Friday, 13 August 2004  
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Relieving the cost of living burden

In what strikes us as a nostalgic throwback to the times when we were urged to declare a war on want, the Government, very rightly, intends launching an "Agricultural War". It has to be faced that the most effective answer to the current rumblings over the cost of living is increased food production. This is the surest, long-term solution to rising prices of essentials.

It doesn't follow from this decision that the people should gear for a rigorously regimented existence, where belt-tightening will be the order of the day. Nor will unnecessary controls be clamped on our economy which is largely premised on market principles.

On the contrary, what is meant by this policy decision is a reorientation of the economy to serve the people's needs better. In short, a people-centred economy which will be responsive to the most urgently felt human needs.

There are very pungent stimulants to thinking in the accompanying lead article on this page where Constitutional Reforms Minister Dew Gunasekera makes a case for the Government playing the role of the driver in the "Engine of Growth". Likewise, at the present critical moment the Government intends to proactively involve itself in the economy, so as to guiding it towards yielding socially-beneficial results.

As pointed out by Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, while the "Agricultural War" constitutes the long-term answer to our cost of living burden, the reactivation of the Cooperative Movement and the CWE would largely be the medium term solution to the perennial problem. Besides, there would be no price increase of Kerosene, which usually impacts strongly on the Consumer Price Index. Measures are also contemplated to contain the depreciation of the Rupee.

Cooperatives fell into disuse after the relative liberalization of the economy in the mid-Seventies, but there is no denying that the Cooperative Movement plays a crucial role in providing the essentials of the public at purse easy prices and in equitably redistributing economic wealth among the people.

We, therefore, wholeheartedly endorse these cost of living alleviating measures and call for their vigorous implementation. These measures dovetail beautifully with the 10,000 tanks restoration project of the Government which is aimed at facilitating agricultural production in our provinces. In fact, the present drought should be seen as a blessing in disguise which should be harnessed to release the creative energies of the rulers and the ruled in the service of the common good.

Thus it could be seen that the Government has not been vainly boastful when it said that it would be meeting its election pledges. It is plain to see that the task of reducing the cost of living burden is being given top priority by the Government. However, rulers need to serve the people in a self-sacrificial spirit if good intentions are to be translated into reality.

Left is all right

Are you left-handed ? If so, you are in the largest unrecognised minority group in the world. The world is dominated by right handers and practically every object that we come across in daily life is designed for right-handed use. That is a reality that few will deny and none will dare to challenge.

This does not mean that left handers have to live in the shadow of right handers. Far from it, 'lefties' must celebrate their trait and rise above the anti-left prejudices and misconceptions. Today, the International Left Handers Day, is the ideal occasion to do so.

No one has come up with a definitive reason as to some people are left-handed, but researchers believe that a gene is responsible for deciding between left and right handness. Left-handers are more likely than right handers to be creative and visual thinkers. There are higher percentages of left-handers than normal in certain professions - music and the arts for example. Left-handers are also generally better at three-dimensional perception. They are also usually good at ball sports involving hand-to-eye coordination.

History has not been kind to left-handers, who were looked upon as evil beings. Many ancient societies treated them with contempt, to say the least, and some left handers had to pay the ultimate price. This is because, in many societies, the left hand was generally associated with certain unhygienic practices. Even now, some parents try in vain to 'correct' left-handed children and force them to use the right hand. Child psychologists warn that this could be a traumatising experience for a child who will probably be mentally scarred for the rest of his or her life.

Even if a child is not subjected to such physical torture to correct this inborn trait, he or she has to face stumbling blocks every step of the way in a right-handed world. Everything from a pair of scissors to a can opener is designed for right-handed use. It can be a frustrating experience, but most lefties eventually adopt.

They not only learn to live in a right-handed world, but also excel in it, in their chosen fields. Leonardo da Vinci painted the enigmatic smile of Mona Lisa with his left hand and Lewis Carroll penned the immortal Alice in Wonderland using the left hand. History and the contemporary world are replete with examples (Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Bill Clinton, Fidel Castro, Emmanual Bach, Pele, Allan Border to name a very few) of left handers who have made their mark.

They have proved that left handers have got what it takes to equal and even outperform their right-handed compatriots. So, if you are feeling a little left out, today's the right day to celebrate.

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