26th March 2000
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When will we ever learn?

Point of view

By Lorna Wright
The book, "50 Years On" Army History, was written to mark the Army's 50th anniversary. The publication lists in its roll of honour an 18-year period. The number dead is given as 10,688 with no mention of those missing. The first ten years saw the deaths of 2614. In one year, 1998, it escalated to over 1500. As the numbers grow it means more widows, orphans and devastated parents. 

Enlisting youth for the army was not difficult at a time when adventure reigned supreme. Then the army uniform was merely a status symbol. Today, student groups are beginning to meet and ask questions and seek durable answers. "We want to live and work for our country not die fighting a useless, senseless war."

These views were voiced by youths who were brought together in a Rotary-sponsored programme at the BMICH in February. The 14 to 18-year-olds' perception of the nation contained no element of aggression and conflict. 

They were Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim youths. Full of energy, their positive attitude was infectious. Debate and discussion was of a social and ethical nature, where one was free to express views in an atmosphere of mutual respect. 

They wanted a stake in the new millennium in their country. They did not wish to reflect dissonance, greed and ugliness.

All students' movements threatened with rumours of conscription feel that for too long the nation's attention has been distracted from shaping new goals by deep internal divisions and a half-finished peace process. Peace marches around Lipton's Circus, and the NGO, student movements in universities, churches and religious organisations reflect a clear sense of urgency and frustration building up.

Our fathers and our forefathers lived side by side and developed trusting relationships. With globalisation a technological future ahead, and East-West rapprochement to assist, we thought we could live out a glorious future in Sri Lanka, not get stupidly locked in a glorious past that's dead. In the convulsions of the times, our global approach has been reduced to exporting housemaids to be ill-treated. A Sri Lankan home today is often only a house with a collection of individuals under one roof. 

Without the mother it is not a living whole. Funds are needed for the war. Foreign remittances and youth are recruited as unskilled labour and sent to South Asian countries to be exploited. Two hundred Interact students were billeted at the Lasallian Centre, Modera. The formal school system ethnically divided could contribute little to an understanding of each other, their country, their place in it. Yet these young men and women knew what they wanted and where they wanted to go together. A simple ceremony took place at dinnertime. Tamil women from the Women's Development Federation of Mannar, completing a one-month training under the Shakthi-CIDA programme, were returning home. 

They were to receive their certificates. The young Interact leaders of different races offered to present the certificates to them. Languagewise communication was limited. However 15 others arrived, after an exhausting 14-hour journey travelling from Mannar and joined the group for dinner. The added numbers and some Tamil students from Hindu College, Matale heightened the conversations. 

Then reality intruded. A document they carried surfaced. It was a document, permitting a Sri Lankan possessing an identity card, to travel in his/her own country from one part of the country to another. It carried eight rubber stamps regularising the journey - of the Co-ordinating Officer, Sri Lanka Army Headquarters, Thalledy, Mannar, the Addl. Government Agent, Mannar District, OIC Pass Branch, Mannar Association for Relief and Rehabilitation, Co-ordinating Officer, Mannar, Major, Gemunu Regiment, Security Check Military Police, Movement Control Officer, Sri Lanka Army, 2/2 BDE Mannar and relevant Grama Sevaka.

Another similar incident, was cited. It was regarding the generosity of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in Fort who had donated used items to LCES, a charitable organization. There was a need to hire a lorry to transport the goods. A permit was required for the lorry to enter the Fort and park beside the Bank to load the items. 

An LCES co-ordinator met the DIG on the 2nd Floor of the CID building in Fort, and was asked to bring the lorry registration book, revenue licence, insurance certificate, lorry owner's registration book, driver's licence and identity card of driver in order that the lorry be permitted to enter the city. Parking his car in the car park he had got to the CID office in a three-wheeler. To fetch these documents, he retraced his steps and reached his car. Then he proceeded to where the lorry was parked outside the forbidden zone area. Certain documents were available.

But the owners of lorries no longer trust drivers with the lorry registration book for fear of theft, and security guards' extortion checks.

Reaching the police station there was a queue well over a hundred. By now fully aware that he was no longer living in an organised civil society he broke the queue, ignoring the raw language used on him, to reach the top. He was about to take over his permit when it was discovered that the driver was Tamil. A man from the other side of the great divide. His birth certificate was required: another journey. 

However the resourceful Tamil driver had a hand phone. Contacting him the co-ordinator learnt the Jampettah Police Station had renewed his registration. 

He was born in Colombo, the correct side of the imaginary line. Somewhere down the way, love for another, had added new chips to the mosaic of his family history. The family was now a tributary contributing to the whole. 

The incidents are many. "Frustrations have grown sharper. Add to it the hardline nationalist view in the country. Only when these are overcome can one say that with their talent and resources Sri Lankans should be able to make things better for themselves.

Mawu Warama: a must for mothers

Book Review

Name of the book : Mawu Warama
Author : Dr. Kariyawasam
Reviewed by : Dr. Tilokasundari Kariyawasam

It is clear enough from the evidence produced in this book, that lively initiatives in child development are taking place in many countries. The book examines traditional concepts of child-rearing practices, the ways in which these had developed and changed under the influence of psychologists and scientists. The emphasis throughout is on innovation. The chapters pick out and draw attention to trends that are of major importance in the rapid evolution of child-rearing. Dr. Kariyawasam emphasizes that research has fertilised the techniques of child-rearing practices. The book is an erudite comprehensive exposition on bringing up babies. 

The title to this book can be read in two ways: With the implications that mothers should decide upon their stance in bringing up their infants focused towards the future, with foresight and conviction and with the implications of motherhood which the writer interprets as an ennobled blessing to a mother - a sacrosanct relationship. 

"Mawu Warama" has been carefully designed to provide a comprehensive, in-depth view of "what it is to bring up an infant." Dr. Kariyawasam has tried to blend academic integrity, sound pedagogy, common sense, humanistic concerns and a measure of culture in this masterpiece of hers. The book attempts to educate mothers to face the future relevantly and with conviction by bringing up their children in keeping with the latest findings of scientists and psychologists. It is a very authoritative book on bringing up infants and should be read by every mother and mother to be. The book deals in detail on such topics as, holding and handling children, bathing, feeding, bowel and bladder treatment, sleeping, crying, playing, physical development, social development, intellectual development. The book dedicates one chapter for each topic. The introductory chapters are very insightful, informative and theoretical. She emphasises that mothers have a major role to play as teachers and educators and that children learn some of their most important lessons before they ever start school, and mothers must take their jobs as teachers very seriously if they want to give them a flying start to life. 

In recent times a whole industry has sprung up to cater for parents and children. Writers galore publish books on bringing up children. Clearly, these avuncular experts do fulfill some important functions so as to bring solace to puzzled parents in search of certainty. Yet, what they say is rarely based on anything other than on some branch of currently prevalent commonsense, it is certainly not based on systematically obtained knowledge, derived from objective research. 

As a result 'mother love' may well lead to a deeper appreciation of emotional intensity, but only detached analysis can bring about the type of understanding on which therapeutic action is based. It is apparent that "reading the state of the baby" will be an essential part of mothering the young baby successfully. 

Dr. Kariyawasam has tried to communicate with the reader directly. I am sure the reader will learn much and will like most of which she descovers. Mothers can now appreciate why early care has to be taken in bringing up their children. "What experience?" 'How early?' 'Important in what way?' These are the questions that Dr. Kariyawasam answers. Reading the book is fascinating, challenging and a source of much satisfaction. I advise every mother to possess this book. 

A book of this topic published in the West became the most popular book of the century and it went into thirty editions. I am sure this book will be highly acclaimed by all concerned and establish its worth in Sri Lanka. 

Dr. Margaret Kuruppu

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