Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When work is all consuming, one’s own limitations are forgotten



I have now been an invalid for over 10 months, in the sense that I need crutches to get around and am severely limited in what I can do. I also do not have transport, and am dependent on others or cab services to get about. It is strange but now I do not seem to even let it concern me. Today, I left for the office at 8am and got home after 8pm, and was so busy during the day, that I hardly noticed the time passing. Even then I hardly achieved half of what I set out to do, as I was distracted by two University Graduates who needed advice on how to go about getting employment.

I used the opportunity to mine them for all the information about schools, subjects, teachers and prospects as well as the issues within the University system. They made an interesting and valid point about the times we live in. Whilst they said that 16 students in their primary school, had gone onto University, their Primary School is now closed, as the student numbers choosing this school dwindled to the point that the school closed. The buildings still remain, a ghost of its former glory!

A thousand schools have shut these 5 years, and 2000 will close within the next few, due to a lack of students. It makes them uneconomical to run. Just imagine the number of empty closed schools dotting the landscape. The State must make alternative use of these land and buildings, before it becomes derelict, an eyesore and a menace in the neighborhood inhabited by low life. There will be an outcry if the land is sold, but it sure will yield a substantial amount of money for other purposes, especially improving the quality of teaching in the remaining schools.

It was an unusual day in that for the first time in years, I received two calls from ladies the UK, where I lived for many years. One was to enquire after my health only just having heard of my accident and operations, and the other was to ask if I still sold Sri Lankan manufactured Platinum and Diamond rings which I sold in the US many years ago. Her son had wanted to get one to give his girlfriend. An example of an odd occurrences in a day.

I obtained a copy of the latest UNDP Human Development Report and this year’s one is on equity and sustainable development. I would recommend it as an essential read for University Students, as they can get a perspective on life that is absent in Sri Lankan thinking, and such students if they are really undergrad quality should be able to appreciate its views. For those setting out to find their first real job and begin the hard climb up the corporate ladder, this report is likely to give one a rounded perspective on what is important for a good quality of life.

I doubt however if ANY student in the University system in Sri Lanka will study its contents, let alone come out with a critical interpretation of how it should apply in the Sri Lankan context, where it is obvious to me we are hell bent on doing everything that is unsustainable to get our ranking down, instead of up, which is the direction we should go. So no matter what growth rate we have, if our ranking goes down, then it really means we are heading to a worsening quality of life for our citizens instead of a better one.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are very lucky to have a job you like!

When you start walking again I am sure you will move into a higher gear!

Good luck, and keep us informed about your next doctors visit! We are eager to see you get better!

Anonymous said...

growth is a pre-requisite for more prosperous equity, no?

given the tax structures in sri lanka (high import duties, high taxes on corporates, etc), things are likely more equitable there than in many other places in the world.

Anonymous said...

classic photo.

also, going on about equity, would you like to parcel up your estate land to make things more equitable for your neighbors?

Rajaratarala said...

Equity is in equal opportunity. Parcelling up land is the most inequitous thing one can do to people.The land reforms in Sri Lanka proved that point beautifully as it created a new underclass, and the productive lands turned into unproductive ranchettes for people who when they receive something free do not appreciate the value.

If they were charged at least 50% of the market value for that land, then one can hope for some form of social equity.

By parcelling land to landless, the govt. created a new class of poor, who were wedded to the land leaving them completely inflexible in taking advantage of job opportunities as they did not wan to abandon land that they had been given.

When we allow private and public competition, the state sector has two advantages. It has to compete with the private sector, and as the private sector takes some of the pressure from the state sector the resources can be better allocated to the pubilic sector over which there is less demand than otherwise.

Take the case of the private hospital sector. It has reduced the pressure on the state health services.

On the point of import taxes raised in the second comment. It mainly affects the poor who pay the tax as it is mainly on food that is consumed by the poor who pay a disproportionate amount of their disposable income on food and therefore the taxes on food.

The tax system in Sri Lanka is completely regressive, and must change to rake in the high earners especially in business who pay no taxes at all.

Anonymous said...

i'm sure your neighbors would like an equal opportunity of turning a sprawling rural estate into a productive farm. too bad they don't have the chance.

Rajaratarala said...

Anon I wonder if you live in Sri Lanka!! I have properties both in Polonnaruwa and the one in the photo in Godagama. If you knew my neighborhood hey would rather steal from me than grow their own. Some have enough of a garden to grow their own vegetables, but choose not to. Coconut stealing seems to be the first choice at both properties even though the neighbors have room for a coconut tree or two to feed themselves and choose not to plant one.

It is sad that those who try to make use of the land in the best way they can have to contend with a whole host of problems which if you have been following my blogs will be familiar with.

In fact the neigbors will only want my land so they can block and sell for short term gain, and not to grow ANYTHING. That in essence is the problem.

It is hard to find anyone now who has a genuine interest in growing anything be it food items, trees for greening and future generations, or even floriculture to keep a nice home garden.

If only you know how in SL people pick the flowers off of other peoples gardens to offer to the temple!! That is what I call the irony of piety.

Anonymous said...

hi this is the first time i read ur blog. it is really interesting. i find it hard to believe you came back to SL and do farming. this is a time SL faces brain drain badly and gov not taking any steps to stop that. i too graduated from a local university recently, and looked for a job like 1 year and now doing one. However i too like to get into the plantation sector oneday. i think that is one of the most important and still most neglected sectors in SL. I see the problem is in our people and their mentality. we dont like to grow. we have so many fertile land yet we import our basic food items. Look at kerala a state which is smaller than SL is ahead of SL in terms of cultivation. i think plantatiin sector and farming should be given more significance as a career. i feel very sad when ppl sell large coconut lands in small blocks. The fertile land is our wealth. The wealth of this country.

RHC said...

Beautiful dogs. I think they look like my golden retreiver, but bigger! What are you feeding those guys?

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