The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 2

Sunday, March 8, 2015
By Deepal Warnakulasuriya
St. Anthony’s Shrine at the Kachcha-
thivu Island celebrated its annual feast
of the patron-saint of seafarers last Sun-
day (march 01) attended by thousands of
devotees. The whole event as usual was as-
sisted by the Sri Lanka Navy. The devotees
from Rameshwaram were not only the
fisher folk, but from several other profes-
sions. Sri Lankans who attended the event
also represented all the professions and
almost all religions.
Festive High Mass was offered by Bish-
op of Jaffna Diocese Most Rev. Dr. Thomas
Savundranayagam with the participation
of clergy from both countries. As the only
event which visa or passports are not nec-
essary to cross the borders, most devotees
were from the South India; especially
Rameshwaram. They have paid different
amounts to participate at the holy feast of
the patron-saint of seafarers.
While the Sri Lanka Navy was making
their best to provide necessary facilities,
street sellers from both the countries were
lined up there with tempo-
rary huts to sell something
to the devotees. Almost all
the devotees were there
with genuine confidence
and respect for St Anthony,
the guardian angel of fish-
ermen. They have different
stories to tell about their
spiritual leader. One said
that his ship was broken
into two pieces while sailing
on high seas and just draw-
ing a cross, the two broken
parts joined and he was able
to reach the land safe.
Another devotee told me
that St. Anthony lost his
team in an island and his
team had arrived back while he was there.
“He used his upper coat as a boat and
reached his team still sailing for their des-
tination,” he told me. I also questioned
them about the philosophy of St. Antho-
ny. “He wanted us to donate as he did. He
donated everything. He was also ready
to sacrifice his life for any good cause”
They were telling me. They had the day
cards or pictures of their saint. Among
them, we also noted some pictures of the
former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Jayalalitha. They conveyed another mes-
sage and it was about the legal ownership
of the premises.
Mutthumani Mari is 56 years old and
she is from Matale. She has come for the
feast with all her family mem-
bers. The youngest in the fam-
ily; Heshani, just eight years
old, told us she needs to visit
the place again. “All my fam-
ily members speak about the
power of Lord Saint Anthony.
Then, I also wanted to come
with them”
We met Joshep David who
the first Indian pilgrim we
talked to. He told me he is just
45 years but my intuition told
he should be over 55 years old.
Anyhow he was there with a
team of 31 persons. “We left
Thiruthi after all security
clearances were approved.
We each and everyone paid
Rs. 1500 (Indian rupees) for the journey.
Joshep, an electrician told me that the
inconceivable power and strength of the
Saint Anthony drew him here every year.
Ratnam is the first person who spoke
with me about the politics behind the
Kachchathivu Island. He is 85 years old
and he knew almost all past stories re-
lated to the Island. He was frank with
me and told me that they need their is-
land back. This was his third visit to the
holy land and he is a farmer by profes-
sion. But, his specialty was that he spoke
about the fishermen of his country. He
was wearing the Kachchathivu god in
his finger and showed it with pride add-
ing “my spirit”.
I also spoke to priests who have come
from Thamil Nadu. The first one was fa-
ther Jayaseelan. He told me he is from
Kintukal. “This god is the most power-
ful thing in the world.” He said. He needs
both Sri Lanka and India to work peace-
fully with a strong understanding. He
also suggests some development projects
on the Kachchathivu holy land. When
questioned about the ownership of the
land, he said that the land should be tak-
en as a religious place which is owned
by both the countries. However, he ad-
mitted that the legal ownership lies with
Sri Lanka. He was very specific that the
place is a religious place owned by all.
He also said that he wants to thank
the Sri Lanka Navy as they provided al-
most all the facilities needed for the pil-
grims. “Even at the checkings on sea, Sri
Lankan Navy was more helpful than the
Indian Navy,” he added. However, he also
suggested that the Indian government’s
should provide more assistance and fa-
cilities to the pilgrims who come from
both the countries. From Rameshwaram
to Kachchathivu, 31 Catholic priests had
paid only Rs. 1,000 each (Indian Rupees).
Questioned about over the different
amounts charged from the devotees, he
clarified that Rs. 1,000 for the clergy and
Rs. 1,300 for others.
Continued on page 11
By Sandun Jayawardana
The British School in Colombo
has been accused of engaging in
unethical educational practices by
trying to force some students to
sit for their International General
Certificate of Secondary Education
(IGCSE) examination as private
candidates rather than from the
school. The students concerned had
reportedly underperformed at the
recently held ‘mock examinations’
and it is alleged that the school is
trying to force these students to sit
as private candidates due to fears
that it will hurt the goal of obtain-
ing a 100% pass rate at the IGCSE
A letter to this newspaper’s Edi-
tor, written by a ‘Concerned Brit-
ish School Parent’ also alleges that
the school has asked some students
from its Special Educational Needs
(SEN) Department to sit for the
examination as private candidates
and not through the school.
However, the parent alleges that
at no point during a child’s entry
into the school or educational pro-
cess, is it mentioned that students
should sit for the examination pri-
vately if they fail to obtain satisfac-
tory marks at the mock examina-
Sources confirmed to The Na-
tion that the school had in fact told
some students who have underper-
formed at the mock examinations
to drop certain subjects if they are
to sit for the IGCSE examination
from the school. One student with
special educational needs has been
asked to sit for the entire examina-
tion as a private candidate. Sources
say the school has offered to pay the
examination fee for this student for
sitting as a private candidate.
This follows a similar incident
last year where another student
had been asked to sit for the exami-
nation privately. However, adminis-
trators had backed down after the
parents had threatened legal action
against the school for violating
their child’s fundamental rights,
sources further revealed.
The Nation reached out to the
school’s principal, Dr. John Scarth
for comment. However, in reply via
email, the principal said he was out
of the country and will only be able
to respond later this week when he
is back in Colombo.
The letter
Dear Editor,
I write to you as a concerned
parent of ‘The British School in
Colombo’. While my child is doing
well and thriving in the system, I
am extremely concerned about the
unethical practices that these so
called ‘educational’ institutes seem
to inflict on the weaker and less
able students and parents. Prac-
tices that I am sure contravene a
child’s right to access to education
and the contractual obligation that
the school undertakes in willingly
accepting exorbitant school fees.
The school has just completed
their mock examinations and, as is
to be expected, some students have
not performed as well as they could
have. Keep in mind that this is a
school that prides itself on having
a Special Educational Needs (SEN)
department and probably uses this
facility as a means of marketing this
school, most of theses students with
special educational needs have been
asked to enter for their IGCSE exam-
inations privately and not through
the school.
Continued on page 11
British School in Colombo accused of discrimination
A saint and an island beloved
by two countries
Ownership of the island
The St. Anthony Shrine on Kachcha-
thivu Island has a history goes back to
1905. There are beliefs that the island
originated from a volcanic eruption that
occurred in the 14th century together with
Rameshwaram. There is no human resi-
dence in the island and Sri Lankan Navy
is deployed there as the legal ownership
lies with Sri Lanka.
In 1974, India recognized Sri Lankan
ownership of the island. Ownership of the
island was controversial up until 1974 as
during British Rule the island was admin-
istered by both countries. The legality of
the transfer of the ownership to Sri Lanka
had been challenged in the Indian Su-
preme Court. The Indo-Sri Lankan agree-
ment had allowed Indian fishermen to fish
around Katchathivu and to dry their nets
on the island. However that was disturbed
during the war period.
The Tamil Nadu government led by
Jayalalithaa in 2011 again challenged the
ownership of the island filing a petition in
the Supreme Court. However, the Indian
government has stated that No territory
belonging to India was ceded nor sover-
eignty relinquished since the area was in
dispute and had never been demarcated.
President will take oaths
Done, on Jan 9. Earlier
A Cabinet of no more
than 25 members
Done, on Jan 12. Late.
27 Cabinet Ministers
day January 10
nday January 11
National Advisory
Council meets
Done on Jan 15. Late
Parliament will meet
Done on Jan 20. Late
January 19
Standing orders will be
sday Ja
uary 20
Monday January 12
Process of abolishing executive
presidency begins with
19th Amendment*
Wednesday January 21
An all party to replace the current
Preference Vote
Wednesday January 28
An interim budget
ursday January 29
An Ethical Code of Conduct for people’s
Monday February 2
Commission on Corruption**
Thursday February 5
National Drugs Policy Bill
will be tabled***
Friday February 6
Independent Commissions
will be established
Wednesday February 18
The National Audit Bill
will be introduced
Thursday February 19
The Right to Information
Bill will be introduced****
Friday February 20
* Government promised to bring the 19th Amendment by first week of March
** A High Powered Committee was appointed, but still no Commission
*** Government promised to present it to Parliament on March 4
**** Draft has been released
Not done
The Nation is watching
Graphics by Pushpika Karunaratne
100 DAYS
Introduction of new
Electoral laws
Monday March 02
Official pass of a devotee
Dainel and Sellaiah
Pics by ChandanaWijesinghe
SriLankan lifts
frequent flyers
Even as the national carrier SriLankan Airlines
continues its disturbing nosedive, those at the top
are flying high, apparently.
Among the new directors tasked to clean up a
wasteful and corrupt State entity are several who
are domiciled in other countries. The benefits of
being Directors of an airline company are obvi-
Another newly appointed director is an avid
cricket fan who frequently goes abroad to watch
international matches. Again the benefits are ob-
An ailing company would need full-time atten-
tion of competent people, one would think. Instead
directorships are being passed around as gifts, it
is alleged.
Most disturbingly, the man who has to take a
large share of responsibility for the company’s
woes remains in charge. Is it because his brother-
in-law is a business partner of one the new direc-
tors, people are wondering.
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