Saturday, July 30, 2016

Child Care – Critical need of the hour to fill the skills and labor shortage

Make no bones about it, Sri Lanka has a huge skill shortage, and there are particularly skilled women who have decided to start a family and are staying at home, and who do not have the means to pay for carers in order that they may return to work.

I am currently trying to help a highly skilled mental health counselor of one of our voluntary social service programs to be able to balance her life to both be able to take care of her new born, while at the same time, be able to work in her field, where there is a huge skill shortage, but the wage rate employers are prepared to pay does not come up to the viability of using child care. This is therefore a real problem that the Govt. is supposed to be addressing, and I hope they are able to do so.

The problem with this balance, is that unless there is a state subsidy or an employer subsidy, the viability is a question. A good trained child care service is costly as it involves trained individuals. The employee is NOT able to pay the true cost, when their earnings are insufficient. So how does society get the skills to balance both sides.

In the current situation, she stays home to look after baby, and the Country loses a productive person. If she goes to work, the Country’s GDP doubles with her working and her salary, and the child care worker and her salary both adding to the economy, where neither has a place now. We can focus on the problem when we think of economic cost and benefit here. If she was NOT a skilled person with a job that is in demand then her need to join the labor force is not as great. However her catch 22 problem is that as of now her skills do not get the needed value, as mental health counseling is accepted as highly in demand, but unless remuneration is given to compensate this level of skill adequately there is no contract. Conversely, to have a trained child care worker is also a cost, and the compensation is therefore a factor, and one who is not trained is then of little value to the parent, who has to substitute oneself to that of the carer.

I have not mentioned it here, but we have some skilled staff having to take time off to take care of aged parents, and that too is a cost to society, that we have to increasingly be aware of and take steps to set up elderly care centers in villages. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Free Education @ Tertiary level is only for 5% of eligible in Sri Lanka

Following on from earlier blog a few days ago, which was galvanized due to an article I read, by a PhD student from Sri Lanka that implied, Sri Lanka has free education and it was immensely superior to the US model where they have to pay for education at the Tertiary level, I am writing a follow to completely debunk her theory of SL. I am not going into the US model here, as that requires an entry all of its own.

In conversation with heads of Companies, employers are increasingly worried, that though HR is their main asset, at all levels, that determine how they succeed, they have NO FAITH in the State’s ability to educate people to take any of the vacancies they have in their companies. This is across the board in ALL industries, and I am flummoxed, why the politicians are NOT addressing this need. Isn’t it good to have a skill shortage, rather than TOO MANY people applying for the job. I was indeed shocked when I was talking to a senior banker who said what a problem he had not having quality staff to recruit, and once they train a good, one they are MORE than likely to have left them for better prospects, either here or overseas, completely debunking the skilled unemployment issue!

Firstly let me tackle the issue of 5% of the 18 year olds who enter University. I sincerely believe that the entrants who both believe it is a right they have earned for being the best in society, go into a course of study they know nothing about, do not have an aptitude for, and so are qualified, but when it comes to employment interview clearly display this ignorance, as it is NOT the course of study they should have followed. The double whammy here is that those who had an aptitude for that field of study were NOT chosen to that faculty, and so the STATE has wasted a fortune educating someone for NO REASON but a Z score mark.

To illustrate this point even further, 70% of the Agriculture Graduates are Female. Less than 1% of these graduates go into a field that bears even a remote fascination to agriculture, an area where we have a huge skill shortage, as we have to use new techniques to be productive, and lower the cost of farm-gate produce for agriculture to be viable in Sri Lanka.

In conclusion, not only is the WRONG 5% receiving free of fee education, which is often  paid for by people who have not even received that level of education, we are NOT educating those who should be educated and able to contribute to society, as we have a convoluted system of choosing the wrong population to receive free tuition. 

I am afraid, I will go so far as to say the PhD student also falls into that! I do not believe, though she extols the virtues of having an education free in Sri Lanka, and was able to get a Fulbright to the US, and who is now pursuing a PhD at Cornell, is somehow going to give the State a return on the state's investment in her! I would not say this if she actually had to pay for her education, then what she does is her choice. We must be always, cognizant of what the STATE PAYMENT MEANS. It is public investment for public benefit or return. If that transaction or contract is not kept, then the state has wasted money, much like paying a bribe from state funds as a commission to a politician to get a contract which the tax payer pays for.  

In short she has fleeced this Country, and has NO rights to extol the virtue of the freebie she received. She has broken the social contract and must be punished, if corrupt officials are in keeping with the spirit of the law.

I can’t find 10 people for work, try and fill a million jobs with an ageing population – you must be kidding!

Forbes is reporting that the GOSL has agreed to give the Chinese 15,000 acres for an industrial zone to create a million jobs. The reality is that it will provide a million jobs for a million Chinese, as there will be NO Sri Lankan left to take these jobs. I sincerely believe that we are living in a fallacy of mythical jobs, when we cannot fill the real jobs in our Economy.

I meet so many employers including the top business men of the day. Their broken record is simple. “We just can’t find the right people for the jobs we have and it is stifling our ability to grow.” It is the Education STUPID, and that is ALL that we have to fix, and all will fall into place.

Anyone who wants a job can find one, but in our land of lotus eaters, it is mythical jobs that people are dreaming about that they are looking for, and those I am afraid don’t exist, no matter how much day dreaming takes place about them.

When will the politicians realize that our youth today have certain ambitions, and they are NOT fulfilled by the jobs that the Govt. believes will be created. Unlike most Countries less endowed by God’s largess, the price point at which an unemployed person will take on work is rising, and I believe it is now Rs50K a month for the Greater Colombo area, so that MUST be in the back of a person’s mind. I know personally that I was not able to persuade 6 youth who were initially organized to come to Colombo for a Rs40K a month job, no skills needed but to be machine operators, who will have work some overtime, and on the morning they were set to leave Minneriya for work they en masse decided not to go, as they wanted to go fishing that day in the local tank instead. Such are their priorities.

Sri Lanka defies ANY ECONOMIC THEORY currently known to man, and it is time for a new NOBEL dissertation based on our economy, where we will just have to leapfrog to the minimum US$1,000 a month jobs, and train our people intensively from pre-school to get them, starting with 5 S behavior of discipline and conservation. I believe we can do it, as the brains are certainly in place at that age, but the education system needs so much reform, that even the Govt. does not have a clue on the processes and until this basic requirement gets the needed resources will are in limbo, in LA LA LAND!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Free Education up to what level? Certainly NOT AT UNIVERSITY SURELY - Geethika Dharmasinghe~

Reading the attached article in the link referred to here, where a successful product of Sri Lanka’s free education system received a Fulbright Scholarship and is pursuing further education in the US, comments on the advantages of free education over that of private education in the US without really understanding the pros and cons, and is truly reflective of the pathetic education she had received due to our free education system.

In a country where a select few like the writer has been truly able to benefit from the school system so as to enter University, she is the minority of those who have been able to leap into a State University, the top 1% so to speak. So here you have the top 1% talking when the next 99% don’t have a basic education and she is talking, free for the top 1% and aka scholarship and NOT a right! Where is she coming from? Not understanding what she is trying to say.

What I maintain is that everyone in Sri Lanka is entitled to a very good free education system till age 16 and NOT FURTHER. Our education system with Tuition does NOT give even that, and she has the gall to talk about free university education. A typical IUSF mindset.

IN THE US - That can be obtained by sacrifice, or payment if you will. It may be subsidized and certain people who are high achievers may be able to win scholarships, and it is even possible that some disadvantaged groups receive preferential or bursaries into higher education. However free TERTIARY EDUCATION IS A FIRM NO.

She is using the US system as a failure, one where she for the grace of a Fulbright has actually been able to learn so that she can impart some good suggestions, but alas she has been completely misled into a wrong path of mediocrity of learning! The best of Sri Lanka go to US Universities and most never come back to mother Lanka, I did.

Let it be said that there are scholarships in the US for bright kids and we must follow that. There are also bursaries for poorer kids, and further there are lower fees for instate students.

She is further harping on the credit rating of people, as their non-payment of loans affects their ability to borrow, or get loans for homes etc. If only she had studied the period of which these loans need to be paid, she will realize it is reasonable. It may penalize the lazy or one who has unexpectedly fallen on hard times, due to illness, in that context I will agree that the Health Care system is archaic and needs overhaul, but don’t confuse that with Free Education please.

In my opinion, even though she says the quality of life is dependent on the ability to choose how much leisure time we have, let me remind her that it is precisely this lotus eater mentality where our people choose leisure over work, is why we are in this mess, as we desire material things but we are NOT willing to work for them, and prefer receiving them FREE.

She is typical of what is wrong with Sri Lankans, and everything she espouses exposes her prejudices. Yes she does not espouse Anglo Saxon work ethic, but then she just has to live in with much less. She does not state that, and it has NOTHING to do with education. So don't confuse quality of life with education as they are mutually exclusive. It is choice we need to give and we pay for our choices if it means we want more of something.

For example I do not posses a means of transport, I don’t have electricity in my home. I can therefore live on less than what she probably spends, as the protein is just fish caught in the lake. I certainly don’t espouse that as the norm. If we all live like that we will just as well live in the dark ages, and perhaps have a high quality of life, but don’t expect someone else to pay for your education, as that is exactly this myth of free education is! Some is working their butt off to pay for someone's free education, don't ever forget that and our Undergraduates don't even realize this. NOTHING IS FREE

I am actually quite cross with her for not knowing that nothing in this world is free. Someone else pays for it. I hate to think that my poor neighboring farmers who don’t have a penny to scratch their backsides with have paid for her education in the Sri Lankan University system that she so smugly glorifies, without realizing that person who has paid for it is in want. It is a zero sum game, and the sooner we take the word FREE OUT OF EVERY THING the better it is.

I trust this girl will from now on value those who paid for her education. Please therefore realize that the US tax payer has not paid for some lout to get educated and not realize its benefit. Only those  who want to learn, to better themselves and maybe get a job that they want will work, save, and pay for their education.

Take my case, if I have a child, I will do my utmost to educate this child as best as I can till age 16 to O levels. I will then give the child a one way ticket to the US and say seek your fortune. (fortunately they will be a US citizen) They will be thrown at the deep end, get a job in Taco Bell and start from scratch, live a tough life, get into a lower paying community college, and if their grades are good graduate to a better State University, and if they do well get a scholarship in the subject of their choice, and will go through the system and end up with some debt that they will know they will have repay. If they cannot hack that formula they can always return to Sri Lanka and be a lotus eater!

Hell they appreciate everything they have got and NOT the unappreciative SL undergraduate who forever moans and demonstrates at MY EXPENSE.  

I would love to meet with you to discuss this~

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Where has he gone wrong? PM’s dilemma

The PM is embroiled in so many unnecessary distractions that detract from his brief! Added to which I just got two sms one of which said “the Court Issues an Order to prevent 4 Joint Opposition MPs from commencing the protest march from Kandy tomorrow” and immediately thereafter received, “ the Court issues restraining order on 2 Govt. Ministers NOT to commence recruitment drive by UNP, scheduled for tomorrow morning in Kandy town”. Two further furors we can do without! Looks like tit for tat to the alien invader!

This is sounding like a joke, using the Courts to play musical chairs, whilst the people of the Country are wondering what is going on.

As if the furor caused by the PM complaining, naming and shaming Editors was not enough to get the whole press riled up about their Primadonna status that is NOT warranted, a slew of anti Govt. writing is flooding social media, with no grace. This is all much ado about nothing, as we live in an environment that the Media, don’t know how to use their new found freedom for the benefit of the Country. They are abusing it for their own survival, but are NOT providing new thought to crises of the day, and suggestions for their solution.

If that weren’t enough Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe has talked about regulating the Media, which in the current context of the PM’s allegations is not the right time to talk about it, no matter how unprofessional the media are. We have to face the reality that due to a dictatorship for 10 years, Media Ethics and Independence is new and most media do not know how to responsibly report, hence the catch 22~

On this allied note, the Director General of Govt. Information was involved in some brawl where he offered to resign and that was not accepted, all because of saying something that manic depressive media misunderstood. The litany of media related problems goes on, with GL Peiris adding his two cents wondering why the foreign missions are not issuing communiqu├ęs wrapping the PM for his remarks.

We then have the unsolved VAT issue, where we don’t know what amount to charge or pay, and small traders are up in arms over this as they are NOT aware of the reasons, and the recording and processing procedures. Uncertainty is resented, and the blame falls to the Govt. The reality is different as it forces discipline in recording, and paying, and this will eventually throw up those who should be submitting Tax Returns, as 90% of those who should be paying even Income Taxes don’t.

We then have the saga of the members of the NIE being fired, with no explanation and that too falling on the PM’s feet as if it is his making. In the end the system must be improved, and NIE revamped, where their primary purpose being the revamp of syllabi takes place without delay for the benefit of our students.

Then there is ETCA with India, which is causing a lot of dissension amongst professionals who can’t compete with India on a level playing field. This had therefore been also used by the press who don’t understand it as another whip to hit the PM with. For soe reason no one talks about its benefit to SL~!

The clash of the students in Jaffna has caused ethnic strife as it is billed as a mini war between the Sinhala and Tamil factions, inside the same university, and it is another proxy war for other parties, with the Govt. made a scapegoat for not restraining the Tamil students who attacked the Sinhala students. Another shot at the Govt.

The delay in bringing up the proposals for the new Constitution is another one blamed on the Govt. which is trying to pacify different factions, one which does not want much change, and at the other extreme others that wish to see drastic change, with the Cardinal chirping in saying Buddhism should take pride of place in the Constitution, being seen by many as being partial to his Govt. and not to his God.

This litany of woes has hit the PM who is increasingly facing dissention amongst his own ranks, not happy with the lack of largess doled out to UNP supporters. So to pacify them, he had a HOPPER NIGHT last night at the Havelock City with his supporters.  Going around pacifying interested parties without grappling with the serious affairs of the day that people want answers, to build a POLICY framework on which to build the economy and attract foreign investment, to once and for all put to bed the allegations that the UNHRC have not lifted or loosened the VICE, and overhaul of the Health and Education Sectors, and possibly removing the wastage of Samurdhi money that non-entitled people are sharing in saving a lot of money have NOT had the attention due.

The debt service which the New CB Governor is supposed to tackle is also in limbo, and where we are NOT taking adequate steps to solve without delay, and the allegation that Professor Sally said and blogged yesterday, about the fact that we are losing our window of DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY mean to the fly on the wall in the PMs office that he is in fact beleaguered and NOT getting on with the real matters of the day he needs to tackle with.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Squandering the opportunity of a lifetime – current leadership will be condemned in History

Make no bones about it, the MR administration will be condemned in History for errors of commission, and RW administration will be condemned for errors of omission.

Like Professor Sally says in today’s FT article,

This IS THE BEST CHANCE we have of improving the livelihood of all who live in Sri Lanka. We are NOT going to find this opportunity EVER AGAIN, as the world is in for a period of taking stock and evaluation of the fundamentals, when growth as we have known it in the past will not recur at that speed, where environmental, recycling, pollution, global warming, future of the Human Race will take precedence, and the populist but destructive dictatorships that are causing huge shifts in people between the have and have not nations, will consume all political dialog.

Before all this happens we have a honeymoon period till 2020 to get everything done. We MUST change the Constitution for the better, which will put to bed once and for all the threat of any future racial or religious strife, and at the same time institute practices that reduce corruption, give people security but balance it with giving them a degree of freedom, that brings out the best in all of us, especially in innovation, and carrying out practices that improve the quality of life for all.

The last two budgets of the new Government have ONLY caused consternation, and we must hope that the next one in a few months, will be able to completely change that round after a well thought out and researched budget, yielding as much revenue, whilst at the same time NOT squeezing the middle classes any more than at present is the way to go.

It is all about reducing the deficit, reducing wastage, making public investment productive, increasing tax yield by better collection of unreported income and unpaid taxes. Further maximizing on service exports, encouraging more inward tourism with high value tourists, directing a higher yielding remittance mix from skilled workers to deal with the drop in numbers and improving Education drastically. It is NOT rocket science, and can easily be done, if we and those who lead us put their minds to it, and not in fattening their personal pockets as is the case now. 

I have talked about leading from the front in my previous entry, about the entitlement culture, which has to go hand in hand to obtain the public's approval for a few painful short term shocks to get the engine working smoothly to go the distance.

Sri Lanka – the hardest part is reigning in the entitlement culture

In a Country where every section of society has been given entitlements beyond what is reasonable, reigning them in is a very difficult task, as it is the norm, and NOT the exception.

To explain this just take the HUGELY loss making Sri Lankan Airlines. The board of directors, decided to stop cheapening the Business Class Lounges, by canceling previously given privileges to the Cabin Crew, and their families to use the lounge at BIA, even though they maybe on free tickets as part of their ENTITLEMENT!

That did not go down well with the Pilots Guild, and when the letter addressed to the Chairman was replied by the head of HR, they were belittled, and worse, as those self same privileges were NOT removed from the Board, who also partake of freebies, their ire was further provoked leader to a WAR OF WORDS see link:

It is in limbo, with neither side wishing to give in. In a nutshell this is the SAGA OF SRI LANKA, where the people pay the price for shameless entitlements.

Then there is the case of MPs getting car permits that they flog for Rs25M and don’t pay a dime in taxes. See the supreme court case as outlined in the link:

Lets face it examples come from above. WE CANNOT get the people to let go of their entitlements until the people above us do the same. If the Govt. is serious about putting its house in order, just as the Board of Directors of Sri Lankan who should ALSO forego their privileges of even free travel for that matter except on Airline Business, so must the MPs forego their duty free permits, if we are to expect our long suffering public to tighten their belts to pay back interest and loans taken as a result of Rajapakse excesses. This is why people don’t believe that MR mortgaged the nation to line his pockets, as the present administration is doing the same thing, but at a much reduced scale.

We in Sri Lanka have rotten leadership qualities amongst its leaders. They just don’t know how to lead by example, so that the followers will actually listen to their exhortations that they are doing it for their Country. Let’s start by showing an example.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Montane Ecosystems – Montane Forests – Horton Plaines Future

Montane ecosystems refer to any ecosystems found in Mountains, and Montane Forest in Wikipedia is defined as: Montane forests differ from lowland forests in the same area.[5] The climate of montane forests is colder than lowland climate at the same latitude, so the montane forests often have species typical of higher-latitude lowland forests.[6] Humans can disturb montane forests through forestry and agriculture.[5] 

See details of the previous post for the context in which this entry is written and are interlinked.

In Rohan Pethiyagoda, a biodiversity scientist’s lecture recently, he pointed out how some of the aforesaid forests at the Horton Plaines National Park were in fact dying and pointed out to scientific data on extremely high levels of LEAD in a country that really does not spew out a lot of lead, leading to some concern about how the global effects of lead discharge, perhaps India, perhaps further afield, also affect our own environment, and following on from that our very existence!

The mist particles of Cloud Forests were apparently better at giving plants nutrients, but at the same time, they can also absorb effluents in the air too! This is obviously an area of concern that our scientists, must be aware of, study its effects and possible progression, and if serious get the International Communities cooperation to reverse this trend, which if anything will lead to the complete destabilization of our ecosystem before our eyes, and we can do nothing about it.

This is the very existence of our Country that we are talking about. It is important therefore for the Government to takes steps to identify the gravity of this problem, and take necessary steps to minimize its effects, or scientifically evaluate the extent of the threat and the consequences of it.

This is simply an example of the need for the use of current techniques, and new technology, to be able find reasons for the problems, suggest solutions to them, and measure the effects of the damage and map out a path of eliminating the threat.

This is a clear example of what our scientists can get their teeth into, through international collaboration. After all, those who get first class honors degrees in Sciences are snapped up by US Universities to do post graduate work. It is time they take a topic such as this, get further research funding for it, and study the effects of external factors on our environment and come up with solutions.

It is incumbent upon the Government to encourage this work, assist these students and use the brain power we already have to work for the survival of Sri Lanka.

Friday, July 22, 2016

“Horton Plaines Under Threat” – WNPS Lecture - Rohan Pethiyagoda Was delivered yesterday, 21st July 2016 @ the Dutch Burger Union

I have no intention of going through all the details of the lecture here, as a more knowledgeable write up will surely follow in time. I will merely express my opinions and recollections of what I took back with me from the event.

Pethiyagoda said that he had begun a scheme to re-plant a block of abandoned Tea Land with old growth plants, which over 20 years has shown the slow but promising awakening of a Cloud Forest, where nature takes its course, and fascinating and encouraging signs of rebirth in biodiversity (all living things) of land is taking place. He maintained that it could take 300 years to establish itself into a true Cloud Forest, which will lower the level of Cloud Cover from the present, and could assist in rehabilitating and reversing some of man’s degradation of the ecosystem.

Serendipitously, a few hours ago, on the same day, I had added the following passage to some of my thoughts to my future in this paradise, and what I proposed!

“I, whilst congruent with the above concept like to set up and work on a plan that doubles the forest cover in Sri Lanka from the present, within a 30 year time period, ENSURING the survival of the Country as we know it which is in peril at the moment. This requires working with the State to enact laws and practices.”

I was therefore at one, with the desire to conserve, not just by halting degradation, but by reversing years of de-forestation. We as stakeholders, must decide,  how we approach this, bearing in mind what the end result we target. He pointed out that an inevitable consequence of rising living standards, will be the abandonment of small scale agriculture. Citing examples of Costa Rica that had reduced their forest cover even more than we have, and who are now trying to reverse the effects of deforestation, we being a Country with more forest cover today, learn from the inevitable and take steps NOW to gradually return tracts of land to re-establish some of the land lost to degradation, without resorting to further de-forestation!

He gave the scientific and biodiversity explanations to my layman’s desire noted above, and am more determined than ever to set up some kind of plan to make it work, by education of the public, effectively to have this lecture delivered in Sinhala, which will convince the people of the desperate measures needed NOW before it is too late, and build a national dialogue encompassing the YOUTH who will be the beneficiaries of action that we take today to safeguard our environment. 

For success it has to boil down to a simple concept to take ROOT~

"Forests save lives, more forests saves the Country" - Lets do it!  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The pressure salesman’s perseverance can turn a friend to foe!

I have the unfortunate legacy of birth where 8 of my direct ancestors from distinctly different families, are in the famous book published around 1907, called 20th Century Impressions, possibly not matched by any other and had they all held on to their wealth, and managed to pass them down, I would own a whole chunk of Colombo, to say nothing of all sorts of places in the Country!

However I own not a square inch of Colombo, and the only item of value that I posses, is the property in which I live. I do not have a motor vehicle of any kind either! 

Nevertheless due to family connections, acquaintances, friends made through the years, cultivated or not, I have a huge circle of people I know, who I don’t see every day, but when we meet, we restart from where we last left off.

So when friends who are in desperate need to enhance their profession or increase their value, ask me to give them details of people I know, so they can even if I refuse, contact them and make their presentations, I am at odds as to whether I should do so. After all I have never asked these people for any favors, and if they make an offer, it is for me to accept or refuse, for my benefit and not theirs!

My concern is that if I give the pursuer their details, if that person becomes a nuisance, it is I, trying to help someone, who becomes the fall guy for the salesman’s dogged determination. What should I do in these circumstances, as I look at it from my angle. Namely, if I do not want to be hassled, why should I want a friend (yes friend and not a business partner) hassled even if he is a billionaire?

If I am honest with the person who wants the details, he will think that I am being arrogant, unpleasant, not willing to help a friend or some such, when it is simply that I do not wish my friends to be cold called, even if it may really be of benefit to them. I hate receiving calls for sales pitches, and at one time I used to receive those of my boss, as my boss was unreachable, and I sifted through information that he may have felt useful by sending a memo, which he can chose to ignore in a list of details sent to him! I don’t want to pitch for someone else as I have learned to my cost, that when something goes wrong, it is I who gets the blame for introduction, and not the person actually doing the wrong thing.

I have been told, what is the point of knowing so many people if you don’t make use of them nor allow others to make use of them. To which I simply say, I know so many and have not fallen out with any merely due to this principle. I hate to make use of those I know for my ends. I may only suggest a person for a job by way of a letter or recommendation letter, which the recipient can decide upon!   

If I sincerely believe any friend of mine rich or poor can benefit from my Counsel for whatever it is I think they wish to be helped with, then I am there for them. That is the motto by which I cultivate and keep my friends. I really have little else to offer. For most people my company is worth more than any bounty they can put on me, and for that I am truly grateful!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Heaven’s Gate – We have lost our best and brightest – Are we fighting for last place?

As each day goes by, I am increasingly coming to the realization, that the best and brightest of Sri Lanka are voting with their feet, and leaving this supposedly sinking ship, to which I after 33 years living working and contributing to the host Countries overseas, decided to return and give something back! NO THANKS, you should never have come!  is the message that comes loud and clear from the Island mentality majority who live here.

I have had to struggle with prejudice, ignorance, irrationality and most importantly a society in MORAL DECAY as evidenced in my earlier blog entry, which had the lowest hits of my numerous entries for a long while, confirming that as escapists, Sri Lankans do not wish to acknowledge the depths to which we as a society has sunk into.

What made me write this thought was that on my drive back from Minneriya yesterday, I dropped by Diya Bubula, the residence of the incredibly talented Laki Senanayake, a man after my own heart, a person who has a vision, which he creates, and the beauty that results, gives so much happiness to the lucky recipient of his creations, if it is NOT he himself! 

Even there, I met his only child a daughter who is married and has a child and has lived in the USA for decades, a talented lady. I presume she has no desire of returning and so her father only now retains life interest in the beautiful abode he has lovingly created over the last 45years.

Then further along the way, I dropped in on a distant relative I met for the first time, a retired director of Education, a Mr Wanninayake, who wants to fill in the blanks of a family tree that he has created and has asked me to give him my input into the missing links! As if I was that old to know!

Anyway his only son is married to a half Japanese girl who lives in Japan with their three children, where he currently has gone on holiday, but would eventually move to permanently.

This is the story of every ones sons and daughters, and I ask myself, Why? Why? Why? Its obvious, there are NO RULES that permit meritocracy, and in fact it is frowned upon. I am fighting a losing battle, I am afraid, but I am firmly stuck in, trying to develop a plan to reverse the environmental degradation, and double our forest cover over the next thirty years. It is possible, and I am looking to new technology to do so, including social media activism. So join me. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Society’s Moral Decay is ALL PERVASIVE

I was at a dinner last night where former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge was the guest speaker, and one thing that was clearly etched in my mind, that I came away with was how she believed that our society as a whole has fallen into a state of MORAL DECAY. Those words are still ringing in my ears, and in my attempt at getting it out of my head, I wish merely to illustrate this by using JUST ONE example of what I believe she meant by this.

Living in Minneriya in the forest, I am always reminded of the stories by the locals of how the tourist are fleeced by the Jeep Operators, who charge excessive fees, over and above that which is reasonable, and once the tourist realizes after the fact that they have been double charged, gets a bitter taste in their mouths of their whole safari experience. They will then never recommend Sri Lanka to another friend, saying that the people just cannot be trusted. Of course the fleecer does not care, and he only wants the cash for the day, as much as he can squeeze. He is simply NOT interested in the tomorrows and the day afters etc.

So on that vein, I asked heads of five of the biggest high-end hotel chains in Sri Lanka, about this problem, and quite smugly, they all said, that it does NOT happen to the tourists staying in their hotels, as they have very high standards, and they only use accredited jeeps at pre-arranged rates, and they usually also provide the services of a resident naturalist to further enhance the wildlife experience they give to their customers, be it bird watching, or other wildlife. This way they are published rates, and the tourists will NOT feel they are fleeced, and more important, they have such a wonderful experience that their friends also make this journey upon their recommendations, which is free publicity.

The problem is they have NOT investigated the actual rates paid, and the deals their own staff organize with the Jeep Owners, to supplement their own incomes. Those with the responsibility to agree rates, and use only accredited operators, ALSO resort to doing side deals with the Jeep Operators, who upon hitting certain targets of hires, receive kickbacks that are HUGE in comparison to their salaries and service charge payout they get from their employment.

These naturalists, NOT ONLY cheat their employers of money for their hotels, they ALSO cheat the tourists who they take on safari rides into National Parks, and sometimes, on the main roads, that may yield better wildlife, by over charging for the service! They are obviously also cheating their hotel bosses in Colombo too, who are blissfully unaware of what is happening under their noses. 


I am a tri national and they all face the same crises!

Having an intimate love affair with Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the United States, having lived in all three for a substantial period of my life, schooled,  studied and worked (and paid tax and took NO welfare)  and kept house and home, car and travel, holiday and relaxation. I even bought a new Jaguar in 1995 in Santa Barbara, California and drove across the US and took it across the pond to the UK, and drove around Europe, before taking it back across the pond to the US and drove it finally to Las Vegas!

I note as follows:

The United Kingdom

Theresa May, starts her first full day in office at Number 10 this morning, in a Country that is divided between young and old, city and country, between rich and less well-off, Brexit and Remain!

I was there at the time the UK joined the EU and believed it was the natural progression of nationhood, dropping nationalistic shackles and entering the NEW WORLD ORDER, so I was disappointed that the people followed a narrow, Nationalist Path of self destruction, with the Tories at the bottom of it.

It is now repair and remove time from Europe, and till 2020, till the next elections, the new Prime Minister will have her work cut out, and I wish her the very best.

The United States of America

The new President of the US will be installed in 6 months from now after the November 9th Presidential Election. Hilary came through a bruising battle to receive the Democratic Party’s nomination, while Donald Trump has against all logic received the nomination of the Republican Party and in the middle of gun violence in Dallas of the killing of 5 policemen and the violence in Orlando, Florida, I trust that the divisive issue will be on the Second Amendment rights, that will definitely divide the nation between Red Necks and the rest. Again a nation clearly divided with NO common ground.

I hear today, that Trump is only 3 points behind Clinton, and anything can happen, especially how Brexit showed us what Nationalism can do, and Trump is playing the same divisive game aimed at the ignorant.
Sri Lanka

We have a joint opposition that is trying again and again to raise their Nationalist credentials, which are the populist ones, which especially due to a lackluster leader of the ruling National Government is turning people irrationally to a bankrupt cause of a bunch of people who bled this Country. Those who replaced them, have not been able to get traction to show how this bleeding occurred, and the steps being taken to stop the bleeding, which are definitely UNPOPULAR as it is an unfair distribution of the pain, skewed to the poorest sections of society, with the Ruling Elite, ensconced in their Luxuries, and tax free cars and lives, at the EXPENSE of the working poor, who pay the bulk of taxes.

I am therefore on a crusade to point out how high these taxes are as a percentage of a poor man’s US$250 a month average wage, which goes for the basic food he buys, the basic phone and internet charges he incurs, and the basic costs of living with VAT on everything else he purchases too. Who is kidding whom when the Govt. says that Sugar is an essential and is not Vatable, while Rs 30 is creamed off each kg of sugar as taxes to the Government? That is an unkind blow in lying.

The population is fast dividing between haves and have nots. There is NO middle ground, with the shrinking middle class. The race card is being played to the maximum by the members of the Joint Opposition which will stoke racial clashes, instilled purely for POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY.

There are impending crises galore, which the people do not trust the existing leadership to solve painlessly! We need strong leadership, and I know the US and UK will finally have women heading their respective Executives. They will buckle down to business, but in Sri Lanka we have a rudderless leadership of impotent old timers, with NO ONE with a vision or exciting persona to be handed over the reins, where the people have confidence in their ability to produce the goods.

It is therefore the duty of the existing leaders to UNIFY this highly fragmented and divided Country into a one ‘Nationhood’ concept, where the people believe that it is the only way forward to ensure peace. I just hope the Diaspora in the guise of the UNHRC pressure, will finally desist and go back to their lives, leaving Sri Lanka to peacefully transition to a Country where ALL people are treated equally with NO ONE seeking any preferential treatment. Preferential Treatment is the root of most of the evil in Government and the sooner we learn this lesson after 70years of struggle, the better. So I hate to see progress on these issues made in the UK and US while we seriously lag behind.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Have you ever had to deal with a Bank on your terms? Not in Sri Lanka Ha!

July 13th 2016
Ms XXXX – Business Development Executive
XXXX Bank – XXXXX Branch


Thank you very much for coming to meet me at my office with your manager XXXX at your request, to see what XXXXX could offer a business such as ours.

I was disappointed by your email which was a typical heavy handed start of proceedings, requesting information which really is NOT relevant at this stage until we can assess whether the bank can even be competitive in your offerings!

Our conversation was about the banks and their high handed attitude towards businesses, who need assistance. So in order to be competitive with others, your approach should have been Servant like and not that of a beholden Master.

I would have simply wanted to know that if we were a AAA borrower, what would be the best rate available and what my payment terms would be. I don’t want to give you all the details and then you tell me later that I don’t qualify for your best rates. If you can’t give me your best rates, I don’t want your business.

I simply don’t want to waste my time supplying you with a list of confidential details even prior to knowing what you can offer. So I simply cannot send you the information you want, except to say that the ball is in your Court if you want our business and you should do all in your power to make it easy for a potential client.

XXXX said the bank has to be competitive, then it is in your interest to approach the client on the Client terms rather than the Bank’s terms, as there are many lending institutions pitching for the same account.

Enough said, I just want to know the best rate possible for a private company to lease a machine costing Rs13XXM, where Rs10XXM is financed, and the machine resale value during the whole term of the lease will never drop below Rs10XXM. If you can lend on a car without requiring all the details you asked of me, why can’t you on a far more useful product for the Sri Lankan Economy to help it grow. After all you are supposed to offer Development Finance!

Yours sincerely

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Use of Electrical air conditioning – Is it really necessary, if our construction takes into account natural lighting and ventilation?

We all know that Air Conditioning is a current killer. I am sure there are estimates of how much power is needed JUST TO RUN ACs. What we should be asking is now how many more power stations are required to cope with the increasing demand for ACs, but what we as a nation, MUST do to reduce, and in fact negate any demand for this current killer.

It is all down to marketing. Having an AC in a CLOSED room, confers status! It is all about how others perceive you, not whether you deserve AC, or if your productivity level increases because your room has air conditioning. In the Private Sector, every employer looks at his costs, and if the benefit as he measures it exceeds cost, then he will install air conditioning. THERE IS NO SUCH EVALUATION in the public sector, and so those the use of AC is not restricted, and worse, as the bills are paid, no one make sufficient effort to avoid wastage, minimize usage, reduce wastage, by making sure there is no loss of cooling etc.

One only has to go into an office of a senior Govt. servant to see how sometimes with the air conditioning at its coolest, some window here or there is open for some fresh air! It only happens in Sri Lanka.

One now needs to look at all newly built Government Offices. How energy efficient are they? Are new energy saving methods adopted? I can assure you when ANY private building is currently constructed, the owner insists on energy efficiency and now even supplementary solar panels are installed in obvious places to reduce the dependence on the Grid.

There is a failure amongst our planners, and Public Servants to realize how expensive it is and how much the people of the Country sacrifice their personal satisfaction to maintain such a large bureaucracy of Public Servants. This simple factor that the rest of the Country has been pauperized for the satisfaction of the Public Sector is NOT A COMMON ATTITUDE of the Public Sector employee.

It is incumbent upon the Government to publicize these points, beginning with the treachery that is the wastage of energy, as it is a direct cost of the people of Sri Lanka who are paying for it. If people are conscious of this fact, I am sure that energy wastage would be minimized. At a stroke the demand for power during the day would fall by the equivalent of a 100MW power station. We advertise air conditioners with full page ads. Where is the exhortation to reduce wastage? 

Don't say that it is a case of sour grapes! I am one who does not have electricity in my home in Minneriya see 

Self Interest overpowers NATIONAL INTEREST in Sri Lanka!

This whole blog is dedicated to improving the quality of life of all who live in Sri Lanka, and I try all the time, to write on concepts that will DO JUST THAT, even though sometimes, the reader may not comprehend the direction I am coming at to achieve this objective.

It was in that same vein that I wrote yesterday’s article, attacking the whole concept of the CEB Engineering Unions who have put their self interest (PAVATHMA) ahead of the National Interest, just like the GMOA, the MPs in Parliament, to name but a few of the interest groups who continue to behave in a way that will NOT improve the quality of life of those who live in Sri Lanka.

What I demand from all our citizens is that if we put National Interest above self interest, there is a definite chance that we can in a very short period achieve the status of the Country with the highest quality of life on the face of this Earth, which surely must be the objective we all work and fight for!

I know this is still a state of mind, we yearn for, and only about 100 people in Sri Lanka, of a population exceeding 20M are actually espousing. Once we achieve at least 5Million practicing this philosophy, it will make it easier to shame those who are not, and change the minds of the truly greedy, shameless, and contemptible sorts who also inhabit this Country.

At present it is ONLY PARLIAMENT and Govt. who can make a swift change to achieve this objective, as they are possessed with powers to do so. However they are NOT possessed with even an ounce of grey matter, let alone any need to make this simple transition, because it is their very existence that is then called into question. (PAVATHMA) I like the word, that explains to a T the behavior, which NO English expression or word can.

When your existence is threatened, you tend to do all in your power to prevent your impending extinction. In this case the whole existence of Sri Lanka is at stake and the people in Parliament are merely concerned about their very existence, that do not matter to the Country’s survival, at all. It can be argued, that they are part of the reason for the imminent threat to the survival of Sri Lanka as we know it, due to the decisions they take that are not just bad, but hugely destructive, and directed only at hastening the day of reckoning.

Unless their minds can change, where they prioritize their Country’s future, WE HAVE NO FUTURE! The only alternative is to replace them with other who can.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Filling the Energy Deficit! Leave it to the Consumer – CEB engineers are now the problem and NOT the solution

Much has been heard of the upcoming Energy Deficit, and daily you hear of fossilized CEB engineers, the so called experts in this field ranting on their pet projects and in typical Govt. servant leach mentality, threatening to withdraw their cooperation from technical evaluation, and procurement, UNITL they get their OWN WAY. Now they fear their survival before their useful lives end!

I am afraid their own way is the highway, and I would just ask them to put their skates on and get the hell out of here, as they are actually a hindrance to progress and an intelligent discussion on how we move forward with new technology and an ecosensitive energy policy the next 50 years.

In this debate their input or participation is surplus to requirements, much due to their own arrogance, and insensitivity to changing dynamics. Firstly the Govt. must set out a new protocol for energy that excludes the CEB Engineers and most especially their pompous union of brain dead fossils who scupper anything beyond their limited brain cells capability to comprehend. They are NOT relevant.

I implore the Government to immediately import US$100M of solar panels and sell at it at 10% of the cost to anyone who wishes to purchase them, with the proviso that within 24 months, they are put to use, either to reduce existing usage or on the basis of net metering to supply excess to the Grid. Further with the impeding battery storage technological revolution, these panels should be compatible with being able to charge the new generation of batteries, that will permit high volumes of energy to be dissipated after storage.

On this basis, the whole energy requirement of the next 5 years will be met, and there WILL BE NO NEED for a power station, that will cost a minimum of US$500M with a big whack into some Engineers pockets. No transmission lines, no usage of land for power generation, and security and location scouting, the average Joe will produce more than 500MW of energy, reducing their dependence on the grid, and so there will be no commissions, and work for the CEB engineers, and we can drop their numbers, once their productivity, and need is further evaluated.

It is clear that CEB Unions are holding the people to ransom, just like the GMOA, and it is time they are clipped to be lean and relevant. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Teaching the Teachers

An author came to see me this morning with a manuscript for a book he wants printed, to be distributed to teachers in schools. It is about identifying the best of all students. In his opinion, many students fall through the cracks due to a prejudicial misunderstanding of the student, which is then perpetuated throughout school, turning an otherwise extremely capable person into one who is forgotten and consigned as someone not worthy of needing any extra attention.

It is just those students who are too advanced for the class. They are held back because their ideas are NOT in keeping with those of the Teacher, which may be of higher quality, and often put the teacher to shame, being too challenging.

The current teacher training process does not arm potential teachers to the existence of such students, and for teachers to be alert to identify such who are NOT THE NORM in the class, and instead of being held in high esteem and encouraged to develop their thoughts, are actually discouraged, punished, and worse failed, due to a teacher’s prejudice. Contrast this with foreign lands.

The manuscript is in Sinhala, with the author a teacher in a Primary School, who read out a page from his book, which were words from a student telling the teacher  in verse, how he felt when he was belittled by the teacher in front of the class, in a way that would educate the reader, a teacher to how the student may think if he was treated in that way, and to be more sensitive to people’s feelings. To be psychologically minded is an essential part of a good teacher, something that even teacher training schools fail to alert, and educate potential teachers on.

I believe that this is one of the main reasons, why the brightest and cleverest minds on Earth who begin pre-school in Sri Lanka, end their schooling at age 18 in Grade 13 as complete zombies without any ability to think on their feet, merely due to all their enthusiasm and creativity being suppressed, and removed from them during their schooling years, by inexperienced teachers and teaching methods.

That is why I have in previous blog entries, even suggested that going to school in Sri Lanka is actually BAD for many people, as it does not open their horizons, but actually closes those that are open! 

Upon talking to this teacher, it was apparent to me that he should be training teachers in a Teacher Training School, instead of being a teacher in a local primary school. He will be extremely useful to potential teachers, in homing their teaching skills and in identifying gifted children, something we are JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH in the state sector, at a COST!