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DateLine Thursday, 4 September 2008

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Victory at Provincial Election

Some narrow minded political observers predicted the defeat of the Government party in the recent provincial election. But, they would have realised their wrong views of the Government by now.

In fact, the enlightened voters of the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces were quite aware of the fact that the Government had implemented their development projects - transport, health, education, tourism etc. successfully. That was the main cause of the popular support for the Government party in the election which was held very systematically sans violence and corruption according to the Election Chief Officer.

It is true that there exists an inflationary trend in Sri Lanka. But, the people have not taken the issue of rising Cost of Living as an impediment to the implementation of development schemes all over the country. As a result, employment opportunities have been created by the Government in public and private sectors. New teachers are appointed to the remote schools. Administrative sectors are adequately equipped by trained professionals. There is a remarkable development in Information Technology which has been provided even to rural schools for the benefit of village students.

Therefore the Government party is capable of winning even a general election within three months time as a response to a challenge of the opposition parties.


Poverty alleviation

Poverty alleviation, so far so good; But how long is it going to take for us to see the end results. That’s the issue today. There is only one way out. The Government should muster all its resources, make plans and devices to address the problem of school dropouts and leavers.

These dropouts and leavers should be absorbed to Technical Colleges, Apprentice Board Training Centres or any other public or private training centres to give them a training to fix to an employment. It should be employment or self employment training. From school itself, they should be directed to the above schemes or training centres. They should not be allowed to waste time at home and become a burden to parents.

If these school dropouts are given driving training for all kinds of vehicles, they will have selfconfidence and be able to face society with courage and motivation. They could at least find employment as three-wheel drivers.

If the authorities continue to address the unemployment problem of school dropouts and leavers for a period of five to six years continuously, we will gradually be able to overcome poverty. Though the issue is whether we are competent, efficient or innovative enough to find them job opportunities. We must not forget that we need rubber tappers, toddy tappers, tree climbers, janitorial cleaners, errand boys, daily wage earners, house builders and various types of hands and factory workers.


Daily News Children’s page

Children should always be encouraged in providing them with opportunities to write, to do drawings and to do many a creative work.

It’s children who are to take up all the challenges in their lives and accept leadership in the future world. So, as a teacher of English I’m immensely happy and satisfied with what the Daily News, one of the most popular English daily readers in Sri Lanka has done in allocating a novel page on Thursday specially for the children by giving them a very valuable chance to develop their writing ability and improve their global language skill.

I do feel that parents and teachers who read the newspapers should advise and instruct their school-going children to commence writing on various topics to this page with their knowledge and ability and keep on writing a vital habit of language-learning in their life. We, the teachers know the most difficult task in a language is the writing skill. Teachers normally and most importantly begin their teaching process in the very order of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

All these language skills are inter-related and specially parents must remember that no single skill functions in isolation. For example, if your child wants or hopes to speak in English he or she definitely and surely should first listen to some one who talks in English or some resource or facility which teaches English, and next the learner can try to utter some English words.

It means listening and speaking are two inter related language skills. Before writing too, the child is expected to have some experience of reading materials such as books, newspapers, magazines etc., to develop their reading skills.

Later Martin Wickremesinghe one of the greatest Sinhala writers whom we have ever met in the literary world, a popular, skilled talented writer, only through associating books. He once, said that he had developed his writing skill only in keeping company with the environment and books written by various writers. So these good examples make us think and encourage to comprehend how important the skill of reading is. Therefore I’m very grateful to the Editor of the Daily News, who thought of children’s future world in keeping space in your popular newspaper, and paving the way for children to develop and enrich their writing ability, with the help of Daily News paper.


Supermarkets gang up against public

By now the public is aware that supermarkets charge for shopping bags but it appears that the bags are now getting thinner, so that a load that required two bags now needs three. That comment is by the way.

In one supermarket I saw the following notice on the wall in an inconspicuous place. It says: Limit the use of polythene bags today for a better tomorrow. Limit the use of polythene bags. Choose re-usable shopping bags and help protect our environment.

A message from leading supermarkets and the Central Environmental Authority. Price list for shopping bags effective from August 1, 2008:

Large Rs.5, Medium Rs.3,

Small Rs.2

Any shop can raise its prices on any product and charge for shopping bags. That is OK. They could offer ineffective advice without charging for shopping bags and that is also OK, but when they offer advice to the public as if they are children and then charge it, is an insult to the public. What intrigues me is how the Central Environmental Authority also ganged up with the supermarkets in this fiasco.

We, the general public do not need any advice from either the supermarkets or the Central Environmental Authority (CEA). The supermarkets can charge what they please for anything without offering us advice while the Central Environmental Authority can legislate anything provided it can get it through Parliament.

As for the supermarkets, they have the cheek to advise us to be good citizens while selling date-expired food items using false labels. They get away with it with impunity. Is our Minister of Health aware of what is going on in supermarkets?

The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) should have passed legislation to prohibit plastic shopping bags that are not bio-degradable without offering us advice on a stupid idea of limited use of plastic bags.

In any case who is this Central Environmental Authority that sees nothing wrong with raw sewage in Municipal and other drains and accepts it as normal city living? They also see nothing wrong about the sewage that is being discharged into the sea from a Municipal drain near Galadari Hotel and all the other drains that pollute the sea all the way down to the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

Has it ever occurred to them to test the sea water in this stretch of beach whether it is safe for bathing and will they post up notices warning sea bathers if the water is polluted?

There are many more things I can say about this Authority but there is no space for it in this letter. I do not think they know their job otherwise they would never have recommended the limited use of plastic bags.


Slaughtering of animals

I refer to the replies to my article entitled ‘Misconceptions about slaughtering of animals in Islam’ during the past few days.

According to one of the articles sometime back, it was said:

(a) It is a bounden duty for Muslims to slaughter animals and feed the poor during Haj, and even at other times, it is considered a highly meritorious act to feed the poor with meat.”

(b) ‘All Muslims will eat meat’. All correspondents, particularly should be cautious and weigh their words carefully when they write articles to esteemed newspapers which are read by a large number of educated readers. When a medical doctor writes such articles he or she should be scientific and should not mislead the reading public as all medical doctors are scientists. The expression ‘bounden duty for all Muslims to slaughter animals’ gives the impression to the reading public that the slaughter of animals has been decreed to be compulsory for Muslims and that all Muslims or a large number of them are slaughterers of animals during Haj.

As far as I am aware only a very few Muslims slaughter animals during Haj. (Please correct me if I am wrong). I have been treating a large number of Muslims during the past 44 years and many of them happen to be rich Muslims. I have associated with a significant number of rich Muslims and I have not yet come across a single Muslim gentlemen or a Muslim lady, or any of Muslim patients who to my knowledge are slaughterers of animals.

I know of a significant number of Muslims who do not consume meat. I have also come across a few Muslims who are vegetarians. A large number of my Muslim patients do not eat red meat, but majority of them eat chicken and fish. Majority of my Muslim patients are semi-vegetarians. One of the past Presidents of India who was a Muslim was said to be a vegetarian.

For health reasons, I advise all my patients and others not to eat red meat (beef, mutton, lamb and pork). A significant number of my patients happen to be vegetarians. I am very happy to say that most of my cardiac patients who have shown a marked improvement in their cardiovascular condition and this has been confirmed by repeating their exercise ECG (Stress Tests) before and after the patients changed over to vegetarian diet. The anti-anginal drug dosage could be reduced and some of these vegetarian patients are free of angina and as a result I could avoid cardiac surgery in a quite a lot of them. I refer only a very few of my angina patients for PTCA (Angioplasty) or Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) thanks to changing their diet and making other lifestyle changes.

Curing heart disease by changing the diet and making other life-style changes is now adopted in many parts of the world. The world famous cardiologist Dr. Dean Ormish MD, who is the personal physician to President Clinton and who was also the advisor on Nutrition to White House has published what the New York Times described as a best seller entitled ‘Reversing Heart Disease’. His original work has appeared in all, the famous medical journals such as ‘The Lancet’, ‘Circulation’, ‘Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and ‘American Journal of Cardiology’.

Dr. Dean Ormish subjected all his heart patients to coronary angiography before making them vegetarians and repeated the angiograms about one year after the change in diet and lifestyle and proved to the medical world that the coronary artery blocks were less serious and the blocks due to atheroma had disappeared in some of them. All the coronary angiograms has improved without the use of Cardiac drugs.

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, I respect all religions and I treat all my patients equally irrespective of what religion they profess. Who am I to stop anybody from eating beef or any other meat?

We cardiologists are there to prevent as well as cure heart disease. All readers I am sure will agree with me that it is useless trying to put out fires after they have started.

It has been proved beyond doubt that by changing over to a vegetarian diet, it is possible to reduce the incidence of heart disease (heart attacks) hypertension, most of the cancers, kidney disease, diabetes, strokes, obesity, hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol states), some of the viral and bacterial infections especially food poisoning, certain diseases due to stress as far as I am aware.

Nobody has developed any incurable diseases and nobody has died by avoiding beef, mutton or any other meat. Man can live longer and in good health on vegetarian diets and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) absence of animal products from the diet is the most effective way to reduce heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke.

In conclusion, I would emphasise that all Muslims are not meat eaters and only few of them are slaughterers of animals. I fully agree with the Muslim lady doctor that feeding the poor is a highly meritorious deed and this is so according to all the world religions.

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