- Issue

COMIC STRIP - WASANTHA SIRIWARDENA

COLUMNS

It’s the economy, stupid

Columns
“It was James Carville the political strategist behind Bill Clinton’s rise to the US Presidency who introduced the phrase ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ to the lexicon of political campaigning. He made this comment to draw the focus of his campaign workers on the issue that truly mattered to the voters at that time. So far, Sri Lanka’s 2020 parliamentary campaign has been a cacophony of political slogans and ego-trips. Unfortunately, candidates and political parties are yet to present coherent and viable economic strategies to the ...Continued

Yatharthaya – A Platform for First Time Candidates

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
In many ways the campaign for the forthcoming parliamentary elections is different from all others held before and we have COVID-19 to thank for most of that.  Even though some of the mainstream political parties have gone ahead with large scale election rallies, in comparison to what it used to be, today’s meetings seem to have shrunk in size, simply because everyone of us must adhere to Health Ministry guidelines. It is also a fact that come election time, it is the same politicians and ...Continued

Special Assistance for the Disabled and Handicapped at Forthcoming Election

Columns
Persons with disabilities will be able to cast their vote at the forthcoming parliamentary election, only if the person accompanying such a voter, hands over a “Certificate of Eligibility” to the officers at the Polling station, the Election Commission announced on July 6th. The ‘Certificate of Eligibility’ is prescribed in the Fifth Schedule to the Parliamentary Elections Act.   If the  person assisting a partially or totally visually handicapped  or physically disabled voter  does not hand in such a certificate, the said voter will not be ...Continued

CNVR, the Best Method to Control the Dog Population

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Caring and feeding for abandoned animals comes naturally to most Sri Lankans and there are many individuals and organizations that work tirelessly to improve the lot of such animals. However, recent bureaucratic decisions and an Animal Welfare Bill that has been on the shelf for more than a decade has prevented meaningful State intervention in the comprehensive care of animals. Instead, that task has increasingly being falling on the shoulders of animal welfare organisations and individuals. One decision that is being questioned is the handing ...Continued

Free Publicity to Candidates who Make Assets and Liabilities Public

Columns
In a bid to promote a clean political environment, the March 12 Movement is pledging that any candidate contesting the August 5 parliamentary elections, who publicly declares his or her assets and liabilities will be given free publicity. Over 7450 candidates, including 3800 representing independent groups, are contesting the upcoming election. Of them only 2.3 per cent will secure a seat in the parliament. During a press conference this week the March 12 Movement requested the candidates to engage in clean politics and usher in ...Continued

Changing Lifestyles, Protecting Nature

Columns
Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam
Over a 100 countries celebrate World Environment Day each year on June 5th. And this year the theme is “Time for Nature” with a focus on biodiversity. The lockdowns imposed on several countries across the world owing to COVID- 19 had one positive result; the environment quality parameters got better.  But that is not to say that we are protecting this earth or that other forms of environmental destructions are not continuing. In Brazil, Jair Bolsanaro has given Amazonian lands to many multinational companies, which ...Continued

Death of Leopard – Let the Blame Games begin…

Columns
Ravi Corea
There is an old and very wise Native American saying, “Every time you point a finger to blame someone—there are three remaining fingers pointing right back at you.”   With the death of the black leopard has begun what is very much the national pastime in Sri Lankan conservation circles, The Blame Game.  These so-called “conservationists” are venting their assaults and irrational denunciations on the wildlife veterinarians for the demise of a black leopard that was recently rescued from a poacher’s snare. The reason to underline “poacher’s snare” is to make sure ...Continued

Leave for Tri-forces personnel cancelled

As It Happens
All leave for Tri-forces personnel have been cancelled with immediate effect and until further notice, Army Commander Shavendra Silva announced on April 26, 2020.  This includes short-passes. Therefore, all those service personnel currently on leave have been requested to report to their respective camps. All personnel have been requested to contact their officer-in-charge for further instructions. Those who are unable to secure transport to return to their bases have been requested to report to the nearest camp. Meanwhile, the government has decided to extend the ...Continued

Observing Ramadan in Times of Corona

As It Happens
Kshama Ranawana
Muslims around the world begin the Holy Season of Ramadan on April 25th, while most countries battle the spread of COVID -19.  And like the Christians who followed virtual services on-line or via television during the 40 day long Lenten obligation and Easter Celebration, Muslims too will be restricted to carrying out Ramadan rituals and prayers from the confines of their homes. In a communique to all trustees of Mosques, the Wakfs Board of Sri Lanka has issued the following guidelines, which are to be ...Continued

Eminent Group appointed by Pathfinder Foundation to steer Sri Lanka’s...

As It Happens
A study group appointed by the Pathfinder Foundation is to prepare a set of action-oriented recommendations to help steer the Sri Lankan economy into the post COVID-19 era. Chaired by Pathfinder Senior Fellow and former Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, the principal authors of the study will be Dr. Sisira Pinnawala, Department of Sociology, University of Peradeniya and Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja, Executive Director of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute. Twenty other leaders drawn from academia, research and the private sectors, including Prof. Sirimal ...Continued

Helidarawwa – Combatting Corona Fake News

Columns
Even as we fight the spread of the deadly Corona virus, there is another danger that people are facing; and that is the prolific dissemination of information regarding this sickness.  Mainstream and social media have been very busy, bringing us good information, but often there is also disinformation and misinformation or deliberate attempts to instill fear about the disease and even to try and single out a community. Helidarawwa is a series produced for television to address disinformation regarding COVID-19 and is an initiative of ...Continued

Helidarawwa – Combatting Corona Fake News

Columns
Even as we fight the spread of the deadly Corona virus, there is another danger that people are facing; and that is the prolific dissemination of information regarding this sickness.  Mainstream and social media have been very busy, bringing us good information, but often there is also disinformation and misinformation or deliberate attempts to instill fear about the disease and even to try and single out a community. Helidarawwa is a series produced for television to address disinformation regarding COVID-19 and is an initiative of ...Continued

Issuance of Curfew Permits Streamlined

As It Happens
Kshama Ranawana
Streamlining the issuance of curfew permits, a communique from the Inspector General of Police states that staff of forty three government and semi-government departments and private institutions will be allowed travel for work purposes during curfew hours, by showing their official Identity cards. However,  employers are cautioned to limit the number of staff called into work, and are asked that records such as date, time, place or area of work,  and vehicle numbers  of the said staff be maintained. (See full list in communique inserted ...Continued

CHILD PROTECTION IN SRI LANKA – CRISIS ESCALATES

Columns
Dr Tush Wickramanayaka
THE EVOLUTION A fundamental universal fact is that all living beings nurture their young and protect them from harm. What distinguishes humans from other animals? Charles Darwin believed we are similar to animals and merely incrementally more intelligent as a result of our higher evolution. Our conscience and higher intelligence are the most influential distinguishing factors of Homosapiens. He would be seriously re-evaluating this theory if only he knew the rapidity at which convicted murderers on death row are released in Sri Lanka. The island ...Continued

Committed to a Life of Social Change for Sri Lankans

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
She was born to a life of privilege and was planning a career as a medical doctor.  However, she gave it all up in pursuit of a dream of changing this country to one where all citizens would enjoy equal status. Hemamali Wijesinghe was just 18 in 1971, and she was amongst the many young people who passionately wanted to see a social change in Sri Lanka. Hemamali’s parents were philanthropists and her older siblings felt very strongly that equality for all will be possible ...Continued

Hygiene and cleanliness…an integral part of tourism

Columns
Ivan Alvis
I guess, some of you may wonder why I’ve touched on hygiene and cleanliness where tourism is concerned. Well, the following galvanized me into action, and I wasn’t surprised at all when a foreign family, visiting Sri Lanka, in early January, inquired from me about the garbage, plastic bags, etc., strewn everywhere in the city! I explained that the authorities in charge are doing their best to beautify Sri Lanka and that before long we would be proud of our tag the ‘Wonder of Asia.’ ...Continued

Party leaders behave, for once

Columns
Vishvanath
It is seldom that political leaders see eye to eye on anything, in this country. They are perennially at daggers drawn and go for one another’s jugular, at the drop of a hat. In the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami (2004), which pummelled the country’s littoral, destroying as it did tens of thousands of lives and properties worth billions of rupees, leaders of all political hues got together and vowed to help the country rise above the waves. But their much-publicized show of unity ...Continued

COVID-19: Quo Vadis Sri Lanka

Columns
Introduction  COVID-19 has wide-ranging implications on two fronts: healthcare provision and economic activities. The impact is being transmitted at the global, sectoral and individual levels. The severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being compounded in global financial markets by the tension in the oil market arising from Russia’s effort to undermine the US shale sector leading to a split between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The severity of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being amplified by the difficulties healthcare services, first in China and ...Continued

Curfew and what next?

As It Happens
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
A countrywide curfew was imposed, on 20 March, as a desperate measure to contain the spread of the Covid -19 virus within the country. This stringent action was taken in the wake of the declaration of a special holiday (16 March), which was extended for three more days for the state sector workers. The private sector was requested to consider it a mercantile holiday, if possible. Some private companies complied while others didn’t. The commencement of the first-term-end school vacation was advanced to 13 March ...Continued

Social distancing or physical distancing?

Columns
Vishvanath
When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” (Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll) ‘Social distancing’ has become a household word thanks to the chillingly rapid spread of coronavirus, which has so far affected almost all countries, in the world, afflicted about 387,000 and  left ...Continued

Kadir’s diplomatic brilliance

Columns
Spectator
March 17th marked the 24th anniversary of Sri Lanka becoming World Champions in cricket. The nation reminisced of perhaps the best occasion in our sporting history with the highlights being Arjuna’s shrewd captaincy, Aravinda’s terrific all-round performance and Sanath ending the international careers of a few bowlers. Of course, the contributions of Coach Dav Whatmore and Manager Duleep Mendis, will be remembered for a long time. But the role one man played behind the scenes pulling off several diplomatic masterstrokes hardly gets a mention. Lakshman ...Continued

Stand Up and Be Counted!

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
There’s a young man fighting for his life at the Intensive Care Unit. Even if he does survive, there is little guarantee that he will enjoy any quality of life.  He is just one of the many who have either taken their lives or endure permanent injury both physical and mental following harrowing treatment at the hands of their university seniors. Despite that, not a single government in Sri Lanka has had the backbone to ban ragging in our universities. All they do is conduct ...Continued

Opportune time to plan ahead

Columns
Ivan Alvis
With Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading like wildfire, across the globe, the tourism industry has hit rock bottom and almost every country, where tourism plays a pivotal role in the economy, is feeling the heat. In South-East Asia, the tourism scene is crumbling, with Thailand – the number one tourist destination for millions – projected to lose around 1.5 trillion baht and, probably a 10 million drop in tourist arrival, if the Coronavirus crisis continues for a few more months. Depressing headlines, such as “Tour buses idle ...Continued

Why character education is imperative for Sri Lanka

Columns
HGS Prematunge
Character education is a new global education trend, the importance of which cannot be emphasized enough. Character or lack thereof, is the main reason for the current predicament of the human race. In a country where grown men cannot walk two steps without spitting, cannot help but manspread on public transport and gawk at women showing the slightest curvature and women cough and sneeze without any regard to those around them at all, regardless of gender, invade each other’s personal spaces, perfectly intelligent men and ...Continued

Spectre of international isolation looming large

Columns
Dissector
Economic growth is well-nigh impossible without international trade and investment but with the COVID – 19 pandemic strengthening its grip on the world the possibility is that most countries would sooner rather than later slump into recession and eventual economic ruin. The reality staring the international community in the face is that countries, in rising numbers are drifting into self-isolation and restricted international interaction in the wake of the world’s latest contagion which is claiming human lives in the thousands inasmuch as it is blighting ...Continued

‘Two main parties consist of rogues’

Columns
Q: There has been a growing opposition to the members of Maha Sangha taking to active politics and entering Parliament and other political institutions. How would you justify Buddhist monks entering Parliament, which should be kept secular? A: A Bhikkhu, with awareness of political issues and ability to deal with them is an asset in politics. Such a knowledgeable Bhikkhu has the potential to make a real difference in politics. As a journalist you should be asking whether there has been a correct assessment of the ...Continued

The Mickey Arthur way

Columns
Spectator
When cricket stadiums are packed and you are bombarded with calls from your kith and kin asking for tickets, that’s a good indication that your cricket is doing well. Sri Lankan cricket has found new energy at present following some impressive results over the last six weeks. When stadiums are full, sponsors turn up in numbers as well and it is paramount to keep the sponsors, who pour money into the game, happy. Much of the credit for the revival of the fortunes of the ...Continued

Less talk – more action required

Columns
Ivan Alvis
Yahoo News is read online, the world over, and is quite a popular site for news gathering – judging by the feedback most articles  published on this site, receive. Whenever I’m on the internet, I make it a point to check out Yahoo News, and I’m doubly sure there are many, like me, who find the news, and comments, quite interesting. Just recently – or, to be precise, on February 18th – I came across a very interesting article about Sri Lanka, highlighted on Yahoo ...Continued

Decades-long issues continuing to stifle global progress

Columns
Dissector
The coronavirus epidemic that is increasingly taking on the proportions of an international scourge seems to be raking-up thoughts of the Europe-wide ‘Black Death’ of the 14th century in the collective memory of humankind. While the wish of humanists is that such a calamity would not come to pass, the observer is compelled to wonder whether this isn’t one of ‘nature’s’ ways of awakening the world community to the urgent need to sink all differences and unite for the sake of saving the human race ...Continued

Does sexuality require teaching?

Columns
HGS Prematunge
In the 1980 American movie The Blue Lagoon, based on a 1908 novel of the same name, Richard Lestrange succeeds in getting cousin Emmeline Lestrange knocked up, sans any sex education, despite being marooned on a tropical island for the better part of their childhood and young adult years. Albeit fictitious, this begs the question, does sexuality actually require teaching? The Parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education recently recommended a series of supplementary books for children from pre-school to A/Ls to raise awareness on child ...Continued

STC Goes Where Others Fear To Tread

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
It was in 2014 that a private Christian boy’s school in Colombo took the plunge, and decided to introduce Sound Mind Sound Body to its students.  It is a programme that teaches children, amongst other things, to be respectful of the other, staying safe from sexual predators, breaking down gender stereotyping, anti-bullying, the effects of drugs, protecting the environment, and sexual and reproductive rights. While the education department is still grappling with how best to teach some of these topics to students, and duck allegations ...Continued

Foreign policy uncertainties dogging South

Columns
Dissector
For the more seasoned observers of Southern international politics, a recent statement by Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardene to the US authorities to the effect that the travel ban clamped by the latter on Sri Lankan Army Commander Shavendra Silva and his immediate family have complicated Sri Lanka’s ties with the US, would have come as a matter of some amusement. This is on account of the fact that this seeming realization by the Sri Lankan state strikes the informed observer as a highly ...Continued

Why is domestic work undervalued and unregulated?

Columns
Annemari de Silva
Although domestic workers are a regular feature of many households in Sri Lanka, this section of our work force is understudied and unprotected by regular labour laws. The adoption of the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers (C189) in 2011 was a watershed moment in moving towards decent work for domestic workers internationally, but Sri Lanka is yet to ratify it. Activists and unions have been fighting for recognition in Sri Lanka and in 2018, a National Action Plan to bring domestic workers under Sri Lanka’s ...Continued

Priorities all mixed up!

Columns
Ivan Alvis
I wonder if a world class theme park would help us generate the four million tourists, targeted for 2020, and revenue of five billion US dollars from the tourism industry! Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, have some of the world’s best theme parks, and these countries have more to offer holidaymakers, than just theme parks. Tourists, who decide to visit these countries, don’t look at theme parks to make their holiday plans. Even if they do, I don’t see them shunning Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, for ...Continued

Educational psychology an Important Tool in Teaching

Columns
HGS Prematunge
From cradle to casket, education is a lifelong activity. And a major part of the responsibility for imparting it lies with teachers. Every student, like every individual in society, is psychologically unique. Consequently, teachers must be equipped with a sound knowledge in psychology to deal with such differing psyche. Education psychology helps teachers get to know the student, identify his or her potentialities, capabilities, strength and weaknesses; to provide guidance; to plan lessons and learning material; to decide which teaching and learning tools maximize student ...Continued

Mahinda not even Maithri’s second choice for PM’s post!

As It Happens
Vishavanath
In an interesting turn of events replete with irony, it has now been revealed that before the abortive Oct. 2018 constitutional coup, the then President Maithripala Sirisena had wooed not only Sajith Premadasa but also another prominent UNPer before offering the post of Prime Minister to former President Mahinda Rajapakasa, who grabbed it with both hands. UNP MP Range Bandara, taking part in a political interview on Hiru TV, on Monday (Feb. 10), happened to disclose that President Sirisena had sought to get rid of ...Continued

Sri Lanka Cricket set to fight a losing battle in...

As It Happens
Spectator
Bitter infighting and family rivalries have seen cricketing contests taking place at Hulftsdorp instead of at Maitland Place.  Millions of rupees that should have been invested in unearthing the next Jayasuriya or Murali have been wasted on legal battles. Now, the battlefield has changed. Instead of Hulftsdorp, the parties will argue in Geneva, Switzerland as Sri Lanka Cricket has been sued for five million USD by their former Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha. The legal battle will cost SLC an arm and a leg. The lawyers, of ...Continued

ISIS, LTTE threats far from over, says international terrorism expert

Columns
Counterpoint Security Analyst
Rohan Gunaratna, security and political analyst, widely known as an international terrorism expert is Professor of Security Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technology University, Singapore. He received his Masters from the University of Notre Dame in the US, where he was Hesburgh Scholar. He obtained his PhD from the University of St Andrews in the UK, where he was a British Chevening Scholar. A former Senior Fellow at the Combating Terrorism Centre at the United States Military Academy at West ...Continued

Coronavirus politicisation and its global impact

Columns
Dissector
As Sri Lanka celebrates yet another ‘Day of Independence’ she could pat herself on her back for, perhaps, just one thing: Her comparatively calm reaction to the coronavirus infection which is seemingly claiming one country after another. To be sure, no country could be complacent over the supposition that the virus is unlikely to spread within its borders. But considering that even in modern times the world has been witness time and again to spreading and lethal infectious diseases which were contained by the international ...Continued

Could Restorative Justice Heal Sri Lanka?

Columns
Kshama Ranawna
Could Restorative Justice be the key to healing a deeply wounded society such as ours? That was the discussion that took place on Monday, February 3rd, at the BMICH, where Barry Hart, Professor of Psycho-Social Trauma, Identity, Dignity and Peacebuilding, of the Eastern Mennonite University, USA and Initiatives of Change (IoC) Global, was the keynote speaker.   The seminar on Restorative Justice was hosted by Initiatives of Change Lanka.  IoC works globally to build trust across the many divisions of the world; nationalities, cultures, beliefs and ...Continued

Woo the Indian traveller… and Wedding Planners, as well

Columns
Ivan Alvis
The coronavirus crisis is certainly going to deprive us of a good slice of the Chinese market, where tourism is concerned. When I visit Thailand, on a FAM trip, courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, I always find myself in the company of Indian journalists, who are also invited by the Thai tourism authorities to familiarize themselves with what the ‘Land of Smiles’ has to offer Indian holidaymakers. And, when they go back, they entice their countrymen with articles in the newspapers, travel magazines, ...Continued

Core democratic values increasingly eclipsed by Realpolitik

Columns
Dissector
A narrative of the crashing descent from democratic icon status to one of run-of-the-mill, repressive Asian Head of government of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi reads like a Shakespearean tragedy with a few amendments. Today, she stands exposed as a Myanmarese ruler who did not spare the coercive capability at her disposal to beat into submission and humiliation her country’s minority Rohingya community. She is accused, among other things, of presiding over a 2017 military crackdown that forced around 740,000 Rohingyas from her country’s Rakhine ...Continued

Will we throw the Baby out with the Bathwater?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
It’s back to the drawing board for the Hathe Ape Potha, the supplementary reader on sexual and reproductive health. On Tuesday, January 21st, interested stakeholders, Buddhist clergy, officials of the Education and Health Ministries, Psychiatrists, representatives of the Child Protection Authority and Academics met for the second time to discuss whether or not the Hathe Ape Potha is appropriate reading material for Grade 7 students. The meeting was jointly called by the Sectoral Oversight Committees on Women and Gender and Education and Human Resources Development ...Continued

Zimbabwe’s rapid decline

Columns
Spectator
Remember Sri Lanka’s opening fixture of the 1992 World Cup! Zimbabwe, yet to become a Test playing nation, gave us a near scare. The rookies piled up over 300 runs with debutant Andy Flower posting a fine hundred. It needed Arjuna Ranatunga’s cool head to overcome the obstacle as Sri Lanka became the first team in the history of the game to successfully chase a target of over 300. It didn’t take that long for Flower to become the world’s number one batsman. His greatest ...Continued

Landscape Modification and Extinction of Species

Columns
Shakila Ifham
There is a growing body of literature including some from Dr. Ruchira Somaweera’s team that lizards adapt to changed environments in ways scientists didn’t previously think of. Speaking to Counterpoint, renowned scientist, Dr. Somaweera, says it is very common to claim that all change is bad and habitat change will destroy everything. But, he says scientists are convinced otherwise. Dr. Somaweera, who is currently based in Australia, is a Research Scientist at the Ecosystem Change Ecology (ECE) team of CSIRO and an Adjunct Research Fellow and University of Western Australia, working on ...Continued

‘The Wonder of Asia’

Columns
Ivan Alvis
I’ve been to Thailand many times, courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and I’ve checked out the country’s famous Floating Markets. On many an occasion it has got me wondering why Sri Lanka, with so many canals, and rivers, can’t make this tourist attraction (in Thailand), a reality, in our part of the world! In Thailand, the boats, plying these Floating Markets, are packed with tourists. Obviously, they love such an experience. They have the opportunity of buying nick-knacks, etc., from villagers  who ply ...Continued

Teaching – It should be more than Book Based

Columns
HGS Prematunge
‘Love, Mary’ is a movie about a dyslexic teenager who beats the odds by earning an MD degree and achieving a career in family medicine despite her condition. What is dyslexia? Dyslexia entails difficulty to learn reading or writing, despite normal intelligence. This includes difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, processing speed, auditory short-term memory, and/or language skills or verbal comprehension…so goes the text book definition. Before she became Dr. Mary Groda-Lewis, she was sent to reform school due to her ‘troubled behavior’ where she ...Continued

Who’s Afraid of Sex Education?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
The Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera’s objection to the Hathe Ape Potha, raises questions whether we, as a society, are ready to openly discuss sexual health and all other issues connected with it, not only with our children but even amongst adults. Hathe Ape Potha is meant to act as an age appropriate guide for students of Grade Seven apart from their textbook on health science, to introduce the many bodily and emotional changes one undergoes around adolescence.  But Abhayatissa Thera thinks that is not ...Continued

A Gradual Pick Up In Tourism

Columns
A.W.
Sri Lanka’s tourism arrivals in 2019 fell short of the desired 2.5 million due to the Easter Sunday attacks in April last year, which killed 269 people including at least 40 foreigners when the terrorists targeted luxury hotels in Colombo and churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.  Nevertheless, arrivals reached 1.9 million (1,913,702 to be exact), in 2019 according to newly released statistics from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). This was an 18 per cent dip from 2018. Last year, the country was ...Continued

Stage set for upsurge in Middle East tensions

Columns
Dissector
Agitated by the recent US military strike in Iraq that accounted for the life, among others, of Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani, sections of the world were posing the disquieting questions: Are we hurtling towards a Third World War? Has humankind opted for self-annihilation? These posers are a veritable measure of the fear US-Iran antagonisms have been generating in the hearts and minds of people the world over, ever since the Islamic Republic of Iran came into being in 1979. While a comprehensive look at ...Continued

A land like no other, but …

Columns
Ivan Alvis
I generally hear people referring to Sri Lanka as ‘a land like no other.’ And, they are absolutely correct! But, what worries me is that Sri Lanka, in spite of having ‘beauty’, in abundance, has still not been able to break into the tourism market … in a BIG way. While we struggled to reach the two million tourist arrival mark, last year, Thailand hit the 38 million mark, in 2018. You may wonder why I’ve decided to draw a comparison between Sri Lanka and ...Continued

Recognize Diversity of the Nation

Columns
TNA Parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran cautions against the country regressing into naked majoritarianism, if the diversity of the nation, its races, religions, languages and cultures is not recognized. ‘The equal status of each of these people is not dependent on their respective numerical strength. This principle must be acknowledged if our democracy is to survive and indeed flourish, and not regress into naked majoritarianism.’ The Jaffna District parliamentarian was speaking during the debate on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement, delivered in Parliament on January 3rd this year. Claiming that ...Continued

‘Hello Scandal’ buffets Opposition

Columns
Hawk’s Eye
The first sitting week of Parliament following the opening of the new session by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was limited to only three days, from Tuesday to Thursday, since Friday is a public holiday. Two out of those days were allocated for an adjournment debate sponsored by the Opposition on the President’s policy speech delivered on 03 Jan. However, that debate was overshadowed by an unforeseen development – MP Ranjan Ramanayake’s phone recordings which contain his conversations with various people. The last party leaders’ meeting set ...Continued

Sri Lankan ‘ground staff’ the best in the world?

Columns
Spectator
Watching cricket in India is such a unique experience. Whether it is Test matches, ODIs or T-20s, the passion of Indian fans is unequivocal. As Aravinda de Silva once said, when the team bus drove into Eden Gardens ahead of his memorable night in the World Cup semi-final, he found the stadium packed to the rafters three hours before the game. Now, Eden Gardens can host 110,000 fans. Aravinda says he saw, ‘110,000 inside and 100,000 outside the grounds unable to get in.’ Not just ...Continued

Columns
HGS Prematunge
The education system decides a country’s labour force dynamics and a sound education helps individuals make more intelligent and informed democratic political choices. Moreover, it is an obvious correlation between the level of education and income, social mobility, economic and social status. In this light the bold reforms for the education sector, such as the introduction of a new university entrance scoring system in place of the Z score, university education for all those who qualify at A/Ls and the advancement of the A/L examination ...Continued

NPP questions appointment of Senior State Counsel to President’s Office

Columns
The National People’s Power (NPP/JVP) is calling to question the alleged recent appointment of a Senior State Counsel of the Attorney General’s Department as an Acting Additional Secretary to the President’s Office on a part time basis.    The NPP said in a statement issued yesterday, January 6th, that if the report of such an appointment is correct, it is deeply concerned about the Attorney General and the Attorney General’s Department remaining  “independent and free of any political influence.” It added that not only should the ...Continued

A year to remember as Sri Lanka achieve the impossible

Columns
Spectator
Three wins in eight Tests, seven wins in 21 ODIs and four wins out of 13 T-20s would suggest that 2019 wasn’t a spectacular year for cricket in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless it was the year where Sri Lanka achieved the impossible – a series win in South Africa. That is why 2019 will be remembered fondly by cricket fans. South Africa is not the most pleasant place to tour. The country is beautiful but  playing cricket is quite daunting. On the hard and bouncy surfaces ...Continued

Modern Education and the Alienation of the Child from Identity...

Columns
Dr. Siri Gamage
It was well known that Education along with religion were tools employed by imperialist centres of the world to control their colonies and their people.  Modernist paradigm underpinned this process. Abidi who edited a book about African education and colonialism states that intellectuals and education were the main force of colonialism- not the foot soldiers. Global powers that dominate the world via economic and other means today utilise so-called international education which has become a marketable commodity and migration for the same purpose. Countries of ...Continued

Can indigenous knowledge help save Sinharaja?

Columns
Prasanna Cooray
Two things Sinharaja is fast loosing; One is its topography, the other is its indigenous knowledge. So much so, both these seem to have begun simultaneously, and are moving at a similar pace. In search of indigenous knowledge “After returning home from school those days, I used to go into the jungle with my grandfather. We went in search of herbs and creepers for his medicines” Dinusha recalled his childhood experiences, some thirty years ago. Both his grandfather and father were experts for healing fractures. ...Continued

Emerging economies’ bubble at risk of bursting

Columns
Dissector
The global South is on track to a major economic crisis. Consequently, the success stories of developing and emerging countries could very well be chimerical. This assessment is forced on the observer by some very ominous pronouncements on the global economy that were made recently by the World Bank and the IMF. World Bank President David Malpass, for example, was on record as stating the following to AFP, among other things: ‘A wave of debt in emerging and developing nations has grown faster and larger ...Continued

A Fillip to Construction, But What of the Environment?

Columns
Aanya Wipulasena and Kshama Ranawana
The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government’s decision to do away with permits to transport sand, rocks and earth has been met with mixed reactions; the construction industry is extremely happy, but environmentalists are aghast. “I am totally opposed to the lifting of the permit,” lawyer and environmentalist Jagath Gunawardena told Counterpoint.  In a situation where it is near impossible to monitor all of the rivers, granite deposits and soil excavations, the only recourse to limit the environmental devastation caused were these permits, he pointed out.  The permits ...Continued

The diversity and needs of Terrapin populations

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Shakila Ifham
Sri Lanka is renowned for her rich biodiversity; however, there is no systematic monitoring implemented regionally or countrywide. Without certain details, conservation assessments of Sri Lankan chelonians or terrapins are liable to mistakes. Researcher Sameera Suranjan Karunarathna believes that countrywide surveys of chelonians are of critical importance. He hopes his recent study would be a step towards regional assessments that later could be cumulated towards countrywide surveys. The sampling protocol and habitat assessment methods may provide a baseline foundation for similar other regional surveys. He ...Continued

GCE A/L: Need for a course correction

Columns
HGS Prematunge
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently echoed concerns raised by many educationists over the years, when he issued a presidential directive to adopt measures to enable students who pass the A’ Level examination, to enter university within the same year. Educationists point out that one way to achieve this is to advance A Level examination from August to April, which was done in 2002, but reversed in 2007, despite considerable benefits. In fact, the A’Level exam was originally held in April since its introduction in 1969  up ...Continued

The rise and fall of Galle cricket

Columns
Spectator
‘That b … Warnaweera, knows whom to keep happy.’ – Anura Tennekoon The iconic Galle Cricket Stadium could have been knocked out of the cricketing radar a few years ago but for the timely intervention by the venue’s caretaker Jayananda Warnaweera, who prevented it from cricketing isolation. Local officials were objecting to the new stand that was put up at the venue in 2010 as it was blocking the view of the Galle Fort, a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO. The local bureaucrats declared ...Continued

No easy answers to mounting global insecurity

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Dissector
While Sri Lanka continues to reel from the mind-numbing Easter Sunday attacks that claimed some 260 lives and injured scores of others, recent terror attacks in the West serve as ominous reminders that no country could afford to be complacent about the seeming inviolability of its security. Hardly a couple of weeks back, terror attacks on London Bridge and in The Hague drove home this disquieting truth. The killing of three American naval personnel at a US naval base in Florida on December 6, by ...Continued

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?

Columns
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

Columns
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

The Marshall wars

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Spectator
When 55-year-old Alex Marshall was appointed the General Manager of the International Cricket Council’s Anti- Corruption Unit, two years ago, many believed he had reached the first stage of quietly getting into his life of retirement. In a hectic career spanning four decades as a police officer, Marshall had risen through the ranks at Scotland Yard and was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May, briefing them regularly on his efforts to keep Britain safe. A life-long cricket fan, ...Continued

Pathfinder National Security Strategy for Sri Lanka 2020

As It Happens
Pathfinder Foundation has prepared a national security strategy with a view to enabling Sri Lanka to meet present and future challenges. The document will be submitted to President, Prime Minister, Deputy Defense Minister and all Presidential Candidates. Full text of the document: PREFACE The Pathfinder Foundation’s interest in producing this document titled ‘The Pathfinder – National Security Strategy 2020 for Sri Lanka’ dates back to 2018 when the idea was first mooted by its founder, Milinda Moragoda soon after the Foundation developed and released ‘A Code ...Continued

He fought fire with fire

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Spectator
Cricket in Sri Lanka had made huge strides in the 1990s. One main reason for the steady climb was that captain Arjuna Ranatunga was willing to move away from Lord’s coaching manuals and back unconventional players to the hilt. The conventionalist frowned upon the new trend. But their running down was short lived as the results were stunning. Muttiah Muralitharan’s bowling action would have been cast away anywhere else in the world as it didn’t fit the norms of the game or Sanath Jayasuriya’s batting ...Continued

It’s More Than Just Poisoning

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Kshama Ranawana and Aanya Wipulasena
A few of weeks ago the nation was shocked to learn of the deaths of seven elephants, in one fell sweep as it were in the Habarana area.  One of the six cow elephants was pregnant. While poisoning has been confirmed as the cause of deaths, the government analyst’s’ report is awaited to ascertain the type of poison. Nor is it known how they were poisoned, says the Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), Chandana Sooriyabandara. Three separate departments, the Government Analyst, ...Continued

A Truly Sri Lankan Anti-venom Serum In The Pipeline

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Shakila Ifham
Sri Lanka will soon have an anti-venom serum produced locally to treat thousands of snake bite patients. The Indian Anti venom serum which is available in hospitals at present does not cover for hypnale envenoming. The first to propose the development of an anti- venom for Hypnale was Dr. Anslem de Silva, better known as Sri Lanka’s father of herpetologists, at the first World Health Organisation (WHO) International seminar on Epidemiology and Medical Treatment of Snake bites, held in Japan, August 1980.  Hypnale causes the highest ...Continued

It’s Not Ragging!

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HGS Prematunge
Gone are the days when students are asked to profess their undying love with a flower, to a fellow university student. In a recent video of a raid on a ragging venue by academic staff of the Ruhuna University, girls are found traumatized and allegedly sexually harassed and partially stripped, covered in bedsheets. In another revealing video, Dharsha Udayanga exposes how he was sexually harassed, forced to perform sexual rituals on other batch mates, all in the guise of ragging. Privy to his plight, Dharsha’s ...Continued

Imperative of Transiting to the ‘Trading State’

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Dissector
The current seemingly implosive crisis in Hong Kong helps to put the spotlight on issues of the utmost importance to the political theorist, such as the conceptualization of state types, besides reminding us of the continuing urgency of the question of national self-determination. While the ‘nation state’ has come to be seen almost universally as an accomplished fact, developments in Hong Kong remind us, among other things, of the considerable difficulty in attempting to pin down and define state types in a clear-cut fashion. The ...Continued

In politics, changes do not happen in chronological order

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Hawk’s Eye
Full name: Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Anura Kumara Dissanayake Parents : DM Ranbanda and DM Seelawathie Birth Place: Devahuwa in Galewela Date of birth: Nov 24, 1968 Education:   Primary Education – Thambuttegama Gamini Primary Vidyalaya Secondary Education : Thambuttegama Central College (He was the first student to enter university from the Tambuttegama Central College in the Maths stream in 1992) Tertiary education: University of Kelaniya, Bsc in Physics Anura Kumara Dissanayake cut his political teeth in 1987, while he was still a student. Having taken up ...Continued

Lankan Croakers Leaping To Extinction

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M. S. Ifham Nizam
An ongoing research indicates that Sri Lankan tree frogs are in a critical state. Taruga eques are an endemic, endangered frog species confined only to the central hill regions of the country. Amphibians with cysts (membranous sacs or cavities of abnormal character in the body, containing fluid) have less survival rates compared to normal amphibians. A tropical country, Sri Lanka, has a high species diversity and along with the Western Ghats, in India, earned a name as a main biodiversity hotspot in the world. Within ...Continued

Dr. Rohan Pallewatta Opposes Politics that Ignore the Ethics of...

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Kshama Ranwana
Apart from mainstream political parties preparing to contest the Presidential election scheduled for November 16 this year, this contest has also brought to the fore several groups whose common endeavour is to introduce an alternative political culture.  Sri Lanka has been governed these past 71 years either by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party or the United National Party, or coalitions where one these two parties’ played a leading role. While alternative political parties have sprung up from time to time, this time around, there has ...Continued

Unlike the Current Politicians, We are for You and Your...

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Kshama Ranawana
Former Army Commander, General Mahesh Senanayake, fresh into his retirement has decided to throw his lot in with the alternative groups vying to enter politics with the aim of changing the current political culture and introducing an ethical system of governance. General Senanayake was named the presidential candidate of the National People’s Movement, on September 29, 2019. General Senanayake and the former Auditor General Gamini Wijesignhe spoke to a small group of media persons on October 2, in Colombo.  The National People’s Movement aims to ...Continued

Pakistan’s Grand Show As Cricket Returns To The Country

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Spectator
Pakistan’s contribution to cricket has been immense but the sport in that country received several blows following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team a decade ago. Pakistan Cricket Board was forced to host its international games at overseas venues like United Arab Emirates costing them an arm and a leg. But more importantly some of their finest players had no knowledge what it meant to play in front of their own fans. Babar Azam, perhaps, the finest talent produced by Pakistan since Inzamam-ul-Haq ...Continued

Communist China in a US-dominated World Order

Columns
While there is no denying that the Chinese are a people of considerable genius and inventiveness, the secret of their collective survival as a communist state has to be sought in their great ability to learn from history, besides other factors. They were, for example, quick to learn from the soviet collapse of the early nineties and recognized the reality in time that communism in its most austere forms cannot survive in a market-driven world. That was where the Soviet Union went wrong. The soviets ...Continued

Preparing Students for the Technology Driven World

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HGS Prematunge
Western educators have realised that it is high time the education system redefined ‘teaching’ to ready students for the growing technology-driven world, providing them with real-world applications while promoting hands-on learning. Gone are the days when students were expected to listen attentively as teachers lectured over them for 45-minute school periods. The learning methods discussed in this article, in addition to those discussed in the previous Counterpoint issue, is in the process of reinventing ‘learning’ in the Western education system. Growth Mindset According to Stanford ...Continued

Upcycling Minimises Waste

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Kshama Ranawana
Upcycling, recycling, the new buzz words in recent years, though, in generations past, repurposing used and old products and clothes was a given. We grew up in times, when pages from text books were re-used by the corner stores to sell grocery items,  milk, oil, vinegar came in glass utensils,  old towels and unused extra fabric  were cut up for use in kitchens, to clean floors and furniture etc. and cooked food was wrapped in banana leaves and old newspapers.  As kids, we enjoyed reading ...Continued

Kardar Must Be Spinning In His Grave

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Spectator
Sri Lanka’s premier players have pulled the plug on Pakistan’s efforts to bring international cricket back into that country after a decade of sporting isolation. Sri Lanka Cricket put on a strong front saying they were willing to send a second string team but used dillydallying tactics after the government warned of a possible terrorist attack during the tour. The government has not disclosed its intelligence source for authorities to figure out how credible the threat is. One understands the government’s concerns after fingers were ...Continued

Hong Kong Protesters’ Pro-West Slip Showing Amply

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Dissector
While it is quite understandable that people anywhere should find enslaving chains of any kind intolerable, what progressive opinion would least expect are attempted tie-ups between such sections seeking emancipation and the former Western colonial powers. Unfortunately, this is happening right now in Hong Kong, a former British colony. The latest we hear is that Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters are currently taking their cause to the British consulate in Hong Kong, even singing ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Rule Britannia’. This is no subconscious bias ...Continued

Global Educational Trends

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HGS Prematunge
Today’s student population being technology savvy interact digitally with one another and with information, at an increasing ratel. This is what makes digital citizenship so imperative. Digital Citizenship is a prime example of the impact technology has made on human behaviour and interactions. The basic definition for a digital citizen is ‘someone who utilizes information technology in order to engage in society, politics, and government’. Educator Terry Heick defines digital citizenship as, ‘The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of ...Continued

Why Not Incorporate Mindfulness Into Sri Lankan Education?

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HGS Prematunge
One of the most intriguing success stories behind the benefits of mindfulness is probably that of George Mumford. Mumford had been a star high school basketball player who’d subsequently developed a heroin addiction. But by the early 1980s, he’d embraced meditation and gotten clean. Mumford later taught meditation to prison inmates and other sporting giants like him, such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, who in turn became an outspoken adherent of meditation. But Mumford is by no means alone, famous practitioners include Oprah, Jerry ...Continued

The Rise And Fall Of Ajantha Mendis

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Spectator
The Indians feared him like the plague. The South Africans had nightmares facing him. Lord’s even credited a new delivery to him that has now become the part of cricket’s lexicon. The carom ball proved to be the undoing of many famous batting line ups. The inventor of this deadly delivery announced his retirement from all forms of cricket last week. The likes of Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah, Muralitharan provided much joy to local cricket fans for well over a decade. Ajantha Mendis ...Continued

The JVP At A Crossroads: Bopage’s Critical View Of His...

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Hawk’s Eye
Dr. Lional Bopage was in town, recently, to attend the launch of the Sinhala translation of his biography, Rebellion, Repression and the Struggle for Justice in Sri Lanka – The Lionel Bopage Story written by Michael Colin Cooke. Bopage is currently based in Australia and campaigns for social justice mainly through his writing. He turns 74 this year. Counterpoint met him in Colombo. Bopage got involved politics in his student days while attending Rahula College, Matara. He was among the students who experienced the change ...Continued

Non-traditional Security Inadequately Addressed In Southern ‘Conversations’

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Dissector
Security is a many-dimensional thing but as far as ‘conversations’ in the global South go on this question, it is traditional security that is currently receiving the bulk of attention and not so much non-traditional security. However, the latter is as vital as the former, and no less an event than the Easter Sunday carnage, in Sri Lanka, proves the point. Some differentiations need to be made before proceeding with this commentary. Traditional security has essentially to do with external military threats faced by a ...Continued

The Long Wait for Truth and Justice

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Kshama Ranawana
Nine hundred days and counting; that is how long families in the North and the East have been waiting patiently to hear news of their loved ones missing during and soon after the end of the thirty year conflict that pitched the Sri Lankan government forces against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, (LTTE), who were fighting for a separate State. For those in the rest of the country who have also lost loved ones during armed conflicts that flared up from time to time, ...Continued

A New Force In The Presidential Fray

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Kshama Ranawana
A fourth alliance, sans the usual political trappings has entered the presidential race, with a vision statement that reads, “ A sovereign country that stays independent of global super power interventions and geopolitical interferences, pursues a sustainable path to development, promotes national unity, integration and spirituality of people, and ensures social justice and equal opportunities to all.” For months, Sri Lankans weary of the corruption and nepotism practised by the political parties that have governed the country these past 71 years, have been agog with ...Continued

Columns
HGS Prematunge
We are biased. It is simply human nature to be biased about anything from politics to race and everything in between. Then how could research be an exception? Although research guards against all types of biases through various methods there’s nothing preventing the very activity of ‘research’ from being biased. According to statistics 95 percent of psychology research published in renowned journals are produced by countries that represent only 15 percent of the world’s population, such as the US, Europe, Australia, Israel and New Zealand. ...Continued

Family Planning Is Not About Controlling Population Growth

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Kshama Ranawana
One in every third pregnancy in Sri Lanka is unplanned and results in a host of negative issues that impact mothers and children across the land. While family, community and religious pressure is brought upon women to have more children, sparse attention is paid to the health of the mother and child and the family’s economic status. According to statistics provided by the UNFPA, around 360,000 pregnancies occur each year in this country, with 326,000 live births recorded in 2017.   In that same year, there ...Continued

Why The J&K Imbroglio Needs Insightful Handling

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Dissector
India’s recent decision to end the relative autonomy and special status of its half of Jammu and Kashmir could reduce the region to a powder keg, provided the resultant situation is handled tactfully and insightfully by the Indian state in particular. Needless to say, J&K is a hotly contested territory between India and Pakistan and the possibility is strong of the sides going to war once again over it unless the parties are extra alert to each other’s sensitivities. However, right now the onus is ...Continued

Waiting For Sirisena’s Surprises

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Hawk’s Eye
Social media platforms are no respecters of the truth or even facts, for that matter. They are given to sensationalism. But they represent a confluence of divergent views and are full of interesting stuff including pithy sayings. There was an interesting Facebook post recently and it speaks volumes about the current political situation. It read, in Sinhala thus, ‘Rala pahara weralata gasai, werala kaadanaya wei, namuth ahasa thaama nihandai’ (roughly rendered into English it means ‘waves pound the shore; the coast is eroding away, but ...Continued

Cricket’s Crooked Television Deals

Columns
Spectator
The appointment of a committee to negotiate television rights of Sri Lanka Cricket early this week by Minister of Sports Harin Fernando surprised quite a few followers of the game. It is the first time a committee has been appointed for such an exercise and none of those individuals in the committee are well versed with the nitty-gritty of multi-million dollar television deals that pays players handsomely and looks after the grass root levels of the sport. Fernando also has included the Ministry Secretary in ...Continued

Will JVP Take Up Arms Again?

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Counterpoint Political Desk
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has broken ranks with the yahapalana camp, whose victory it worked hard to ensure, in 2015. It has decided to form a different alliance to contest the upcoming presidential election. Some political observers are of the view that the JVP is in the throes of a leadership struggle and losing ground in national politics. Did the JVP receive funds from the UNP? Will it take up arms again? Has it abandoned the Wijeweera policies? These are some of the question ...Continued

Of Oranges And Elephants

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Kshama Ranawana
Oranges to keep elephants at bay! That is the grand plan of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Society, which initiated the Project OrangeElephant in the Wasgamuwa forest reserve a few years ago. The issue at hand is the continued struggle between elephants and humans for space. As man encroaches on jungles, wild animals lose their habitat.  Seeking food, elephants raid villages, destroying houses and harvest.  While most farmers use firecrackers, etc. to scare the animal away, they are often also shot and killed or maimed. The ...Continued

Is The President Ignoring The Destruction Of Rummassala?

Columns
Ravindra Kariywasam
Oh, fabulous Rumassala Charming sandy beach on Thambapanni With pearl bead smiles over Vended wholly! Were you..?   Rumassala, Seashore so mild and Slender Are you being made, So much defenseless By Gluttonous Araliya, The Black in White Or else, The Peril as guardian?   The foregoing is a slightly modified version of the late veteran singer Gunadasa Kapuge’s famous song about the ruthless manipulation of natural resources of the country. I presumed it would be aptly fit as a prelude to this brief write-up ...Continued

Requires An Overhaul Of Education System And Changing Mindset

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HGS Prematunge
STEM is an educational paradigm that combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary approach. Tsupros, Kohler and J. Hallinen in their 2009 paper ‘STEM education: A project to identify the missing components, define STEM education as an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons, allowing students to apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise facilitating the development of STEM literacy, arming them with the ability to compete ...Continued

No-Holds-Barred US Drive To Dominate ‘Indo-Pacific’

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Dissector
What could US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be doing in the rarely news worthy Pacific isle of Micronesia? What ought to pique the observer’s curiosity further is the fact that Pompeo is the first US Secretary of State to visit the idyllic, Pacific island state, located in climes that have been hitherto comparatively untouched by the harsh realities of big power international politics in post-Cold War times. Obviously, these ‘untroubled waters’ are seemingly of renewed and increasing interest to the sole super power, although ...Continued

Cricketing Lessons From Bangladesh

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Spectator
All hell broke loose in cricket circles when Jagmohan Dalmiya, then ICC Chairman decided to grant Test status to Bangladesh in 2000. The Western block – England, Australia and New Zealand didn’t take to Bangladesh being given full ICC status kindly. Dalmiya, the Indian cricket supremo was a Bengali himself having built his business empire primarily in Calcutta. Being a Bengali, he was accused of promoting Bangladesh’s case, but he was smarter than that. The larger picture was that the arrival of Bangladesh had tilted ...Continued

It’s Time To Turn The Searchlight Inwards

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Kshama Ranawana
Sri Lanka’s media has morphed from being at the receiving end of various forms of harassment to one that is leading the persecution of others. There was a time not too long ago when members of the media profession acted very prudently, afraid to report or critique the actions of government. That is except for a handful of journalists who, despite the consequences continued to raise awareness on various social and human rights issues. During the former regime many faced harassment and physical abuse; some ...Continued

Rising Populism And The Need To Revert To Basics

Columns
Dissector
It is a time for profound reflection in Sri Lanka as it tries to rise from the April 21 devastation and debris. One of the worst things that could happen to this country, that has been hyped as an ’emerging’ one, is for all who matter in it to cave-in to populism and its seductions in matters political at this juncture when national rejuvenation is seen to be the crying need. The reasons for the attractions of populism are plain to see. The issues confronting ...Continued

An Imperative Policy Decision

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H G S Prematunga
To pun on the now clichéd educational term, STEM is indeed the stem of a healthy education system. STEM is a curriculum which combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary approach, integrated into a cohesive learning model. Theoretically, what sets STEM apart from the traditional science and math education is the blended learning environment and the fact that students are shown scientific method applications in everyday life. The objective of STEM is to teach students computational thinking and its applications for problem solving ...Continued

Is Nature-Based Tourism On A Wrong Track?

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Nature-based tourism is in the spotlight again with the Eco-Systems Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) being implemented in the country. Among the key areas earmarked for development under the ESCAMP is nature-based tourism. The funding for this five-year long project comes from the World Bank as a USD 45 million loan; it is implemented by the Forest Department. The areas identified for development under nature-based tourism component of the project include the construction of nature trails, the construction or renovation of visitor services infrastructure including ...Continued

‘Essay Mills’ and Ethics

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H G S Prematunge
Hiring academic writing services to get essays, papers and dissertation done is fast catching up in the Sri Lankan academic services market, as we pointed out previously. ‘Essay mills’, as the service providers are referred to in the West, offer academic writing services for Diploma, HND, degree, MSC, MBA, M Phil and even PhD level programmes. Students can get their dissertations done for a fee. The purpose of a research is to train students to collect, analyze, and process information and hone strategic thinking, critical ...Continued

Life Begins Again at 60!

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Kshama Ranawana
How well prepared is Sri Lanka to deal with the feminization of its fast ageing population? Statistics indicate that life expectancy for Sri Lankan women is at 79 as opposed to 72 for men, therefore women and men on the threshold of 60 are expected to live 19 years and 12 years longer respectively. While globally, the over 60s population is projected to be around 20% by 2050, that same age group in Sri Lanka  will make up 20% of the population by 2030. Already, ...Continued

Of That No-Faith Vote Fiasco

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Hawk’s Eye
The defeat of the JVP’s no-faith motion against the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the government in Parliament came as no surprise, on Thursday. Even the Catholic MPs voted against the motion which blamed the government for having failed to prevent the Easter attacks in spite of being forewarned. The government mustered a comfortable majority of 27. The motion received 92 votes in favour and 119 votes against. The JVP and the UFPA voted for the motion which had been debated for two days. The ...Continued

Trump’s Triumphalism Set To Aggravate Global Tensions

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Dissector
It was US triumphalism at its most strident and its creator was none other than President Donald Trump. Speaking at the height of a seemingly gathering military stand-off with Iran in the Gulf and an apparently ‘no-winners’ trade war with rival world power China, Trump’s essential message to the American people at the recent American Independence Day celebrations in Washington was that for the US: ‘Nothing is impossible’. It was a speech replete with florid praise for the US military and American national heroes. Trump ...Continued

Delivering World Cup’s Biggest Surprise

Columns
Spectator at Headingley
Sydney Pardon, one of the most famous Wisden Editors once summed up England selections so ruthlessly; in the 1910 Alamanack, he pointed out selections in the previous summer had ‘touched the confines of lunacy.’ Sri Lanka’s World Cup selections could be categorized with something similar as five players who hadn’t featured in an ODI for more than 18 months were chosen for the sport’s showpiece event. But the point is how the players rose to the occasion, despite the chaos!   They came up with a ...Continued

The Slow But Relentless War Against Ethnic Nationalism

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Dissector
We have no choice but to resort to a tired figure of speech, ‘rolling in the grave’, to describe a strange malaise that has gripped sections of those who consider themselves ‘progressives’ and sworn Leftists in Sri Lanka. The disquieting frequency and relish with which some local ‘Leftists’ use the term ‘patriotism’ compels Dissector to say that world renowned communists, such as, Lenin and Trotsky, must be ‘rolling in their graves’ to see their seemingly ardent adherents in Sri Lanka resorting to or finding refuge ...Continued

A Political War By Other Means

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Hawk’s Eye
President Maithripala Sirisena took another swipe at his bete noire Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the other day. Addressing the media heads on Wednesday in Colombo, he described the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the Easter Sunday carnage, which killed 258 people, including 45 foreigners, and wounded nearly 500, as a ‘drama’ scripted by Temple Trees. Stating that he had not been asked to testify before the PSC, the President declared that he would never appear before it even if he was summoned. The President remains ...Continued

The Cup That Cheers Ruins Rain Forest

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Dr. Prasanna Cooray
“Around the time of Independence there were fewer people living in these areas (around Sinharaja). Since then, population has increased by six times. Plantations have also expanded. There wasn’t anything significant to be called agriculture in this area then. Kalawana, Nivithigala, Kanneliya, Manikevita Kanda, Kalubowita were jungles. (Then) monsoon rains were falling timely. Animals were everywhere.” This is who octogenarian Martin Wijesinghe, who is also regarded the “uncommissioned professor of Sinharaja”, reminisced of the Sinharaja rain forest seven decades ago. Continuing onslaught on Sinharaja According ...Continued

Autonomizing Education

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H G S Prematunge
In the last issue of Counterpoint, we discussed the vital role economics plays in deciding access to and the quality of the education system, which decides the country’s labour force dynamics. There is obvious correlation between the level of education and income, social mobility, economic and social status. Moreover, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development educated individuals make more intelligent and informed democratic political choices. Consequently, spending on education has been viewed as promoting human capital by many scholars. It was R.E ...Continued

Battle Lines In New Cold War Drawn-Up

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Dissector
A new Cold War is taking shape in the international political order but ideology would not be playing a dominant role in it, although we would be having some resonant echoes of the old Cold War in the developing situation.  On the one side, is the US and its allies world-wide, on the other, Russia, China and those making common cause with them. Over the past few months the US has been increasingly vocal about an  “Indo-Pacific strategy”,   which seemingly brings within its scope almost ...Continued

CEB Workers Get Salary Shock

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Nearly 12,000 employees of the Ceylon Electricity board are up in arms over their salaries being paid out as an allowance based on their net take home pay of March this year. These employees who come under the United Engineers Service have fallen victim to a legal imbroglio that stems from a 2014 CEB Board decision allowing for the creation of the afore mentioned category and an E Salary Scale. The decision was challenged in Courts by the Lanka Podu Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya for its ...Continued

Cricket’s Marketing Battles

Columns
Spectator
The ICC Cricket World Cup has returned to England, the country that staged the first three editions of the sport’s showpiece event and the possibilities of players breaking new grounds are explored. One of the questions cricket pundits have discussed is whether any team can break the 500 run barrier. While experts discuss a whole new set of possibilities and teams put up strategies to overcome opponents, the game’s governing body – the International Cricket Council – keeps a close eye on some key aspects ...Continued

Will The Government Stem The Anti-Muslim Campaign?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Even as families of victims of the Easter Sunday terror gradually pick up the pieces of their lives, and attempt to make sense of that dastardly act, a more insidious campaign is taking hold of the country. Anti-Muslim rhetoric is not new in Sri Lanka, but the Easter Sunday bomb blasts carried out by members of extremist National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) has given it a new breath of life. The move to stifle Muslim owned businesses has been around for more than a decade, but ...Continued

Cricket’s Greatest Celebration

Columns
Spectator
The participants of the ICC Cricket World Cup were welcomed to England by none other than Queen Elizabeth herself at SW1A 1AA – the postcode for Buckingham Palace. The ten captains posted for an official photograph with the Queen and Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne posted the picture on Instagram with the title ‘priceless’. Looking back at the tournament which is 45 years old, cricket has come a long way. The inaugural edition in 1975 generated little revenue but today the sport’s showpiece event is ...Continued

The Dangerous Rise Of The Right

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Dissector
The increasing rise of Right wing populism in the West recalls to mind the Europe of the First and Second World Wars. Nationalism was the driving force behind these wars and we are left to wonder whether the world is biting off more than it could chew by passively allowing the re-emergence of this virulent brand of politics. One of the theatres to watch most closely is Western Europe. Right wing and nationalist parties have made an impression at the recent European Parliament elections and ...Continued

Higher Education And Privatisation

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H G S Prematunge
From deciding access to quality, economics play a vital role in education. And since the education system bares the heavy burden of producing the country’s human resource that will directly affect the country’s economy, education and economics are like two sides of the same coin. The economies of countries that have large stocks of educated human resources are superior to economies of countries that have lower stocks of educated human resources. This was highlighted by E. Hanushek and L. Woessmann in their 2008 paper ‘The ...Continued

Sri Lanka In A Quandary – Extreme Religiosity And Religious...

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Sri Lanka is regarded as one of the most religious countries in the world. In recent times, this has become manifest not just once, but at least twice. And that again by two cutting edge independent research work. The world renowned Zurich based market research cum polling firm Worldwide Independent Network/ Gallup International Association (WIN/GIA), in its latest report on world religiosity (published in 2016), ranked Sri Lanka as the second most religious country in the world! According to the survey Sri Lanka sits only ...Continued

Can Poaching Of Wild Animals Ever Be Contained?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana & Aanya Wipulasena
Poaching of wild animals is a lucrative business. With a kilo of fresh game meat going at anything between Rs. 400 to 800, and dried meat for about Rs. 1500 a kilo, it is not surprising that wildlife officials are hard put to successfully fight this illegal trade. Moreover, despite Sri Lanka’s supposed adherence to teachings that invoke non-violence towards all beings, illegal killing of wild animals continues unabated because there is a market for Big Game, from both area locals and visitors.  Several people ...Continued

‘A Legend In Green Blazer’

Columns
Spectator
Watching the national cricket team being massacred at the Cricket Club of India in Bombay by the hosts was one of the toughest things the spectator has experienced on a cricket field. On day one, a 22-year-old Angelo Mathews was run out on 99. Then Virender Sehwag demolished the attack scoring 284 runs in less than a day. It was carnage as India went on to declare on day three having reached 726 for nine.  The Sri Lankans were getting a taste of their own medicine. ...Continued

Are Our Schools Really Safe?

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H G S PREMATUNGE
Security is an integral part of education, and instability and violence pose a direct threat to a child’s right to education. The prevailing bomb scare, resulting from the Easter bombings is a case in point; schools have been out for over two weeks to all intents and purposes. The second school term was to commence on April 22, but was delayed by two weeks following the Easter terrorist attack on April 21. Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has requested all Catholic schools to be ...Continued

Counting The Dead – Has Sri Lanka Risen To The...

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Russian dictator Joseph Stalin’s “a single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” is usually met with ill-feeling and sarcasm by the civilized society.  How bitter as the undertone may be, this hyperbole will continue to hold water as long as human lives are lost in large numbers in gruesome and startling ways. It is unimaginable how calamities strike people in a split second, making them just sitting ducks, helpless and hapless. This phenomenon continues despite all the advances in science and ...Continued

‘Indo-Pacific’ As A Happy Hunting Ground Of The Big Powers

Columns
Dissector
Former US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake was in Colombo recently at the invitation of the Path Finder Foundation and the Joint Apparel Association Forum Sri Lanka for the purpose of delivering a lecture in the latest of a series of seminars launched by these organizations on international developments of relevance to Sri Lanka and the region. What he had to say was most revealing in parts and proved food-for-thought material. Among other things, the presentation reminded the more seasoned observers that the ...Continued

Sri Lanka’s War On Drugs – III

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Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
Politics and drug trade are inseparable, and dependent on each other like the hermit crab and the sea anemone. This symbiotic relationship has made it extremely difficult to remove the scourge of narcotics, especially in the developing world, where lawgivers are a law unto themselves. Sri Lanka’s experience is a case in point. In Oct. 2005, the then Chandrika Kumaratunga government drew a lot of flak when it appointed a notorious drug dealer, known as Kudu Lal, a Justice of the Peace (JP) so much ...Continued

Displaced Refugees – A Failure To Protect

Columns
Anupama Ranawana
Another group of people have become collateral damage of the waves of anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka following the April 21st, Easter Sunday carnage. They are refugees and asylum seekers and the challenge they face now is a culmination of a growing global environment that is hostile to refugees, the limited ground presence of the UNHCR, as well as the dysfunction of the Sri Lankan government. However, the most pressing issue at the moment is one of law and order, of protecting the refugees, thus ...Continued

The Easter Sunday Attacks And The Human Security Question

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Dissector
As should be expected, it is the human costs of the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka that are engaging the attention of the world and this is likely to be so for a long time to come. It is the sheer inhumanity and brute insensitivity of the attacks that are leaving people everywhere dumbfounded and the irony is that this could be an eye-opener of sorts in the cloud of depression currently hanging over Sri Lanka. This is because our minds are being ...Continued

Will The Move Towards Renewable Energy Be Tripped Again?

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
In March this year Cabinet approved a proposal by the Minister of Power, Energy and Business Development Ravi Karunanayake to amend the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009. The amendment seeks to exempt Non –Conventional Renewable Energy (NCRE) projects from having to follow the tendering process, which often could take up to 2 years. Approvals and actual implementation of the projects usually take a further 2 to 3 years. In fact, Act No.20 of 2009 had been amended through Act No 31 of ...Continued

Adaptation To Future Climate Change In Sri Lanka

Columns
Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri
Sri Lanka has been described as one of South Asia’s climate hotspots in a 2018 World Bank Report titled “South Asia’s Hotspots: The Impact of Temperature and Precipitation Changes on Living Standards”. The report has concluded that Northern and North Western provinces emerge as the top two hotspots, followed by the much less densely populated North Central Province. Even the highly urbanized and densely populated Western Province, which includes Colombo, is also predicted to experience a living standard decline of 7.5 percent by 2050. (https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/28723/9781464811555.pdf). ...Continued

The Lessons That We Can Learn From Aravinda

Columns
Spectator
It’s a crying shame that during the prime of his career – former great Aravinda de Silva – played little cricket at home. Due to the political unrest, no international cricket was played in Sri Lanka for more than five years from April 1987 to August 1992. Aravinda made most of his career from the little opportunities he got. All Sri Lanka’s captains from Bandula Warnapura to Kumar Sangakkara agree on one thing – Aravinda is the greatest batsman the country has produced. Let’s hope ...Continued

Wealth And Power Of Drug Lords

Columns
Hemantha Perera and Vishvanath
Sri Lanka’s focus has been shifted from its successful war on drugs to battling a new form of terrorism, following the Easter Sunday bombings, which claimed more than 250 lives and left over 500 persons injured in several churches and hotels on April 21. This is not something anyone bargained for, and the ferocity of the terrors strikes has not only shaken the government to its foundations but also led to a political crisis of sorts. The ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has ...Continued

WikiLeaks Gave Full Meaning To The Right To Information

Columns
Dissector
In future, a country’s democratic advancement would need to be measured in terms of the value the states and societies concerned attach to the ‘WikiLeaks revolution’. While the possibility is that the merits and demerits of the methods used by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to divulge the truth may dominate discussion and debate the world over following his recent arrest in London, there is no denying that his approach to keeping the world informed gave substantial meaning to the Right to Information. Needless to say, ...Continued

Gender Dynamics In Sri Lankan Education System

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H.G.S Prematunge
Sri Lanka is recognised as the only South Asian country that has achieved the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal for gender equality in education across the board. Yet again, free education and making primary education compulsory maybe the major reasons for this gender balance. Although the Sri Lankan education system has been successful in closing the gender gap with regards to education accessibility, this does not translates to employment rates. With the majority of unemployed females produced from the Arts streams of local universities, it ...Continued

When A Bunch Of Amateurs Created Cricket’s Greatest Upset

Columns
Spectator
During an event in Bombay to celebrate India’s World Cup triumph in 1983, opening batsman Krishnamachari Srikkanth recalled thinking his captain Kapil Dev had gone mad when he told the team to believe in themselves that they could beat West Indies in the World Cup. “Before the 1983 World Cup, India had played in two World Cups and had won just one game. In 1979, India incidentally lost to a team called Sri Lanka, who were not even a full member of the ICC at ...Continued

CEB And Power Shortage: A Dark Vision Of The Future

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
While the nation baked under an unrelenting sun and endured unscheduled power cuts that negatively impacted the economy, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has been dragging its feet on implementing a scheme that would have prevented power cuts and been more financially prudent. In September 2018, the Cabinet approved a memorandum prepared earlier that year by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister for National Policy and Economic Affairs, proposing that stand- by generators owned by government institutions be harnessed to boost ...Continued

The Polluter Pays!

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
In a landmark decision on April 4 this year, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka awarded Rs. 20 million as damages to the people living within a 1.5 kilometre distance of the Northern Power Company (Pvt.) Ltd, (NPC) in Chunnakam.  The monetary consideration will benefit around 500 families, who will receive Rs. 40,000 each, to clean and rehabilitate their wells, which have been polluted by oil, grease and/or BTEX. (Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl Benzene and Xylene). For environmentalist Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, the National Coordinator of the ...Continued

A Triumph Of Environmental Activism

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
“The most striking feature of this entire battle was the unyielding solidarity the people (in Chunnakam) showed till the end. They were united as one, and their unity was unwavering”, Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, Director of the Colombo based Center for Environmental and Nature Studies (CENS), who led the Chunnakam battle from the front quipped with intense satisfaction. Kariyawasam was the sole petitioner of this public interest litigation (PIL) case on behalf of the residents of Chunnakam. Attorneys-at-law Nuwan Bopage and Chathura Wettasinghe argued the case ...Continued

Food or Education, Take Your Pick

Columns
H.G.S Prematunge
In the previous issue, the many matters that plague the Sri Lankan education system were discussed. Among the major issues that adversely affect the education system are the failure of the system to cater to labour market demands, inability of universities to meet tertiary education demand, brain drain and limited government expenditure on education. Rigorous examination process and high competition for the higher education, disparity of access to quality education, unequal distribution of resources between urban and rural schools, poor performance in mathematics and science ...Continued

Death Due To Ragging- Punish The Culprits

Columns
Prof. O. A. Illeperuma
This week, a student at the Institute of technology, University of Moratuwa at Homagama committed suicide because of the mental and physical harassment during ragging he received at this Institute. This student had earlier been at the University of Jaffna where he was continuously beaten up for nearly six months and he was transferred to the Homagama Institute. There too, he was severely beaten up for several weeks and when he could not take it any longer, he decided to take his life. Who is ...Continued

The President, Elections and the Politics of the Tripitaka

Columns
Sasanka Perera
Out of the blues, President Maithripala Sirisena has decided, apparently all by himself, that the Tripitaka, the sacred scriptures of Theravada Buddhists must be declared a ‘national heritage.’  To his credit, he has already done this in January this year.  After all, what was needed was a presidential decree and tax-payers’ money to make this declaration somewhat celebratory in a visual sense at the ‘national’ level. Hence, the recent Tripitaka Week enforced on all government entities.  Along with the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, the President ...Continued

Cold War-type Tensions Gripping International Politics

Columns
Dissector
The recent Sri Lanka-centred diplomatic drama in Geneva where Sri Lanka clinched yet another two-year ‘reprieve’ from the West over war crimes accountability issues underscores afresh the West’s keen intent to maintain its firm foothold in South Asia. The present Sri Lankan administration is a Western ally and the US in particular would go to any lengths to protect its friends in our part of the world. This is the clear message the diplomatic wrangling in Geneva over UNHRC resolution 40/1 conveys. Among other things, ...Continued

Arsikland! The Musical Review: Laughing So That We Don’t Cry

Columns
Annemari de Silva
I had been following Feroze Kamardeen’s Pusswedilla series of plays to record their run-ins with various types of censorship and finally had the opportunity to watch one of their performances, this time in musical form. Arsikland! The Musical had its run at the Lionel Wendt from March 30th to April 5th – a long, staggering schedule which is unusual for most English language productions that only draw in crowds to fill 2-3 nights. Yet Pusswedilla and his cronies have drawn such an audience that by ...Continued

Camera Trapping To Monitor Their Health

Columns
Chandima Fernando & Ravi Corea
Monitoring the health of free ranging wild animals is one of the toughest challenges for conservationists and wildlife managers.  If the animal is a highly mobile animal like the elephant, then, it is near impossible.  Unless the animal had been made immobile due to a debilitating wound or situation, to track an injured wild animal even with the slightest mobility is a daunting task. By serendipitous events we have found that remote cameras could be an effective technology to monitor injured elephants.  But the underlying ...Continued

Neil Perera – An Unsung Hero, An Untold Story

Columns
Spectator
Sunday (17) marked the 23rd Anniversary of Sri Lanka winning the ICC Cricket World Cup. The architects of the country’s biggest achievement in the sporting arena are all too known, but Neil Perera has remained an unsung hero. The same is true of most real heroes in Sri Lanka, where nobody sans self-marketing skills gets recognition. Perera was elected Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in 1991 with Tyronne Fernando as the President. During the Executive Committee’s first meeting at Maitland Place, Perera discussed with ...Continued

Continuing The Practice Of Living Beyond Means

Columns
Prof. Sirimevan Colombage
Budget 2019 themed “Enterprise Sri Lanka – Empowering the People and Nurturing the Poor” envisages to promote a new form of private sector free from the protectionist mindset that can operate efficiently in a rule-based system within a competitive market environment. Loan concessions and various other incentives are to be given to prospective entrepreneurs with a view to create an entrepreneurial society, particularly among the youth. Another programme highlighted in the Budget is the “Gamperaliya” scheme, which is meant for accelerating village development through infrastructure ...Continued

Social Media Declaration, A Timely Need

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
Just over a year ago, social media faced a shut down in Sri Lanka.  The action, enforced by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), came in the wake of the violence that erupted in Digana, in the Kandy district between Sinhalese and Muslims.  While the incident that sparked the violence was not caused by social media, it was seen as the prime culprit in helping to spread rumours and misinformation. In less than a decade, social media has evolved to become the foremost communicator of information.  ...Continued

Of ‘Local Universities’ And ‘Foreign Universities’

Columns
Sasanka Perera
On the 12th of March 2019, after much delay, the Sri Lankan parliament finally approved the country’s budget.  Sri Lanka, with its cash-starved economy had been hobbling along since last year’s constitutional crisis. Though there were threats from the opposition of defeating the budget and toppling the regime, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera managed to secure a clear majority in support for his budget proposals, and ensure the survival of the regime he represents in the process.  As to be expected, since 2019 is an election ...Continued

‘Lone Wolf’ Terror And The ‘End of History’

Columns
Dissector
Not only was New Zealand’s taken-for-granted peace shattered but also popular theories about the evolution of history reduced to tatters when ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist Brenton Tarrant opened fire on two New Zealand mosques a few days back and cold-bloodedly killed some 50 worshippers. Among other things, we are reminded that no country could be declared as absolutely safe from terror today. Tarrant joins Anders Behring Breivik of Norway as a contemporary ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist marked by ruthless efficiency of the most chilling kind. Breivik hit ...Continued

Demerits Of An Education System Stalling Development

Columns
H.G.S Prematunge
(The third in a series of articles on education related issues) The Sri Lankan education system is not without merits. According to the World Bank collection of development indicators we have achieved universal primary education and gender parity, with 98.18 percent enrolment rate for males and 96.43 percent enrolment rate for females as at 2016. Sri Lanka has a Human Development Index value of 0.770, and ranked 76 out of 189 countries, in 2017, mainly due to our free education and health policy. In fact, ...Continued

Save Sinharaja From The World Bank!

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
World Bank’s (WB) 2016 April report, titled, “International Development Association (IDA) Project Appraisal Document on Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project”, serves as the official document with regard to the ongoing ESCAMP project that stipulates the development of certain selected ecosystems including some protected areas (PA) in the country. The protected areas, identified in the report include Sinharaja, the only rainforest reserve in the country and a world heritage site and the Yala, Minneriya, Horton Plains and Uda Walawe national parks. Through this project the WB ...Continued

Untold Stories Of The Lahore Attack

Columns
Spectator (08/03/2019)
March 3rd marked the tenth anniversary of heavily armed gunmen opening fire on a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore, Pakistan. Several policemen were killed in the attack, which left quite a few other law enforcement officers and members of some of the Sri Lankan squad and support staff injured. Two civilians were also seriously injured. What happened that day has been well documented but there are still untold stories. Suranga Lakmal, the lionhearted fast bowler, who has become Sri Lanka’s leading seamer was on ...Continued

It’s Time To Be The Change!

Columns
Kshama Ranawana (08/03/2019)
That only 4% of 90% women who answered yes to a survey question whether they had been sexually harassed on public transport, had the courage to seek help from the police, is a serious indictment on Sri Lankan society and the police service itself. Whether the 4% who sought help were successful in getting justice, the survey does not say. However, given the general lackadaisical attitude of both officials and the public to the issue of sexual harassment, one could safely guess that in most ...Continued

Regulation Necessary To Mitigate Negatives And Enhance Positives

Columns
HGS Prematunge (08/03/2019)
(Second installment in a series of articles) Shadow education, supplementary education, or whatever the moniker one may use, private tuition has become a necessary evil, ironically even in countries that have a well-established free education systems. When the majority of students attend private tuition classes, those who do not do so are at a direct disadvantage. Supplementary tuition has become a way of life in many Asian countries. As discussed in the previous article in this series, private tuition encourages social inequality. Regulating shadow education ...Continued

Buddhism, Sustainability And Sri Lanka

Columns
Srilal Miththapala (08/03/2019)
Today, sustainability is fast becoming a very relevant and essential aspect of our lives. This has come about as a response to the high degree of consumerism that prevails in the modern world, and the resultant use of fast depleting natural resources, giving rise to global warming and climate change. In quest of sustainability, the competitive business landscape is already starting to transform, forcing companies to change the way they think about products, technologies, processes, and business models. Sustainable growth and development requires a harmony ...Continued

Fresh Indo-Pakistan Hostilities Underscore South’s Leadership Deficit

Columns
Dissector (08/03/2019)
The latest round of Indo-Pakistan hostilities draws attention to South Asia’s security vulnerabilities and the global South’s yawning political leadership deficit. The former aspect is plain to see because the South Asian region continues to be considerably dependent on a degree of harmony and good will between India and Pakistan, for the sustainability of its collective security. That is, instability in the Indo-Pakistan relationship has a knock-on effect on South Asia’s security. If this were not so,  SAARC would not be in a near moribund ...Continued

A New Dead Zone In The Bay Of Bengal

Columns
Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage (22/02/2019)
Ocean-our Present and Future The ocean covers 71% of earth’s surface and contains 97% of planet’s water. This ocean is the life support system for the planet earth. The oceans have been playing a key role in the world in spreading civilizations, cultures, religions and affect the climate and weather. Humankind has been using the oceans since time immemorial for venturing for explorations, navigation, wars, trade, leisure and for obtaining living and non-living resources. Oceans have been the main protein supplier for the humankind. With ...Continued

Shadow Education Overshadowing Mainstream

Columns
H. G. S. Prematunge (22/02/2019)
Regulating tuition, and introduction It goes by various monikers—jukus in Japan, hagwons in the Republic of Korea and buxiban in Taiwan. It is generally known as private tuition and coaching in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and of course, Sri Lanka. ‘Private tuition’ involves lessons of academic subjects offered for a fee, as one-to-one basis, small or large groups or as online or digital material. It is also widely known as shadow education, a metaphor used for its mimicking of the school system. A.V Suraweera, in his ...Continued

Sri Lanka’s Rebel Tour To South Africa In 1982

Columns
Spectator (22/02/2019)
Their request for test status having been turned down several times, Sri Lanka finally became a full member of the ICC, in 1981, with the then Board President and Minister Gamini Dissanayake telling the ICC board that he would do all within his means to fix the infrastructure needed to play international cricket, in his country. There was never a doubt about the country’s cricketing talent; Sri Lanka had made a powerful Indian team eat humble pie in the 1979 World Cup. But infrastructure was ...Continued

New Indo-Pak Stand-off Could Plunge SA In Unprecedented Economic Doldrums

Columns
Dissector (22/02/2019)
A new tense stand-off between India and Pakistan over a militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir, which claimed over 40 Indian soldiers recently could reverse South Asia’s seemingly glittery economic gains and take the region back to times of dire material impoverishment. It is not the case that we are having uniform, eye-catching economic growth over the length and breadth of South Asia, but economic setbacks in India and Pakistan, the regional economic heavyweights, that carry on their shoulders the SAARC region’s economic prospects, could ...Continued

Is Geoge Keyt Still Relevant To Sri Lankan Art?

Columns
Anoli Perera (22/02/2019)
The Indian art historian, Yashodhara Dalmia’s excellent book, Buddha to Krishna: Life and Times of George Keyt was published in 2017 by Routledge in London and New Delhi 2017.  Keyt died in 1993, twenty four years before Dalmia’s book was published. And as the book enters circulation, memories of him are steadily fading in Sri Lanka’s cultural domain as newer styles of art-making and cultural appreciation invades the country’s discourses of taste.  It is all the more timely therefore, to ask if Keyt’s work is ...Continued

Of Bradman, Packer, Chappell And Waugh

Columns
Spectator in Australia
The greatest compliment Sri Lanka’s health service has ever received perhaps came from former Australian captain Steve Waugh. Barely a few weeks after becoming the World Champions, Waugh’s Australian side arrived in Sri Lanka for a seven-week tour that included a three-match Test series and a tri-nation limited overs competition also involving India. The Asgiriya Test match went to the wire with Sri Lanka eventually recording their first ever Test win over Australia. Attempting to take a catch off Mahela Jayawardene, Waugh and Jason Gillespie collided ...Continued

Religions For Responsible Governance Building Bridges

Columns
Kshama Ranawana
It was an unprecedented event; a Buddhist Monk apologizing, on television, to the war affected people of Sri Lanka in the North and East for any wrongs done to them by Buddhists. The Monk, the Ven. Galkande Dhammananda of the Walpola Rahula Institute was participating in a live TV discussion on Rupavahini on February 4, this year. Dhammananda Thero was one of four religious leaders who reflected on the role religions had played in post-independence Sri Lanka in this TV talk show. The others were ...Continued

The Urgent Need To Foster And Save Secularism

Columns
Dissector
Democracies are said to be thriving in the Asian region but most of them lack a strong secular foundation. This begs the question: Could they be identified as democracies in the truest sense? Opinion makers in Sri Lanka have tended to ignore this issue or have glossed over it. This has been the case since 1948, the year of ‘independence’. The time is ripe to face this question squarely as Sri Lanka ‘celebrates’ another anniversary of ‘independence’. This exercise is bound to trigger much contention ...Continued

The Rape Of A Virgin Forest

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Sinharaja, the only rainforest reserve in Sri Lanka, is in the news again. And this time around, a road building project has become the bone of contention. Young environmental activist, Sajeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reforms (MONLAR), who was in the thick of many battles fought on the Sinharaja front during the last two decades, gave a snapshot picture of the struggles that were to save Sinharaja. “There were many attempts to exploit and commercialize Sinharaja in the past. The attempts ...Continued

Brain Drain Or Brain Gain?

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Srilal Miththapala
Introduction Much has been talked about Sri Lanka’s tourism boom and the impending Human resource shortfall that the industry will face.  Recently, a private sector initiative by You Lead (of the USAID) unveiled a practical and comprehensive road map to address some of these issues. (You Lead: Sri-Lanka-Tourism and Hospitality Workforce Competitiveness Roadmap-2018-2023) Although detailed numbers and assessments are difficult to be derived accurately due to the lack of proper information, it is generally accepted that about 100,000 extra direct staff at various levels will ...Continued

Artificial Reefs The Answer?

Columns
Muttukrishna Sarvananthan
The fishing dispute between the two countries, and the enduring sufferings of fisherpersons of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, is the result of the failure of the Indian and Sri Lankan governments to fully implement the 1974 and 1976 maritime border agreements, as also, the failure of the Sri Lankan government to fully implement the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.   Introduction Sri Lanka’s northern provincial economy has been rising from the ashes of the civil war since 2010, and has, as per the ...Continued

Why Not An Export Industry?

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Srilal Miththapala
The Debate of export status There has been some debate, of late, on whether tourism qualifies to be an export industry. This argument has been fuelled by the age old definition of an export industry as one which ‘exports goods and services produced and purchased by residents of another country’. The problem stems from the wording ‘…purchased by residents of another country’. However, the modern day interpretations are different from the classical one.  What is the harm if such goods and services, are purchased by ...Continued

Diaspora Engagement In Sri Lanka

Columns
Anupama Ranawana
The subject of the Sri Lankan diaspora can often be a contentious, politicised one. As the war between the LTTE and government forces came to an end, especially, there were many assumptions made about the role of the diaspora that resided in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe. As an example, there is the overwhelming assumption that much of the Sri Lankan diaspora is a ‘Tamil’ diaspora that is unanimously supportive of the LTTE. This, however, is a misconception. The Tamil diaspora is various ...Continued

Political Realism, Much Needed In IR Analyses

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Dissector
International Relations commentators would do well to take a leaf from none other than specialists in Marketing who have forged a valuable conceptual tool to analyse current developments in international economics. This is commonly referred to as ‘VUCA’, which acronym stands for, Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. An impartial survey of ‘external sector’ developments ought to convince commentators and observers that the Marketers have got it plum right. Fast-breaking events in international politics and economics could indeed tend to be baffling. The magnitude of the ...Continued

When ‘Saint’ Adam Denied Sanga A Remarkable Milestone

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Spectator
The national cricket team taking on Cricket Australia XI, in a warm-up game, at the Bellerive Oval ahead of the Test series, brought back nostalgic memories of Kumar Sangakkara’s superb knock at this ground some 12 years ago. Sanga came up with a master class when the chips were down for Sri Lanka and ended up with 192. Known for his meticulous planning and appetite for big runs, the former captain could have gone on to complete a double hundred but was denied the milestone ...Continued

Dirty Politics Ruined Sri Lanka Cricket

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Spectator
New Sports Minister Harin Fernando has made some serious allegations; he has called the Executive Committee of Thilanga Sumathipala, which won a close cricket election in 2016, the most corrupt cricket administrative set-up in the world. Fernando subsequently asked the International Cricket Council permission to delay the cricket elections to bring the much-needed changes to the Constitution of Sri Lanka Cricket. Sumathipala was one of the key architects of the recent unsuccessful bid to wrest control of Parliament from the UNP and Fernando could be ...Continued

Bandula’s Folly

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Kshama Ranawana
UPFA Member of Parliament and former Minister of Education Bandula Gunawardena has taken umbrage over the fact that a student of an international school has been ranked first in the Arts stream amongst the candidates who sat the 2018 GCE Advanced Level examination. Talking to the media, the UPFA Parliamentarian accused the government of conspiring to privatise free education, claiming that a private candidate had been ranked for the first time in history, and that it is unfair by government and semi-governments schools. According to ...Continued

“Siege Mentality” Will Cost Sri Lanka Dearly In The Economic...

Columns
Dissector
There is this unfortunate tendency on the part of sections of the media in Sri Lanka to sensationalize South Asia’s perceived geopolitical tensions. They are prone to even counting the number of big power war ships that visit Sri Lankan ports. According to one source, the number of such vessels visiting Sri Lanka since 2008 is 450 and rising. The question to be posed is whether such media fixations have a depressing impact on the morale of the public and on that of the political ...Continued

A Look Back On 2018

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Srilal Miththapala
Arrivals Sri Lanka has been recording a steady YoY growth in arrivals in the post-war period; 2017 saw 2.1 m arrivals, with a CAGR of close upon 19% over the past five years. Total arrivals for 2018 reached 2.33 m arrivals, with a marginal 10.3% increase over 2017, missing the target of 2.5m arrivals set by the government.  In the absence of any strong and cohesive marketing campaign, which the private sector has been clamouring for over two years now, the YoY growth percentage has ...Continued

Old Fox Rolling Over In His Grave

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Vishvanath
How would the late President J. R. Jayewardene feel if he knew his party’s frantic efforts to do away with the executive presidency he created and was so enamoured of? He would feel the same way as he did way back in the early 1970s, when his proposal for a powerful executive presidency met with stiff resistance from his own party, the UNP, which he bent to his will a couple of years later after taking over its leadership. He contemptuously rejected the idea of ...Continued

Rumble At Sri Lanka Cricket

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Spectator
As in politics, there aren’t permanent enemies or permanent friends in cricket. Friends who come together to topple an incumbent administration, end up fighting one another within a matter of months, as we have seen over the years. When the last cricket election was held in 2016, the unthinkable happened. We witnessed  a coming together of sworn enemies, Jayantha Dharmadasa and Thilanga Sumathipal, to demolish Nishantha Ranatunga’s empire. Thanks to the backing of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s sons, the younger Ranatunga was running the game of cricket ...Continued

Overcoming The Challenges Of Organic Farming

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Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Health complications of foods contaminated with agrochemicals are now well known. The long list of such complications include the conditions as immediate as allergies and gastro-intestinal disorders and long term consequences like asthma, cancers, Parkinson’s disease and kidney disease. At a time when the entire country is grappling with the need to produce food without chemical inputs, a farm named “Mihimandala” in Welikandagama, in the Badulla district, has come out with the practical solutions. Managing Director V. M. B. Athula Priyantha, BSc Agriculture (Special), MSc ...Continued

Nationalistic Sentiments Hinder Vibrant Economic Integration

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Dissector
Sri Lanka is badly at risk of being out of step with a briskly economically-integrating South Asia. What is required is not simply an open economy in the ‘island nation’ but one that is steadily integrating itself with not only the economies of this region but also with those outside it. Just being ‘open’ would not suffice. What is of crucial importance is integration and this process is at a farther qualitative remove from mere ‘openness’. Why is all this important now, some 30 years ...Continued

SAARC Still Stuck At The Cross-roads

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Dissector
To be sure, SAARC is a regional grouping with some notable characteristics and one could not agree more with SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ruwan Edirisinghe on this score. Unlike, ASEAN, for instance, which is the virtual future of the global south, SAARC has made little or no progress on the tasks it gave itself since its founding in 1985 and this fact alone makes it a phenomenon of some absorbing interest among regional organizations of its kind. However, it goes without saying ...Continued

Oil Palm Goes Rancid

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Dr. Prasanna Cooray
Doubts have been cast on the much-advertised health benefits of palm oil and environmental concerns on oil palm cultivations. A paradigm shift reshaping the conventional thinking as regards vegetable oils has become discernible both in health and environmental spheres. All the good things once said about the vegetable oils are no longer heard. Health and environmental concerns Palm oil is no longer considered cholesterol lowering or cardio-protective. Some researchers argue that it may even raise blood cholesterol levels. Worse, it has been linked to increased ...Continued

The Glory Days Of Tom Moody

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Spectator
Why is it that good things last only a brief time? Kumar Sangakkara was Sri Lanka’s captain for less than two years. Tom Moody was the country’s Head Coach for 20 months. Veteran banker Rienzie Wijetilleke, who introduced many changes for the game of cricket, served SLC less than a year. They have left such an indelible mark that their legacy is spoken of very highly even today. With the national cricket team currently in New Zealand, it is time to reminisce of the last ...Continued

Colonial Mentality And Its Background

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Laksiri Fernando
Although small islands, there are 61 colonies and dependent territories still in the world. Eight countries maintain them: France (16), the United Kingdom (15), the United State (14), Australia (6), New Zealand (3), Norway (3), Netherlands (2) and Denmark (2). At present, France has the most controversial colonial legacy although it was the first country to have a ‘human rights declaration’ (‘des droit de l’homme’) as early as 1789. New Caledonia in the Pacific is one of them. Because of nickel resources and tourist attraction, ...Continued

According To A Sri Lankan Woman

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Dhanushki Abhayaratne
I happened to watch the movie ‘According to Matthew’ by Chandran Ratnam showing these days, and was horrified by the wanton character assassination of a young woman in the movie. The movie is based on a true story and showcases a double murder committed by a very powerful priest, where he kills his wife and the husband of the young woman he is having illicit relations with. The priests point of view, paints the woman as a seductress and willing partner in their illicit affair. ...Continued

Catches Win Matches

Columns
Spectator
Remember Clive Lloyd’s epic words moments after West Indies won the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup at Lord’s?  The memorable quote, ‘Catches win matches’, remains true even more than 40 years after the West Indian legend first uttered it. If you need to check the validity of Lloyd’s pearls of wisdom, you only have to recall the way how England pounced on half-chances pulling off some sensational catches during the bilateral series against Sri Lanka. Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha admitted that fielding was the big ...Continued

Sri Lanka On The Brink Of An Economic Dictatorship

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Muttukrishna Sarvananthan
Whilst there may be certain elements of ambiguity about the Constitutional authority of the Chief Executive (aka the President) of the country on the dismissal and appointment of a Prime Minister or the dissolution of the Parliament, on the critical issue of public finances there is no such ambiguity. It is crystal clear in the Constitution that the Legislature / Parliament is the SOLE custodian and authority of the public finances in Sri Lanka, and indeed in any democratic country. The Parliament has the sole ...Continued

There’s More Than Meets The Eye In The Chinese Consulate...

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Dissector
The taking of life under any circumstances and for whatever reason cannot be condoned but  one could be accused of being simple-minded if the recent ‘terror’ attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi which claimed some four lives is seen as having only security implications. It has security dimensions and more and what is called for is far more than a superficial examination of the event that has triggered concern region-wide. It is reported that a Balochistan-based militant group is behind the attack and it ...Continued

Sri Lanka On The Verge Of A Foreign Exchange Crisis

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Prof. Sirimevan Colombage
The political turmoil triggered in Sri Lanka following the abrupt replacement of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet by the President a month ago has given rise to a constitutional crisis harming an already battered economy. Even before the political catastrophe, the economy was in bad shape on all fronts. The economic growth slowed down to a mere 3.5 percent a year. The budget deficit was high at 5.5 percent of the GDP. The worst has been the foreign exchange situation impaired by rising imports, ...Continued

It’s Time To Root Out This Rotten Political Culture

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Kshama Ranawana
When President Maithripala Sirisena slapped democracy on its face, surreptitiously appointing  a Prime Minister while unceremoniously removing the other, and followed that action by proroguing and then dissolving Parliament, he did Sri Lanka one great favour. A usually apathetic population was jolted out of its complacency.  This time around it was not just another murder or abduction of political opponents, journalists, or robbing the country blind.  It was not about appointing one’s kith and kin to plum positions or parceling out prime forest land, or ...Continued

Democratising State Power through Alternative Means

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Dr. Siri Gamage
There is a tendency in today’s society,  to characterise the ruling class as self-serving, removed from the average citizen in the street, and consider themselves as a distinctive category who are born to rule unquestioned. This situation has arisen as a result of the hybrid governance system introduced in the late 70s, cross overs of MPs from one party or alliance to another at critical moments, extravagant lifestyle of politicians and the associated political culture, conformist role of the mainstream media, failure of education system ...Continued

Dark Side Of Campaign To Paint A Black Picture Of...

Columns
Dr. Prasanna Cooray
The Ministry of Health (MoH), in spite of being troubled by many unfinished battles, has opened another front. This time around, it has declared war on powdered milk, of all things. The MoH, in a poster put out in collaboration with the WHO’s country office, warns of as many as 21 dangers of consuming powdered milk. It may claim that it is trying to promote breastfeeding through that poster. We cannot but agree that breastfeeding should be encouraged at all times and there is nothing ...Continued

Once Again, The Confounding Tamil Nadu Factor

Columns
By Dissector
There was this cartoon in a local daily which showed caretaker Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa about to fence off in a boxing ring with a hulking opposition politician whose face was not clearly sketched. The former was being pushed into the ring by a sleek, sleeved hand with the label ‘China’ on it and the latter was being showed in by no less a person than ‘Uncle Sam’. The cartoon graphically highlighted the ‘external forces’ that are likely to come into play in the parliamentary ...Continued

Lanka’s Untapped Gold Mine

Columns
Duncan
Almost seven decades after making its debut at an international sports event as an independent country, Sri Lanka won its first medal in an endurance event, when Paarami Wasanthi of Kuliyapitiya Central clinched a bronze at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in October 2018. With the schools track and field structure largely encouraging development of sprinters, doesn’t this against-odds victory in the long distance event point to where the country should have its focus on to win at international level? Sri Lanka’s Olympics medals ...Continued

The Barmy Army Invasion

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By Spectator
Barmy Army was the first group of fans to follow and support their cricket team dedicatedly and consistently. Gradually other cricketing nations have taken a leaf out of their book, and now we have ‘The Richies’ in Australia and ‘Bharath Army’ in India. Not to be outdone, a group of Sri Lankan students living in Australia have started something of our own. These cricket crazy lads from various parts of Colombo call themselves ‘Appuhamy’, of all names. It is doubtful whether Test cricket interests many ...Continued

Saving The Elephants

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Kshama Ranawana and Aanya Wipulasena
Unless elephant movements are studied for at least a year, and solutions implemented according to their lifestyle, the attempts to prevent trains killing them will be a bigger calamity warns Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, former Director General, Department of Wildlife and former Environment Specialist at the World Bank. It is vital to determine if the elephants have a specific crossing point, or if they are crossing at random points he states, or else it will be a waste of colossal amounts of money and destruction of ...Continued

Asia’s Big Powers On Alert

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Dissector
Engrossing political developments in Sri Lanka over the past few days are spurring both regional and extra-regional powers into making moves that international politics watchers ought to find extremely thought-provoking.  No sooner was Mahinda Rajapaksa controversially sworn in as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on October 26 in a lightning move that took Sri Lanka and the world by storm, than he was congratulated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The latter was the first world leader to do so. Close on the heels of ...Continued

When Hot-blooded Youth Cool Their Heels

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Shamindrini Peiris
Protests by unemployed graduates demanding jobs are not infrequent. They march, shout, obstruct traffic, get the water cannon treatment and disperse. All governments respond in a similar manner. First, they make grand promises to recruit them as ‘Development Officers’ to an already burgeoning public service. And there lies the rub. Across the board, there is tacit agreement that it is politicization coupled with incompetent employees that has brought Sri Lanka’s civil service to this sorry pass. As for the quality of employees, much has been ...Continued

The Batsman Who Could Not Bat Like Jayasuriya

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Spectator
Having narrowly avoided relegation the previous season, Leicester City stunned all and sundry when they won the English Premier League in the 2015-16 season. It was described as one of the greatest sporting stories as Claudio Ranieri worked with a shoestring budget compared to the more affluent Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Some 15 years prior to that Chandika Hathurusigha did exactly the same with an unfancied Moors SC winning Sri Lanka’s Premier League Cricket Title. Sri Lanka’s domestic cricket has been dominated by ...Continued

Regionalism Defeating Unfettered Globalization

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Dissector
Even the ‘best of minds’ cannot be faulted for being somewhat confused by what is happening currently on the international political and economic scenes. There ought to be a widespread feeling that ‘things are falling apart, the centre cannot hold’ and on the face of it, this assumption seems to be right. Before we go any further on this theme, it would be best that the observer ascertains the more prominent historical developments over the past 30 years. The turning point in international politics came ...Continued

“Refugees In Their Own Village”

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Anupama Ranawana
Trawling through Twitter over my breakfast hour, I noticed several users, from different parts of the world asking the same variant of a question, “Why is it that governments always fail us?” From Canada, to Turkey, to Brazil, to the United Kingdom and the United States, there is a growing sense that governments are locked in a strange hostility towards citizens, especially those who are in the minority. It is this same question of governmental failure that is brought to light in the report “‘Why ...Continued

The Myths And Truths Of The Much Maligned Singapore- Sri...

Columns
Chanakya
The Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (SSLFTA), signed earlier this year has garnered much discussion in Sri Lankan business, political, and social circles. Free trade agreements are full of convoluted, technical jargon and in the absence of a clear communication strategy to explain its contents by the government to the public, the information gap is filled by others. Members of professional organizations such as the GMOA have been particularly vocal about this agreement. Unfortunately, much of what is being said by these representatives of professionals ...Continued

More Than Just A Library

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Shamindrini Peiris
‘When we read, we are able to travel to many places, meet many people and understand the world’ Nelson Mandela. When I saw on social media, the inspirational story of a man in Kegalle who runs a mobile library for children in the area, I was transported back in time to a similar ‘book man’. Back when I was a teenager, there was an old man who cycled all around Kotte and Nugegoda (I am not sure where else), with a little metal trunk strapped ...Continued

DUMPED! – Lanka Cricket Plunges To New All-time Low

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Dion Michael
Sri Lanka’s cricket plunged to an all-time low when the team was unceremoniously dumped from the Asia Cup tournament in just three days and after two big defeats at the hands of Bangladesh and newcomers Afghanistan. The heady night of 17 March 1996 when Sri Lanka was crowned World Champions remains a mere memory in the distance after the night of 17 September 2018 when the young Afghanistan team sent the Lankans crashing out of the Asia cup with an emphatic victory. The Asia Cup ...Continued

Prospects For Constitutional Reform Are Receding

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Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
On Tuesday 18th September, there was a report in the Daily Mirror newspaper, bottom right hand corner of page A4 quoting Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratna, that the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly will submit its report to the Assembly shortly.  Dr. Wickramaratna is also quoted as saying that the proposed constitutional reforms have not in any way weakened the unitary character of the state, nor paved the way for federalism or diluted the foremost status given to Buddhism.  The report referred to, is the composite report ...Continued

Shortage Of Trained Social Workers Impacts Interventions

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Shamindrini Peiris
As far numbers go, the good news for Sri Lanka is that there has been an overall decline in the number of people taking their lives.  Of concern, are reports by Sumithrayo, which provides suicide intervention assistance amongst other services, that those attempting suicide is ten to twenty times more, and that this number is increasing. Even though the World Health Organization(WHO) places the age-standardised rate of suicide in Sri Lanka at 30.3 per 100,000 people, the Sumithrayo website states that the number of suicides ...Continued

Confident Lankans Seek More Asia Cup Glory

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Dion Michael
A confident Sri Lankan cricket team will leave shortly for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seeking to add more Asia Cup Silverware to their trophy cupboard. The Asia Cup cricket tournament 2018 is being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 15-28 September, with the participation of six countries – India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong – the winner of the qualifying tournament. The tournament will be the 14th edition of the Asia Cup and UAE play hosts for the third ...Continued

Why Former Presidents Cannot Run For Presidential Office Again

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Asanga Welikala
There has recently been a flurry of comment and speculation about whether, due to a technical flaw in the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution (2015), former President Rajapaksa may actually be eligible to offer himself for election at the next presidential election, although it had so far been universally assumed that he was disqualified by virtue of having been twice elected previously to the presidency. A legal argument to this effect has most completely been made by the distinguished jurist, Dr. Nihal Jayawickrama. In his ...Continued

Three-Wheelers Need To Be Regulated

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Shamindrini Peiris
One day, I was in a hurry to get home after visiting a patient at a leading private hospital down Kirimandala Mawatha and got into a three wheeler from the ‘hospital stand’. Preoccupied as I was with the condition of the patient and the other errands I had to run, it was only after I was almost halfway home that I realized that the meter was running at Rs 50 /- per km, more expensive than an AC cab with four wheels! All three wheelers ...Continued

Entrepreneurs Need Help Accessing Markets

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Anupama Ranawana
The Sri Lankan government’s move to write off microfinance debts and place caps on microfinance rates in the 12 districts of Trincomalee, Ampara, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa is certainly a welcome one.  It shows clear attention to one of the most significant issues troubling post-war Sri Lanka, a country which, in a round of studies conducted by the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium was found to be one of two countries to exhibit a high level of sustained indebtedness.  Academics and ...Continued

Getting An Education Or Cramming To Pass Exams?

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Shamindrini Peiris
I used to meet a mother, a little while back, who brought her two children to the same swimming class as my daughter. The older child was a boy of ten who seemed really keen on his lessons and would rush into the pool as soon as the coach got in. But one day, he just sat on a bench near the changing room, clutching a book to his chest, wistfully watching his little sister swim. Wondering why he was not in the pool, I ...Continued

Drawing Board Beckons For Lankans Dogged by Inconsistency

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Dion Michael
The ODI Cricket World Cup is just ten months away and whilst most competing countries have a fair idea of the composition of their squads, the Sri Lankan selectors find themselves going back to the drawing board to try and choose a team that will fly the Lion Flag high at the world cup in England in June 2019. All is not lost – the cupboard is not exactly bare. In fact, Sri Lanka has never been short of talent but the lack of consistency ...Continued

Decisive Action Needed To Halt Hate Speech

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Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
The issue of the punishment of hate speech seems to raise more questions than it answers in the Sri Lankan context.  Invariably there are the arguments about free speech, which are of concern to the genuine rights activist or those purporting to be one.  There are also arguments about the weaknesses and gaps in the existing law of the land and therefore the argument for new law.  At the same time, there are concerns about the political commitment of the government of the day to ...Continued

Thirty-five Years After July Riots, Wounds Are Yet To Heal

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Shamindrini Peiris
School rivalry can be lots of fun, especially when it comes to sports, but when I went through the gates of Holy Family Convent (HFC), Bambalapitiya in the last week of July, thirty-five years ago, it was in circumstances I would never have dreamed of.  That Monday morning on the 25th of July, I was just another 8 year old on her way to school at St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo, quite unaware that by the middle of the week I would take up residence at ...Continued

‘Home Advantage’ In The Spotlight After Lankans Thrash Proteas 2-0

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Dion Michael
In another David and Goliath tale, the Sri Lankan Cricketers belied their lowly sixth rank to brush aside second ranked South Africa in a 2-0 sweep of their two-test series which concluded this week. Revelling in home conditions with dry spinning tracks, the Lankans completely outplayed their opponents to extract revenge for the 3-0 drubbing they received when they last toured South Africa. In that series in 2016-17, the hosts South Africa prepared fast, bouncy tracks to expose the Lankans known weakness for fast bowling ...Continued

Lions, Proteas Set For Intriguing Battle

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Dion Michael
The Sri Lanka and South Africa cricket teams are set for an intriguing contest. The first of their two-test series began on Thursday in Galle. Both teams have had successful outings in their last test series with South Africa overcoming a subdued Australia 3-1 at home and the Sri Lankans holding West Indies to 1-1 in a three-test series in the Caribbean where they became the only Asian team to beat West Indies in their citadel – Barbados. There is a bit more than the ...Continued

Causes and Consequences of a Depreciating Rupee

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Prof. Sirimevan Colombage
The rupee has depreciated sharply against the US dollar since the beginning of this year. The weakening of the currency is an outcome of the continuing setback in the external sector characterized by the wide trade gap and heavy external debt commitments. In recent times, the Central Bank (CB) has allowed the rupee to fluctuate depending on the foreign exchange market conditions instead of intervening to defend the currency as previously done. The weaker rupee is partly a reflection of this policy shift. The strengthening ...Continued

Balkrishna Doshi – the Pritzker Prize Winner

Columns
Jennifer Henricus
The profession of Architecture in South Asia received an incredible boost last month when the 2018 Pritzker Prize, the field’s highest accolade was awarded to India’s Balkrishna Doshi for his exceptional contributions to humanity and the built environment. The energetic and young at heart 90-year-old is the first Indian and South Asian to win the Prize since its inception 40 years ago. Awarded each year by the Pritzker family in Chicago through its Hyatt Foundation, the Prize is often described as “architecture’s Nobel.”  This year ...Continued

Absorbing Series In the West Indies Marred By Ball Tampering...

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Dion Michael
The West Indies and Sri Lanka cricket teams have just concluded one of the most absorbing three-test series in recent history which ended level at 1-1 with one game drawn and included some world class individual performances which constantly swung the initiative from one team to the other. West Indies’ fast Bowler Shannon Gabriel was the undoubted star of the series with a haul of 20 wickets including 13 in one game – a new record for a test in West Indies. Sri Lanka’s paceman ...Continued

Public Service is a Human Right

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Kshama Ranawana
In Sri Lanka, the day passed unnoticed, even though, June 23 has been declared by the United Nations as Public Service Day..  It is the one day of the year that is set aside to celebrate and recognize the work of public servants. The duties and responsibilities of a public servant are vast, and makes up the backbone of delivering basic to complex services to citizens.  While the State formulates policies and affords various protections through the constitution, the actual delivery lies in the hands ...Continued

Sri Lanka Missed Out On A Foreign Direct Investment Boom...

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Kshama Ranawana
Five billion dollars in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by 2020; that is the grand plan the government of Sri Lanka has for this nation. Along with that, the government hopes to generate a million new and better jobs. To reach that goal, the government has begun the process of setting up an online one-stop shop that will help potential investors obtain official approvals with ease. As a first step, the Board of Investment, (BOI) launched a web portal on May 30 this year.  The BOI ...Continued

Groupthink: A New Phase of an Old Epidemic?

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Prof. Susirith Mendis
‘Groupthink’ is a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis as recently as 1972. It occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment”.  Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups.  A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background; when the group is insulated from outside opinions; and when there are no clear rules for decision making. The ...Continued

In Sri Lanka, the Leaders of the Catholic Church are...

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Anupama Ranawana
In the depth and breadth of its reach, the Catholic Church across the world is a recognised transnational actor, able to speak and intervene directly in issues of social justice and human rights amongst many affected populations.  In doing so, it is responding to the most radical of Christ’s teachings: love, as I have loved you. Or, as the well-known Sri Lankan radical thinker the late Fr. Tissa Balasuriya would have it, the need to stand up continually to greed and structural injustice. Importantly, what this ...Continued

Al- Jazeera TV Sting Operation Opens New Can Of Worms...

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Dion Michael
The world of cricket – the gentleman’s game – took another body blow last week with the revelations of the Al Jazeera sting operation which claimed to have strong evidence that two tests played on the picturesque Galle Cricket grounds were fixed by curators of the pitch in collusion with a gambling syndicate. Host countries preparing wickets to suit the strengths of the home team is nothing new and in fact most host countries resort to every tactic possible to give their own teams the ...Continued

Those Underused PET Scanners

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Kshama Ranawana and Aanya Wipulasena
What must it take to get up to date health care for the sick of this country? Two Positron Emission Tomorgraphy (PET) scanners, both donations, one bought through the goodness of Sri Lankans, and the other being part of the Saudi Governments funding of the Epilepsy Unit at the National Hospital, remain underused. The scanner gifted to the Apeksha Hospital, also known as the Maharagama Cancer Hospital is used only to carry out CT scans, as is the one at the Epilepsy Unit. While patients ...Continued

A Malevolence Like Any Other: Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and...

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Anupama Ranawana
My cousin and I have a little joke between us. It is that when getting into a three-wheeler in Colombo, one needs to check for two things: a working meter, and the political tendencies of the driver. The former causes haggling over the rate, but the latter may make you the recipient of ethno-nationalist diatribe all the way from work to home. Beware, beware, there are racists everywhere. Sri Lanka’s post-war landscape is troubled by new and re-emergent ethno-nationalist tensions that manifest variously, and are ...Continued

The Troika- How Crucial Relations With India Was Managed In...

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Lalith Weeratunga
Background It is no secret that foreign ministries work in water tight compartments and often under immense pressure. As a result, they cannot be flexible, and quite obviously cannot think out of the box. Even the most experienced foreign service officers have to be cautious when dealing with their counterparts due to sensitivity of the work they handle. In writing a memo, a letter or a communique’, foreign ministry officials take extraordinary precautions, and that’s quite understandable. Because of the visibility they get in the ...Continued

For Rehabilitated Tamil Rebel Cadres, it’s a struggle to survive

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Niranjani Roland
Nine years after physical hostilities ended between the military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ex-combatants of the rebel group are struggling to survive. This, despite the government’s massive rehabilitation programme at the end of the war, which saw approximately 12000 ex-combatants undergo training and re-skilling with hopes of becoming productive members of society. A total of 594 Children ,9374 males and 2032 females underwent the rehabilitation programme and were trained in Information Technology, Mechanical training, Education, Handicrafts, Carpentry, Beauty Culture and Cake ...Continued

To demobilize an Army, a country must enjoy economic, cultural...

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General Daya Ratnayake

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