The pensioners in Sri Lanka, a very significant segment of its
population, have been spending the twilight of their lives in oblivion
and frustration with no recognition being given to the invaluable
services rendered by them to their Motherland.
On October 8, 2008 at a meeting of the general membership of the
constituent members of the Sri Lanka State Banks’ Pensioners’ Federation
held at the New Town Hall, Colombo, a resolution was passed unanimously
calling upon the Government to declare October 8 as the National
October 8 had for some time been celebrated as the Pensioners’ Day,
but up to that time it had not been officially declared as such by the
Government. We are therefore most grateful to the President and the
Government for the recent official declaration of October 8 as the
National Pensioners’ Day.
Although the declaration of a National Pensioners’ Day has given
immense satisfaction to pensioners, in that the Government has finally
recorded the country’s gratitude towards them for services rendered,
there does not exist at present an effective mechanism for addressing
issues concerning the welfare of pensioners and for taking meaningful
and timely action regarding such issues.
We have therefore submitted our request to the President to consider
the setting up of a Permanent Commission to look in to the welfare of
pensioners on a continuing basis and to which pensioners and their
respective organizations could make representations.
We are confident that in keeping with the Government’s policy of
supporting the weaker sections in society. President would consider our
request favourably and would ensure its early implementation.
Redesigning schoolbags and schoolbooks is a step forward in reducing
the physical burden on schoolchildren.
However teachers must also take responsibility. Subjects are
subdivided into sub units and each has a textbook and note book (English
and Sinhala is divided into Reading / Writing / Comprehension / poetry
etc.) even if there is only one period a day, teachers frequently ask
students to bring all the books without deciding beforehand what section
When there are even two or three subjects like this an enormous
unnecessary weight of unused books are carried by the students.
Principals and teachers should be aware and take necessary steps to
solve this problem.
The dire need of spreading the message of the Buddha was then
fulfilled by the Buddhist clergy, who devoted so much of time and effort
on this task. We as Buddhists are so grateful for it.
Since the inception of ‘The Buddhist Channel’ just two years ago, it
has taken over the massive task of inculcating the ‘Buddhist Spirit’ in
an extremely inspiring manner. We as viewers are so fortunate now
because it has been brought to our doorstep. The nature of the program
presented through this channel is remarkable. Quite contrary to the
conventional type presented earlier this channel presents programs of
novelty and variety thus changing the spiritual level of the viewers
With much humbleness we Buddhists should venerate the Chief Founder
of this channel Venerable Daranagama Kusaladhamma Thera for his
dedication in initiating a Mission of this nature. The viewers are much
enlightened and grateful because these programs bring guidance to our
In an era where money reigns supreme its so heartening to realize
that the programs are presented with no monetary gains.
A word of appreciation should be made regarding the ‘Dhamma
Discussions’. These discussions are an eye-opener for us who have been
so far ignorant of the important principles of Buddhism. The nature of
the discussions is so amazing that through sheer understanding and
applying them to our daily life we are able to lead somewhat a balanced
The most recent feature appearing on the Satara - Poya days - “The
Saddharma Warsha” is very meaningful. The chanting of the Sutta by a
group of monks brings much solace and the analysis adds to our Dhamma
Finally let me mention a word of thanks to everybody involved in this
noble task, whose ingenuity and careful planning out has brought so much
in paving the way to make the vision successful.
Sri Lankans maintain a culture of having services of professionals
for the family. i.e. Family doctor, lawyer, etc. This culture improves
the cordial relationship between both parties. In the case of medical
service it has to be admitted that cordial relationship better
understanding etc. are important.
At present we have adequate qualified medical practitioners available
in every area and we should patronize them by appointing suitable person
as family doctor. Unfortunately, high-class society prefers specialists
and nursing homes as against family doctor and the dispensary thought it
may be at a closer proximity.
Strictly speaking people do not realize the importance of family
doctors and I quote below the following benefits:
Affordable fees and other expenses
More time is spent on the patient
Long awaited appointments are avoided
Immediate or early attention
Telephone advices are possible
Specialists are for a particular type of treatment whereas family
doctors are for general treatment. Since he is aware of family history
early detection and consequent advices are possible. With his vast
experience he could recommend suitable specialist. His reports are
useful to the specialist for early understanding More care could be
exercised in the case of major operations. Monitoring after major
operations is simplified Services are available all over Sri Lanka.
In England I understand that no patient could consult a specialist
without being chanelled through his family doctor. This is statutory
recognition of the services of the family doctor.
Let me recall my brief association with the late R. E. Jayatilake,
the suave, nattily dressed with a handsome profile in characteristic
European style. He was also a Minister in the late W. Dahanayake’s
caretaker government for a short period. He was also the brother-in- law
of the late Edmund Samarakkody, the Trotskyite politician.
In 1960, he interviewed me for a position at the Ceylon Chamber of
Industries where he was the Chairman. It was housed in Hemas Building in
the Fort. The Chamber was publishing a journal called ‘Industry’.
He took me as a reporter and a canvasser to obtain advertisements
from industrialists for the Annual that was in preparation. That was my
first break in active practical journalism. He paid me Rs. 300 per month
with travelling allowances for the first month. That was a respectable
remuneration in the 1960s.
Having assured of my talents - whatever they were - he increased the
payment to Rs. 350. I was grateful to him and still is. He was extremely
civilized and kind.
In 1961, I had to leave the CI to accept a position as a Thamil
Translator on the now defunct Office of the Local Government Service
Commission which was housed in Gafoor Buildings in the Fort. It was a
surprise to me to read that the noted actress on the Sinhala screen is a
grand daughter of the lanky REJ.