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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

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Government Gazette

Vehicle imports, public utilities and development

The news that car registrations are soaring gives credence to the view that wealth generation in this country is proceeding at a steady pace. That more and more Lankans are getting into the upper income bracket is the construct many are likely to place on the statistics highlighted by us on our business pages yesterday to the effect that the national expenditure incurred on vehicle imports and spare parts in 2011 has grown by 87 percent. The value of such imports too has increased from Rs 117 billion to Rs 219 billion in 2011.

Given that poverty has been shrinking steadily over the years, the inference is inescapable that wealth has been growing correspondingly in this country. Moreover, no person with what could be considered an average income could come to acquire and maintain a ‘family car’, for instance, and this consideration too could lead one to believe that upward social mobility has been on an increasing trend over the years and that, consequently, earnings of the general populace are on an upswing.

All this is good news for a country which is beginning to pick-up the pieces after a wasting, long-drawn conflict. To be sure, the elimination of the LTTE and the connected law and order issues, is paving the way for unprecedented development activities in this country and we have the evidence of our eyes that infrastructure development, as a result, is soaring quite notably. The national economy is apparently being transformed and more and more income-generating opportunities seem to be opening-up. In the rural areas too, increasing infrastructure development activities are enabling business and commercial opportunities to sprout and this is helping in alleviating mass material hardships.

The average rural dweller no longer lives in ‘splendid isolation’ but is networking with the larger society in business ventures which are yielding a profit, thanks to the facilities thrown-up by the ICT Revolution. For instance, a farmer in far off Buttala could communicate with his collaborators in Colombo and learn easily about the needs of the market and get his production and marketing act together.

But a look at our Letter’s to the Editor page yesterday would reveal that we cannot lapse into a state of complacency over these heartening developments.

The letters from Sri Lanka’s rural hinterland, for instance, complain about a host of instances where development has not been pushed to its logical conclusion. For instance, some areas expose eye-sores, such as, dilapidated common amenities, including run-down culverts, bridges and hospitals; all essentials as far as the rural dweller is concerned.

There is also the disheartening news that more and more primary schools in some areas are facing closure. All this does not certainly add up to a gloomy picture but are a reminder that we cannot afford to be simple-minded on issues, such as, national development. There is more than meets the eye on these matters and this, the state and the public would need to bear in mind.

There is much by way of material advancement that could be applauded but we need to ensure that growth does not fall short of the all-important standard of equal and even development.

As in the case of most other things, development is also a process and one could not expect miracles in material advancement overnight. The ‘gaps’ in development which our letters bring to light, are a reminder that the growth process is always in need of state guidance. There needs to be an eagle eye on redistributive justice in particular.

So, more and more vehicles serve to remind us that our economy is dynamic and productive. More and more persons are entering the affluent social strata but such indicators should not lead to the misguided notion that all is very well. Much more needs to be done in terms of development and our dilapidated public amenities are a reminder of this truth.

'Engineering education and practices: issues and future challenges’:

Prof. Paul created pathway for Lankans to learn engineering

Late Prof. Robert Hoisington Paul, who was born on February 9, 1904, had his early education in Singapore and subsequently at S. Thomas’s College, Mt. Lavinia. Prof. Paul is one of the acclaimed teachers in the field of electrical engineering, a man with a great vision, dedication and commitment to his profession; a gentleman and an-engineer par-excellence, who created the pathway for many Sri Lankans to learn engineering in Sri Lanka, and most rightfully, being remembered as the 'father of electrical engineering education in Ceylon'.

Full Story

Master-builder of engineering knowledge

In the spotlight today is Emeritus Professor Samarajeewa (Sam) Karunaratne, who was Senior Professor of Electrical Engineering and the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Moratuwa. He is a leading figure who played a pioneering role in the development of the use of computers in the field of engineering. Presently he is the chairman of the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT), an institution established for the purpose of educating and training Information Technology professionals required by the fast growing IT Industry in Sri Lanka.

Full Story

Deduru Oya - first irrigation project to utilize SL expertise

The Deduru Oya is a famous and beautiful river in Sri Lanka. A number of folk stories centering around this Oya have been created. People in the villages call this Oya, 'Appata Putha Kiw Oya.' Stories have originated around the Deduru Oya exemplifying its unpredictability. During the dry season the river is very silent like a sandy ground. However, when it rains the sandy ground automatically turns into a wide river. This situation creates difficulties for the people who live in the low lands.

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Community-based solutions to fore

District and Divisional Reconciliation Committee meetings conducted by Secretaries in the North:

Reconciliation Committee meetings were conducted at Divisional Secretariats in three Districts of the Northern Province between February 25 and 27. The meetings were chaired by Divisional Secretaries at Vavuniya, Vavuniya South, Karachchi, Pachchilappalli and Chavakachcheri, supported by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha MP, Advisor on Reconciliation to the President. Participants included Grama Niladharis, representatives of Rural Development Societies, School Principals, religious leaders, police officials, medical personnel and officials concerned with social support mechanisms.

Full Story

 

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