COLUMNS

English language learning, its psychology and sociodynamics

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HGS Prematunge
Indian linguist Braj Kachru was spot on when he said, “…across cultures English has been successful in creating a class of people who have greater intellectual power in multiple spheres of language use,” in the 1990 publication ‘World Englishes and Applied Linguistics’. English language is often responsible for creating subcultures and various varieties of Englishes in developing nations, while countries where English is spoken as the native language, such as UK, USA, Canada Australia and New Zealand, set the standard. While different varieties of English ...Continued

It’s Time to Combat Sexual Bribery

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Kshama Ranawana
Sexual bribery must be defined as such, within the anti-corruption framework say rights activists.  They point out that unless it is specifically stated in the Bribery Act, there is the danger of it being subject to various interpretations in the courts, depriving victims the justice they deserve. Another bone of contention is that the relevant sections of the Bribery Act only deal with the soliciting of or offering of gratification to any public officer, be it a Grama Niladhari, judicial officer, education officer, or politician ...Continued

Why Henry Kissinger could be wrong

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Dissector
Legendary US Secretary of State and diplomat of consummate skill Henry Kissinger has raised the possibility of the world going to war unless the US-China trade battle is satisfactorily brought to a close. Addressing an international forum in Beijing recently Kissinger reportedly said, among other things: ‘If the conflict is permitted to run unconstrained, the outcome could be even worse than it was in Europe….World War 1 broke out because of a relatively minor crisis….and today the weapons are more powerful.’ Regardless of the substantive ...Continued

A grand victory for Sinharaja: What next?

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Prasanna Cooray
On 14th November, his penultimate day in office, former president Maithripala Sirisena, who was also the minster of environment, made not only the Sri Lankans, but the entire world happy. He did so by signing a gazette notification that was to annex nine peripheral forests (popularly known as “pitakaley ) to Sinharaja, and made them too a part of a bigger strict nature reserve. This historic move is of significance to the entire world because Sinharaja is one of the most treasured rainforests. Besides, it ...Continued

Torture chambers in the underworld

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Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
The origin of torture, which is derived from the Latin word, tortus, meaning ‘twist, as an instrument of interrogation and/or punishment is shrouded in the mists of time. It was selectively used in ancient Greece and Rome to question slaves and other such non-citizens, allegedly involved in crimes. Torture became an integral part of trial in early medieval Europe, according to historians. It was used to ascertain the ‘truth’ or establish guilt. The Spanish Inquisition became notorious for systemised torture, which was used to elicit ...Continued

Why has English language education failed us?

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HGS Prematunge
Why has English language education failed us? It’s a valid question, given that almost all of the school going population is taught English as a second language right from preschool. After the passing of the Sinhala Only Act or the Official Language Act in 1956 in Parliament, an English language education, previously available to every Sri Lankan, ironically became an exclusively elite right. Although, this may not have been the intended result of the Act, this is a fact. Only those who were of an ...Continued

Take a Stand, SLMA tells Presidential Hopefuls

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Kshama Ranawana
The Sri Lanka Medical Association is calling on all Presidential candidates to take a stand against the “grave and threatening’ situation within universities.  In a letter dated November 13th, the SLMA is asking whoever wins the presidential contest to ‘publicly condemn and renounce all forms of physical, sexual and emotional violence in universities and genuinely pledge to take remedial action no sooner you take office.’ Pointing out that the escalation of violence, abuse and hate within our society is a reflection of  “cruel and extreme ...Continued

Thought-provoking revolts against the political class

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Dissector
There are fast-breaking developments in Latin America currently that would have made the well- known Frantz Fanon’s eyes twinkle. It is to that ground-breaking book by the late Algerian psychiatrist and political scientist, whose thought dominated the sixties and seventies titled, ‘The Wretched of the Earth’, that one must repeatedly turn, to understand the realities of the developing world or the global South, and current events in South America are no exception. Fanon’s work is of seminal importance for the developing world and this columnist, ...Continued

Criminalizing corruption in sports – a counterpoint

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Spectator
Parliament early this week passed new legislation making corruption in sports a criminal act. The need to introduce new laws was endorsed by former Scotland Yard top policeman Alex Marshall, who heads the Anti Corruption Unit of the International Cricket Council. Marshall’s team has been conducting investigations on corruption in cricket in Sri Lanka and felt that new laws need to be brought in to address the threat faced by the sport. Sri Lanka became the first Asian nation to criminalize corruption in sports. In ...Continued

Aftermath of Baghdadi killing exposes US foreign policy limitations

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Dissector
The recent killing by US special forces in Syria of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who came to be seen as the world’s most wanted man, is being claimed by President Donald Trump as a singular triumph for him and his administration. ‘This is the biggest there is…Osama bin Laden was big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Centre. Baghdadi is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, a country, Trump was quoted as exuberantly ...Continued

Where do Women Figure in the Presidential Manifestos?

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Kshama Ranawana
Sajith Premadasa has made a promise that no other candidate contesting this presidential election has made.    At an event at the Sugathadasa Stadium recently, Premadasa signed a social contract with the women of Sri Lanka, promising equality to all women “in all domains of their lives, including equal treatment in private and public life…” While the New Democratic Front (NDF)  leader is yet to unveil his full manifesto in the contest for the presidency, his Women’s Charter deals fairly extensively with the issues women face, ...Continued

Infusing humanity into the sciences

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HGS Prematunge
A couple of years ago 27-year-old Pramodh Senarath Yapa, a Sri Lankan-Canadian Ph.D. student in Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics at University of Alberta, Canada translated his jargon-ridden master’s thesis, titled ‘Non-Local Electrodynamics of Superconducting Wires: Implications for Flux Noise and Inductance’ to ‘Superconductivity: The Musical!’, a 11-minute self-explanatory video that won him the 2018 ‘Dance Your Ph.D.’ contest. This stands testimony to the fact that Arts can fit snugly within STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). —————- Yapa is not the only success story with ...Continued

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