Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The looming crisis in Education - Parents MUST be held responsible for!

I was in conversation with some teachers of State Schools in the Provinces, who made a startling observation about the parents of their charges, and the pressure they place on their children to attend all types of after school tuition classes, which result in their children’s inability to do ANY form of extra-curricular activity.

This means that either Cadeting, Scouting, Athletics, Contact Sports, Cricket Activity teachers have fewer kids following their programs. This goes completely against the grain of building leaders of the future, and well-rounded students who can take on all comers. Which begs the question, that we as a country is becoming further divided into Private Education, arming their charges to face the world as well rounded and consequently, children with many interests and pastimes, where Public Education is directing children further towards by rote education to pass exams, in the mistaken belief of parents that, these extra-curricular activity is OF NO USE for later life.

This together with the spoilt generations, where mothers take their children by scooter to school, or the father by motorbike, means they refuse to walk the 15 minutes to school from villages, if either of them is indisposed, that they resort to ordering the local three wheeler driver to take them instead. This breeds a child who has never walked to school, is NOT used to getting any exercise, as they don’t do any sport activity either, effectively leading to childhood obesity, due to COMPLICITY on the part of parents who don’t seem to understand how seriously their actions, giving into their children’s needs, to say nothing of the smart phone menace that has now embroiled all rural schools, as a fad, is now producing a zombie.

The child does not know the way to their own school if they are taken by car, as the child is engrossed in their phones all the way to school! They cannot find their way to school, they have lost any sense of direction, independence, and assertiveness of doing things on their own, having everything done for them.

If this sounds like how Colombo 7 children, think again. The Colombo children are encouraged on the whole by enlightened parents to follow other pursuits, and parents often get very involved in their children’s activity through active parent teacher groups encouraged by the schools.

In provincial and rural schools, teachers don’t encourage parental involvement, many teach not for the love of teaching but for the appointment at the rural school they receive “as a right of passage” looking for the first opportunity to be transferred! How then can students get a good education?

When pressed for answers from parents in the provinces when I made this accusation direct to them as to why they don’t encourage their kids to be more independent, they gave some very disturbing reasons.

One was that all children follow their peers. They cannot study without going to tuition, because not only are teachers not up to teaching standard, but all their friends also go to tuition, so they insist on it. If asked to go to Cadet, they say that it is NOT safe as the children will be mixing with rough kids of the neighborhood and become part of these school gangs and also get introduced to the drug culture lurking around in schools, when they turn their heads from having their children under their constant gaze!

I found this excuse quite unexpected! The fear of children getting introduced to soft of hard drugs was paramount. They cant even trust peppermint as drugs are infused in such products, and they have to protect their children from them. I don’t know how true this is in reality, but it is definitely a reason given for being overprotective over their kids.

I am at a loss as to what to do in this situation! Does it mean we are bringing up different types of students from different backgrounds and open to all sorts of addictions which were NOT present in our day. They tell me that International Schools are also hives of drug activity, so they don’t see that those children get a better education despite the results overall to the contrary.

I believe that parental involvement of parents is the KEY. Rich or poor, we cannot trust the environment around our children, but we MUST get involved in making every attempt that they get an all-round education that will build character and leadership, being able to stand on their own feet in society, and be empowered to become independent despite close parental supervision in their progress, with or without tuition.

So how do we go about doing this? Parents education of how to manage the pressures of today’s society, with a drug culture that pervades Cities and Villages alike. We may have to explain to them what is needed in society for their children to succeed in a competitive world, not being mollycoddled to an extent of being unable to do anything for themselves.  

So how can we explain the importance of BAHIRA AVABODAYA? Especially as today’s children are stuck in their own world, home, smart phone, selfishness, not sharing with others, or for that matter not even playing with others at home or at school, with at most one best friend with whom they will do all their after school activity. This I believe is an important topic for discussion in developing a broad based education for our youth.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pareto Principle Revisited

The Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) found that 80% of the effects came from 20% of the causes, and that rule has existed thereafter in applying to everyday instances where 20% effort leads to 80% of the results.

What we as practitioners of this rule MUST determine is what 20% of effort to choose to achieve this 80% of the results as otherwise you turn this on its head!

This is therefore a guide to all of us, to know that in doing anything, we must understand what is the most productive 20% of any action, to reap the maximum reward? This will save time and money on hair-brained schemes that achieve nothing because we are focusing on the wrong agenda or action!

By the way Pareto found that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people, another way of using this 80/20 rule.

So how do we apply this principle to our everyday lives? It is all about prioritizing our lives, to maximize satisfaction!

The attached link is not directly Pareto related, but goes to show that some people even with the wherewithal get bogged down in minutiae that they could very well afford to delegate to paid labor, servants maids, chauffeurs call it what you will so they have a greater sense of enjoyment.

Pareto if he lived today, would tell people to use his principle to determine what is important, prioritize them and then put them in order of importance, and attack the most important one first that will give you the greatest satisfaction and often, only when you list it, will you realize that both cost the same or take the same time, but are immensely different in their personal satisfaction index.

So in my case, though I own only two vehicles, both two wheeled hand tractors that are over 15 years old and would NOT have a resale value of even $100 each,  and do not have a bank account that will enable me to get even the cheapest car one could find, I still have the use of a company car and driver, that enables me to get home at any hour of the night from any event, back to the farm from even a night out in Colombo, not bad for a disabled person who is unable to drive at the moment. In the same vein, I know many who have cars worth Rs40M in their Colombo Garages who tell me that their driver goes home at 5pm so they are NOT able to come unless someone picks them up! 

How absurd is that? Does the car or a night driver give more satisfaction?  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The story of Dinesh – is the story of Sri Lanka – we all have it in us to achieve


What I do often when I interview 20 somethings who are looking for jobs is to open their EYES.

They come to me with their eyes closed, blind for want of a better word, and all I can do, is to try and make them see. No one, yes No one seems to have had the presence of mind to shake our youth from this unreal dream they have, into this world of real opportunity that they know nothing about.

Sometimes we say oh today’s kids just don’t enjoy life like we did when we were young, yes that is true, and it is also true for the generation before that, and before that. That is called life, as each year changes from the year before, nothing remains the same, and its tough, but we just have to accept it and learn to live with it.

Something however has changed with today’s youth who are ZOMBIES, mechanical robots, lifeless ghosts, expressionless statues, ‘you get what I mean!’

So it is extremely heartwarming when a story like Dinesh’s hits the media, see link below which is well worth reading:

Full marks then to this young man, who wins the Gold Medal, and all this in just 8 months. Thanks to Dilmah, that is doing a stirling job finding, plucking and then enabling with their funds, to allow these little gems of our youth who come from the most unfortunate of circumstances, a chance at getting a REAL foothold on life.

I keep saying those born in Sri Lanka are the best of the best on earth, and our systems fail them, our education eats them up and sucks out all the creativity that God has given, and it is now up to us to correct this gross deceit of false promises and expectations and turn it into a productive outcome just like in the case of Dilmah that has enabled this young man Dinesh to take the first step out of poverty and insecurity to help himself and his country as a worthwhile citizen.

It is this can do spirit that must return, as years of entitlement culture spawned by self-serving politicians, who have used government jobs carrot to manipulate the masses into being political hacks merely to expect government largess, which had led to this state of impotence. 

Let’s applaud and emulate Dilmah

Boredom – “a light bulb moment waiting to happen”

The article written today in the BBC website link below, proposes the hypotheses that boredom, may actually be a sign of creativity or may result in a font of new ideas that improve one’s own quality of life, let alone introduce something that benefits the world around us.

Personally I don’t like to use the word bored at all, it is contemplation time that I would rather call it, that now as I age and wake up at 4am each morning have an hours thinking time, and this thinking is what I have put down in my blog here at as most of which is original thought borne out of thinking. Over ten years I have over 1,000 blog entries mostly generated out of this thinking/kalpanakarana welawa, and hence the blog name.

Different people have different abilities and desires. I gave up a fairly interesting life overseas, in a material sense, having lived there for 33 years. Then, I could indulge in my favorites like smoked salmon and malt whiskey, going to the horse races or driving around the National Parks, or driving my Jaguar on intercontinental road trips, (my car crossed the Atlantic twice) those pleasures I get extremely infrequently these days, and returned to Sri Lanka, thirteen years ago to see what I could do, and also to contribute something to the fabric of this society, at that time engrossed in a brutal civil war.

So this excessive thinking I seem to engage in, as an antidote to depression if I merely consider my circumstances alone! Has led me to expound on hair brained ideas, which in reality appear far more sound and grounded than some of the actual events I read about in Sri Lanka on a daily basis.

What I mean above, is that the reality SOAP OPERA that is played out in the media, documenting what is going on in this country, of the very reporting of the day to day work of our leaders and their henchmen, makes my ideas borne out of boredom/thinking time seem like a walk in the park, staid and mundane.

Contrary to popular myth as evidenced in social media about my life, (remember FB only shows an event when I am out and about) it is quite solitary, and purposeful on mundane activity of living and earning and paying one’s way to survive in this world, when one is relatively parsimonious out of necessity, I fortunately due to my inquisitive nature and enquiring mind and voracious appetite for gaining ideas on some new aspect of thinking, spend all the remaining waking hours day dreaming with a purpose.

What is that purpose? it is simply ways and means on how we in Sri Lanka can improve the quality of life of everyone who lives here, and voila is the result. Thinking about it now, I could have changed the heading of the essay to why I named this blog and how I found an outlet there for sharing these bits of wisdom, some more off the charts than others, but nevertheless a breadth of fresh air.

I suppose I am frustrated that I have not been able to get it to the audience who really would benefit from most of this writing and that is the Sinhala speaking youth, who will find inspiration here for their purpose in life, something I find sadly lacking in them due to their poor education, that has replaced thinking with rote learning.

Anyway, coming back to the topic, I want to suggest to my reader that they set aside time in their day or week for doing nothing, (easier said than done) to explore their thoughts and find their inner self first, to know what makes them tick, and want to get up in the morning, and TRY to do something in life that makes them happier, as all our lives have the happy times and sad time, the good times and bad times, and we must just try to lengthen the good, while minimizing the bad, in order to enhance our happiness.

All this sounds very philosophical, but delve into the long article in the link, read it carefully, as it requires three passes at it before you understand in essence what it is trying to say, even though you think you got it the first time round. These kinds of articles never appear in normal reading, or media, and require some contemplation in applying it to your own circumstances.

Frankly, life is monotonous without the element of creativity, or improvement to a task or function we currently indulge or engage in. This exercise helps you to find a further step up in the satisfaction index, without having to be enslaved in the salvation of religion to rush to in times of crisis, as that does NOT solve your problems, this creative and contemplative time of day dreaming COULD actually be the savior of our mundane lives into something that is far more meaningful and purposeful.

In a crazy world where time is the last thing we have, where we rush around like headless chickens to simply live, we will find ourselves dead before we have time for ourselves; a moment before sleeping or soon after waking, at the silent time of the day to think about improving our lives for the better and with it the lives of others. Then set the day in motion by taking those ideas into the day and act on some aspect of our creativity we get in this eureka moment, for want of a better word. It is inadvisable to merely live an eventful life full of engagements, or fill ones day and dates with activity for oneself or ones children without the 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A worthy critique on the true value of Higher Education – Qualifications!

Today’s Daily Mirror has an excellent article on the value to society of Higher Education. I recommend you read it and I just wish it is published in Sinhala, so that our intelligent students aiming for qualifications realizes that to mean much it is how knowledge is used for the benefit of oneself AND society that matters most.

I was thinking how we in Sri Lanka value qualifications above all, and spend a lifetime to acquire them in the belief that society judges our worth by the number of letters we have after our names and that somehow enables us to be thought off highly by people. Well to an extent it is true in Sri Lanka, as that is how we are programmed like robots to think.

This reminded me of an event I attended recently, where we spent so much time going through the persons achievements, especially the qualifications that person had to somehow bestow an aura that what he or she has to expound due to these qualifications is somehow far more reliable and believable than someone who does not have an iota of qualification, though years of life experience on the subject from which to expound their hypotheses.

Sri Lanka has dismally failed in everything we do, because though we have the most qualified accountants, there are more double and triple accountants in Sri Lanka than anywhere else in the world, however we have the LEAST BUSINESS savvy accountants in the world too, who don’t understand how a business is truly run, and the new methodology of adaptability each second to changes in the environment in which a particular business operates.

I as a farmer can with my hand in my heart say, that the SL farmer is the most attuned to constant changing environments. He even has to deal with changes to his prices many times a day. If you go to a Pola, and you see the farmers bringing their produce to sell, you will see them JUDGE the lay of the land, look at the competition, and set the price and change that price during the course of the day to match supply with demand, and leave with ALL the produce they brought sold, as otherwise they will just have to throw the perishables away.

So UBER you guys are not the first to have a changing price model, the farmers of Sri Lanka beat you to it, and you SIMPLY ADAPTED it to the vehicle hire business to match supply and demand on a moving continuum, using new technology to enable you to more efficiently manage this model for your benefit. Where in our Universities is this kind of lateral thinking adopted?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Wholescale employment of girls under 18 mainly in retail shops – whose fault is it?

Samanmalee Gunasinghe who is the Co-President of the Women for Rights Movement (JVP affiliated hell raising mouthpiece with NO rational vision) made a statement yesterday, at a press conference to the effect that women are being exploited by the retail trade, against the law of the land, in that those under 18 are being employed for long hours as long as from 8am to 12 midnight!

Is this an allegation AGAINST the Government? Against unscrupulous retailers? Or against women themselves for allowing themselves to be exploited in this way?

Frankly she has missed the BOAT. She must direct her IRE at the JVP itself which associates with every TRAITOROUS intention in our society, which prides itself on taking our country in reverse, which does not have an overall vision of progress for the individual, the very same person that they supposedly are fighting for, and against the establishment. Simply put it is the JVP that allows exploitation of all due to the causes they espouse, befriending the INDEFENSIBLE.

To be on point here, why are youth as young as 14 employed in shops? You look at almost every shop window, for example in Maharagama, an area I frequent, and you see vacancy boards for shop assistants. The shop keepers wish to open hours to provide a service to their customers, and business for themselves, but they SIMPLY CANNOT FIND employees to do those jobs. They have to battle between being competitive, sell all their stock, open all hours for customer convenience, offer a good service to attract repeat customers, MOST OF ALL FIND THE STAFF TO DO ALL OF THE ABOVE!

Why are there so many vacancies? IN fact Sri Lanka has a Million Vacancies and we have over a Million people working in jobs that add to why this Country is going in reverse instead of providing a quality of life for its citizens.

In short JVP unions that protect its people, in obtaining a salary for unproductive work. There is NO worker exploitation in a country that has ONE MILLION VACANCIES as people have the option of leaving and joining a company that they feel works for them. So UNIONS merely protect their membership from competition, and threat to their gravy train of ignoble earnings. Be they the GMOA, be they THE PORT WORKERS UNION, be they IUSF students or be they UNEMPLOYED GRADUATES ORGANIZATION, they are merely trying to get something for nothing!

UNEMPLOYED GRADUATES, when no one in their right minds should be sitting at home NOT working when there are so many available jobs. Even more so for these graduates, traitors of our country, for sitting at home, when there is so much work to do to build this Country to a successful state from a failed nation status. These unemployed graduates, have the common sense surely to see that they can contribute to society, RATHER THAN wait for a job they are NOT capable of doing effectively and often being a burden on the State.

How can you justify someone who has been sitting at home for 4 years waiting for a teaching appointment that they believe is DUE TO THEM? At least that person should have spent that time while waiting for so long, to improve his skills if he had the wherewithal, or at least keep him or herself occupied in some constructive manner, hopefully also earning a living, so they get some idea of what living is all about, independence, managing with what they have got, and perhaps even finding their niche in life, discovering that the job they were originally waiting for is really not one that will give them the security and sense of satisfaction they originally believed they would get.

IT IS THE JVP who seem determined to prevent scholarship, prevent new avenues of hope, and prevent the enterprising from bettering themselves. Lets be clear, I agree there should be rules to prevent slave labor, exploitation, and abuse, I have campaigned for all that. However when a girl, who believes rightly or wrongly that she can earn some money working in a shop, while at the same time pursuing her studies, there is nothing wrong with that. We may wish to limit the hours a girl of 16 can work in a shop, just like in other Countries, but to prevent them from working to help them on their way in life’s ladder, by taking the first steps is abhorrent. DO they want people like the unemployed graduates at 38 still sitting at home, or a 16 year old contributing fully to the service sector of the land? The 16 year old is contributing to boosting the GNP while the 38 year old has leached on the state for all of the 38 years! With full backing of the JVP!

I would ask this Samanmalee to concentrate on making sure that women are protected from exploitation by ensuring there is a night bus service so these girls can go home, safely and cheaply, instead of being exploited by the three wheeler driver who belongs to their JVP affiliated association to protect their rights, so they can turn that girl into a LADY OF THE NIGHT! By offering her a sweetener belittling her retail job over one of pleasuring a punter or a JOHN!

There are many things that an organization representing women’s rights should DO. Please prioritize women’s rights. It should be harassment on transport, and a cry for safe public transport for them to get to work, NOT concentrating on areas, where women are further prevented from working/ earning a living!  

Should we surely not be grateful for living in a Country where there are employment opportunities galore, with the only bar being our unsuitability for what we are aspiring to! We should therefore change our aspirations or train so we are suitable for that position. NO ONE OWES US A LIVING

PS Those who feel they can better themselves overseas, while availing a free education provided by their motherland don't have to repay that cost to the state either, how fortunate that is! 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

National Trust Lecture on the SINHALA ATTITUDE TO KNOWLEDGE by Dr G Uswatte Arachchi @ HNB Towers on 29th June at 6.30pm.

Dr Uswatte Arachchi, is a former Central Banker, CEO of Marga Institute, UN Civil Servent, Economist who did his doctorate at Cambridge etc etc.

I was confused about the topic, as to what it meant. Despite, Dr G U A being quite feeble and old now, he was not well enough to stand to deliver the lecture, so he read out his lecture seated with instructions to the operator to change the slides on his command.

In some cases one had to concentrate a lot to be able to appreciate the nuances and stanzas and changes of dialect to explain what he was on about! His accent and the slight LISHP he had added to that difficulty. I wish the lecture notes were available on line to read afterwards to better grasp these concepts.

I am afraid the Colombo OLDY types who attend these (the National Trust Membership) other than the likes of Professor Gananath Obeysekere who too is feeble, but attended, fail to understand the intellectual gravitas of his speech. It is even more important TODAY to understand why we Sinhala are hidebound from understanding concepts and new technology because of the language and ITS INABILITY to intellectualize the words they use for the new concepts that are part of colloquial English today, that have not dispersed into the Sinhala usage due to the lack of meaningful words being created!

TO be honest it is that much more difficult therefore to write and so in answering exam questions especially in new technology, IN SINHALA, the student is AT A DISADVANTAGE when compared to that of the one who is fluent in English and is able to communicate in English.

That is what this attitude to knowledge really means! There is little appreciation of new knowledge concepts by those whose job it is to devise the words needed!
He mentioned Kumaratunga Munidasa and why he was not sufficiently well recognized in his endeavors and others like Martin Wickremasinghe, and the Anagarika Dharmapala were also referred to.

Sadly there is a huge dearth of real talent even in the Sinhala Language despite the large numbers of people studying Sinhala at A level, due to the lack of alternative subjects at their schools. Sinhala scholars with absolute knowledge today are few and far between, who are sufficiently eminent and conversant of the problem that the Dr Uswatte Atachchi referred to, and this results in a distinct lack of intellectual debate on how Sinhala words change with the times. The likes of Gunadasa Malalasekera still hold forth due to the lack of examples.

The synopsis above is by someone who is NO academic or with no credentials to talk, except to express a personal opinion on what I believe is a problem that persists and needs to be solved, so that we are able like the Japanese and the Germans, to only use their languages in scholarly writings for people using their vernacular can follow, at a better level of understanding than merely be relegated to FB Sinhala that serves NO useful purpose in the overall scheme of academic discourse.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Stress and Stroke Surely are Serial Suspects in Sending Saman to Sansara!

Glowing tributes to a nice man are all I read these few days of people commenting on their personal relationship with Dr. Saman Kelegama, an erudite scholar, but a really down to earth and simple man, approachable to many, who never put his knowledge to pull rank in conversation. His untimely demise, alone in a hotel in Bangkok from a stroke on the 23rd June, is to me the ultimate insult to a man who should have been surrounded and never left alone, to be assisted and chaperoned in the busy schedule he kept.

To me, who knew him and this blog which he followed WHEN TIME PERMITTED, is a loss of someone who I could relate with on a policy level. Though our families have been close, with his father, Dr Jayantha Kelegama, around my father’s age, and going to Trinity at the same time my father was @ Ryde, he was more friendly with an Uncle, as they were at Oxford together. Dr Jayantha had also researched into our families’ history, going back 5 generations, possibly having common ancestors.

My friendship with Saman was much more recent, around 10 years ago, as it began with my meeting him at the IPS to discuss some Agriculture issues, when I was farming, and I introduced him to my extensive writing on Agriculture and Development related topics in my blogs, from the rural areas where I farmed and lived. The one that he was most interested in later, when I moved on from purely agriculture based writings in was, as it was stretching the boundaries, pushing the envelope and challenging current practices. I suppose why it fascinated Saman, was that I was NOT a professional, or an intellectual in the classical sense, I was merely a practitioner and a thinker borne out of working in numerous fields over a period of 40+ years of work, with the goal of improving the quality of life of people who live in Sri Lanka. So I was looking at results, using common sense, and he would add the theory to make it meaningful as a policy tool! He could more easily articulate the economic rationale for what I was writing.

In short we approached the same problem from two completely different ends!

The problem with all this was he, though a policy adviser, had to tread very carefully with the policy makers, and elected officials as well as Government Servants, all of whom had personal agendas, and would not like to be jilted out of their comfort zones. I may be WRONG, but I suspect he was hidebound by playing it safe, NOT to advocate anything more than gentle change in the way things are done. I on the other hand believe there is NO time for that and we have to take serious steps soon if we are to actually make a difference. This is where we differed. He an establishment man trying to change a behemoth from within, and I a carefree thinker, making common sense suggestions based merely on gut feeling on what needs to be done. He perhaps envied my freedom to write what I wanted in my blog, while he was far more constrained in what he could or could not say, knowing that it would be reported upon, critically, and mercilessly if they were outside established norms.

ETICA was an example of him having to face unfair criticism, due to his intellectualizing an issue, where he will be proved correct, but which is unpalatable to a large section of the community, which is completely out of touch with reality in understanding what he had to say, and why. For example in the area of massive vacancies, which cannot be filled locally, we can only achieve our objectives, by employing large numbers of guest workers from overseas. What can you do when the very people who criticize overseas workers are unwilling to do the work themselves and instead will only take easy jobs, in public service, with a large salary and refuse to work diligently even for that.

I wrote a whole speech for him once for the JE Jayasooriya Memorial Oration and sent it to him this February, a week or more prior to the lecture, which he acknowledged, but he did not dare to include some of the suggestions made therein, perhaps he wished to be diplomatic and NOT ruffle any feathers! In fact my version has been printed in this blog at the link below:

All this goes to conclude in MY OPINION which can be incorrect, that he was a prisoner of his circumstance, as a head of an independent QUANGO, but nevertheless paid by the state, in NOT upsetting the status quo, no matter how he believed it should be better carried out in the interests of the Country.

I had NO intellectual baggage, I was a free thinker, and my whole purpose was never to be published, made famous, obtain plaudits, but merely looking at ways and means to improve the quality of life of people who live in Sri Lanka.

I wanted professionals, experts, and policy makers to take those ideas and fine tune them and make them better. This blog talks about a home grown Nationwide Ambulance Service, long before the Indians offered one. We had the vehicles we had the technology, but we did not have a policy maker who could implement this. It had to be India that took the credit for this, and the GMOA had egg on their face in the end when it showed promise, despite their rejection of it. See my proposal in April 2013! In the link below:

This blog entry is NOT an obituary, but an attempt to explain by way of example where Saman’s intellectual capacity to think and suggest was stifled by the system. Just think about it! If I was in his shoes, would I be able to write anything I have written in my blog? However they are ALL suggestions that if implemented, while at times, not be accepted initially, will prove in time to have been in the best interests of the Country. Saman did NOT have that luxury.

Due to his prestige, he was in demand by everyone, to be in the panel to judge, to speak, to attend, to lecture, and join boards, foundations and even be visiting lecturers in overseas and local universities. How much can a man do and have a life to pursue his own interests? I directly accuse those who lay claim to his time, for the stress that he was under. We never go behind the man and ask ourselves are we demanding too much? When you are too nice and don’t refuse what others would think are gift horses, you merely pile on the pressure!

Speaking from experience, today’s youth are intellectually challenged due to social media and such like to concentrate and be specialists in fields, and could not be relied upon to deputize for Saman in instances. This further exacerbated his inability to rely on subordinates to completely write his speeches for him when he was pressed for time. He did not have the confidence that the issue would be articulated in the way he wanted it done. All these add to the inability of our intellectuals to have the time needed for creative thinking, being so heavily involved with duties to perform from the various roles he had taken upon himself.

Who can replace him? There must be 5 people who should take on the work he did, and there aren’t the 5 needed for that task. There is only so much a human being can be called upon to do. Intellectuals are exceedingly professional people in general who take pride in their work. Then if more is expected, then more time has to be allocated to perform the tasks, and then the stress level can rise.

I would have loved the time to discuss each of the topics with him, so that I can get an intellectual and economic perspective on my opinions, but I know I could never ask Saman to give me that input, where I painfully was aware of the huge task he had taken on. It is then a salutary lesson to us all, to be able to say NO. Judging panels on Corporate Accounts for the Institute is merely a fashion show for personal prestige, not an indicator of how well run a company is, so asking Saman to be in the panel to judge these pathetic pieces of shit called financial statements was a dishonor and NOT an honor, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION!

Yes he could have refused, yes he should NOT have taken on so many roles, but the way he was pushed into them by people without an ounce of grey matter, being unable to understand how much work he did, is what is shocking.

I wish to stress that what I have written is my interpretation, and my opinion only, not influenced by anyone else, and I apologize in advance if I am wrong in my understanding. He will no doubt now have the time he did not have in this life to enjoy what he likes to do, or so I hope!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

In a County where Women have a raw deal, who is responsible for their rights?

There are numerous instances where females are exploited in Sri Lanka and the most widely publicized lately is the harassment they face in public transport, which results in many avoiding employment, that requires the use of public transport to arrive at their work place, and only accept employment if there is staff transport provided. This not only clogs up our transport system, where the well-off refuse to use public transport, it also affects women’s participation in the workplace.

I will not go through this particular issue here, as I have already addressed this in my blog perhaps many years ago in one of my postings. I wish to address another very important aspect that impinges on a woman’s civil liberties and human rights, which is NOT addressed in any fora that I am aware of to date.

That is the exploitation of women who have to live outside of their homes, in order to work, and are captive to be exploited by unscrupulous intermediaries that effectively ruin a girl with prospects and hopes and a for want of a better word, “turn her into a BASKET CASE”, affecting her whole life and future.

Don’t forget as a Nation, our female labor force participation is at too small a level for the development we are aspiring to. The Government does NOT have a clear plan in how to increase it and is still struggling to find answers as to why this might be. Have they not got the basic common sense to realize that women are woefully exploited in the workplace? This commonplace attitude is prevalent and is subscribed to by all women, who venture out to work out of sheer necessity. It is important that this attitude changes. 

This can ONLY be done by improvements to their rights and changes to current practices that exploit women in the workplace. Before we talk about equal pay for equal work, a demand in Developed Countries, we must look at all aspects of exploitation and determine that they are stamped out, in order to attract the best and brightest into the workplace, to perform the desperate tasks that our employers require in a Country with so many vacancies in almost ALL fields that cannot currently be filled.

The starting point is of a young fresh faced girl, straight out of school, wanting to earn money, to get what she wants, usually, wanting to be upwardly mobile from a relatively poor rural family, hoping to perhaps save some of it in order to one day find a partner and settle down. This is the hope of most people, no matter what their economic status, but the most vulnerable to exploitation are the ones who come a long way from home, with LITTLE family support in placement, who are forced into situations NOT of their wanting, but are caught by the system of exploitation. I know of many actual instances of this.

No wonder then that the garment industry fails to attract the available women to their factories due to the reputation that has been created, partly with the complicity of the Employer IGNORING the real concerns of the staff.

I wish to select one aspect of this, as there are many different angles where these young women are open to exploitation unless they have a strong buddy system to protect them from unscrupulous operators. I will not go into the problems of hostel accommodation, which is used by many to attract girls using false promises, into prostitution itself as the inevitable conclusion.

I will concentrate on the MANPOWER culture that promises young women flexibility in their workplace. There are agents looking for staff (women) to fill certain garment factory daily staffing requirements for certain shifts. The agents get say Rs1,700 for a day’s wages for the woman and they in turn pay the woman Rs900 for their work, and possibly don’t even do the necessary statutory deductions. There are women who for certain personal reasons, cannot work full weeks, and consistent work due to some family situation where there is the need to take care of a relative etc, and cannot abide by the attendance requirements of some of the reputed companies that have higher standards and ALSO an element of worker security, both on workplace harassment and also secure lodging that provides a modicum of safety.

In these instances, there is frequent exploitation for sexual favors, both by the agent, threatening them by not providing the needed hours of work, and by the work place where the supervisors exploit them by threats, where if refused, either they are referred to abominably, or given harder task at work as punishment for refusal, resulting in a catch 22 situation.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to lodge complaints with the Police for Harassment and they know it as proof and evidence are sometimes hard to come by, and with the mental pressure this creates with vulnerable women, turn them into prostitution as their self-worth is completely destroyed, and they are easily prone to being anesthetized out of their mental suffering by becoming addicted to drugs, which are also freely available and part of the culture so created.

A two pronged approach is needed to arrest this problem. The first is having sufficient social service centers where women are notified of the pitfalls of work, and they are also able to notify them of harassment, where complaints, other than at Police Stations which they cannot trust to solve their problems. In the present especially Free Trade Zones where this abuse is MOST prevalent, there is NO such support mechanism to nip problem in the bud, and many NGO service centers that operated in the past have had to close down due to funding issues, often funded from overseas sources. This is similar to what the SLFEB (Foreign Employment Bureau) does to educate potential workers on what to expect and how to deal with various scenarios.

The second approach is all Employers are held accountable for workplace harassment by their staff, even if the staff member is NOT on the Company’s payroll, if the said harassment occurred in the workplace. In this instance, employers can take steps to educate all employees on the importance of workplace equity of the sexes, and that any deficit will NOT be tolerated under any circumstance.

I am sorry that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs JUST does not seem to have the teeth to protect females in this Country, and they MUST along with the Police Department, Attorney General’s Department design a plan that protects vulnerable women from exploitation, by publicity, and examples of stiff action against miscreants to reduce the level of incidents, and provide sufficient resources for abused women to seek speedy redress and restitution. I am convinced that steps in this direction will go a long way to help thousands from exploitation and undue suffering. The result will achieve a greater female labor force participation which is the need of the hour and recognized as such by the Government which is CURRENTLY stuck in impotent CATATONIA!       

Where are the women of Sri Lanka making this a front and center issue? Is it because the women of substance live well and don’t care about other women in different circumstances in their own Country? In short don’t they care? Sri Lanka is woefully short of women’s advocacy groups, as that does not attract foreign funding like minority rights and human rights attract. Isn’t this just as much a Human Rights issue ALSO?

It is time that the CPA a well-funded organization direct some of their resources to this area, which in today’s context requires far more input than the supposedly sexy minority rights issues that merely keep people in jobs and clover as long as they are NOT resolved.

They are called Center For Policy Alternative for nothing! After all if ever there ever was a Policy Alternative it is to direct their action to the working woman, woman in the workplace, and guarantee workplace security, safety, and advancement. It is the sure way to solve most of our problems, as we are unable to get the men to get off their backsides to take the million jobs that are available. Low women’s participation in the workplace leaves women as the only solution, as at least their work ethic is that much better, and their primary issues of Child Care, Sexual Harassment and Spousal Abuse need solutions.

It is imperative that the Private Sector take an active interest in this as they are the final beneficiaries of this plan if successful and other suggestions in my blog about the provision of safe night public transport merely aid in this objective of releasing a huge pool of labor into the workforce, to BENEFIT SRI LANKA! 

As always A Plan, Funding and Successful Execution are the reason for procrastination! Procrastinate death results!  

The inadequate marketing of Ceylon Cinnamon as the true gem in our PEARL!

Sri Lanka is a Country blessed by God and cursed by Man, and in that sense is still struggling to find a NICHE any niche for that matter to distinguish from other islands, other places in the tropics and any other place on Earth for that matter!

To me, who having travelled and lived overseas for over 34 years when I returned to Sri Lanka in 2004, just before the Tsunami, I have NOT had the urge of leaving this Island after that, despite the many challenges I have had to live under in the period from November 20014 to the present. I still face challenges of one sort or another on a daily basis, but lead as active a life as any pursuing many different interests, being a Jack of all trades and a master of none!

However in these long years of wandering around the Country, while at the same time taking full advantage of the world wide web for dissemination of information and absorption of even more information on a daily basis to improve my knowledge for the benefit NOT of myself, but those who live in Sri Lanka to appreciate their Country, and actually leverage what is unique about Sri Lanka, to their benefit to improve the quality of their life in Sri Lanka.

It is with that intention that I started this blog in 2008 and have relentlessly pursued my goal of presenting an ALTERNATIVE world view from the accepted norms, in order for the fellow citizens of Sri Lanka to really understand what makes this Country, Place so unique.

It is still a challenge, as it is a no-brainer to convince foreigners of the value, and benefits of Sri Lanka while it is an almost impossible task to convince the people born and bred here that there is NO other place on the face of the Earth as fortunate as them. They look at you incredulously like you are an ALIEN!

Stuck with this problem I have NOT given up, though many people have said it is a battle I will never be able to win, as it is the genes that prevent these intelligent people from appreciating everything that makes this Country so special.

Therefore if one is able to set aside this word GENES or an attitude born out of complacency and catatonic then one can see the light at the end of the tunnel and come out of this darkness into the light of really living appreciating, loving and preserving what is so unique about Sri Lanka. It is with this optimistic, progressive can do vision that I intend to carry on, UNTIL I can’t anymore!

Ceylon Cinnamon is one such unique property that is so unique there is NO WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD where it is grown and we dumb asses have singularly been unable to let the world know of this VERY SPECIAL PRODUCT.

Yes after a lifetime there is a small effort (not enough and see the link below) where we are trying to revive this product and bring the notice of the world to it.

However even as the extract from the BBC article below which I print and show its link afterwards, we still have not realized why it is so important, should NOT be confused with imposters who have even plundered the word Cinnamon our of Ceylon and actually associate the Cassia as Cinnamon, where it is frankly poison to Cinnamomum Zeylanicum that is NATIVE ONLY TO SRI LANKA.

“In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve got some coumarin lurking in your kitchen cupboards. True cinnamon is made from the bark of the plant Cinnamomum Zeylanicum and is native to Sri Lanka. This type naturally has extremely low levels of coumarin and proven medicinal properties, but that’s probably not what you’ve got in your spice rack. That’s because what we think of as cinnamon isn’t really cinnamon at all, but a Southeast Asian imposter made from the bark of the cassia tree.

Coumarin is mostly toxic to the liver, which plays a central role in mopping up poisons and clearing them from the body  

Not only is this plant completely unrelated, but it contains around 25,000 times more coumarin. The US doesn’t regulate the amount of coumarin in cinnamon, though the European Union has set safe daily limits – and just one teaspoon of cassia cinnamon could send you over.” The extract above is from this link published on June 20th 2017.

I also show another older article which tries to explain why Ceylon Cinnamon and Cassia Cinnamon have NOTHING in common except in taste and it is truly tragic that the word cinnamon has been even attached to cassia to fool people.

The links above if carefully read and absorbed is sufficient to ensure that the poison of cassia should never should be associated with the incredibly curative, regenerative and unbelievably flavorful qualities of CEYLON CINNAMON