|Tuesday, 3 June 2003|
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There was a news item in the Education Supplement in the Daily News on April 24 that in all government schools in the North Western province, students' Moral Development Societies were to be set up. It is a laudable thing and also a surprise to hear somebody is concerned about moral values these days specially of the children as the trend is to destroy all our human, cultural and religious values. Our media can get the major honour for this situation and other share goes to the bureaucrats and businessmen who promote their activities.
The news item further says that the Minister of Human Resources Development Education and Cultural Affairs had appreciated the proposed programme.It would be the duty of the heads of Education Department/schools, parents and students to start these Societies in all schools.
It would be appropriate to have at least one period in the class timetables to discuss the social and moral issues. Several parents mentioned how in a leading boys school in Colombo the students had the courage and knowledge to criticize a minister and some electronic media personnel for their contribution towards the decline of moral standards. At another function a media man wanted to know whether the students like to have the same freedom as dogs have on the roadside.
Students have submitted petitions to the powers that be in the vain hope of correcting these. However, the efforts of the Provincial Director of Education, NWP should be fruitful and it would not be difficult as still there are children (if not parents) who have some values. Parents and children in other areas also should follow this.
Deshapriya Rajapaksha, Colombo 6
It is very important, that we have proper time management to fulfil our requirements daily. If proper time management is maintained, it helps to monitor our activities. Even in domestic matters, our day-to-day work gets disturbed unless proper time management is maintained. In the absence of proper time management not only our work is not completed successfully but it results in tension and mental sickness. We admit that there are only 24 hours in a day. But proper allocation of time for our work will ensure smooth functioning. I give below the following suggestions for efficient time management.
* Kindly get up early in the morning even though your body may beg for some more sleep. This shows how you could develop your will power.
* Finalise the Domestic matters including exercise, bath etc.
* Prepare a list of important matters to be looked into. Example if you wish to finish your office work efficiently categorise your work under the following headings
a. Urgent and Important,b. Urgent not Important,c. Important not Urgent
d. Not Important, nor Urgent,
* According to a Japanese principle never delay a task if it has to be finished by you. Thus please finish the work which you may find difficult or disgusting early. So that you could enjoy happiness and peace of mind to face other work.
* Develop the principle of time management when you are young and train your children accordingly. If a person says that he has no time for a particular job it means that he is not willing to do the job.
* Create an interest to finish all the work accordingly.
* Proper allocation of time including adjustments for contingencies is very important. For example, when you sit for an exam you have to finish easy problems early, and accumulate the balance time for tough problems instead of starting with the difficult questions. This ensures maximum performance in your examination.
* Never postpone your work when you have time to finish it today, because you may not be able to do it tomorrow due to power failure, sickness, staff absenteeism, etc.
* Please allocate your work with other member of staff so that the process of work is simplified. You should not try to do all the work by yourself, thereby wasting valuable time.
* It is better to start your work a little later with all proper data collected beforehand instead of starting your work with inadequate data.
* Be punctual at your workplace, to have a good start.
* Please ensure that a daily analysis of the work performed is done every day so that you will be well aware of the drawbacks and a better allocation of time is possible. I presume the public at large will benefit by these suggestions.
S.R. BALACHANRAN, Council Member, The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka
The news item in the DN of 17th April 2003 that the Government is exploring the possibility of granting relief to the country's most poverty sticken social group, the beggars. This is a laudable move by the Government even at this late stage.
There is another group in the country, the gentlemen beggars, the World War Two ex-servicemen. On the cessation of hostilities Ceylonese soldiers were back and released on payment of a pittance. Most of these ex-servicemen of the British Army to their agony found it extreamly difficult to find employment either in the government or the private sector due to not having necessary minimum educational or trade qualifications.
The Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen's Association which came into being after the war has been financially assisting needy ex-servicemen of the Royal armies from funds provided by the Commonwealth Ex-services League. The monetary assistance given today is limited to Rs. 500 per month which amount is hardly sufficient to buy one week's food for two persons.
Meanwhile according to the Controller of BCEL Welfare it is not in a position due to various reasons such as reduced interests etc to increase the assistance given to war veterans placing this category of veterans in a precarious situation that those with meagre means or no means at all have to resort to begging.
Sri Lanka notwithstanding the fact being a Third World country the Government has given priority to maintain parliamentarians in luxury while the war veterans being made vertually unwanted in the twilight years and compelled to lapse into living death. These war veterans still living are over 80 years of age and few and some of them beg on bus stands and die on the open to be buried by the public.
Our association appeals to the Government and in particular the Minister of Samurdhi to consider granting war veterans some relief as proposed to give the beggar population.
D.H. de Saram, Hony Secretary, RASC , Ex-Servicemen's Association
The authenticity of the Ravana story was animatedly debated between some members of the panel and the invited audience in the Swarnavahini show Maha Sinhale Vamsakatava on Saturday 17th May. Together with Prof. Siriweera, Ven. Ellawala Medhananda presented cogent evidence to show why the Ravana story is not to be taken as historically valid.
However, a more forceful argument presented by Prof. A. L. Basham in his book "The Wonder that was India" escaped their notice. Valmiki, the author of the epic Ramayana, composed his work "a little before the commencement of the Christian era" as mentioned by Basham, and also taken note of by the panel. Valmiki also claims to have known both Rama and Sita as his personal friends, and therefore, the supposed king Ravana of Lanka was also his contemporary. Sri Lankan history is more precisely documented for that period than Indian history, which is almost a blank page. Thus, there was no King of Sri Lanka who could be mistaken for Ravana at that time.
The more important point missed in the discussion, but noted by Basham, is that characters like Rama, Sita, Bharata and Lakshmana are borrowed from the Dasaratha Jataka (No. 461 in Cowel's translation). Here Dasaratha is the King of Benares, while Valmiki makes him the King of Kosala, and Sita is the sister of Rama, while Valmiki makes her the latter's spouse. In the Jataka story, the Buddha is said to have concluded by saying: "At that time King Suddhodana was King Dasaratha, Mahamaya was the mother, Rahula's mother was Sita, Ananda was Bharatha, and I myself was Rama-pandita."
Basham says: "The fact that the Theravada Buddhists preserved in the Jatakas a version of the tale in which there is not mention of the abduction of Sita and the war with the demons, the most exciting part of Valmiki's story, suggests that the author conflated two separate traditions, the first that of the righteous prince who was wrongly banished and the second of the conquest of Ceylon.
The story of Rama's adventures in exile has thus not historical basis whatever, even if we rationalize his monkey allies into aboriginal tribesmen with a monkey totem." It is strange that the Sinhala translation of Basham's work (Asirimat Inidiyava) published by the Education Publications Board (p. 519) has omitted the foregoing passage which says that the historical value of Ramayana is nil.
The conquest of Ceylon which Basham refers to as the other tradition conflated in the Ramayana, is the story of the "conquest of Tambapanni by Sinhala, the son of a merchant called Simha" in the Sanskrit work named Divyavadana.
The same story has been repeated by Hsuan Tsang (UCHC p.102f). The latter is nothing but a garbled version of the Valahassa Jataka (No.196) and the Vijaya legend, by the Indian Mahayanists.
D. G. A. PERERA, Kandy.
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