Thursday, December 4, 2008


Tourist Board promotion

"Sri Lanka, a land like no other"- so says the Sri Lanka Tourist Board promoting Sri Lanka as a tourist destination. The BOI has a slogan "Your Profit Centre in South Asia". Its tru though, Sri Lanka is a "land like n other"!

Within days of the carnage in Mumbai, Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil and national security adviser MK Narayanan submitted their resignations. These are people with self respect and dignity- and the people will respect them.

However in Sri Lanka, a land like no other, no such thing happens. There have been several terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka but no one has taken responsibility and resigned over the obvious and serious security lapses.

There have been so many shams and mis-use of funds and public property going back so many years but in Sri Lanka, a land like no other, life just goes on - as usual!!

The country is now having to settle a US$400 plus amount to a consortium of banks after entering into a Hedging Deal by the CPC. Hats have to be raised to the Supreme Court for the decision taken in the light of a FR petition filed in dismissing both the Chairman of CPC and the Minister responsible. It is very unlikely given the history of this country for these two gentlemen to have resigned on their own accord for the mess that they have created- we the people have to THANK the Supreme Court for doing justice!

The "thick skinned" politicians in this "land like no other" carry on as if they are "above the law" and it is my earnest wish that their time of reckoning will come fast- the Supreme Court of Thailand has just sacked the entire government of Thailand!

Andrew De Costa


One can depend on children for success in alcohol eradication programmes

Till recent times no one took much care about the plantation children .They were a marginalized, voiceless, and a section of children who did not receive any social recognition. But after children clubs were started and children being given training they have become effective change agents. ’They have also proved that they could be good advocates too. Recently during Deebavali festival, an advocacy program was launched to influence the people to celebrate Deepavali festival sans liquor with the full participation of children. Earlier at many sessions held for children they pointed out that alcoholism of their parents is one of the biggest problems that they face in their life which disturbs the peace at home and spoils the environment to concentrate on their studies.

As part of the advocacy program the children personally distributed Deepavali greetings cards to about 25,000 families with the specific message that Deepavali should be celebrated sans liquor. At the initial stages itself it was evident that the elders were greatly impressed by the enthusiasm and eagerness of the children to eradicate liquor. At the evaluation sessions conducted afterwards it was reported that many children opposed and refused to participate in the Deepavali religious ceremony unless the liquor bottles that were kept as offerings during the religious rituals are removed and that parents gave into the pressure of children and removed the bottles. Children impressed the parents that liquor cannot play any role in a religious ritual and that it is time to give up this crude suppositious belief. It is also reported that some children refused to take their meals on the festival day unless liquor bottles brought to homes are thrown out. In many homes the children followed the tradition of worshiping the parents by falling on their feet on the Deepavali day and taking a pledge from them that they will not drink on that day, and in majority of the cases the pledges were kept. Many parents responding to the actions of the children said that they were really moved by the aspirations of the of the children. They also said that the children have achieved what large scale, much spent propaganda and awareness creation programs conducted to curb alcoholism among the people in the plantations have failed to achieve. They were said that they we so impressed by the spirit of dedication of the children and have vowed not to resort to this practice of engaging in alcoholism again. The atmosphere has now been created to carry forward this advocacy program in a more systematic manner. Presenting an alternative idea this time children requested their parents to keep books as offerings at the Deepavali pooja in place of liquor. This worked well and it is reported that the children were able to collect large number of books for their mobile libraries this making Theebavali a real “festival of Light”

In this backdrop it is clear that the children can be used as good advocates not only in prevention of alcoholism but also in other social reformation advocacy issues. If the plantation children can do this why not the others? In the meantime it should be pointed out that when talking of plantation people some so called learned people try to give an impression that these people spend most of their earning on alcohol and therefore they need not be given a salary increases. But this is a silly argument. Any one knows little about the behavior of people in “poverty stricken community “would understand that “poverty and alcoholism” are part of a vicious circular in any underdeveloped society or community anywhere in the world and it is a common phenomenon. What is need is to redeem the people from this vicious circle. And if children can be used for such an attempt you achieve two fold objectives, one helping parents from coming out this mess and safeguarding the children themselves from following the steps of their parents in this matter.

M. Pushpakumary
Child Right Promoter - Plantation Rural education and Development Organization –Kandy.

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