Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The psychology of our psychology students – they need therapy!

I spent my whole Sunday last, introducing a Counsellor to four of our women’s societies, so that she could give them an indication of the work she does, and engage in group discussions with the members of the societies about their common problems and give some basic guidance on avenues to pursue in dealing with common day to day problems.

I had arranged for a Psychology Undergraduate Student the previously evening to accompany us to the 4 meetings, so that she could get some practical experience identifying common issues in the Community, and get the feedback from a trained Counsellor who has been doing this for 10 years, I mentioned to her, and she accepted that a day of practical work in the field is worth more than 3 months of class work and that she would benefit enormously from this exposure. When I arrived the following morning at the appointed location to pick her up, and she not being there, I called her, she cut the line both times and did not answer the SMS that I sent her regarding awaiting her arrival!  

I was late for the first session due to her, and I contacted the person who asked me to help help her, and even he was not forthcoming or called back on why she was absent.

In my opinion, for someone training to be a therapist being unable to call me and tell me she was unable to come due to some reason, meant that she was ashamed of not coming and was unable to get it together to tell the lie so she just ignored my calls!! This is a sign of someone NOT competent to even attempt the field she is in, as she was simply unable to own up and tell the truth regarding her state at the time. In short psychologically unhealthy, and she knew it or did she not?

She must know that I will not call her next time, and as she lost a great opportunity to improve her skills, she has only herself to blame for her incompetence. This in short is the problem with youth in Sri Lanka, who lack commitment in anything they do. Small wonder they are unable to seek the thousands of jobs that are out there, and hold onto people’s saris in order to get a job, without searching out there for what is available. This is a practical example of what I have been extolling in my blog all these years about the employability of our educated people. They have NO vision of right and wrong good or bad, and thus are unable to think for themselves, being consigned to a life little more than slavery!   

At the session, the concentration with which the audience was listening to every word was amazing, and there was no doubt seeing the audience engrossed in the lecture meant that I was convinced it was something important and useful for them in their lives.  

IN speaking with the Counsellor, I was saddened as to how limited these services are to people in Sri Lanka, and NOT EVEN a fraction of the need in the community can be satisfied with the services available in this Country, and there is little effort to increase the output of this resource, that can be done extremely easily as the need for high tech equipment is not necessary, but the use of good teachers as always is necessary, and very hard to come by. This latter shortage MUST be filled by requesting the resources from the International Community to train these people, as there are at least 50,000 potential jobs that the community needs to fill over the next 5 years in the NEW FIELD of Counsellors, for Schools, District Secretariats and other Mental Health related services. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Typing - oh so simple but no one can do it! Those who are looking for jobs that is

I am inundated with calls, drop-ins and CVs sent via my Boss who receives so many each week on his work, for employment. However it appears that none of the above know what it takes to pick them in preference to others in the competition for employment.

In Sri Lanka unfortunately, the job seems to the seeker to be a God given right, and if a politico or a friend of the family cannot fix that, then there is something wrong with the individual who can help with finding employment for this “oh so darling offspring”. The real problem is with the offspring, who has NO clue how to go about getting this elusive job, and the simple things that can make a difference.

I am now aging, but my mother sent me in my school holidays, (I was at Boarding School in England and had a two to three month summer vacation when I returned home) to Sinnathurai’s School of Typing it was called, off Mile Post Avenue, Kollupitiya, for shorthand and typing classes, and for the life of me I never realized why! I just went. For a 14 year old amongst all these older women training to be secretaries I was quite out of place.

The long and short of it, I learned the basics of touch typing here, on these huge clunky typewriters and at the dawn of the internet, before high speed broadband in the days of Yahoo Messenger first version and “You’ve Got Mail” sounds over 15 years ago, in the USA, I perfected the art of typing at high speed, as I could chat with over 8 people at the same time on 8 different boxes on my PC in possibly 8 different Countries in the world, and in order to do this as conversation was all in typing then, without much effort automatically gave me the edge in speed typing. To Say nothing of Multitasking as the conversations were on diff subjects

My abiding regret is not learning to touch type in Sinhala, but in my desperation due to the lack of others who can, it may be the last thing I learn seriously,  so I can blog in Sinhala and use it in numerous areas of work here in Sri Lanka.

I gave this background above to show, that the ability to type in Sinhala or English and preferably both is almost a sure license in the job market that puts you to the top of the heap when it comes to being interviewed and getting the job too if other qualifications are similar.

I try to explain this to potential candidates I speak with all the time, and they fail to comprehend this importance. Funnily though our offices are desperately looking for Sinhala typists and in this case we are looking for those from our constituency, as it will not be politically correct to get from other areas, and despite the need for 4 people, we are still unable to find one who can.

Many come saying that they can type, and when tested show their true colors of believing that they can, when they just have no clue, and think typing is punching one letter at a time with their index finger!

So any of you who are looking for an entry level job typing various letters in Sinhala at speed for a Minister, and you are from Biyagama, please let me know and will test you out. To be politically correct I would face the wrath of the Party if you are not UNP! Damn!     

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The battle for redress, resolution and recompense

I am inundated with requests every day, from ex-servicemen who have suffered under the previous regime, who want their cases re-examined the requested redress immediately made to them. The follow up calls on status reports is unending.

If one did not understand the history, one would merely assume none of their grievances had any merit. However it is become quite apparent to me how callous the previous administration of the Rajapakses were to people who they believed rightly or wrongly not to be their supporters. These are to soldiers who fought and got injured in the course of their duty, something we would never believe if we did not know the truth. So much for protecting the forces, ex-servicemen that is just a myth.

Ironically this administration has already undertaken policy turnarounds that return the dignity of the forces the Rajapakses have destroyed with the imminent removal of 18,000 from cleaning duty, and construction work for UDA. Actually it is not any different to slave labor.

I digress from the point I am trying to make. Each of these hundreds of cases has to carefully examined, due to the possibility of a few where the bona fides need checking. The Ministry is overwhelmed with the volume of these requests, and the infrastructure is still of people of the old regime, to whom if these files are sent, will purposely sit on them, to discredit their superiors.

From what I know at present it is just the famous 10 that Sarath Fonseka intervened upon and had reinstated that have got their jobs and ranks back and there are thousands in the waiting list for similar reviews of their cases.

I trust that the new Commander of the Army, will (as he is one who has also received justice after being put out to pasture in Russia, as he was more senior to the retiring Commander) understand this pressing need, and ensure the sections under his command that look into each and every claim for unfair dismissal fairly, and come up with as speedy a resolution as possible in these cases. I also believe if there is a central depository for such claims that it is better rather than some who go via the elected Politicians, hoping for a speedier resolution that they practically cannot do except by breaking internal procedures, in much the same way that orders were issued by the previous regime, WITHOUT any recourse to justice or fair play. The sooner we depoliticize this process, the better it is for claimants to understand we no longer live in a world where only favorites rule, only the deserving instead. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

What can be done when all one receives are allegations of non-performance by the new Government, regarding the past regime's crimes?

I get hundreds of calls every day over a number of matters and I will just note here those merely relating to the speed with which people’s expectations are fulfilled. People who call me on this subject are generally dissatisfied as to the pace of change that has been promised.

So let us start with two sms I received today, from a person I have no idea, how he got my mobile number and who currently lives in Australia. I will give his mobile number to reply to if any of my readers wish to concur or proscribe the said frustration of the writer! +61 4204 84844

The one at crack of dawn this morning was:

“You guys are cowards. Just taking no action at all. It has been close to 55 days and major thugs are still freely roaming. Kudu Dumiya and Mahindananda and Wimal are laughing from their asses off. Shame on you all. If MR won the Presidential Election you all are counting bars right now. Be brave and show some guts and balls while you all have the power you gutless idiots. We worked tirelessly on FB and try to convince people to vote on you morons. See Arjuna’s brother , he still acts as if nothing has happened. List goes on!”  

The follow up a few hours later read as follows:

“Ponna aanduwa thawama nakath balanawa, loku hour allanna. Rate podi ekata eka neethiyak, loku ekata thawa neethiyak. Thuk nodakin”

This is just one example of a litany of similar calls, messages and letters I have received where people, the public are fed up that one of the main tenets of the 100 day plan, namely of bringing criminals to book are NOT going at pace especially in view of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. The example used always is that anyone caught with some ganja is first taken first to the Police Station, beaten up, and then locked up before asking any questions, or being permitted even to obtain legal assistance. Whilst the big rogues are still roaming free, with NO serious attempt at investigation and prosecution.

Further the talk in the street are of deals being done behind the scenes, where big money (looted funds) are exchanging hands from one side to the other in exchange for limited or full immunity from prosecution, with intermediaries cashing in big time with personal financial gains for access to the elite in the new Administration.

These are serious allegations even if just figments of imagination, and it is very important the infant administration is able to nip these allegations and even set up a 24 hour investigating teams to speed up on investigation and prosecute the guilty.

It is very important that there are genuine attempts at clearing the air and a media show made to show that some of the big fish are treated like the common criminals they are, no matter they were recently in very high and powerful positions. We cannot as a country protect those who have put innocent peoples’ lives at risk, forced a flood of drugs, alcohol and other crimes on us from their lofty positions even using diplomatic immunity of VIPs to smuggle currency our and bring contraband in.

These were promises made which must be kept no matter what, and when the President who is not directly involved is able to point the finger at the Govt. there is none other than the PM who unfortunately has to shoulder this blame as the head of Govt. Even the loftier than thou personas such as Champika Ranawaka and the Ven. Athureliya Rathana Thero  are making the same allegations, to say nothing of the JVP success at cashing on this good fortune, as they were neither tagged with the past Regime and not with the present, especially as half the current Govt. is still accused with the past regime of NOT doing anything to reverse the allegations whilst they were in Govt. when in reality their consciences could have resulted in their resignation inspite of the threat of exposure if they had done wrong.

Is it because there are many in the present Govt. with a criminal allegation in the Bribery Commission that they do not wish to draw too much attention to themselves in this quest to clean the mess? I don’t have the answer, as I am just as frustrated as my colleagues in the same boat, who have to face the daily barrage of complaints we send upstairs, without apparent success.

I am willing to accept that there maybe actions taking place to which I am NOT privy to them, but which taken in totality is an attempt at making redress as promised. However it is important the public understand by proper publicity that ongoing investigations are taking place to give them what they expect and prove wrong.

Now no helicopters have emerged, no Lamborghinis have emerged, no tons of gold have been found, so there is a question of why? Has it been found and covered up, or was it not there in the first place, or have the crooks been able to hide this successfully that we have yet to trace the loot? Many questions no answers.    

Friday, January 16, 2015

“Poetic Justice” in its true sense

Just a tad less than 4 years ago I was felled by the jeep carrying the security detail in the vehicle convoy of the Minister of Justice, in Minneriya just outside the Eastern Command HQ. My life as a farmer in the Polonnaruwa District, with a unique distinction of (not happened before or since in Sri Lanka) growing food in the Dry Zone and the Wet Zone and personally transporting and delivering to my customer base in Colombo of over 70 different food items on a weekly basis, came to an end!

See both www.rajaratarala.blogspot.com and www.villagerinsrilanka.blogspot.com for details of these experiences.

In a few hours from now my boss, will take over his tasks at the Ministry of Defence as the new State Minister of Defence of Sri Lanka. I have, after the accident and recovery (still recovering) been working with Mr Ruwan Wijewardene MP as his coordinating secretary and as yet, I have not been offered or taken any position within the Ministry which he is just about to take charge of.

He has a very heavy duty in carrying out his tasks in a place that has during the last regime been accused of a myriad of sins, and in entering this hornet’s nest, one will have to tread with care in order to fulfill the expectations of the Nation that we have been entrusted in cleaning up the whole functioning of Government.

If called upon to assist, I will do my utmost to carry out the required duties to the best of my ability.

We have been presented with a very responsible task, and I am sure despite his youth and lack of experience, the Minister has what it takes in temperament, strength of character and personality to fulfill the duties entrusted.

There can be NO other person in Government today, who commands the full confidence of the main players in this drama, mainly the President, the Prime Minister, the former President CBK, and other party leaders all at the same time.

Let it be an example to others that anything can happen, and it has happened in Sri Lanka, where the unthinkable just a few months ago, has actually happened, and we trust for the benefit of our motherland. I wish to reiterate and remind the readers of my blog of the original objectives and intentions within it, which was to present ideas and suggestions for the improvement of the quality of life of those who live in this Country, and I have NOT merely restricted it to words, but to deeds as well!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Now who is on for the Governor of the Central Bank? Time to de politicize

I know there are a few jokers jockeying for the position of Governor of the CB, if only because Nivard Cabral held sway for so long since July 2006 till his abrupt resignation without being answerable to the new administration for the sins of the old.

Get a grip. President Sirisena would do well NOT to appoint a political person, as this is initially for an interim period till the next general election in May, 2015, so I would recommend an interim appointment of a person who knows the CB inside out, for a period of 6 months and a Political appointee thereafter after a transition period of learning of about two months.

The CB Governor is an important position, and should NOT be a part of the inner circle of govt. but should be merely an advisory role for Govt. where they ask him for his advice on some policy decision that the Govt. intends to adopt so he can minimize risk to the economy of that decision.

The obvious choice of the interim would be the biggest critic of Cabraal, namely WA Wijewardena, and if that is too explosive an ex CB hand Dr Karunatilleke who is a safe pair of hands at the helm and well respected within the bank.

Let me reiterate that this is temporary, to shore up the confidence of the people within the Bank who have been politically ostracized for not toeing the line with Cabral and who need to be rehabilitated back into the mainstream within the bank.

ONLY an insider can do this task and NOT an outsider who will not be familiar with the workings of the institution. IT IS VV IMPORTANT to get the corrupted CB back on track, and some of the sins of the Cabral era will be exposed at this time too.

Let us hope our new leaders are intelligent enough to understand these basics, without jumping like a bull in a China Shop to make hasty decisions on this matter, especially as we await a very important election to strengthen the checks and balances put in place for a smooth running of the economy in a transparent and open manner, with full knowledge of the stakeholders and NOT the secrecy, and insider information they have been able to impart to the big Political players to make fortunes at the expense of the people and the hapless EPF that has also been looted as a result.

Corruption in selling banking licenses and future interest rate cuts being notified have been very corrosive in the past administration and should stop now.       

Sunday, January 11, 2015

November 21st 2014 to January 9th 2015 – What a transformation in 50 days!!!

The Event that few predicted would happen did in fact happen and the rest as they say is History  
Much has been written in the past few says since 7am on Friday 9th January, when Mahinda Rajapakse conceded, and left Temple Trees. I am merely adding to this in my own personal way, how I saw the whole campaign unfolding.

When the Newspapers on the 18th November 2014 displayed the 250 color pages of paid advertising wishing the President on his birthday, that would have cost the Government of Sri Lanka Rs125M, as I don’t think any of them were paid with money earned by anyone! I realized that this unnatural act would result in something big, and I did not know what it might be at the time.

Immediately thereafter, when the President signed into law his intention to seek an unprecedented 3rd term, as expected, this mythical word called “the common opposition candidate” was who we were waiting for! Every name under the sun was bandied about, except the eventual candidate. It also showed how people viewed the abilities of their proposed candidates, and on reflection, I don’t believe anyone of them would have been able to deliver, as their negatives, all exceeded that of the eventual candidate.

I was not privy to who and how he was chosen, and eventually the real story will come out, as currently only dribs and drabs of those who wish to claim credit have been put as a matter of record. On the morning of the announcement, I had a call from my contacts in Polonnaruwa asking if it was true that Maithripala Sirisena was the candidate, and I, though I was aware said I did not know, especially as he was a died in the wool UNPer who said that if he was, then he would NOT work for the campaign, especially as under his leadership in Polonnaruwa the UNPers had suffered much harassment and discrimination in all areas of life. I can also vouch for that as I, from Minneriya and Hingurakgoda, where I used to farm, had to contend with much of the results of this suffering, of jobs not being given due to affiliations, and samurdhi benefits being denied for political revenge, and such like.

The two photos that I have included in this blog entry were taken when Maithripala Sirisena came to the New Town Hall on Friday, 21st November around 3.30pm, before he went into the Hall, to announce his candidature in the presence of Ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga and a whole host of crossovers that afternoon.

I know many people will say that what happened after that is as they say is history, and I will elaborate some of the significant developments in the interim, with personal anecdotes.
We were eagerly expecting the 22 crossovers soon thereafter and that did not happen, and I heard many people grousing, why he was permitted to be the candidate, when he was not able to bring whom he had promised!

Then at the Christmas Party of one of the most prominent Businessmen in Sri Lanka, on the 5th, where even the current PM, Mr Ranil Wickremasinghe was a guest there was grave doubts about pulling this off. I had to assure the guests we could do so!

Then as the campaign got into full swing, we heard of the organizational chaos of the campaign HQ. Whilst this was not so at Sirikotha, it was an even bigger problem for us, where we just did not have the funds, to carry out even a percentage of the work we wanted to carry out, as the Party was just not given the funds by anyone, as I presume the big boys did not think we could win, and other expenses given priority.

Our part of the campaign had to be done on a shoestring, and we had to rely on the dedication of many of the young people who came to work with us. I was able to get a limited number of posters and campaign literature printed under the patronage of my boss, and so we had to be very careful in their delivery. I gather even the money that the Organizers of the UNP received were little and at the last moment, and not all received their allocations. Some were not able to get organized by that time.

CBK on the other hand had received a large chunk of change from a benefactor, which she used, like father Christmas to both buy loyalty and dole out for campaign expenses, though she did not have the organization we had, and therefore money was not used in my opinion productively. We could have done 10 times more productive work for the Rupee in that sense!!!

I was glad that the Candidate said that he would not try to compete with the President on cutouts, and the President had looted enough funds to run a very expensive campaign where even with the full use of the state resources, he was able to dole out money willy nilly for ads, posters, cut outs decorations and campaign offices (empty) at all corners, breaking all election rules, and use intimidatory tactics.

It is therefore under all these incredible odds, that we pulled this off. As the Independent Elections Observers report pointed out, the whole weight of Govt. infrastructure was used by MR, and despite the odds and a record turnout (81.5%) which could favor him as much as us, has given a firm indication of the people’s mandate for Change. I am getting a lot of calls now, from people who have not called all this time! Where were they when we needed their help desperately, and we had no one who would help us even with the chump change?           

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Finally let us wish all Raputins are finally laid to rest – Astrology in Politics!

I have been approached by some significant Astrologers to request publication of their analyses of and predictions for the Presidential Election to counter the President’s astrologer’s influence on this subject in the local press.

It was apparent that there are opposite points of view of astrologers, and if this is a science then it is simply based in falsity, and if it is an art it is merely just a work of ART fiction, and figments of our imaginations in believing what we do. In a country obsessed with horoscopes especially in choosing one’s life partners, which have NOT shown any consistency in predicting marital bliss, what hope MUST a country have with astrologers predicting the Country’s outcome, as well as significant milestones such as elections, which obviously affect the destiny of the Nation and with that its People.

The New York Times article today is just about the fate of Sumanadasa Abeygunewardena, the President’s astrologer who has held sway over the timing of national events affecting all 20M who live here.

It is a lesson again for us NOT to be dependent on astrologers in how we live our lives, and in my experience it is a significant barrier to a fruitful and fulfilling and therefore satisfying life!!!!!

I hope the lessons we learn from this episode will be a defining moment over the reliance of astrology over events, and put a permanent damper in making predictions based on our favorite soothsayers’ interpretations.

I always tell people who are obsessed by this, that we as a country have NOT been any more successful than those that DO NOT for a moment use the influence of the STARS to determine the future of a nation, its elections and timing of activity, or even for that matter the moment a particular event is opened, inaugurated by laying a foundation stone or lighting an oil lamp.

So once and for all, let us just use this Astrology as a play thing for amusement, blame when something bad happens! Just tell me when something good happens do we ever give credit to our stars that it was the right time for us? Answer that question and then you have the answer to our fears being managed not our rewards.   

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Now the wait to the finish line!! What is in store for the Country?

I must confess I am biased and I have been waiting eagerly for a change since 2009, when I felt that victory of President Rajapaksa was about the past and had nothing to do with the future. Events have proved my hypotheses, but then the Choice, was between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I don’t think a Sarath Fonseka administration would have been able to deliver, unless Sarath Fonseka himself had most of his Presidential powers clipped had he been elected.

It is a shame that the allure of victory, and in his inebriated state, he was unable to wean himself for all these years, that resulted in the abolition of the 17th, and replacing it with the 18th and then the arrogance of seeking re-election two years prematurely, only because he thought it was the only method for another 8 years, deserves to be clearly and unquestioningly and more important prevented forever!

In this very busy world with massive technological changes, it is actually quite unnecessary to be in charge of any Country, even at a much less level of power for over 8 years or two terms, and when the whole world sees that reality, when we have really have people who wish to re-write history, you know something is seriously wrong with their heads. No one wants people who have that disease to lead them.

The few who do can be excused for not having read history, and studied human kind and human nature, no matter what type of policy you wish to adopt. This is what explains how such a polyglot of humanity, with hardly anything else in common were able to rally behind ONE COMMON PRINCIPLE, and that it is unhealthy for one individual to contest an election for more than two terms. I personally hope they will go further and ensure each term does not exceed 4 years and if we reduce the Executive powers of a President, we could even restore Parliamentary democracy, where other than for the Presidential Elections, ALL OTHER elections are held on one day say every 5 years, for local govt. provincial councils, if they still exist, and to the National Parliament.

The waste of time and energy, that I have witnessed in the 20+ elections, we have had in the last 4 years, is simply unacceptable, as so much could have been done with that wasted resource.    

Whew in a few more days, people will be saying why it took so much time and waste of resources to wait till 8th January 2015 to make this change, and that we OWED our people this change long ago. At least be content with the phrase, better late than never, and better now than later, and make this change work for the Country. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Education – Are mixed schools failing Boys?

The A level results that were published a few days ago, highlighted the fact that in Sri Lanka, the girls perform at a much better level than boys. Be that as it may, whether right or wrong, another fact that emerges is that boys from single sex schools perform better, as there are hardly any boys from mixed schools at the top rung.

Another statistic that psychologists would attest to, is that age for age girls are more mature than boys, and by this it would imply that girls are more able to concentrate on their studies, set themselves achievement targets, and as they are in general less sporty, are able to focus on their studies as compared with boys. These are of course highly subjective, but would nevertheless fortify the reasons for the unbalanced entry into Universities for most subjects by girls, where even the Agriculture Faculties of Universities comprise many more girls than boys.

Just to explain one other point on the latter statement, the education system boxes people depending on their results, and if people get into Agriculture as the highest Z score course of study, no matter that most of these girls do not show any aptitude for that subject, after graduation do not use it in any form, rendering this National Investment a waste of scarce resources.

There was an article in the internet today, on this subject, and I show the link below which reinforces my hypothesis, and Educationists in Sri Lanka should take this into account in re drafting the National Education Policy, which should concentrate on giving our youth an appropriate education to suit both the Country’s needs and the personal aptitudes and goals of the students.

The article however implies that up to the Grade 5 exam it does not matter what the gender is, and also if the classes are mixed. It is at adolescence that this becomes a problem, where hormones and maturity may collectively play its part.

Most Colombo schools are single sex, and most provincial schools are mixed, this may further aggravate the performance indicators of these schools, due the hypothesis above. The largest mixed school in Sri Lanka is Dharmapala Pannipitiya, with over 2,000 students. With increasing population shift to the Western Province and its resulting need for more classrooms, it is wise to consider the effects gender separation has on the education of the students there.