I went to Karuwalagaswewa to meet an old friend, who I had not met in a while, and who had moved there nearly 5 years ago, and I finally managed to find the time to visit with him on 16th February 2016.
He is a unique person who started life as an artist with the Times of Ceylon in 1980, and who both had a strong personality, being confident at a young age, but one who could not be molded into any other person’s whims and fancies, when he said he was the only person who disagreed with my uncle on principle when he was a cartoonist for Multipacks in that era, writing for a magazine against the JRJ Government.
Jagath, was the pioneer in digital drawing of coloring books and children’s books and has worked in many media companies and knows many media personalities, and is of the caliber of a person who could run ANCL!
He is currently publishing books for order for a publisher, and is also training his daughter who is doing an external degree in Media and Multimedia, who is also an author of a series of books for another publisher.
To find such gems in such far out corners of the Country leads me to believe that such people are dotted around the Country, who don’t care a damn about the system, who are independent souls, and who are quite frustrated at the corrupt system that they see around them, that they retreat to the safety of an isolated spot, where their creativity can be harnessed for their remote location vocation that keeps the home fires burning.
To illustrate one example, his daughter has a unique singing talent but was failed in her attempt to enter the University of Visual and Performing Arts because her voice was not considered good enough by a local singer, who was in the judging panel. At a different event, a well known Indian classical singer had said that her voice was unique, and a hidden talent who should have been snapped up by the university.
Now she is paying and doing an External Degree, and are following the same course work that the Internal (free) Undergraduates follow. Her Professors have said that the whole external student batch is streets ahead in quality and commitment than the University entrants who entered the university upon their Z scores, as these professors teach both sets of students at different time slots at the same University.
The moral of the story is that when you pay for something, you are more likely to put in the effort, and therefore committed to perform for economic benefit.
This was quoted as an example of why he believes we SHOULD NOT give free education to students in Sri Lanka. We should possibly teach them at the state’s expense using good quality well paid teachers till about grade 7, but after that it is all fee paying with scholarships for those who excel irrespective of economic need after that so that the best get ahead irrespective of economic ability to pay.
I must say I too subscribe to this point of view.
This is further proof, that those who enter University on the strength of Z scores and poor evaluation, and are allowed 10 years to get their degree, sometimes waste the state resources for 10 years depriving others of a chance to be educated. (the state allows students 10 years to get your degree, and the student politics thrives due to the few who take advantage of this totally unacceptable subsidy to milk the system and turn the students into wasteful agitators.
So what should be done, as I don’t believe anyone will challenge me on this sad fact of Sri Lankan life, where we are only wasting money on so many things due to the public taking privileges as entitlements.
Another matter that was pointed out, was the abuse of the health care system, where when drugs are prescribed free of charge, a course of 7 days of drugs, turns into one where the patient only takes it for two days, if his cured he stops then, and even if he is NOT he still just takes it for two and then seeks native treatment saying this western mumbo jumbo does not work!
The state spends money on this that the public waste! So even in Health Care, if we charge we will not waste the resources and only go to hospital if needed!
It was a meeting of the minds where I was at his place as early as 9am and was there till after 6.30pm as there was so much to discuss, and make plans for action. I also advised him to go to the District Secretariat on the 17th or 18th to present his views on the new Constitution and give reasons why so that the committees may take some of these views of people in the provinces into account.
It was a long day for me leaving home at 5am and returning at Midnight, but it was certainly worth every moment. As of to welcome me in advance a totally unexpected rain of over 90 minutes had completely washed off all the dust on the ground the previous night, which brought a good omen.
I bought some fresh prawns at the Puttalam Fish market at dawn, for us to enjoy at lunch with a good home cooked meal, and fresh local oranges to quench our thirst. Thanks Jagath for taking the time to spend a productive day.