Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Reform begins at the grass roots level if it is to be meaningful, and provide an immediate return on investment – a product still mothballed, why?

Mr Nihal Ranasinghe, (photo above ) a former Controller of Immigration and Emigration, a very competent civil servant, who everyone in the loop, agrees transformed his department into one of the most efficient  and productive, Government Departments in Sri Lanka, told me about a very simple product that he has developed in his spare time to help the Country. 

It is a database product, which will have the whole country’s population as well as their relevant details on file, in order for all policy makers to utilize in making decisions at government level. It is so simple that I am surprised no one in high authority has taken in up. I suspect, personal rivalry is such that in SL we are reluctant to give credit where it is due and try to get credit for something that others do, and so as a country fail to take advantage of the truly altruistic and competent people who are willing to give of their time and knowledge to benefit the people of the Country. It is the responsibility of leaders to seek such GEMS out in society, listen to their proposals and give them the time of day and resources to implement them. These are proven people in their fields and not untested self-promoters who litter the hallways of power today.

After all each Grama Niladari Division has a GN, Samurdhi Officer and in most locations also has a Govi Niyamaka, or Agriculture Officer whose job it is to increase the production, yield and productivity of agricultural output in his area of responsibility. There are nearly 14,000 GN divisions in SL that cover all the people of the Country.

The GN has a list of the households, but does not have a complete list of everyone in it, even though each year a manual form is sent just to complete for the purposes of an Electrol Register. This is a total waste of time and resources which should be computerized automatically, instead of having to effectively do a manual and time consuming census each year.

To cut to the chase, Mr Ranasinghe’s data base would dovetail nicely with each Divisional Secretariat that handles the GN division, and I believe there are 333 of these divisions in the Country.

This will make the whole business of managing the official administration a piece of cake! It will save a lot of angst and help the people of the Country. The argument that people’s privacy will be infringed upon if their details are available to Government officials, I will say they are already available, but in manual and often incorrect and outdated form, now it will be formalized and current. This is not up to debate it is one that must be implemented without delay.

I was told that ICTA would not like this as it treads on their toes, whereas I will say, let ICTA concentrate on connecting the Government Departments to speak in unison and allow this program to fit into their system seamlessly, completing an easy task that will assist ICTA instead of compete with them to integrate this database.

The database will have details of age, sex, children, schools attended, occupation and socio economic level that the GN will update on a Lap Top or now with smart phone technology can leapfrog into a smart phone app!

This will enable him to assist the Divisional Secretariat in performing their duties, in identifying, families and individuals in need of help, and so the resources of the bloated public service in the Divisional Secretariat can be made efficient.

If I were to use an example, the person in charge in the DS office responsible for Children’s affairs will have a list of all the disadvantaged children of low income families so he or she (usually a she)  can assist them with matters like shoes for the children to go to school with if there is a state program of assistance. With malnutrition among children being a major issue that is swept under the carpet in Sri Lanka they can also keep tabs on these children and make sure the necessary nutritional supplements that various programs offer do indeed reach these people.


This is so elementary, it is tragic that no one has pointed out to our intellectually challenged leaders that it is so easy to monitor and implement.

What we see with the meetings held at the Presidential Secretariat is that no nothings are consulting supposed know it alls who are ashamed to admit their lack of knowledge. If one takes Samurdhi Officers at GN level, I know more of them at the Ground Level than anyone attending a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat who are merely pretending to know, possibly never having even spoken to a Samurdhi officer at the ground!


The new government is off to a bad start as they are not doing anything different to what previous governments have done. I have made suggestions that can be implemented without delay, and all it takes is a powerful President such as we have to give the order and someone to ensure those orders are followed with teeth to enforce, to carry out this without delay and most tasks relating to the public and their needs can be resolved in a timely manner. This matter is so elementary, the tragedy is that it is the Blind at the top leading the Blind!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Why don't we in SL take advantage of the new technology to improve the quality of life of our people ? App Development/ Wifi with good band with

The CEO's of Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple were grilled by the US Congress on the fact that they have too much power and control in their own fields of influence. The next day they disclosed record quarterly profits, thanks in part to the pandemic, which added US$250B increase to their values.
We cannot fight them, but we sure can make use of their products and services to improve our quality of life. After all that in essence is what life is all about.
Sunder Pichai born and raised in Tamil Nadu, the CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet, was accused by Congress of helping the Chinese Government with Defense Secrets!
I too have along with the products of Microsoft, (mainly Windows and Word) can attest that their products and services made matters easier during this period. Apart from going to the Grocery Stores, I have not been to a shop since March 4th, and all my other purchases have been on Amazon, including the streaming service to watch movies and TV programs. In fact I purchased stuff yesterday, for delivery tomorrow!
In fact Amazon has a contract with the US postal service to deliver their packages on Sundays. So when you see US Postal Service Vehicles around delivering on Sundays, it is exclusively Amazon deliveries, such is the power of Amazon.
I only wish that the Government of Sri Lanka makes every effort to provide affordable high speed internet access through the telecommunications companies, throughout the small Island, so that all the people have access to communication. It is very cheap to do so, and the poor will benefit, more than building highways and wasting on an ineffective and incompetent public sector.
At the end of the day the key is to improve the quality of life of the public we are talking about, not some exclusive privilege of a few. Not one of the parties seeking election have mentioned this, as Island mentality thinking does not lend itself to actions in improving the quality of life of the people who live in it.
Do a deal with Huawei to distribute low cost good quality smart phones at Rs5,000 and you can be assured another 5 million smartphones will be sold in a year. With every household connected, elections can be no cost and more frequent! Instead of the Rs8B it is expected to cost, when half the people are going hungry.
Smart phones give access to Apps that improve the quality of life of rural living, from Agriculture, Education, Transport, Law Enforcement, to Healthcare. The pandemic has further illustrated the value of technology. In the UK 90% of GP appointments are done on line.
Recently the news was that a Railway Ticketing Contract was given to a Chinese Firm due to backhanders available to the Rogues In Power. Why? It only needs an app, easily developed in Sri Lanka with NO printed document and could be introduced in days, not years this will take. This from a President who was supposed to know something about IT! Shame on you. Sycophants of the ruling junta please explain without trying to find fault with others.
Come on Sri Lanka think ahead for the benefit of the people, not backwards for the benefit of the ruling class and their sycophants. Children still go hungry because of it. With an APP developed by Sri Lankans, no one needs to! Trust me. We can be leaders of the world not followers going in reverse!