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In search of 'Pearl of great price'

Education is for all. Being a Democratic Socialist Republic, Sri Lanka has ratified the United Nations Convention on Child Rights which is committed to safeguarding the fundamental rights of children to life, protection, education, medical care and adequate standards of living irrespective of where they are born.

Our island has a population of almost 20 million people of whom approximately 60 per cent are below the international poverty line.

In his greatest contribution, the introduction of free education to all in this country, to provide high quality education free, to talented children of the masses, Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara states, "I say it's the 'Pearl of great price.' Sell all that you have and buy it for the benefit of the whole country. We shall be able to say that we found education the patrimony of the rich and left it to the inheritance of the poor."

Yet, while the more affluent and the privileged classes fight in numerous ways and means to register their children in the attendance books at the 'best' school in the town, the less-affluent still struggle entangled in a ruthless social conflict to find the 'pearl of this great price', amidst the most adverse living conditions and hardships.

Keeping back to all the risks and dangers that follow her, this teenage girl seen in the evening rush hours on June 6, 2006, knelt down on the pavement, beside the iron railings of a playground in the Colombo suburbs, doing her homework assigned by her class teacher, reminds us all, that we have so much in common as citizens of one island nation to contribute towards a new Sri Lanka, equal for all.

HARSHA UDAYAKANTHA PEIRIS

Kandy


Challenge western notions

U2, the very popular Irish Rock Group led by world peace activist Bono wrote a song called Sunday Bloody Sunday referring to an atrocity by the British Government against Irish civilians.

Bloody Sunday occurred on January 30, 1972 in Londonderry. It was a massive civil rights march organised by the Northern Irish Catholics to protest the oppressive British policy of internment.

Catholics were growing sick of their homes being raided and the random arrests happening everyday. The British Army paratroopers fired live rounds indiscriminately into a crowd of unarmed innocent Catholic protestors.

Thirteen were shot dead. All were unarmed, the majority were college students.

Two months later, a report was released by the British Government which exonerated troops from any illegal actions saying they were justified in their actions.

If the Lankan HC to Britain at that time (when there was peace in Sri Lanka and there was no war against terrorism, no suicide bombs, and no excesses in Sri Lanka) were to have condemned the Brits in a forum in London, he would have been declared persona-non-grata and sent packing on the next avaiable BOAC flight back to Colombo!

That is how the nation whose Ambassador has taken it upon so arrogantly to berate the Lankans act! That is how they are acting in areas they occupy in their illegal invasion of Iraq.

Has any of the British educated English speaking, Scotch drinking Colombo elite political pundits who wax eloquently in International forums on the tragedy and human right excesses and the horrific acts of terrorism and excesses by different factions in Sri Lanka ever gone to Britain to challenge them about their long history of abductions, torture and incarceration of innocent Irish Catholics? Or do we just roll over and say 'yes massah' every time a Western Diplomat keeps berating coloured folks? Does anyone have the guts to challenge the hypocrisy of Western nations?

It all depends on who controls the purse strings and the media. Doesn't it?

What is happening in Sri Lanka is a tragedy that can only be overcome by a meeting of minds to offer a decent settlement that will satisfy the economic, social and political aspirations of Sri Lankan Tamil people who are first and foremost Sri Lankans and should be seen as such by all.

A root cause of the war is poverty and inequality economy development policies.

Some sort of autonomy and decentralized decision making on the allocation of resources will not be a threat to Sri Lanka's unitary State.

Sri Lankans have lived and let lived with each other side by side with Mosques, Temples, Kovils and Churches in very close proximity for centuries. Most peace-loving Lankans are extremely tolerant and compassionate and that is what is needed now the most to help protect every peaceful citizen while combatting the world's most effective, single minded and deadly separatist terrorist group.

We don't have to go on for nearly 80 years like the British did to come to our senses.

MANO RATWATTE


Death, rebirth and Karma

I refer to the article by Dr. Sunil Seneviratne Epa, titled 'Death, rebirth and Karma: A medical scientific perspective'. (Reference DN April 26).

It is indeed a stimulating and thought-provoking article. As a person with a scientific educational background, but admittedly a modest knowledge of both science and religion, I wish to contribute a few thoughts on the subject, which I hope will be of interest.

Dr. Epa argues that games which appear as solid nodules on chromosomes in cells of human beings are manifestations of Karma from previous births.

He clarifies as to how Karma could appear as solid matter under a microscope, in terms of the Quantum Theory, which explains the dual interconvertible nature of matter and energy.

He states elsewhere in the article that according to Buddhist teachings, some Karma, based on our actions, will invariably produce results in the next birth (or indeed in the present birth?) while some Karmic effects could get cancelled off (due to other neutralising actions?).

Scientifically it is well-known that genes control chemical and biological reactions and activities in a living being including health as well as behaviour and other characteristics. Science also teaches that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction.

We also know that gene mutations or changes in genes could occur under certain conditions, including environmental conditions. I therefore strongly feel that there is a clear scientific basis to the Buddhist teaching that certain Karmic effects (good or bad) could be neutralised due to subsequent actions of a human being.

Apart from any religious belief or religious bias, we know that the Buddha after attaining enlightenment or the Buddhahood had stated that all matter consists of minute unseen particles which were called Kalpas. The Buddha had explained the dual nature of these particles by stating they were continuously becoming and unbecoming thereby revealing the true nature of existence.

Today with modern scientific knowledge we know that matter consists of atoms and sub-atomic particles. Further quantum mechanics has proven the dual nature of their existence as matter and energy.

It is therefore not amazing that the Buddha had seen after enlightenment over 2,500 years ago, what is scientifically known to be true today.

L. S. Geoffrey Tillekeratne

Nugegoda


Homoeopathic Medical Council

This refers to Mr. Azhar's letter dated June 12, 2007. The Homoeopathy Medical Council has been in existence for nearly 30 years but some of its members say it has done absolutely nothing to popularise homoeopathy in Sri Lanka nor has it taken any constructive steps to register the many hundreds of practicing homoeopaths!

A good friend of mine, who is a qualified Homoeopath, states that practitioners of Homoeopathy in Sri Lanka are frustrated by the politics pervading within the Homoeopathy Medical Council, which is even greater than the party politics of the country!

"Why do we need, only for namesake, a Council that has done nothing to homoeopathy and homoeopaths for so long? Why not the Minister of Indigenous Medicine dissolve it and give it a new life when dedicated homoeopaths raise their heads?", they argue.

Critics also point an accusing finger at the prevalent blatant abuse of power by a certain top official of the Council where "innocent and desperate non-registered homoeopathy practitioners are fleeced by him by holding the carrot of registration before them, under the guise of his private homoeopathic foundation and much shekels earned!"

The general consensus of such frustrated practising Homoeopaths is that the present Council is a "dead rat stinking to high heavens". They yearn for the dissolution of the Council and to empower a suitable body sans nepotism and political predilection which would act as an interim entity to properly augment the Council membership by registering the many hundreds of non-registered homoeopaths via examinations. Only then they say a proper Council meeting could be held to elect deserving office-bearers.

Otherwise "it is bye bye to homoeopathy in Sri Lanka!", they claim.

DR. TILAK S. FERNANDO

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