Modern fairy tales
Sri Lankans are good storytellers. They have been
traditionally good dreamers too. This art of dreaming and story
telling has been perfected today by politicians. In fact their
sayings and doings, if recorded in print would fill several
bulky volumes much larger than Pansiya Panas Jatakaya.
They could also rival the wit and humour of Nasrudeen, Mark
Twain or our own Andare and Mahadena Muttta.
It would be worthwhile to record these stories, the
achievements of our modern day heroes. Unlike in the days of
yore much effort is not needed for it. One has only to go
through the past newspapers or rummage through the recordings of
the electronic media to find them.
The media has duly recorded these dreams. Whether it be
building cable railways to scale Sri Pada, monorail from Colombo
to suburbs to ease traffic congestion, a lovers' park to entice
the youth and produce world beauty queens, a parallel road to
the Colombo-Matara road further inland to avoid damage from
tsunamis, the use of Dutch-built canals for passenger and goods
transport, the construction of flyovers at busy road
intersections in the Greater Colombo area, the construction of
the world's tallest Buddha statue or flying the world's largest
kite such dreams and tales have all been faithfully recorded and
the gullible public have enjoyed them with hope and disbelief.
Incidentally, flying kites figuratively rather than literally is
a favourite pastime of our politicians.
Dreaming, specially day-dreaming is not bad. In fact, it was
through such day dreams that mankind has progressed so far. For
example, imagine where the world would have been if Faraday
didn't dream of electric lights and the Wright brothers gave up
dreaming flying through air.
The only difference is that our politicians are endowed with
only the faculty of dreaming and not the faculty of perseverance
to make dreams a reality. At best some of the projects dreamt
take off with a bang to be abandoned midway. It has been a
favourite pastime of the media to highlight some of these lapses
which occur at every level from the national to the provincial
and local. One could notice how the media relish to display
foundation stones of buildings or projects with overgrown weeds
covering them or half finished construction that resemble more
the ruins of Polonnaruwa.
There is a culture of abandonment that has grown up
throughout the years. Neither the public nor the media has
pursued these matters in earnest. In fact both have become
gullible partners in this process of abandonment.
The culture of abandonment could be further seen in the
return of unused foreign aid and annual financial allocations.
The abandonment of this culture of abandonment is a sine qua non
for accelerated development which could take the country forward
or else it would be another dream unfulfilled.
Speaking of foreign aid one has to keep in mind that most of
it comes in the form of loans for which the present and future
generations will have to pay. Hence, they should be prudently
and expeditiously made use of it. To use them for foreign jaunts
or tamashas at five-star resorts is a crime that the public
could ill afford. In this respect the blame should also be
shared by local and foreign NGOs too.
What is required is not to stop dreaming but to dream more
rationally and pursue them in earnest with commitment and
dedication so that they would be brought to fruition without
Treating the drunk and the sick
Government has decided to recover hospital expenses
incurred on the sick, if the sickness is certified by doctors as
an effect of consuming liquor. Good, all teetotallers would
applaud. How could the government ensure that the patient pays?
Will he be kept in hospital till he pays? If he has no means to
pay will he be incarcerated?
A majority who fall into this sad state are poor working
people in the estates, cities and villages. The affluent classes
would patronise private sector hospitals most. Will the new
regulations turn out to be anti-poor in reality?