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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

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Harnessing IT

The Year 2009 had been named the ‘Year of English and ICT’. The year is coming to a close. Hence, it would not be inappropriate to dwell on various aspects of development related to Information Technology. As the world has entered a new stage in which knowledge itself has become a productive force it is essential that developing countries such as Sri Lanka should also aspire to create a knowledge based society.

Sri Lanka as a developing nation has to overcome a long-standing backwardness. The gap between it and developed countries has been widening. The technology gap is enormous. Its result has been further backwardness. The digital revolution has given an impetus to developed countries. At the same time a new digital divide has also arisen.

However, the revolution in Information Technology and particularly the advances in digital technology have opened new vistas for poor countries such as Sri Lanka to leapfrog to development.

Over the past few years Sri Lanka has made considerable headway in the application of Information Technology. In e-Governance Sri Lanka is among the best in Asia. It has made government more accessible to the citizens. The Nenasala project has made IT accessible at village level. It has made a signal contribution in empowering the rural youth.

In the sphere of education much has been done and much remains to be done. About 6,000 schools will be provided with IT laboratories.

In addition free solar powered laptop computers are being given to schoolchildren. This will open the doors to a vast field of knowledge through the Internet. Rapid advances have been made in communications. Mobile phones have become a common household commodity. Internet penetration is increasing. It is also being made accessible in the national languages too.

The Government has also taken the initiative to start a nano-technology park. The use of nano-technology will enhance the productivity of industry and agriculture. It would assist the country to bridge the digital divide as well as the traditional divide.

Sri Lankan youth are highly intelligent. This is witnessed by the many international awards they have won in international IT competitions et al. It is necessary to provide them opportunities to use their talents creatively and profitably. Innovation and entrepreneurship should be encouraged through the education system and by other means.

In the export sector Sri Lanka has a vast potential to develop software exports. Also attempts should be made to attract Sri Lankan expatriates proficient in both software and hardware development.

However, not everything is rosy. There are drawbacks and shortcomings. For example, most Government websites opened with fanfare and huge publicity are not updated or properly maintained. Though computers are made available to Government institutions optimal use is not made of them.

Most developing countries, including those in Africa make better use of the electronic media for education and citizen awareness campaigns.

In contrast, though the electronic media in computers are made available to Government institutions optimal use is not made of them. Sri Lanka seems to be too commercialized. Nothing but profit seems to be its only objective.

It is time to draw up plans for the future to keep the same momentum to spread the knowledge of ICT. It would be respecting the people’s right to information and knowledge.


Swine swine flu

The widely spreading AH1N1 pandemic was originally known as swine flu. However, it was a misnomer as it had nothing to do with swine. It started spreading from human to human. Had it been not for the timely intervention of the World Health Organization, millions of swine would have been culled. News from the wire services yesterday reported the first instance of AH1N1 affecting swine. Swine in five farms in South Korea and breeder swine imported from Canada were found to be infected with AH1N1. They have contacted it from humans.

So not contended with blaming the poor creatures at the outset humans have now managed to transmit the disease to the poor swine. Fortunately for humans, they are not vindictive as to cull humans in revenge.

Nanda Ellawala’s 20th death anniversary falls today:

Precious politician of people

If he lived today he would have been a senior minister of the UPFA Government. He was one among the charismatic political trio of the Ratanpura District. The three - Sarath Muttetuwegama, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Nanda Ellawala. These three served the common people of Sabaragamuwa and followed three political theories but their objective was to serve the poor people who elected them to Parliament. They also stood up to fight injustice and corruption and saw eye to eye on almost all matters in public life.

Full Story

The Morning Inspection - Malinda

On living with and without the state

The role of the state in the amorphous and varied activity, process and objective called ‘development’ has been the subject of many a doctoral dissertation. The literature on the subject would fill quite a large library, in fact. States are sometimes ‘interventionist’; they have an overbearing presence in the affairs of a country, especially the economy. Some argue that states should play the role of facilitator and regulator (read ‘keep out of our hair’; ‘our’ referring to capital interests).

Full Story

Safeguard the rights of vulnerable workers

Keynote Address by Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe at a discussion on ‘Towards a society free of gender-based violence’ organized by the Zonta Club II of Colombo held on December 7, 2009. Part II was published yesterday

Full Story

 

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