|Friday, 30 January 2004|
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It's a known fact that there is still no substitute to milk as a food. Science is yet to succeed in providing a substitute to milk.
Milk being an essential food to all, from an infant to adults is an important daily affair in every house in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka imports approximately 7,000 metric tons of liquid milk and 60,000 metric tons of powered milk per year.
If one turns to the supermarket shelves one could see imported sachet of milk at Rs. 85 to 125 per litre. Sri Lankan produced tetra packs are marketed at Rs. 65 to Rs. 85 per litre.
The widely used full cream milk powder sold in the market irrespective of the brand when reconstituted costs approximately Rs. 45 to Rs. 55 per litre.
The recent 2004 budget proposed an incentive payment of Rs. 2 per litre and higher will be provided to companies processing milk who collect a minimum 5 million litres of milk per year.
It has been said that this will increase the milk collection and develop dairy farming. This target could be achieved by only one or two milk collectors. Most collectors would be left out from the benefit given in the budget even they collect more milk.
Any way how sure are the benefits in the budget given to the collectors going to reach the dairy farmers.
The 2004 budget has not provided any benefit to the dairy farmers. During the year 2001 and 2002 when the prices rose to sky rocketing levels from Rs. 600 per 50 kgs to Rs. 1,200 per 50 kgs, most dairy farmers decided to sell their cows to the slaughter houses.
The government never came to the rescue of the farmers, rather revoked the long prohibited Slaughter of Cow Act by a circular P/5/1/4 dated April 22, 2002.
By this the cattle population in the Nuwara Eliya district has dropped by 25 per cent. The milk collection too has dropped in remarkable levels. The farmers receive as low as Rs. 13 to Rs. 16 per litre of milk.
The government's Budget proposes to introduce 2 milk feeding program for needy preschool age children will be a failure because its like putting the cart before the horse.
The country has to produce more milk at minimum cost to launch such programs. In 2002, a sum of Rs. 10.5 million has been spent in importing milk. Can't the government spend one fourth of this amount to develop the dairy industry in Sri Lanka? Further, it is a question as how sure are we getting the grade one quality powdered milk after spending so much of money for imports.
It is regrettable that every government which came to power were not interested in developing the dairy industry, rather more interested in importing milk and milk products. Could any ministerial officer or the Director of the Department of Animal Production and Health give a responsible answer to this injustification done to the dairy farmers in the 2004 budget.
DR. A. NANDAKUMAR,
It was heartening to read in the papers some anecdotes regarding the above.
Although much maligned today SWRD had some superlative qualities and when I was a student in the fifties I held him in admiration and awe for his oratory and mastery of the English Language. His speech at the UN was considered a masterpiece in delivery and content.
When Ceylon attains independence in 1948 his speech with phrases like "we must fan the flickering flame of democracy" was said to have turned the head of the chief guest - the Duke of Gloucester. His humour and ready wit could be illustrated by the following story.
When SWRD took to politics he discarded western attire and thereafter wore only the national dress. He was also a great dog lover and was quoted as saying that if he had spent the money he spent on human beings on his dogs, he would have been a happier man.
Once he was invited to judge at a kennel show, and he came in full western attire for this. A surprised reporter asked him why he had changed attire for this. SWRD's instant reply in Sinhala was "Balu weda walata meka thamai andinne"
Apart from SWRD Parliament in those days had some colourful personalities. One such was the irrepressible W. Dahanayake MP for Galle.
Once when Daha was speaking Sir John Kotelawala not very noted for scholastic skills, heckled Daha with an English proverb saying "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's (a female pig) ear". Replied Daha without batting an eyelid and using another proverb "What can you expect from a pig but a grunt".
As schoolboys in the forties we used to listen enraptured to Daha as he harangued train travellers in the third class although as MP he was entitled to travel first class.
When he died a few years ago the London Times ran a half page appreciation of him including his famous poem to SWRD.
'I do not love thee Banda dear The reason why is very clear I do not love thee Banda dear Because you change from year to year'
During those times Parliament was a place where these colourful members had duels of wit and humour but never used foul or insulting language.
In contrast some years ago we saw in the papers that some schoolchildren who had visited Parliament to educate themselves were so shocked and embarrassed by the language of the MPs and Ministers that they fled the public galleries.
It is ironic that people who pay lip service to SWRD do not follow his examples. Once when he was Minister of Local Govt. he was invited to open a bridge.
When he came for the ceremony SWRD asked a worker who was involved in the construction to come forward and asked that worker to do the ceremonial opening. Does any politician follow this example today?
Once when SWRD was Prime Minister he was travelling on Galle Face road when he passed a leftish procession shouting "Sevala Banda Bangawewa". He stopped the car got down and saluting the processionists in oriental fashion said "Thamunnanselage satanata jayawewa".
This gesture so surprised and deflated the processionists that they dispersed sheepishly. Does any politician follow this magnanimous gesture today?
DR. K. N. K. WIJAYAWARDANA,
Professor Sunanda Mahendra should be commended for initiating a debate on the above subject through your newspaper. Metthananda Wijekulasuriya also has raised some pertinent issues.
Readers may not be aware that a few years back, the Senate of the University of Peradeniya decided that those who are conferred Honorary Doctorates by the University should not call themselves "Dr". This is in line with international academic practice.
But the bigger problem is with bogus doctorates from bogus or unrecognized universities. The University Grants Commission must step in and inform the public what universities have been recognized. The UGC has a duty to see that the public is not misled.
There is an organisation said to be involved with "alternative medicine" that liberally awards bogus "doctorates" from unknown or little known unrecognized Universities. Most of them are so-called "Open" Universities. This organisation holds "annual sessions" at which "doctorates" are awarded to all and sundry.
Several lawyers, musicians, journalists and lyricists have been among the recipients. What is worse is that, as Prof. Sunanda Mahendra has stated, such persons insist on others calling them "Doctors" and get really angry if they are not so addressed.
A certain lawyer who has no practice to speak of was given such a "doctorate" after he took some foreign delegates to an annual session around the country. I was sorry to see some well-known medical academics participating in such "annual sessions" and giving this organisation an aura of respectability.
Some of the Universities are bogus ones. I have seen visiting cards with the suffix "Ph.D. (U.S.A.)". An ordinary person would think that the person has a doctorate from an American University. Which University? He would not bother to inquire but would treat and respect the man as a genuine Ph.D.
Every person who earns a doctorate from a Sri Lankan University is required to deposit a copy of his/her thesis with the University library. Similarly, a person who claims to have a doctorate from a foreign University must be required to deposit a copy of his/her thesis with the National Library of Sri Lanka and have his/her name registered in a register of foreign Ph.Ds maintained by the UGC.
The public can then find out whether any person claiming to be a holder of a Ph.D. has in fact authored a thesis and whether the University is a recognized one.
Regarding the use of the title "Professor", a person who has been a Professor of a University can use the title after retirement only if he or she is appointed "Professor Emeritus". However we see many former Professors continuing to use the title even though they have not been so appointed.
Mr. T.P. Paul of Eheliyagoda, in a letter to the editor 'Errors in Certificates Awarded to Students' (DN Jan. 9) laments that the University of Peradeniya has made an error in the Degree Certificate awarded to students at a recent Convocation.
He is concerned that this would cause insult and humiliation to the graduates; he casts aspersions that this was a result of the 'utter negligence or even ignorance' of the authorities concerned.
May I be permitted to point out to Mr. Paul that there are neither grammatical nor printing errors in the degree certificate of the University of Peradeniya that he refers to. Let me address the issue that he has raised, namely the use of the words 'holden' and 'was awarded'.
The word 'holden' is the past participle of 'hold. (eg. "I summon your grace to his majesty's Parliament, holden at Bury the first of this next month" - King Henry VI, part II; Shakespeare).
Although this usage is archaic, it is still common in legal language; it certainly is elegant in certificates. Further, the degree certificate is a record of an event that has taken place in the past.
Therefore, 'was awarded' is an accurate representation of fact. Thus the phrase of Mr. Paul's contention "..was awarded this Certificate at the Convocation holden in Peradeniya..." is grammatically correct and indeed, appropriate in a certificate.
Mr. Paul need not worry about the consequences of students presenting these certificates at interviews in foreign countries. Many universities in English speaking countries use similar language in their certificates.
The University of Cambridge, for example, is one of the leading universities in the world that uses precisely the same combination of words - 'was awarded' and 'holden in' - in their degree certificates.
Nevertheless, Mr. Paul, in rushing to score some points, seems to make a point. What would happen when graduates present their certificates to prospective employers who have only 'a basic knowledge in grammar' and whose exposure to the English Language is limited?
Would they too rush to malign the University and downgrade the quality of the degree? Should the University produce documents pertaining to educational qualifications in simplistic language, lest those with inadequate language competence would misconstrue? I think not.
The mission of a university is to advance knowledge and contribute to the creation of a knowledge-based society; it should strive to improve the knowledge and understanding of all members in society through dissemination of knowledge. To achieve this, a university has to maintain high standards at all times, in all activities.
In order to do justice to the graduates of the University of Peradeniya, I hope very much that the University will continue to award degree certificates with a level of sophistication.
ATHULA PITIGALA - ARACHCHI,
Encroachments and unauthorised structures on pavements particularly in the Commercial City of Pettah and Kochchikade have seen an increase in recent times.
Complaints to the Council Engineers in the districts have not had any action, engineers complain that they have been told not to take any action unless instructions are given to them by the Mayor to remove same.
Most of the structures are being put up with the patronage of Colombo City Parliamentarians and the Local Councillors, these structures are put up within 2/3 days and thereafter they are never allowed to be demolished.
The shop spaces are thereafter sold to interested people for lakhs of rupees. Whenever complaints are made to the commissioner or the Municipal Engineer, they are unable to give instructions to remove them because politicians have informed the Mayor and he informs the officers not to remove them.
The present Mayor, a Town Planner has not adopted any programmes to beautify or improve the city during the recent downpour. Colombo went under water mainly due to drain's being closed up and unauthorised structures being allowed to be constructed. Main drains cannot be cleaned because of these structures.
If the present trend continues Colombo will lose its glamour as a City which in the past had won many accolades as a City which has adopted new practices and brought about a change.
Will the authorities concerned take some action before it gets too late?
Produced by Lake House