India is probably one of the most popular travel destinations for Sri
Lankans of all ages. The reasons are probably many and varied....its
close proximity and even closer cultural, historic and religious ties,
apart from its unrivalled and diverse natural beauty.
However, getting a visa to get there, from the Indian High
Commission, in Colombo, is to say the least, a very tiring and painful
experience! There must surely be less traumatic ways of issuing visas to
genuine travellers who intend visiting India.
Anyone who happens to pass by the Galle Road, of a morning, on any
working day will see the milling crowds, albeit contained by protective
barricades outside the Indian High Commission.
There must be better ways to cope with such crowds and reduce
congestion. If the High Commission can process only 500 visa
applications per day, there should be notices prominently and publicly
displayed stating this fact. The reason for mentioning this number is
that an Indian official suddenly appreared and peremptorily told the
'gate-keepers' to restrict entry to 500 only.
Maybe this number of tokens or numbers could be given on a first
come, first served basis. Perhaps 50 or so could be reserved for clergy
and those over 65 years of age and extending such consideration to
clerical status and age will not be resented.
Another means of reducing congestion and accommodating as many
genuine visa seekers as possible is to process, those merely interested
in making inquiries at a separate counter. For instance, on this
particular day, February 19 a large number of boys, (some seemed as
young as 10 years), all clutching their passports and completed visa
forms, were in the long queue as it snaked its way, up the stairs to the
They were then directed to the inquiries section and soon vanished,
probably sent away summarily, while all the other visa seekers waited in
the main hall for their token numbers to be called and their visa
Last but not least, is it possible for the ancillary staff to display
a modicum of pleasantness, even if smiling is not possible, in the
onerous tasks they perform in directing people, could they at least not
'bark' out commands? After all, they are paid employees of the High
Commission and people trying to get visas actually pay for them!
They provide a marked contrast to the polite and helpful attitude of
the other officials, who actually examine the various documents
necessary to obtain a visa.
The biggest drawback towards the country's development and progress
is indiscipline. Singapore became the most developed and prosperous
country in Asia mainly due to the discipline enforced by Lee Kuan Yu,
former Prime Minister of Singapore. I wish that President Mahinda
Rajapaksa will follow his example.
The present generation does not know what discipline is. That is the
cause of all the problems we in Sri Lanka are facing today.
Today children have no regard or respect for their parents and
elders. Students have no respect for their teachers. Employees have no
respect for their superiors. On the other hand, parents, teachers and
superiors do not behave in such a manner to be respected by children,
students and employees.
All the categories mentioned above in present day society are
completely ignorant of what discipline is. That is the root cause of all
the problems we encounter. In present day society, enforcing discipline
is not possible due to political interference.
Since the J.R. Jayewardene's U.N.P. came to power in 1977 and
introduced the open economy system, there has been an erosion of
discipline and culture tremendously.
Erosion has occurred to such an extent that it will be a Herculean
task to bring back discipline and culture to what it was prior to 1977.
There is a ray of hope in bringing back discipline to what it was as
President Rajapaksa has taken a very bold step in enforcing discipline
by sacking ministers irrespective of their position, family background
or their popularity.
Now the heads of Government departments, State corporations, schools,
universities and private sector firms could follow the footsteps of the
President and enforce discipline without fear or favour and lead the
country to prosperity.
When discipline is enforced strictly there will be no bribery and
corruption, there will be no inefficiency, lethargy and disobedience and
automatically the country will march towards prosperity. Discipline is
the magic wand for prosperity. Politicians, please do not interfere in
T. J. Victor Silva,
This fact may come as a surprise to the world today as we are all
drunk on these false values meted out day in day out, so much so that we
just gulp them down with no thoughts whatsoever of our own.
Just think about it. Were Romeo and Juliet great people or stupid
short-sighted teens? Do we want our children to trick us pretending to
die or commit suicide just because some one they were infatuated with
happened to die?
What is the word for the so called love between Cleopatra and Antonio
but adultery? Do we really expect the next generation to follow all
those muck Shakespeare spewed out? No, not really.
We have been blind and stupid glorifying so called love - which is
nothing but infatuation and lust brought about by the hormonal changes
that happen at the time of teenage in a person's body.
The child should be taught to be aware of it, control it and harness
it for a fruitful married life. Rather we have been on one hand pushing
it down their throat that pre marital love is heavenly, inserting them
even in their textbooks and then oppose them when they 'do fall in love'
- any Tom, Dick and Harry as it may happen.
Now to add insult to injury we have allowed the Mudalalis to
profiteer by bringing in consumerism into this so called Valentine's
Some may say, it is not only for the love between lovers but other
kinds of love too - to the mother, father, brothers etc. But do we
really believe it? Do you ever find a child giving a rose to the mother?
No, it's always to the stranger of the opposite sex. We whitewash the
idea by even training nursery children to celebrate this evil
Islam is very specific about this. It forbids free intermingling of
men and women before marriage.
There cannot be affairs but if anyone likes another person or admires
and wish to take them as their life partner, then they should go ahead
and proceed towards tying the knots of matrimony.
No affairs, no meeting surreptitiously, no dancing around in the
gardens (with 20 extras doing pelvic movements? How we ever came to
'enjoy' these vulgar movements in the name of art is beyond me), no
writing letters or SMS, but the parents should be informed and then
legally they must be married to have any relationship.
Islam talks about love, yes, about post marital love, love between
mother and child, father and child, siblings and other legitimate
It is time we expunged all the stupid love stories from our text
books and taught the children the correct facts of love.
DR. MAREENA THAHA REFFAI,
While I've enjoyed reading all of your articles, this one in
particular, by your mention of Tissa Wickremasinghe, brought back
memories of my childhood in Peradeniya. (Reference DN Feb. 23) Tissa and
my father were contemporaries at the Department of Agriculture. As
children, my mother who was a good pianist was fond of playing hymns,
and would get us to sing along.
Tissa, who used to walk past our place used to say how much he
enjoyed hearing those old familiar hymns. I remember him as an absolute
gentleman. It was indeed very sad that he passed away at a young age.
Sri Lanka has changed for the worse in many respects, but dear
Peradeniya and the house that I spent much of my childhood remains the
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