Friday, September 14, 2018

Consequences and management of Natural Disasters – How best to handle – lessons to be learnt from Puerto Rico

It is clear from reading the article in the link below on this week’s revelation that the death toll from the Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico A YEAR AGO was revised only this week from 64 to 3,000, that even in the USA there is utter confusion on how to handle a disaster. Don’t forget the USA has natural disasters frequently almost every 6 months and they still have to get their act together in putting procedures in place to make sure those MOST VULNERABLE are immediately assisted.

When reading the article in details there are so many areas that must be considered and is a case study, I will recommend to Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Ministry to read carefully and understand how systems must be in place to minimize the effect of a disaster.

We in Sri Lanka do not have to re-invent the wheel and we can easily use the examples of others to better manage disasters, as it is a science worthy of a degree at University, on disaster management and mitigation, a course a Private University cold set up in Sri Lanka as a world first to attract students from all over the world to follow!

Please be mindful that climate change is upon us and soon the Maldive Islands will disappear with their citizens needing to be re-settled. So it is a matter on our doorstep anyway.

The article even talks about doctors not being trained properly to assess the real reason a death occurred and instead put the reason of the final medical rationale, but what predicated that heart attack or other trauma that speeded death. This is just one aspect of preparedness and directing resources to where it is needed.

Today, 17 districts of 25 are suffering drought, and the most urgent aspect of that is potable water for people and something as simple as that in a small country, has not been properly managed, when you have computer systems, and communications to manage the movement of trucks of water from places there is plenty of it, to places that are in need, which can be done within hours, with simple technology, just like how ambulances can be dispatched to an accident scene in the shortest possible time, when you know the location of the accident and the location of the closest available ambulance. It is the will of the state that is lacking to do the simple things that will save lives and prolong others.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A high powered discussion recently on Human Elephant Conflict agreed it is an urgent National Issue outside of petty political agendas. Where is the follow up on that 150 minute discussion?

Main “takeaways” from the panel discussion on Monday 10th September on News 1st regarding the Human Elephant Conflict (HEC)

Those on the hot seat were, Environmental Lawyer Jagath Gunewardena, Elephant Expert & Scientist Chairman of the Center for Conservation and Research Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando, Environmentalist & Director Species Conservation Center Pubudu Weeraratne, Chairman of the Federation of Environmental Agencies Rohan Wijesinha, and Deputy Minister for Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development Mr Palitha Thewerapperuma. 

This was hosted by Sonali Wanigabaduge and a panel of three journalists picked to ask questions of the panel.

The consensus was this is a NATIONAL PROBLEM that needs urgent discussion and a policy framework devoid of a political agenda, which should not change depending on changes in political colors from time to time. In summary some of the solutions are shown below, to be refined and coated to be acceptable to those affected: 

Too many agencies, all working at cross purposes, which actually contribute to the HEC, which is getting worse by the day, despite the desire to throw resources to mitigate its effects.

Elephants have their own trajectory, based on their history and needs, and this has been blocked off for various reasons, without adequate passages to compensate and permit their migration.

The DWC is resources starved to do the job for which it is responsible, and throwing money for fencing, or adding 3,000 more staff, is not going to automatically resolve the longer issues that need tackling.

Elephants and people share 66% of the land mass of Sri Lanka, and in this area, it is important that people are mindful of this interdependence. Therefore building Udagammana housing units right across Elephant Corridors is going to aggravate an already tense situation rather than alleviate it. All these housing schemes are political gimmicks that will come back to haunt their patrons, as these homes will not be livable due to elephant attacks. It is best to immediately halt their spread and wise to remove those already finished and handed over, before it becomes a liability to the Government.

Adopt the Elephant Management System, prepared by the Department of Wildlife and approved by the Cabinet in its entirety, instead of ignoring it completely. This will prevent further escalation of the conflict.

There is no shortage of elephant experts in Sri Lanka, heed their advice instead of ignoring it. The conflict can be managed with locating the electric fences in ecological boundaries instead of departmental jurisdictions, as the latter is bound to fail and be constantly in need of repair, due to elephant not heeding its dictates!

Remove all cattle from Protected areas and especially from all National Parks as a matter of priority, as grazing cannot be shared by Elephants and cattle, and find alternative enclosed areas for grazing in areas of human settlement.

Permit temporary fencing and protection just for one season crops, and remove them for elephant grazing once harvested, which will alleviate unnecessary fencing barring traditional elephant habitat, while marketing the concept of fencing villages in, and not fencing elephants in, which will not alleviate conflict which will arise, if they are prevented from moving into traditional land
Most local authorities dispose of their rubbish into forest lands frequented by Elephants, which leads to herds gravitating to these dumps, and often ingesting plastic and lethal items as a result. An urgent action plan to prevent this immediately and alternative garbage disposal procedures adopted. Elephants used to this practice are more likely to want to break into villages, than those who have not been exposed to local garbage dumps.

The upkeep, maintenance, repair of Electric Fences - the responsibility of the villagers, who will receive payment to those entrusted. This thrusts responsibility directly to those affected. It has proved successful in areas where this principal has been adopted, with little or no HEC, so it has worked fine!

It is important that steps are taken for the Department of Wildlife Conservation and The Forest Department of Sri Lanka to be under one ministry and work hand in hand, CLOSELY as more elephants inhabit Forest Department Land than land belonging to the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

In keeping with the President’s goal of doubling the land under forest cover, to immediately stop any more land being demarcated for development from DWC and FD land, and perhaps to bring back already degraded land previously given up for sugar cane cultivation and the like, to new planting of forestry.

The private sector as stakeholders in the biodiversity of Sri Lanka can be called into partner projects of re-forestation and managed tourism to counter the bad effects of excessive visitation of Yala, Minneriya and Kaudulla.

If jeep drivers are now acting as tour guides inside the parks, due to the lack of Park Rangers, then they must be trained and carry that certification for the park which they are using. They must adhere to all the rules of the Park strictly and any violations dealt with harshly.

Awareness programs for the public in conflict zones, to the presence of elephants and basic precautions to be taken, especially in travelling in the dark by foot, where elephants can be rattled, and basic precautions to protect one’s property, without resorting to ammunition to chase elephants away.

Negotiate with villagers to remove homes in direct Elephant corridors and re-house them, in a similar manner people are being resettled when highways are constructed.

A long term plan of purchasing land to return to forest, choosing the areas carefully to permit elephants more space to roam in including unproductive agricultural lands that are subsistence and marginal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Worker exploitation in 2018, by the private sector – real or imagined?

If one reads the report, (link below) that was recently published in the Daily Mirror, it seems to imply that retail workers are particularly badly exploited by their employers. Just think about it for a moment.

Supermarkets of any size are Food City, Keells, Laugfs, Arpico, and Sathosa, the latter owned by the Government

All other retail are small, where if the staff are exploited, it is simply the fault of the employee to suffer in silence, as he or she can leave in an instant as vacancies outnumber job seekers 25 to 1 in this field.

So I ask, we now have an open system of recruitment, where all supermarkets are desperate for employees, and it is up to the employee to continue in service or leave for better prospects. If there are people who want security of employment, then they have to suffer the ignominy of putting up with terms that are unfair or exploitative, but that is only because they choose this security for the chance of perhaps bettering themselves.

There was NO reference in the report above to there being NO alternatives for the disgruntled employees to consider. In today’s labor market, the real problem for all employers, be they Supermarket Chains or any other private company, large or small is the rapid turnover of staff. We are in a labor market that has many vacancies and staff look at all opportunities available to them in choosing to remain or leave, for better prospects. This holds true at ALL LEVELS of employment, from the cleaner right up the chain of command to the boss.

Going back to the supermarket labor force, the staff in these companies compare benefits all the time, as they are in play, meaning they will move for better prospects, depending on their mobility, taking into account their personal circumstances. There is competition for staff and gradually I have noticed that staff gravitate to those who give the best overall package, that consists of working hours, wage rates, benefits in kind, be they be travel, meals, accommodation, child care, promotion prospects, and the chances of those showing promise to rapidly rise through the ranks.

When a staffer says they are poorly paid, they are simply being exploited, because they have chosen to continue to work in the same establishment, without moving out, the reasons for inertia are not all that clear.
One is free to leave to another employer. Vacancies in every Sunday Newspaper seems to defy all sense, for us to imagine that there are no people to fill them.

I personally would turn the whole retail debate on its head, and tell the employers that the ball is in their court to offer the best package that is financially justifiable for the organization to be profitable to the extent it needs to be. IF by doing so they are able to recruit capable, willing and able staff, they will then draw customers in more than they do now. The article assumes, Supermarkets are bent on paying staff a minimum wage which is not sufficient to live on. Well if that is true, no one will take those jobs due the marketplace having more choices. There is a huge dearth of housemaids in Sri Lanka as there is for drivers, obviously people who chose these fields do so because they believe the working condition are more conducive, as otherwise they would leave. So the whole point of the article is lost, and much ado about nothing.

It is also worth mentioning that the overtime carrot is always placed in front of all employees in all fields, not just in retail, to show the potential income if they work the said hours. It is a calculation that is easily done, and frankly, the retailers, being so short staffed and unable to recruit give the existing staff the chance of working many many hours of overtime, with the human limit, being the reasonable amount one can actually work without getting ill from overwork!

It is just as well to point out that employers don’t give staff a large basic salary as the EPF and ETF calculation is based on basic salaries and not on the overtime their staff work. Further let’s not forget that overtime is a factor of the hourly basic wage, and so when that basic wage is higher so is the overtime, a further reason NOT TO PAY a high basic as overtime can be a multiple of that wage, especially when it comes to statutory obligation to pay double time for working on Sundays or Poya Days, actually preferred dates for staff to work on due to extra pay earned then.

From this summary hear, I trust that the reader is able to come to a conclusion that there are options for all people, and those stuck in retail are those incapable of doing anything else, but who should not blame their employers for that predicament, but themselves alone, either due to a lack of education, lack of mobility to move to where better employment prospects are available or simply because they like the devil they know to the devil they don’t!

It is up to each individual to work out their best personal work life balance bearing in mind what’s available. What the state should do is reduce the attraction of Govt. jobs that lead to dissatisfied private sector employees. They compare the NO WORK environment of many public sector jobs, from which to make comparisons and therefore bemoan their lot for journalists to write crap

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Kalawewa National Park – a haven for drunkards to provoke elephants!

Kalawewa National Park, was designated as such over 3 years ago, but is still treated like a playground for locals to come and have a rollicking time, at the expense of the Elephants it is supposed to protect.

On Monday, 27th August 2018, I came to the Nikinniya village side of the Kalawewa National Park, after purchasing my Park Entry Ticket at the Park HQ office, temporarily located on rented property in Galkiriyagama, about 20 kilometers away, and I went over public paved roads to get to the entrance, bar the last 2 km.

I came with a DWC tracker, and entered from the Kekirawa Thalawa Road to the village and then into the park, which had NO SIGNAGE or fence, right into what seemed a large open grassland leading to the water. I was shown an approximate place where one day an Electric Fence will run through.

I was told it had been delayed due to a dispute over lands that locals who have never cultivated, are claiming to be ancestral land on spurious grounds, perhaps their grandfathers had done Chena Cultivation and should simply be acquired into the park, but for local political interference to assert their rights in return for political patronage.

On a separate note, personally speaking, the DWC should allocate as much land as possible to the Park, purchasing land if necessary and fencing it to prevent HEC, and perhaps even two fences in parallel to deter poachers, illegal fishermen using unauthorized nets and unauthorized entry of locals for a fun afternoon.

Upon entering this beautiful scene, and turning right into a sea of open bills, a truly magnificent sight, we drove quietly past them leaving sufficient room not to alarm them and until we were met with a magnificent sight at 2pm of over 200 elephants with two junior tuskers among them happily eating the grass by the side of the lake. We actually spent 2 ½ hrs just watching this one sight of the herd, with different members either taking their babies for a drink, or others going for a dip and still other juniors enjoying a frolick in the water.

Upon entry, as I have said there was no fence, neither were there any signs informing us we were entering a prohibited area, or part of a National Park or any such signage. I am told there is a fence in a different part of this National Park, fencing the villages from the Park, and it is this Nikinniy section that is of most concern at present without the fence and which has three entry points into the grass plains of the park, that is being used by the public.

On the other side from where I was watching the elephants, there was a family who had come in a red three wheeler, who were bating in the water of the Tank, and when they saw two elephants approach the tank for a drink, over 100M away from them, they ran towards the elephants shouting at them and chasing them away. I have photographic evidence of the people running towards the elephant to chase them away. Once these elephants left they continued their bath. They have to local people who have been used to bating here before the park was so demarcated, asserting their rights over the elephants, or so it seemed.

After a long while, we decided to leave and retraced our steps and we were confronted with over 6 motorbikes of men about a dozen, who clearly looked as if they were drinking and had come to the Park to finish what they had begun. Some had their lights on in broad daylight, clearly to distract and provoke any elephants they encounter. The park ranger was UNABLE even to ask them to leave, as apart from being outnumbered, what is he to say, when they say there is no barrier, signage or patrolling of the park! THIS IS CRAZY!

Surely has it taken the DWC so long to provide this Park with sufficient signage, to be placed in the habitual entry points to prevent local people in the know to enter at all? I spoke with Mr Ramasinghe the Warden of the Kalawewa National Park, who said that he is trying to get some local sponsorship to provide some signage as a matter of urgency, as these requests sent to the Head Office in Colombo don’t seem to get the urgency it requires. Until the  area is demarcated his staff are simply HELPLESS to counteract the BOORISH elements intent on confrontation with the animals, they are supposed to protect.

Apparently I was told, on the previous day, Sunday, 26th August 2018, there were over 200 people in this location where we confronted the bikers. There were 23 vehicles counted, and over 50 motorbikes, with people bathing, drinking, picnicking, provoking elephants and generally having fun!

Further, and more importantly, they had prevented this same herd we saw, from entering the water to drink. They would eventually have come after dusk, but with their numerous baby elephants and wishing to drink and frolic as is their nature, to be prevented was in itself being a nuisance.

This appears to be the order of the day at weekends and holidays that this location is used by the public as a place of recreation, but why?

Personal Note

Clearly the State is unable to assert their rights, due to opposing claims and interests, all which result in the likely disappearance of the Elephant and with that Humanity as we know it in Sri Lanka.

If they cannot do so, then at least permit this to be made into the first privately managed National Park, where the study of Tuskers can be done in situ, to ensure that the gene pool that is now threatened with extinction, may at least have one more chance of proper study for survival.

They should then be permitted to purchase land around the Park, to enlarge its area, legitimately so that the restricted area of this park at present which makes it difficult for the herds to move through elephant corridors, a better chance of so doing.


Today, 27th August 2018, the Minneriya National Park was closed due to some confrontation with the fisher folk who use the Tank for fishing. SO the Tourists used Kaudulla Park as the only alternative for visitation. I came across many jeeps returning from Kaudulla as I was on the Rotawewa Tank bund observing birds at the time after returning from Kalawewa and before nightfall.

They said that over 100 jeeps were chasing after 4 elephants there, by which time, I was the only person to observe the Kalawewa sight, which none of he hotel owners seem to want their guests to enjoy, as well as the single Tusker who was holding up the traffic on the Habarana Minneriya main road, as he was in musth (I have photos to prove that) and these poor tourists missed that sight too. If truth be told the driving time from the elephants to Habarana, 45 minutes.

There is something wrong with our ability to please tourists to Sri Lanka, as many may have already visited the Kandy Perehara. The Jeep Drivers, Jeep Operators and the local hotels in Sigiriya, Dambulla, Habarana, and Giritale area appear to only want to fleece tourists who spend on average Rs7,500 per head, for the package to see, and are led a dance showing them 4 elephants, instead of stating the truth, as there have been few elephants in either park these days. All of the above have made their money, it is just the tourist who is given the run around that normally there are hundreds, but today they are out of luck.

If I was a tourist, who was shown the Kalawewa sight, they would want their money back or would create a stink on social media that would end the day for the 1,000 jeeps and their owners in the greater Habarana catchment area.    

Monday, August 27, 2018

Yesterday’s kafuffle in Minneriya National Park! Just another day in the battle to save our biodiversity - It’s a hard life

As is their right, last afternoon, the Park Rangers of the Minneriya Park, arrested a fisherman, for loitering on the park grounds. The fishermen are NOT allowed to go on land in the park grounds, they are permitted at certain stipulated times to fish in the Minneriya Tank, and they can go ashore on the bund side of the tank, that is out of the National Park Boundary.

Hundreds of fisherman and the local thugs surrounded the park offices and beat up the Park Rangers doing their job and many have now been hospitalized. There has been no action taken as of the following morning 8am, why?

The law should hold for all, and if it is broken people should be punished, and those defending the law should be protected from the law.

Where is the police in taking action against the mob who beat up the Park Officials who were just doing their job? Who is more important to the police? Who are they trying to protect? Unless rules are enforced there is no point in having rules for people to break thinking they are beyond the law.

It is a reminder to the general public that protecting the National Park boundaries is an ongoing, extremely hazardous task left to the minor staff of the DWC. They have to contend with Poachers, who leave traps that can kill and maim park staff as well as anyone who happens to tread on them. Then there are unauthorized cattle that stray into park lands that lead to issues with DWC staff reprimanding the owners to keep their livestock away. Elephants don’t like to eat grass grazed upon already by domestic cattle. Then there are the fishermen who have strict rules to adhere to, with regard to balancing the Park property with their own livelihood as fresh water fisherman.

As part of the latter balancing act, where no one is allowed to even get down from their vehicles when in the Park, except in a few permitted places, it is alarming to see fisherman nonchalantly whizzing by in the bikes with their fishing tackle and catch inside the park.

No one wants to interfere, “the ALMIGHTY vote BANK seems to be the threat they face”. Don’t forget the park staff are mere employees from all parts of the Country. The fisherman are a local vote bank to which the local politician plays pandam, and the local police are in hock with for all the sins in creation. The DWC is isolated unless, they have their own security force to protect their property! How’s that for a suggestion? 

A literal TURF WAR. Appreciate the real threat that the Island with the greatest biodiversity on the planet faces from its own citizens, who just don’t care, in this protection of their own from the law, to them to hell with Biodiversity!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

All about Education – nothing about the need to motivate / interest / excite to develop a love for learning for a purpose, using inherited aptitude!

In today’s papers there are so many discussions about how much is to be spent on education to produce the raw material of HR for the future workforce, but nowhere in this minefield of humungous expenditure plans is there a reference to the key that needs to be opened before any of this proposed expense can begin to achieve the objectives set.

What is that key?

A motivated student, who is interested in the subject matter of study to pursue a field of interest with excitement AND has the aptitude to develop their skills to benefit from it, while supplying their services to the workforce that needs it and not move away overseas, where pastures are considered better.

The secret to education is the above paragraph of the Raw Material our Human Resource.

Just read the links to the staggering amounts to be spent in the next few years. Are you satisfied that the resources spent will achieve the KEY above, or have we as usual forgotten the wood from the trees? You decide.


The US$100M is going to total waste as the key is not addressed sufficiently

Before aligning with economic goals, we need the key ready to be directed to the economic goals

NHRDC comes with Education Proposal of over Rs450Billion for the 2019 budget – but none of the jokers there has proposed anything other than step motherly treatment to year 3 to 5 education that is the key

Doesn’t this prove that our experts are OFF THE MARK? – FAILURE is the result, and knowing the outcome, we must change our thinking fast to the PRIORITY

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My conclusion after ten years of blogging - a change in the way we think

To commemorate my 1000th, yes one thousandth post in this blog that has an overriding theme, of improving the quality of life of ALL who live in this Serendipitous Island, I summarize as follows:

I have covered some topics at length if only because when I wake up in the morning, that theme resonates in my mind as one that requires inquiry. Surprise then that Education takes the top spot in the most number of blog posts. To keep this post short and sweet, I will concentrate on that which is IMPORTANT.

So what is the conclusion of hundreds of pages of writing on Education?

We have to begin at birth with the mother, the way she treats the child, nourishes the child and the environment she exposes the child to. The first 5 years are crucial to how the child will behave for the REST OF THEIR LIVES, and so all contact, examples and interventions made in those years will have a marked effect on the rest of their lives. So let’s concentrate on the positive.

It is with this truth, now an accepted fact that children exposed to bi-lingualism and tri-lingualism will have the best chance of success, with the morality and values taught in the home, supplemented in their pre-school. This leads to the return of pre-schools that were best in the world a hundred or so years ago, where children played with their siblings and others without toys, but with supervision of an older sibling/adult, who explored their own interests and creativity encouraged to show their natural inclinations.

This does not require much expense, except a well-educated pre-school teacher nuanced in this technique aimed at exploring the natural curiosity of a child along with socialization skills that permit group activity which builds tolerance and disregard all man made barriers of sex, race, religion and class, as completely superfluous to personal development.

While I agree, that beginning from the present predicament we find ourselves in to put all emphasis on pre-school teachers to fill in the void created by bigoted parents, who know little better, as society has sadly conditioned them thus, is a tall order. If funds are ONLY directed to this end now, we will have a nation squarely with their head on their shoulders, without superstition and prejudice that looks at all outcomes rationally, to make collective decisions to benefit all human kind, along with the respect for the environment as a prerequisite for survival of Homo Sapiens. We must have the benefit of the basics, which are free access to clean air, clean water and clean food, before we venture into the areas of sustainable development, from that foundation to grow and prosper.  

I refer to a link about pre-school and why we had the best - see below

Friday, July 13, 2018

Where is the outcry? Gampaha District in the Western Province –In 2016 16.4% of Children under 5 are WASTING, as compared with 11.4% in 2006!! WHY?


What does wasting mean? Undernourished/ Malnourished

Please read the link below in full in yesterday’s Daily Mirror Newspaper, to appreciate and understand the true extent of Child Malnourishment in Sri Lanka today. While politicians are fighting each other and jockeying for position, our kids are starving, due in most part to their policies.

Shame Shame Shame, for the most populous and supposedly the most prosperous district, in 10 years to increase malnourishment from 11% to 16%.

We are regressing as a Nation in indicators. If Gampaha cannot manage this issue who else can.

So why? Well let’s start with common sense and address this problem rationally.

Its public servants who don’t do what they have been tasked with – STUPID!

Sri Lanka has a very comprehensive system of Public Servants to cover every eventuality. Each of the 335 Divisional Secretariats in the Country has Officers entrusted to all areas that affect the people who live in their catchment areas. So there is an officer ONLY responsible for Children’s Welfare, and there are 33 other positions, like Youth Affairs, Women, Disaster, Agriculture, Health and so on and so forth!

In addition to that each GN division (approximately 100 homes) has a Grama Niladari who is the State Representative who should know about every household, and their economic status and needs. On top of this each GN division also has a Samurdi Niyamaka, whose task is to ensure that the needy receive the basic welfare that the state provides and in entitled to any program that helps them obtain their basic needs.


Well they are obviously doing less now than they did in 2006. So what has changed? Well under the previous administration, jobs were given to Samurdi Niyamakas based on POLITICAL PATRONAGE. Obviously during this period the people who are tasked with ensuring that people don’t go hungry, are in fact only stuffing their stomachs and wallets, by ensuring welfare only goes to their friends who don’t need it and not to the poor who need it. Have you now heard this story before.

Well now you have heard the consequence of political patronage – STARVATION OF OUR KIDS – OUR FUTURE


Surely, they could have fired all the Samurdi Niyamakas saying that they have failed in their tasks of ensuring that the needy are assisted.

We know that Gampaha was the worst in stuffing the Public Sector with jobs for the boys, and don’t we know Basil Rajapakse was at the forefront of this exercise.

So why don’t we directly blame Basil Rajapakse for malnutrition as we have the facts to hand?

Because we have people in power who don’t understand what their job specification is and how they can correct the ills of society for which they have been elected.

I am really ashamed about this fact of malnutrition as it is simply unforgivable, and no one seems to have raised this issue before and done something about it.

Why do we send people to Diyawanna Oya Parliament? To swim in the Oya or to work for the welfare of the people they represent? Well on the second point they have not done their basics.

Is the Prime Minister even aware of this? Is the Child Affairs Minister aware of this? Has she given this information to the PM? We waste our time chasing away the State Minister of Child Affairs for wanting the LTTE back, but we say nothing about the fact that we are killing our children with increasing frequency. What kind of priorities are they?

Is mass killing of children less important to put in the news than a woman wishing the return of the LTTE? 


Dr Siran Deraniyagala – Periodic Human Waves Determine the Genetic Makeup of all who live in Mother Lanka – we had better be prepared for it.

The lecture last evening (12th July 2018) @ the PGIAR, (Post Graduate Institute of Archeology and Research, was to be on Pre Historic Settlements. However Dr Siran Deraniyagala, a former Director General of Archeology, spoke on the arrival of humans through history into Lanka. This was in the presence of a distinguished gathering that included renowned Archeologists, Dr Roland Silva, a former Director General and ex Ambassador Sudarshan Seneviratne, who as Professor of Archeology in Peradeniya University, is the only Chair of Archeology in the University System, among them.

His talk was on the history of human existence in Sri Lanka, and the most likely period in which they initially came, beginning with the present estimate of over 150,000 years ago from South India over the land bridge that would have been there in that period. They have yet to find genetic material to determine if these early humans were Homo Sapiens or a an earlier version, but with more recent arrivals and finds of human skeletal remains, we know for certain that Homo Sapiens – Anatomically Modern Humans are dated to 40,000 years ago, and is equivalent to the earliest finds in all of Asia.

What he says is that prior to the Iron Age, and Agriculture, Humans would have come to Lanka when the carrying capacity in their locations in India were exceeded and a more aggressive wave of humans banished existing inhabitants from their lands and they had no option as hunter gatherers to come to Lanka over the land bridge.

Wave after wave of humans descended upon the other, and with intermarriage merely added to the gene pool, and not until the Iron Age and Agriculture, which then increased the Human Carrying Capacity in Lanka, there was only a limited carrying capacity as Humans had to compete with animals for space.

The earliest inscriptions found date to between 500BC and 600BC and inscriptions immediately bestow a higher form of civilization as data could be passed down to generations more accurately rather than through word of mouth.

Later on as the world developed more waves of people including the arrival of Vijaya, which was BUT ONE of the many waves to descend on this Country, culminating in Portuguese, Dutch and English, who then brought Indian Indentured labor to add to the history of movement of humans into Lanka. As I have noted in my blog posts earlier, there are more humans waves yet to come. This will further add to the gene pool and finally put to rest the fallacy of any pure race concept. Once all the work is completed on gene mapping, perhaps in the next 20 years many of our common pre-conceptions will change.  

Many of  the myths relating to Vijaya and Kuveni will once and for all be dispatched into common forklore, once conclusive evidence emerges with advances in technology. Then even Ravana and his flying machine, that the majority of Sri Lankans still cling to as fact will merely be stuff of fiction.

Have we lost sight of the key ingredient to draw FDI after improving the ease of doing business indicators?

Its the 21st Century Education Stupid

When Samsung decided to invest heavily in Vietnam, they looked first at the labor force, not its cost, but its flexibility in turning out their smart phones in the manner they wanted. They were able to motivate and get productivity and consistency out of the labor force. 

In 2016 Samsung alone accounted for US$40B of exports per annum from Vietnam, all within a period of 15 years, when Sri Lanka's total exports per annum of all products is only US$10B. Further Samsung brand accounts for 23% of total exports from Vietnam. This is HUGE. In 2018 this would have grown further no doubt. So what should Sri Lanka do to try and even attempt at attracting such a manufacturer, as Textiles have limited upside potential?

For Sri Lanka the key in TOTAL FACTOR PRODUCTIVITY, (the essential for an economy to grow, especially with exports), is labor productivity, the most difficult and the only area we have room for improvement if we are to grow, export, and improve the quality of life of even the labor force, both public and private.

A reminder that in the export market, you have to compete on price with the rest of the world, and unless you are competitive, you cannot export if others in other countries can produce for less. So efficiency is the key there and labor productivity is vital, as the capital and financial inputs are the same for all.

I will only concentrate on Education in this essay that is a key component of labor productivity, and we place too little emphasis on this point.

I will give an example to make the point. We all know about baases and how difficult it is to find one, how much their daily rate is, and how they play hookie never turning up when you expect them, because they for some insane reason known only to them, they take on 10 jobs at a time and try to juggle between them, thereby delaying 10 projects by their own folly. We are stuck because of the shortage of baases, while everyone knows that baases are highly paid.

So why are there NO BAASES to supply the demand? Whose fault is it? Why have we not placed more emphasis of putting Baases at the top of the Professional Elite, when they can earn more than Doctors?

These are all societal questions that have not yet been tackled, but MUST be tackled and the answer is Education and Apprenticeship, as the earning potential is for 18 year old to earn a decent daily wage, upon which he can build a skill which will allow him independence in life.

So the answer is taking the easy route. I know personally of the Baas who built a shop for me, who is now driving a three wheeler, which he feels is less juggling and easy money in comparison, despite the higher daily rate. This is very surprising and upon further investigation, this outdoor work at Rs3,000 per day is frowned upon to driving a three wheeler for a net Rs2,000 a day sure and easy money.

So what is the key? Education, a qualification that is recognized. Working in overalls as a mark of high standard all count. We only have to look at Builders in other countries who have to have a certificate of competence before they can undertake such work. They then take pride in their profession and adhere to the standards of the industry in order to build their reputation, part of which will be in taking up assignments and completing them on time for reward, bonus for on time completion etc.
As you may know the past few blog entries have concentrated on the need for Education Institutions to train people, especially people already in the workforce who have not undergone training in the past, which results in poor productivity, which with training has a chance of increasing the productivity soon thereafter.

So both on the job training in the form of apprenticeship schemes, and qualifications that are necessary to take on work will go hand in hand in improving the appalling level of labor productivity that is a massive drag on growth in Sri Lanka.

Back to the paucity of an educated workforce. Instead of by rote learning, our education should concentrate on application oriented learning to meet industry and workplace requirements.

What the private sector requires is people with integrity, who can think and solve problems. Teamwork is an essential part of it as work is done in teams to finish projects to client expectations. The present education system is NOT geared to meeting those requirements and only tests an individuals ability to accumulate knowledge, not problem solving, given a set of challenges.

The private sector do what they can, (limited though to resources available to improve the thinking skills of their staff) however there must be a commitment on the part of the state to change the thrust of education overall to meet these demands.

The fact that education was historically geared to filling government sector jobs, it has not created the workforce needed for the Private Sector. As a result the demand of school leavers is for stable, safe and secure Public Sector jobs. That is what they are trained for, their demands being very limited and their output similarly so. Society is also at fault for encouraging this form of employment and changing this mindset is another challenge, I will not address here.

Unless we turn the whole system on its head, and only train people for Private Sector jobs, the Public Sector can then absorb the benefits of this thinking to make it more efficient, from the new approach. It’s a win win solution for the economy. The sooner we can adopt it the sooner we will see the positive results.


We can only move forward if we have a determined, leadership that changes the emphasis of learning to meet tomorrow’s workforce, and for that, Education has to be turned on its head literally, and a new culture developed. Can we do it? If we cannot, then stop talking about matching the global marketplace for our citizens.