A chat at a wayside café reveals a lot of conceptions and misconceptions
On my drive yesterday to handover some plants from a nursery to a farmer friend in the Ampara District, I stopped off at a Wayside Café for breakfast. I took my camera and laptop to upload some photos to post on FB, and a couple of people were intrigued and wanted me know about their problems. Granted this is not the same issue in all parts of the Country.
However the entitlement culture is forever present in their minds. First point was that the Government was giving land deeds for only 20 perches and they said as there is so much land here in the interior/boonies, they should be given larger grants. I said that if they start making a special case for them, everyone one else will want more, citing their grant, etc.
Next, was the Elephants encroaching onto their homesteads and destroying crops. Their angle was that there was insufficient food for them in the reserves, so they were coming to populated areas. My point was that 50 years ago, they reigned supreme here, until people were encouraged with enticements moved here to the elephants’ traditional stomping grounds, and now we want to oust them somehow.
They wanted the Govt. to begin a project of growing the grasses that elephants want in the forest reserves, as a lot of stray cattle have now taken over the reserves, and there is less food for the elephants, as they DO NOT want to use the same area, that cattle have been to.
Apparently, with encouragements of the politicians, they have been permitted to let their branded cattle use the Forest Department and National Park land, which is part of the problem. There is no scheme at present to have areas for cattle only, and move them from areas they should not be in, as domestic cattle and forest reserves are simply incompatible. However tell that to those the politicians have encouraged to carry out this practice.
Then the lack of jobs in the area for those who have been encouraged to move, as the subsistence farming in small plots and day labor just does not provide sufficient income. Who transported them here in the first place? Misplaced political decisions, to increase the numbers to be subservient to various politicians.
I said unfortunately, people have been resettled here for political reasons, and now their offspring are left carrying the can, with no jobs and no inclination whatsoever, to farm/agriculture. I said there are 1million vacancies in some places with no one to work, and there are people here with no work. People must move to where the jobs are not jobs to where the people are, as the old industries like garments are in decline now.
I said politicians intent on personal fame are doing the wrong things even now, by building houses or giving loans, or building villages in the rural areas for people who don’t have jobs, instead of building high rise homes for people where the jobs are. This is going to cause additional burdens on the state in the future, because we have foolish leaders, which people with personal agendas vote for, instead of looking at the big picture. Why build homes, where there are so many empty homes, because people have left them to find employment elsewhere, but due to government land/home ownership rules, prevent them from selling, so they can buy a place near where they work.
I said it is simply wrong to cut more forests and build more homes for homeless, when they should buy the homes in existence and sell them at low interest to homeless, but then the added problem of lack of employment opportunity still prevails, unless people are willing to begin small entrepreneurial ventures with seed capital in these rural areas, using local products as a base.
Then they said that during the reign of Parakrama Bahu the Great we had more people living than today, and we did not have forests, we had people, and so no land should be given to animals and we should clear the jungles and hand it over for cultivations. I said that already, we have lost our forest cover. I said that is a misconception, and this ought to be corrected in the history books but for whatever racial upliftment reasons false information has been spread, and not to believe these stories.
I said our true vision should be to return this country to one the land mass as forest cover, as otherwise we will not have a country to live in 50 years if we go at this rate, and in any case, we have so much uncultivated land in cleared areas, we are NOT short of land for agriculture. We can feed ourselves if we are more efficient in our methods. I said the preservation of forest is the lungs of the nation. Most politicians don’t care if we cannot breathe, as long as they know they can breathe and send their children overseas with ill-gotten gains so that they can breathe in another country.
It is clear that our rural people still live under a Santa Claus mentality, unable to take responsibility for their actions, thanks to Politician encouraged entitlement culture, that ensures the longevity of the politician at the expense of the people. In order to break this cycle, it is clear that in the land of the blind where the one eyed man is king, we just have got to be all blind where one eyed cannot live!