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Thursday, 6 September 2012

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Institutional development gets boost

There is much that does not meet the eye with regard to our most vital public sector institutions and we believe we would be doing these state agencies a grave injustice by not presenting to the public a balanced assessment of these bodies, which very often prove to be the mainstays of the people. All may not be well with quite a few of these institutions but a blanket denigration of these organizations is most unjustified because there are more than a handful state institutions that work indefatigably towards the common weal, very often silently and unsung.

However, there is an unfortunate tendency among sections of the public to stereotype state sector institutions as inefficient, corrupt and dysfunctional. The public may have good reasons for doing so, but there are many institutions that rise to the occasion and put their best foot forward in the service of the public and these organizations should come in for public applause. The state health sector, for instance, is bedeviled with seemingly incurable ills but the primary healthcare needs of the people are served by the majority of our state hospitals. In their haste to damn our healthcare system over a few regretful lapses, fault-finding sections overlook these perennial merits of the public health structure.

It must be recollected in this connection that if not for the continuous functioning of the state welfare system, the North-East public would not have been provided their essentials while the conflict raged over those woeful 30 years. Over this period, the agencies of the state continued to serve the public in those war-torn provinces and this, of course, helped in the sustenance of the public. It must be also borne in mind that if not for the vibrant presence of the agencies of the state during the humanitarian operation of May 2009, citizens in their hundreds would have had to confront extreme material hardships.

So, there is more than meets the eye in our state sector and more often than not the public service is subjected to unfair criticism. It is also perhaps a case of taking the sector for granted, since it is a ubiquitous and durable presence among us. The very fact that the system generally functions smoothly, notwithstanding some glitches, and is always close to the people, may be breeding among the more irresponsible sections, a sense of aversion for the sector. A question, perhaps, of familiarity breeding contempt.

Be that as it may, we believe state sector institutions can rise to remarkable heights and when they do so, they reveal their true potential and inner strength. Hopefully, those many critics of the sector would be quick with a word of praise for them, when they conduct themselves exemplarily, because the citizenry is duty-bound to sustain the morale of these organizations which are with them through thick and thin.

There is the case of the Police Department, for instance, which is subjected to the harshest criticisms in some quarters, but which very often serves the public remarkably well. For instance, when a doctor of the North-Central Province was badly assaulted recently by a mob which apparently enjoyed political patronage, the Police were quick on the job of arresting the hoodlums and in subjecting them to justice. This is just one recent instance where the Police have discharged their duties without fear or favour. But the Police have discharged their functions with such exemplariness times without number.

The same goes for the Elections Commission. We note that the Commission is now stretching itself considerably to ensure free and fair elections. On many an occasion it has put a halt to unfair electioneering and local democracy would be the better off for such resourcefulness coming from the Commission. We also note that the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption too is now going about its chores with a new vigour as it were, quite unprepared to be daunted by the powerful. All these and more instances are the proof that state sector institutions could grow to a substantial stature, provided they exercise the necessary initiative and ensure that they use all the powers vested in them. We hope these happy trends would continue and that the sector would exploit to the fullest its potentialities. These are the conditions for institutional growth, which in turn ensures democratic vibrancy.

Social integration: current challenges in Sri Lanka - Part II:

Enhancing educational prospects of the young

It was a far cry from the almost deserted vocational training centres I had seen elsewhere, with students looking as bored as the staff. With Aide et Action, on the contrary, self expression was encouraged, through cultural and social service activity, and their readiness to bring together the students in their various centres is seen not just as fun but also as an essential part of the training programme.

Full Story

Socio-economic scene

Reclaiming the Kelani riverbanks

Ernst Heinrich Haeckel, the celebrated German biologist and Darwinist visited Sri Lanka in 1881. He called the time he spent here ‘the most instructive and delightful months of my life’. Two years later, he published ‘A visit to Ceylon’.

Full Story

Armed Forces and Sustainable Development

The role for the Armed Forces in national development is an interesting topic that will attract different reactions from different people and organisations. While some private sector organisations and NGOs may see it as an incursion into their terrain, the civilians who have enjoyed the robust relationship with the military personnel will see it as a welcome development,

Full Story

 

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