. This too does not seem to
be pleasant sight within the building where the
most venerated Sacred Tooth Relic is housed.
Commercialism should not be exhibited in places
of Buddhist religious worship.
Upali S. Jayasekera
|Reduce ticket prices of ODI
The curtain raiser of the ‘Micromobile’
Tri Series ODI matches commenced at the Rangiri Dambulla
International cricket stadium in Dambulla as a day/night encounter
between the visiting India and the New Zealand teams on August 10.
As in the concluded test series, the gigantic worldwide TV coverage
was made by the Ten Sports based in Dubai.
It was once again very pity to see a very sparse number of
spectators witnessing this match.
Perhaps, the writer is of the strong belief that the players
including reserves, officials and ground staff exceeded the number
of spectators who witnessed the match.
This is not the only occasion where a sparse number of spectators
were present at an International triangular series encounter played
in Sri Lanka, when we were not a participating team.
This fact should have been in the foremost in the minds of the
organisers, Sri Lanka Cricket, who have employed so many and
delegated functions to them to see that every department is looked
They should understand that an ODI match will not be successful
without an audience.
Knowing very well about the low spectator interest, strategies
should have been drawn to attract spectators by offering many types
of incentives such as low priced tickets, refreshments at cost
price, easy transport facilities etc.
The authorities should know that the telecast is watched by millions
of cricket lovers worldwide.
The obvious low attendance reflects badly on our cricketing
infrastructure, administrators, most of them are only bothered about
their comforts and their lucrative emoluments.
This is going to be the pattern in the forthcoming world cup
fixtures too. In fact, the parachuted Suraj Dandeniya expressed at
an interview with Tony Greig at the P Sara Stadium during the recent
third test that tickets involving Sri Lankan matches have all been
It is a total lie for we as cricket lovers never saw any
advertisements in our media in this regard. If that is the case,
there will be sparse crowds at even world cup fixtures that do not
involve Sri Lanka.
In this context, it is time that strategies are adopted now itself
to draw spectators to witness other ODI matches in the ongoing
’Micromobile’ tri-series matches that do not involve Sri Lanka.
This should be treated as a priority. It would be a good idea to
price tickets at very low prices and have free enclosures for the
cricket crazy non-affluent.
Our SLC administrators should very well realise that cricket is not
only for the affluent.
|Decent work culture is need of
About 550 million workers around the world
toil under extremely poor service conditions, earning a wage below a
dollar a day.
While the majority of them are from rural areas, those from
semi-urban areas and those engaged in urban unorganised employment
are also exploited in the informal economy. 60% of the working women
lead lives of extreme poverty and 88m youth, between the ages of 15
and 24 are out of the labour force due to unemployment.
The incidence of child labour in precarious employment in the
informal economy and the increase of child domestic servants,
temporary employees and part-time workers in the labour market
herald an informal work environment in the formal sector, too.
The adoption of the Decent Work agenda at the 89th session of the
International Labour Conference in 1999 can be accepted as a mode
for workers and trade unions to overcome the adverse situation
fermenting in the labour market then.
The basic objectives of the agenda, such as consolidating
fundamental rights and privileges of work, promotion of equal
economic and employment opportunities for women and men, assistance
for improvement of social security and promotion of social dialogue
have become vital necessities in the world today.
They facilitate overall development objectives and thereby
eradication of poverty.
In order to establish a decent work culture, the policy makers
should gain awareness of the living conditions of the majority of
the labour force.
Appropriate policies should be drafted to address job security,
poor earnings, unprotected working conditions, minimum opportunities
for benefits such as loans and training, discrepancies in the labour
market and exploitation at the workplace, etc.
For this purpose, the state should pursue steps to increase
opportunities for employment generation, training and development,
promotion of loan and welfare facilities, preservation of health in
factories and consolidation of the rights to organise and bargain
The International Labour Organisation points out that it is the
role of the state to eliminate forced labour, engagement of children
in precarious employments, discrepancies in the labour market and
hazardous employment, through its labour policies, and to monitor
the implementation of such policies.
At this moment, when 11 years have lapsed since the adoption of the
decent work day by the International Labour Organisation, the
National Trade Union Federation considers the commemoration of the
day for the third time as an urgent need rather than conducting a
ceremonial event together with other international trade unions
because the government has adopted the 18th Constitutional Amendment
suppressing the 17th Amendment, thereby posing an uncertain future
for the working class.
At this moment, when the government is preparing to usher in a
dictatorship suppressing democracy, the National Trade Union
Federation, comprising the Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union, the
Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya, the Public Service National Trade Union
Federation, the Jathika Adyapana Sevaka Sangamaya, the National
Estate Services Union, the National Health Services General
Employees Union and the National Organisation for Self-Employed
emphasises the necessity of all trade unions to unite and campaign
for safeguarding the rights of the working class and for improvement
of its working conditions.
The world financial crisis has caused the termination of 34m
workers and cast 64m into acute poverty.
Consequent employment situation and poor living conditions have
necessitated continuous global attention for preparation of an
environment appropriate for decent work.
Accordingly, the National Trade Union Federation endorses the
following themes for commemorating the World Day for Decent Work
- Growth and decent work are essential requirements to
overcome the global financial crisis and poverty.
- A decent public service is essential for sustaining
financial stability. It consolidates a decent living as well.
- The financial sector should address the real human needs
within a real economy to compensate for the damage caused by
- The Federation, at the same time presents the following
message of the Organisation for consideration.
- The principal challenges before us is the creation of a
decent work culture for the workers in the informal sector. We
demand the immediate implementation of the National Policy for
Migrant Workers adopted in 2008, benefiting these workers who
are the second most contributors to the national economy. We
stress the importance of granting the voting rights to these
citizens numbering 1.8m.
- We also demand the granting of privileges enjoyed by the
workers in the formal sector to workers in the informal sector,
comprising 2/3 of the total work force, safeguarding all their
rights and particularly improving the working conditions of
women workers and establishing a social security scheme, at
least, for informal workers.
- We demand the government to intervene to pressurise the
employers to implement the conditions of the Collective
Agreement signed between plantation workers and employers and to
take steps to improve the infrastructural facilities of these
workers and to develop their occupational skills.
- We also demand the government to activate the Public Service
Commission which was embodied in the 17th Amendment, now
suppressed by the 18th Amendment and thereby assure the right of
the public servants for a decent work situation.
We devote ourselves firmly to create a future for Sri Lankan
workers to raise their heads with pride and respect. The
National Trade Union Federation requests all workers to join
hands with the Federation to realise this goal.
President - NTUF
|Blaming the past not right
Politicians continue to blame the predecessors for omissions,
weakness, and ill-planed policies. But public officers have not been
in the habit of blaming their predecessors in public instead they
aspire to perform better, resulting in progress in any field of
But an educated, knowledgeable consultant on banking had said:
“The lack of leadership from the industry as a whole has resulted in
Sri Lanka’s failure to become a financial hub despite this being on
the drawing board for over 30 years.” If it is so, the blame as a
whole in relation to banking should first fall on the place she
functioned earlier. It may be the reason that she was not considered
fit and suitable to be appointed as the head of the institution. It
is difficult to apprehend how, at least, within the last 20 years or
so the banks failed the nation, while on the contrary their
contribution, in spite of varied obstacles, has resulted in their
growth and with financial assistance assisting industry, agriculture
and service organisations, though for progress the sky is the limit.
The present head of the same bank blames the past economic policies
of previous governments. These are statements generally made by
politicians and in another 20 years, the then politicians will blame
the past policies and specially the present policies. This is an
endless chain of events.
He also seems to be unaware that before 1977, how the people
suffered to be in long queues to obtain certain food items and they
had to produce the old bicycle tyres to purchase new ones and the
difficulties to obtain torch batteries and other essential items.
Not more than 10 kilos of rice could be transported without a
permit. If in a morning hour a telephone call was booked at the
telephone exchange, as it was the practice, from a town in the deep
south to a person or office or hospital in Colombo, one is very
fortunate if the connection was received at least by late in the
evening. Very often the connection was received on the following
But though free imports were allowed after 1977, they were without
placing any restrictions on certain items that were locally
manufactured or assembled, but the people after the introduction of
the new economic policies were able to purchase freely in most shops
their essential requirements, a directly dialling telephone system
and many other essential features were introduced including a
national television system.
The economic policy change helped the middle class persons with
their personnel transport to work places with the import of
motorcycles and for other travelling the imported three-wheeler was
available. Yet, for the last 10 years, the economic strategies have
not helped the local production and free imports of the locally
manufactured items at low prices have hampered the local
manufacture. We cannot blame him, as he is new to the field of
banking and to win the appreciation of higher authority, blaming the
past policies and supportive political linked speeches could ensure
his continuous presence as a guest in an unknown territory.
Grandiose ambitions on economic development are heard from
speeches made from numerous pulpits by numerous people in authority
and those are not different from that emanate from politicians’
speeches. Walter Elkan in his book, An introduction to Development
Economics says of economic development: “if the whole of an increase
in output devoted to building up a county’s military strength or
putting up monumental public buildings with which to impress the
population and foreign visitors, then that is not economic
development.” Thus the blaming habit of politicians will continue,
but public officers should refrain from such criticism in public.
|Advertisement at any cost...
It is amusing to see some workers pasting loads and loads of
posters – sometimes of a tuition class, sometimes of a cinema over
other posters for the whole length of a wall/parapet wall on main
roads. This shows the mentality of our nation!
On the one hand, it shows the mentality that it does not matter
who is already there, whose poster get pasted over, let me have my
say, my advertisement at any cost.
On the other hand, “saying it once is not enough – let me say it
thousands of times for it to sink into the thick skulls of our
paradisians.” Same as the irritating TV advertisements repeated
umpteen times, you are ready to vomit the next time you hear it. So
the same poster goes for yards and yards - albeit in small letters
which no motorist will ever read.
Now, who decides whose poster stays and whose gets pasted over? I
wonder whether any payment is due for these free space
advertisements! If not, how come the one pasted over keeps quite -
or do they come the next day and paste over?
It will be much nicer if those who want to advertise their
product make large posters with minimum lettering so that it will be
beneficial for all – easy on the eye and easy to remember.
And it will be pertinent to ask who gets preference – or for these
whether there is a payment due to the government or the owner of the
It will be a good idea to rent out these walls for specific times
for all to benefit – the advertiser and the onlooker, not forgetting
the owner of the wall.
And hopefully some sense will prevail on the beauty of the city when
it comes to stipulations of the posters.
Instead of them being eyesores as they are today, let them be a
beauty, as well as a source of information.
Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai
Warren Ranjithan Breckenridge
Heart-wrenching loss of my
Life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one --
It is one year since my father passed away.
As I gaze out towards the horizon, standing on the shores of Myrtle
Beach, South Carolina, memories come tumbling into my mind like the
tide, in waves swollen and full, and others, haphazardly crashing
I look at the sky streaked in pink and orange and remember the many
occasions he pointed it out to me in Kandy.
My father taught me to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, from
the beauty of a flower to the grandeur of the sky.
He was very much attuned with nature and drew my attention to the
landscape around us as we took long walks from Upper Hantana in the
campus to the Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya.
He loved gardening and his favourite flowers were the bougainvillea
in its riotous colours and chrysanthemums in brazen yellow gold,
deep wine and brown coppery tones.
Memories of my childhood with him are on the Peradeniya campus
where we spent most of our lives. We first lived in the Maha
bangalawa in Mahakanda, then at Upper Hantana before moving to North
End near the Wijewardene Hall and then finally to Old Galaha road.
I frequently visited the Zoology Department with him and became
acquainted with the staff and students.
When I was little, he ironed my school uniform, made my lunch and
helped me clean my shoes using Swan to make it perfectly white.
There were piano lessons, band, choir and drama practices and school
programmes for which he patiently drove me in the Volkswagen. I
remember my first ‘perm’ when my father came to pick me up from the
He politely did not say a word but had difficulty getting up from
the chair he was seated in as he was in a state of shock! He merely
nodded a few times and kept a straight face. When he departed on a
sabbatical to Canada, I counted the days for his return. I missed
his footsteps returning home from work and the jangling of the keys
and coins in his pocket.
My father instilled in me his love for music, the arts and
literature. For this, I am deeply grateful.
We watched old movies together at the American Centre and spent many
hours reading at the British Council. We attended concerts in the
campus in the Engineering faculty.
I remember him singing ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’ at a
party, nonchalantly resting his elbow on the piano. I also recall my
father singing to me ‘All things bright and beautiful, All creatures
great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made
I believe the last book he was reading was the Rubaiyat of Omar
Khayyam. In it, my father wrote a note which said, “From Simon
Senaratne, a fellow appreciator of the bard - July 2009”.
The book was half open on the writing desk in his study. I found two
more versions on his bookshelf, one signed by Simon in July 2009 and
the other which belonged to my uncle Karen dated January 1954.
Dad could be serious and thoughtful and equally carefree and fun
loving. I smile as I recall the parties at home with my parents and
They were happy occasions filled with laughter. There were the
numerous trips to Yala, Wilpattu and Trincomalee.
I remember a frightful incident where he fell asleep on a tube
which drifted off to sea and fearing for his safety, a fishing boat
was rapidly sent to his rescue. My father insisted he wasn’t asleep
and knew what was going on all the time! To this day, I remain
My father’s name Warren was derived from a character in a play. The
role of Frank Warren, a crime novelist was played by my grandfather.
The play was called The strange case of Blondie White performed by a
group of actors in Kandy called the ‘Kandids’.
My father was born on December 10, 1938 and the play was performed
the night before. Thus Warren he became!
People have said to me on many occasions how wonderful my
grandfather was. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity of
meeting him as he died long before I was born.
I tell my children how fortunate they are that they were able to
know their grandfather. I am confident people will say to them one
day how wonderful their own grandfather was.
W R Breckenridge was a man of strong principles and I am proud of
the way he bravely stood up to what he believed was right. My father
was kind. He never belittled anyone, and he did not speak harsh
words. He was gentle, humble and considerate of others at all times
and a forgiving man who was always grateful for the littlest thing
one did for him. Many of my friends when sympathising with me for my
loss, acknowledge his kindness and their love for uncle Breck.
I remember him saying to me when my children were born, there is
no sacrifice big enough for a child. I was reminded then of the
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when
you give of yourself that you truly give”. - Khalil Gibran
That describes my father. He gave of himself to his beloved
school, Trinity College, the University of Peradeniya, his family,
friends, colleagues and students.
I am blessed to have had such a father.
To say I miss him is like drinking a cup of tepid tea, just not
strong enough to express what I feel. It is a heart wrenching loss.