A timely deterrent
The University authorities have
at last woken to the reality that an effective deterrent is
necessary to rein in lawlessness in the country's highest seats
Following the episode at the Peradeniya campus where a group
of students forcibly blocked the portrait of founder Sir Ivor
Jennings being unveiled, which resulted in the temporary closure
of the University, legal action is being contemplated by the
authorities against the miscreants.
If that is the case this will be the first time that a local
University had deigned to take the offenders head on which
augers well for the future of our Universities which have
contrary to being fountains of learning have turned out to be
the bedrock of anarchy and decadence over the years.
There has to be a time when someone stands up and says enough
is enough and we hope that the University at Peradeniya would
prove a catalyst in the flushing out of the dross and dregs that
have laid seige to our institutions of higher learning holding
the country's future generation to ransom.
Today our universities project all that is wrong in our
society that is sweeping with lawlessness and acts of impunity.
It has become a microcosm of the indiscipline and intolerance
that we witness in our midst.
Instead of being repositories of exemplary formation what we
have been seeing over the years is blatant hooliganism by rival
True, University life anywhere throbs with political ferment
and a clash of idealogies is only natural. But what we have been
witnessing over the years is brawn overtaking brain resulting in
student deaths on many an occasion.
One need not dwell deep into the acts of inhuman ragging and
other violence that have affected our universities over the
years and put paid to the future of many a promising student.
The depredations in campuses sometimes bordering on the sick
have prompted many to shun university education and opt for
overseas study. It is anyone's guess the wealth of talent the
country may have lost as result of this exodus. There is no
gainsaying that the Universities have been used by certain
political elements to further their agendas and sow unrest.
It has provided a haven for those intent on giving voice to
long discarded political shibboleths and making life miserable
for other students. Among these elements are also those who
harbour grouses against society and suffer from inferior
complexes and give vent to their frustrations.
Their actions have caused our universities to be shunned like
the plague by parents who instead seek other options for their
children negating the vast resources spent by the State to
foster higher education.
The Government should ensure that the law takes its course to
bring the offenders to justice. The firm action against these
desperados we hope would send a message to all would be
saboteurs that the authorities mean business.
Let this be a beginning that will stem the rot in our
universities once and for all enabling our youth to pursue their
higher education in a secure environment.
Remembering July '80 strikers
The Government's decision to offer employment to some of the
July'80 strikers in State institutions is a most timely move.
All previous regimes have offered patchwork solutions to deal
with this most vexed humanitarian problem that has been
simmering for over two and half decades.
True, no amount of relief can compensate for the trauma
undergone by these strikers. There were even instances where
some of them committed suicide while tales of broken marriages
and dislocation abounded during this time. The strikers were not
only blue collar workers. There were also stories of men of
calibre selling fruits on pavements after being driven to
The strikers were demanding a wage hike of Rs. 10 which the
Government adamantly refused. Instead they were set upon by
bicycle chain wielding goons who were unleashed by the powers
Although the crushing of the strike encouraged foreign
investments in the country due to the Governments firm hand in
dealing with labour unrest it caused a massive humanitarian
upheaval that was to haunt all successive Government's and
became an election issue.
There is no knowing what other impact this caused on the
dependents of these unfortunate men and women and if some of
them were driven to crime and other vices.
Be that as it may the Government should try to ascertain the
full impact of this strike action and take other measures to
compensate these strikers who have had to endure much trauma and
deprivation for over two decades.