|Thursday, 23 December 2004|
Please forward your comments to the Editor, Daily News.
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Snail mail : Daily News, 35, D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Telephone : 94 11 2429429 / 94 11 2421181
Fax : 94 11 2429210
Country above self please
Country above partisan interests. This bit of advice from President Kumaratunga to the around 40,000 graduates who were provided public sector employment by the Government, entirely on the basis of merit, is the soundest guideline a Head of State and Government could provide the youth of this country.
"When you enter your office, put aside your cards bearing political affiliations and take the card which identifies you as a Sri Lankan, because the Government did not consider the political background of the graduates when selecting them for employment", the President told her young audience who had taken their initial steps in a public service career. In the vast gathering were graduates from also the North-East.
Such sentiments are worth pondering on by not only the younger generation of public servants but by also their older colleagues. It has been the bane of this country to be split down the middle as it were, on political lines. In a social environment such as this, political affiliations and partisan biases take deep root in the hearts and minds of people.
Since independence almost we have been reaping a bitter harvest from these seeds of division. The reluctance and inability of successive governments to fight and eradicate these divisions, in particularly the public service, has greatly impeded our development prospects and made the government sector almost ineffective as a vehicle of national prosperity.
Therefore, we hope the recent recruitment of graduates on a non-partisan basis, free of political considerations, would help usher in a public sector recruitment policy which would be based entirely on objective criteria and merit.
This will help greatly in depoliticizing the public sector and bring into being a new generation of public servants who would hopefully, labour selflessly for the common good.
Needless to say, it is the steady politicization of the public sector which bred discontentment and frustration among government servants. This had an adverse impact on the productivity of these personnel. These ills must be made a thing of the past.
On the other hand, these graduate trainees cannot allow a sense of complacency to overtake them. A top job in the public sector shouldn't be seen as a status symbol which would permit the recipient to vegetate with ease and grow obese in a bureaucrat's swivelling chair. They need to take the President's advice and think less of themselves but more of the country, in the next few years.
This would involve a heady immersion in public service. The new recruits would need to go the extra mile for the country and think in terms of what they can do for Sri Lanka. In other words, they would need to lead a life of self-sacrifice.
We hope the political elite of this country would provide these budding public servants with role models who could be emulated. The example must come from those who are invested with responsibilities.
Human vs electronic umpires
Amidst the controversy over the use of third umpires in cricket and the erroneous decisions made by on-field umpires, comes an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) which argues in favour of electronic intervention.
The article, slated to appear in this Saturday's issue, refers to referees in football. Nevertheless, the observations contained in the article can apply to cricket and any other fast sport. Cricket, of course, has pioneered the use of TV replays and other technological aids.
The study notes that soccer's offside rule is too complex for the brain and eye to process accurately and only TV cameras and stop-motion pictures can do the job properly. In order to apply the offside rule correctly, the ref has to keep in his visual field at least five objects simultaneously - the ball, the last two players of the defending team and two players of the attacking team (the player closest to the goal and the player who passes him the ball).
The article argues that this is beyond the capacity of the human eye unless all five objects are closely congregated in a narrow angle of view. That is unlikely in football, where the five objects could be anywhere within the defenders' part of the pitch.
In a fast-moving game, it takes several hundred milliseconds for the eye to identify and focus on a moving object - enough time for a player to change position by at least two feet.
There are many who oppose the use of electronic aids in sports. But as the BMJ article reveals, the human eye is a poor judge. It can only process a certain amount of information in a matter of seconds, which is all an umpire has to give his decision.
This is why electronic aids are essential to be fair by both teams in a game. If a run out is wrongly given, it can affect the fortunes of the batsman's side. The same happens if a catch is wrongly upheld. The same observations apply to football if wrong decisions are given.
Television cameras are far more sensitive than the naked eye. Moreover, digital TV recording equipment can break down the action frame by frame and zoom in on any doubtful action. Even though the TV umpire takes several minutes to analyse the replays and give his verdict, it is highly likely to be accurate.
This does not mean that the men in the middle must leave the pitch. They play an essential role as their duty is not limited to scoring and giving decisions. They maintain discipline on the field and help conduct a smooth game. They perform their task with the greatest difficulty, depending only on the natural senses. Electronics can only buttress their role, not supplant them.
Produced by Lake House