Letters to the Editor2nd July 2000
The anxiety now in the minds of the parents of the current batches — whether they be fresher, junior or senior — could only be understood if they have a child there.
I remember when on February 7, the arts faculty began the course for the freshers, there appeared so much of conviviality with the seniors receiving the freshers and their parents and treating them in traditional style with milk-rice and sweetmeats. But on the very next day all hell broke loose.
We now know the story how the freshers were subjected to degradation of the human spirit, making the freshers drink water from the toilet bowls, forcing a pregnant undergraduate to do excessive exercise and extorting a Buddhist student monk to exercise till he urinated blood. These acts of torture make us wonder about the cause of this irrational behaviour amongst the so called seniors.
As explained by the student counsellor at a recent TV show, the difference between a fresher and a senior is only in the maturity gained by the acquisition of knowledge by one, two (or that many), years of study. Thus if the senior students have not matured by study, and revert to the law of the jungle at the slightest provocation, then what is this education we are talking of at the highest seats of learning?
Thus if a person is educated and intelligent, aggression would not be manifested.
If the seniors degrade others and thus degrade themselves, this means that the university is not making them advance in knowledge and intelligence. A serious question to all university authorities — what shall we do?
The Peradeniya University affirms that they cannot police the 600-hectare campus. Argument accepted. This is the same as saying what police chief Lucky Kodituwakku has said that he cannot have a policeman under every bush. Does this mean that our undergraduates have to be at the mercy of criminal elements posing as undergraduates — senior or otherwise? and be prepared to be harassed, molested, and perhaps even worse, raped or murdered!
Peradeniya University officials at a parent-teacher meeting summoned after the incidents last February/March, lamented that they cannot take any action because the freshers do not come forward to give evidence!
Why may I ask? Of course it would be easy and fashionable to say fear psychosis. Who runs the campus may I ask? Is it the students or the university administration!
Obviously the administration has to make it safe for the students. How? I am a parent and I do not know how, but I do know that the administration has to find an answer. Who pays for the free education anyway? It is the tax payer. Who pays the faculty and the administration? It is the tax payer again.
Education is an inherent human right, but just because in Sri Lanka it is free education the authorities cannot take it easy and place the responsibility of misbehaviour on the fresher and the senior. How it is given in an intelligent, humane and a just and fair manner is the responsibility of the administration.
I hope that the University, the administration and hopefully some of the students have heard of the term impact analysis. This is a nice sounding term, but one of the most difficult to implement and analyse and arrive at a conclusion. Nevertheless the positive or negative impact of our actions or non-actions will have lifetime impact.
The university administration and the faculty have to be more proactive and also be prepared to take the necessary risks, whatever those be to run and administer the university as it should be done, not as it is being done now, where a handful of seniors hold the entire University and the rest of the student population to ransom.
Secondly, the selection criteria for the university education have to be changed to include not only the highest aggregate at the A/Levels but also a psychiatric test to evaluate the social and mental status and suitability of the potential students.
This test could be administered by a selected all country panel of psychiatrists appointed by the UGC.
As for the current violators, I recommend that suitable punishment be meted out. The parents and the vast majority of students who only want to complete their studies cannot be allowed to be held to ransom by a few unbalanced individuals. Education is a right, but free education is a privilege.
Isn't it hypocrisy? The government ordered that liquor outlets and meat stalls be closed, but allowed cricket to be played on one of the most revered days in the Buddhist calendar.
Surely the first test could have been played on a day after the Poson Poya. The Pakistanis would have agreed to the change in the fixture because they respect their religion. When a match is played in Pakistan on a Friday, play is stopped during the prayers. But in Sri Lanka, there is little respect for Buddhism.
Thus, our losing the 100th Test match is poetic justice! "O tempora! O mores"!!
Let us give garbage disposal a more honourable title — garbage technology. Now here is a solution. All Sri Lankan government servants serving abroad — ambassadors, high commissioners, trade officials and even the office boys — could observe garbage technology in countries where they serve.
They could form into teams and send constructive reports, recommending a suitable system. These reports should be studied by local experts and the most suitable method should be adopted.
The government should get the job done without delay. Let the winning team with the best solution be gifted with a 10 million-rupee reward.
Live cricket commentaries at international level was first experimented in 1934, with the initiative of some Australian journalists who wanted to provide ball-by-ball commentary of Australia vs. England Test matches.
The attempt was made at a time when overseas reception was barely audible. But the Australian journalists took up the challenge. This coverage from England was made possible through telegram messages which were received at a studio in Sydney, Australia.
In 1934, Eric Sholl was sent to Britain to provide cable information. In Sydney, a team of 13 men was assigned the task to construct and amplify the messages, to enable the commentators to provide ball-by-ball descriptions.
The cables will give very brief information, and the commentators had to use all their imagination to reconstruct what was going on the other side of the globe. For instance, the message will say, 'Fleet-Smith to Hammond, ball 4, swept for four', and the commentators will have to visualise and say, 'Here comes Fleet-Smith, his fourth ball, and Hammond magnificently sweeps the ball, on the leg side for four!'
The commentators maintained a fielding chart indicating field placing, and therefore could add, 'Barnes at the square leg boundary had no chance to prevent the four.' The cables were received in two minutes and the efficiency was such that the commentaries were only a few minutes behind the actual proceedings.
Records revealed that these commentaries were so popular that there was a rapid increase in radio sales. For the first time, real ball-by-ball live commentaries were possible in 1938. Still the reception was not that clear and when communications broke down, synthetic broadcasts continued. It is amazing, isn't it?
Dr. A.S. Abeyratna
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