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Thursday, 5 January 2012

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Grassroots and governance

In a country such as ours, stability of governance depends almost entirely on grassroots development. The reason for this is the overwhelming power of the rural vote. In other words, the rural voter could make or break governments in this country.

We were led to these thoughts on listening to Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene at ANCL yesterday on the occasion of the launching of the 'Samurdhi' journal. Our front page today gives the reader some information on this journal which essentially records the progress made by the state in bringing about grassroots development. Among other things, the Deputy Minister said that the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration cannot be dislodged, mainly because it has ushered in grassroots development and ensured the contendedness of the rural voter, besides other achievements.

In other words, the government has managed to take the majority of the people along with it. On account of the fact that development is increasingly touching people, they have no reason to believe in any adverse propaganda which is unleashed against the government. For instance, according to the Deputy Minister, Sri Lanka's poverty level has dropped to seven percent. The state's endeavour, we are told, is to bring this down further to two percent over the next few years.

Moreover, our present Head of State Mahinda Rajapaksa is a People's President and a charismatic leader par excellence. His achievement on the security front of providing the leadership to wipe out the decades long terror menace, is profoundly appreciated by the people on a very wide scale. This magnetic 'pull' is also going a long way in ensuring governmental stability.

Of equal significance, however, is the current development drive which is positively impacting the majority of the people. Besides the declining poverty level, there is the very sizeable GNP per capita which should be taken into account. On account of these strengths, Sri Lanka is today considered a Middle Income Country and an up and coming economic power in this part of the world.

All this does not mean that there are no problems on our plate. As we have time and again mentioned in this commentary, growth with equity is the ideal and this needs to be translated into a very visible ground reality. The government should strike hard on this score, now that terror is out of the way. It should ensure that income equality and other positives are glaringly evident over the length and breadth of this country, including very particularly the North-East.

The people of the North-East should experience in full the fruits of development if ethnicity is to cease to matter for them and the state would need to go the extra mile to ensure that the North-East populace is not short of the needs that would guarantee for them a life of fulfillment.

Deputy Minister Yapa Abeywardene also spoke of the growing possibilities in tourism and on this score too the country has much to be satisfied about. But a principal need on this front is to ensure that not only the leisure industries flourish but also that the more high spending tourists make it to Sri Lanka. To be sure, the tourist industry is beginning to thrive but we need to target also the high spenders who would keep the hotel sector in good trim.

All these facets of development must impact positively on the people's lives. The Samurdhi programme has helped the poorer segments along, but they must also be sufficiently empowered to stand fully on their feet. This is true development. When this happens, the appeal of divisive political slogans, such as those which touch on ethnicity and communalism, could be blunted. Therefore, there could be no alternative to development, correctly understood as growth with equity.

Disaster Management in SL - need for dissemination of information

The earth trembles during an earthquake with differing severities depending on the magnitude of the earthquake and the underground geological conditions. The magnitude of the earthquake is calculated using data from seismometer networks located in different parts of the world. Magnitude as measured on the Richter Scale developed in 1935 can have negative and positive values. Earthquakes (tremors) of magnitudes 1 to 4 may not be felt by humans. Those above 6 can be categorized as dangerous,

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Socio-economic scene

Poly sacks, post-harvest loss and profiteers

Last month, in the middle of the Christmas festive season, the price of vegetables in Colombo and other urban areas skyrocketed. The reason was that the government introduced a regulation requiring the transport of all vegetables to be carried out in plastic or wooden crates rather than gunny bags (hardly ever used nowadays) or polythene sacks.

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Ragging: the Indian experience

India has wide experience in handling the ragging issue and their experience is worth recounting. India has made excellent headway towards minimizing the scourge of raggng in universities. However, the problem is not yet fully solved,

Full Story

 

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