Wednesday, 19 May 2004  
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Indian elections - pollsters biggest losers

India and India-watchers outside figured the BJP and allies would end up getting about 25 seats less than the last General Elections.

The anti-incumbency factor being the main reason. But they, nevertheless, expected the BJP-allies to continue to govern relying on the good performance of the vibrant economy, the booming agricultural production-exports and stronger international stature in general and with that of Pakistan in particular.

Signs were the BJP will coast through help from the 'India shining' campaign - that relied on these obviously strong victorious platforms.

Shrewder minds working for the Congress and its allies had other plans and through an organised campaign behind which were international advertising experts divided the voters by conceding the performances of 'India shining' but drawing attention to the fact that only benefitted about 10-15% of the middle class and the rich.

They claimed the plight of the hundreds of millions below the poverty line, the poor and the lower middle class remain as bad as ever. The 'click and the mouse' culture they charged, hardly touched the many millions suffering and toiling in the baking Indian sun. The non-cooperation by India in not sending troops to Iraq was not forgotten either.

Only a few days before the final voting one of the limbs of global capital - the BBC - widely viewed in India, featured several, different 30-minute special programmes featuring the beggars and the poor of Delhi pinpointing India does not shine for them.

The timing of these BBC programmes against the BJP and in favour of the Congress was noteworthy. While everyone waited for the results of the polls the experts - the pollsters - dared to tread where angels fear.

They rushed with their own findings of the ultimate victors some of these analysts are world-class names. As things stand today, it looks like the biggest losers in the Indian polls were more these pollsters than the BJP.

This is what these electronic media pollsters predicted. In the last week of April Headlines Today / Aaj Tak-ORG placed NDA to a more specific 266 seats.

The Star-C-Voter forecasted 267-279. The NDTV-AC Nielsen survey projected a lower 235-255 for the BJP-allies. Some of them did not even bother to include the Congress in their ratings and gave the Congress-allies not more than 150.

When the results came out the roles were switched and as at today Congress allies have 214 and BJP allies have managed only 187. So the experts with their stunning academic achievements, their hi-fi gear and state-of-the-art-technology too can goof like any simpleton anywhere.



I write this note after reading Muralitharen's shocking statement which was reported in media, "why don't they test other spin bowlers around the world - why just me? All I want is a fair deal. I feel as if I am being unjustly harassed." No doubt this statement would have stunned the whole nation, not only cricket lovers.

I was watching the first day play of the second test match against Zimbabwe and sadly I felt that Muralitharen was not in his full fitness and I am sure this discrimination would be haunting in his mind. It is common knowledge that Muralitharen has been subjected to harassment continuously over the past twelve years by the white, in particular Australians.

The latest addition is the Australian Prime Minister John Howard. This is an opportunity for all Sri Lankans, whether Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims to get together and fight against this white hegemony and injustice made to a national treasure - Muralitharen.

Such a fight is of special interest to Sinhalese, as it will go a long way to erase all the misinformation and distorted lobbying carried by the LTTE over the years that Sinhalese are racists victimizing the minorities.

All Sri Lankans should consider this as an affront on all of us. It is bigotry attempt not only on Muralitharen but also on all of us.

These white exploiters after extorting our wealth earlier under colonialism now try to rob a world record achieved by hard work and dedication by a humble and innocent son of Sri Lanka, Muttiah Muralitharen. This is no second to the invasion of Iraq by the white coalition.


Vesak stamps - 2004

A souvenir sheet depicting the four Vesak stamps of the denominations of Rs.4, Rs. 4.50, Rs.16.50 and Rs. 20 issued on April 30, 2003 was not issued this time. Instead a new Rs.26 stamp was issued in the form of a souvenir sheet and 200,000 such souvenir sheets have been printed.

Souvenir sheets are normally not used for postage and especially in view of the large size of the souvenir sheet it will not be possible to be used for posting of letters and a very large envelope not being available for its use. Under the circumstances this souvenir sheet will remain unsold for the next 100 years.

Usually when souvenir sheets are printed 25,000 such sheets are issued and all of it are normally not sold.

On the four Vesak stamps and the souvenir sheet a number appears after the words Vesak 2004 appearing at the bottom right hand corner which is misleading.

The number after the year 2004 in fact refers to the number allotted to the stamp giving a description of the stamp in the stamp bulletin and this number is absolutely unnecessary. Is the Philatelic Bureau issuing a copy of the bulletin with each stamp issued?

The first day of issue cancellation is normally meant to give the collectors and catalogue editors the date of issue of the relevant stamp or stamps but in this case the cancellation is so small that the date of issue cannot be read.

The Post Master General and the Director of the Philatelic Bureau appears not to know the significance of the first Day of Issue Cancellation and it would appear that the immature clerks who are handling these matters are causing an utter mess at the Philatelic Bureau.

The four stamps and souvenir sheet has been reduced in size and appear on a small Vesak Greeting Card that a Magnifying Glass would have to be used to read it.

It is time that the new Minister of Posts and Telecommunication takes up the issue and clean up the mess at the Philatelic Bureau.

Oliver T. Goonawardena - 

Politicians and voters

Everyone of the above expects something in return, even in general when one supports a particular political party.

While the politician expects things more honourable, a voter on the street expects something to keep his home fires burning thereby keeping the wolf from the door.

When the above is ignored and deprived those in power deserves to be thrown out, which is a clear indication of what occurred in the recent past which should be taken as a lesson by those who are presently in power.


Pensioners' hopes renewed

Elections have come and gone and with it many promises made by vociferous politicians in the past. The elderly pensioners who have been clamouring for justice to remove the anomalies from the pension structure are waiting once again hoping that the new Government will without delay, bring about a change to help them.

This category of pensioners are too old to demonstrate on the streets to get their rights. Some are still saddled with the task of looking after their families. Most have to pay a large slice of their pension to purchase the drugs and medicines they need.

The number of pensioners in this category is dwindling every year and in the years to come they will be an extinct species and the Government will not have any problems regarding them.

So we appeal to the President who has begun her work of responsibility on a caring note not to fail these old pensioners who trustingly look up to her to solve this problem for them, so that they can live relaxed in the sunset of their lives.

S.G. - 

Ban telecast of lottery draws on Poya days

Sri Lanka may be the only country in the world which has so many lotteries more than ten per week and all conducted by the state.

Well, one cannot grumble about these lotteries as it is one sure way of getting much needed money for various welfare projects initiated by the state.

However the only sad thing is that while even casinos and betting shops remained closed for three days during the Vesak celebrations on the orders of the President, the State TV channels telecast the lottery draws even on the Vesak full moon day.

The Poya Calendar for the coming year is released by April of the current year and therefore the authorities conducting the lotteries can avoid holding the draws on the 12 Full Moon Days of the year which are declared public holiday for the purpose of permitting the public to engage in religious activities.

At least the State TV channels can decline to telecast lottery draws on full moon days.

Thilak Fernando - 
Colombo 6.

Colombo and suburbs need a Piped Piper

It is not strange that Colombo and its suburbs need Piped Pipers, and the strengthening of its dead and defunct Municipal Officers, with educated and disciplined ones. We citizens are cheated every day, not only by the Governments in power, but by traders, vendors and particularly the butchers.

Starting with the Piped Piper story at the Dehiwala and Wellawatte markets, I have had regularly shocking sights of large rats creeping in between vegetable racks and gunnies.

These rats appear to be so well fed that they move slowly due to over weight. The vendors don't seem to care, quite naturally, as the Local Authorities and their representatives don't care either.

Whom can we hold responsible for this ghastly situation?

An epidemic can break out at any time, and then we go looking for foreign assistance. Next, the consumable items have gone up in price, supposedly in keeping with market realities.

However, this is not reflected at the time of purchase, as the scales in and around the Colombo markets have been tampered, even with the seal of the Authorities. Is there someone accountable? To whom can we complain without revealing our identities?

I say without revealing, since I have had the nasty experience of Municipal inspectors siding with the butcher, for fear or favour I do not know.

In fact two butchers, who know me, as a regular complainant, announce that they have given me the correct weight, for I turn the scale towards me, pretending to have a say.

Why are we not able to include as a pre condition that an electronic scale is a part of the licensing procedure. This should be added to the terms and conditions.

We talk all the time of our yester year achievements, focusing on our 2,500 year history, and have forgotten that not so long ago, the Colombo Municipality distributed as a routine to any householder free of charge rat traps.

They also came the following day to collect same. This should be made compulsory to all public stall holders.

The Municipal inspectors used to assert their authority, in checking scales and the general environment, not only in commercial establishments, but also the streets and residences.

Have these laws and by laws, given way to new administrative and operational systems which only the politicians seem to know.

This country needs a thorough overhauling of all its systems, and the enforcement of every law, not by changing administrators according to the political colour, but by holding every Government servant accountable to the last letter of his appointment, and permitting the private sector to do likewise without political interference.


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