3rd September 2000
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Oh Lord!

Cricket in England is not a passionate affair write Meg Williams and Alexander Macpherson

Lord's cricket ground is known as the home of cricket and more familiarly as the 'headquarters' - of the world game. But attending a match at Lord's is a more sedate experience than many of our readers will be used to. 

First of all, a sizeable proportion of the crowd at a test match are not cricket fans but corporate clients being entertained by the lawyers and bankers eager to impress them. For them the schmoozing and networking that is done in the corporate boxes is more important than England's latest batting disaster. 

The bulk of the crowd is made up of the British 'middle-classes' who will occasionally offer a few hand-claps or a reverent "Shot!" but generally keep quiet and divide their time between watching the match and catching up with the newspapers.

On the Saturday of the recent Lord's Test match against the West Indies we arrived well before play began, hoping that England could score the 200-odd runs needed to square the series. We were surprised that when Ambrose and Walsh opened proceedings against Atherton and Ramprakash, the ground was only three-quarters full, although all tickets had been sold. 

People were still ambling in an hour after the start of play. We could overhear conversations about politics, the weather and even the European Football Championships. Occasionally those around us would gaze at England's travails out in the middle with an air of mild and benevolent interest, before tucking into another cucumber sandwich or mug of tea.

About half an hour before lunch many of the crowd started to drift rather sheepishly away, and by the time the morning session had finished and we had made our way round to the lawn behind the Pavilion the picnics were in full flow. 

This lawn is the unofficial social centre of a Lord's test match and is what makes it an event of the English 'Season' to rank alongside Henley, Wimbledon and Ascot. 

Huge hampers overloaded with sandwiches, champagne and strawberries compete for space with MCC members, ex-Test players and ladies who settle in for the afternoon with no intention of going back to their seats.

When England resumed their innings most of the crowd were still eating their puddings and the ground was eerily quiet. When the seats did fill up the effect of the alcohol consumed over lunch made itself felt: several heads began to nod and gentle snoring broke out. Meanwhile England were struggling along, losing wickets but getting closer to the required target.

Just when there was a danger of the crowd getting interested in the match it was time for tea and for everyone to troop off in search of a drink and a biscuit. 

Behind the Pavilion the red wine was opened and the chatter (utterly unconnected with the cricket) was getting louder and louder. After tea those who returned to their seats and were able to make out the scoreboard were surprised to discover that England could be about to win a Test match at Lord's - the home ground where England have by far the worst record in recent years. A flurry of wickets meant that England needed 30 runs to win with Cork and Gough at the crease and only two wickets in hand. Incredibly England did not capitulate as usual, and as the target got smaller and smaller the English audience going against all expectations, actually began to make some noise. 

One or two people even stood up to cheer briefly when Cork hooked Reon King into the Grandstand. Every ball from Walsh, which Gough managed to keep out, was met with a ripple of applause. Nevertheless these infrequent demonstrations of British enthusiasm continued to be drowned out by the ceaseless Caribbean cries of support coming from the Compton and Edrich stands.

By the time Cork hit the winning runs the crowd, if not exactly wild, was fairly captivated and your correspondents took part in a calm and very British pitch invasion. The English Sunday Times called the 100th Test Match at Lord's one of its finest, but for those who were there it was clear that cricket was merely the pleasant backdrop to a day of catching up with friends and consuming fine wines and food. Cricket in England is not a passionate affair.

Imagine our surprise when a fortnight later we were fortunate enough to attend the one-day international final between Sri Lanka and South Africa at R. Premadasa stadium in Colombo. 

As day turned to night, it became increasingly clear that Sri Lanka was going to defend their remarkable 297 runs with the ease and confidence with which they had gained them. The arena resembled a nightclub more than it did a cricket audience - choked as it was with a frenzy of dancing, drumming, flag-waving, horn-blowing and singing. Every dot ball or wicket was greeted with deafening cheers and an infectious riot of celebration; every South African run or boundary was effectively ignored as the orgiastic fiesta continued. 

We found the heady din all the more bewildering once it was realised that, unlike at Lord's, alcohol is officially banned at all international matches in Sri Lanka. 

The brightly coloured scene - floodlights, coloured clothing, cheerleaders, national flags - was in stark contrast to the sleepy scene at Lord's. In England one-day cricket is seen as the poor relation of the five-day game, yet here its popular appeal and rapid resolution has been embraced wholeheartedly. It was of course Sri Lanka's triumph in the 1996 World Cup that brought this nation's team to the forefront of the world game and paved the way for success in the test arena. 

In Sri Lanka, every scrap of open ground seems to host an impromptu game of cricket, while in England football increasingly holds sway. 

If Lord's is a symbol of cricket's rich and important past, then it could be argued that the scene witnessed at Premadasa stadium more accurately captures its future. 

Tharuka Dissanaike reports on Lanka's agri-technology crisis

Wanted: A clear policy

Can the Sri Lankan farmer withstand the forces of globalisation? Or at least the forces of the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA), through which consumers would be able to get cheaper agri-produce from neighbouring India and Pakistan?

Take Sri Lanka's potato farmers. On the hilly slopes of Nuwara Eliya and Welimada, farmers plod on, producing potatoes that are much more expensive than their counterparts from India and Pakistan. The unsafe land use patterns, gradual decline in fertility, heavy use of agro chemicals all contribute to high overheads. Although the government has continuously supported local potato production, little has come of it. A few years ago, the Agriculture Department spent millions setting up a laboratory to tissue culture potato plants in Bandarawela but later, due to farmers giving up potato cultivation in the face of imports from India, the laboratory was converted to a strawberry project.

Growing potatoes has many disadvantages. Mainly, that potatoes from India and Pakistan are cheaper. Often low priced imports have driven farmers to the brink of suicide. The crop contributes heavily to soil erosion, removing as much as a 100 tons of soil from a hectare of plantation within a year. 

But through all this, we continue to cultivate and support it. But for how long?

Take rice. Rice production never kept up with the demand, resulting in a shortfall, which had to be met by imports. But this year, rice farmers were suddenly unable to dispose of their crop, driving prices through the floor. Many opine that the root of the problem was not a sudden increase in yield, but the decision late last year to scrap the duty on imported rice, when consumer prices were suddenly rocketing just prior to Presidential Elections. When the 35% duty was scrapped, many importers grabbed the chance to import as much as they could and stock up. Millers admit that this stockpile was the key to the plummeting prices of last June.

The need for policy- a clear-cut, long-term visionary agriculture policy, which takes into account the new forces of globalisation is vital if the Sri Lankan farmer is to survive.

Since 1978, a gradual release of protectionism and policies of liberalisation have thrown up a huge challenge to the farmer. Successive governments have tried to foster export crops- remember the famous gherkin projects in the Mahaweli settlements? But Sri Lanka lags behind in quality and consistency of produce- and the volume needed for exports. Agri-techniques and planting materials have not been successfully disseminated in the field. Research is not being implemented. Post harvest handling is almost zero, unless you are a big time company growing for export. Packaging and transportation care has hardly been looked at.

"Marketing is the issue," says S.Wirasinghe, Director of Extension and Communication, Department of Agriculture. "We must develop quality aspects. Good post harvest care, safe packaging, minimal transportation. I feel the state must intervene to establish a system of pack-houses where agri-produce is handled after harvest. If we can cut down on the wastage, we can bring down production costs."

The Department of Agriculture has been gradually letting go of services, encouraging the private sector to take more responsibility in the field. The doyens of international finance hail many such policies, but not all of them have worked for the better. In dismantling the Paddy Marketing Board in 1996, the government was hoping for a vibrant private sector milling industry. But this year the mills totally failed the farmers, forcing the state to buy through co-operatives. Large private sector companies like CIC manage what were earlier government farms producing seed paddy. Many extension functions are on line to be handled by the private sector, the rationale being that the private sector would be more dynamic, more efficient and better service-oriented than the bureaucratic government departments.

But in an arena that smacks of disorder, change can only mean further chaos. While gradual privatisation would foster high-end, export-oriented agriculture- it could place many services beyond the reach of the ordinary two-acre plot farmer.

"There should be two distinct sectors. A private sector aided high-profit export sector that can afford private sector fees for efficient service. The government should meanwhile continue to lend support to local small-scale farmers," said Dr. W.G. Somaratne, who researches agri-policy. Dr. Somaratne said the government has a role to play in transferring technology and modern practices to the farming community.

"In the end, only commercially viable agriculture will survive," said Dr. G. Jayawardena, Director-General of Agriculture. "Many of our farmers are not producing at sufficient quantities to be commercially viable in a competitive market."

So comes again, the need for policy. Who decides which crops should be grown, in what quantity, at what time, at what price? Who decides on the techniques, the availability of water, land resources, local consumption and export potential?

Naturally local agriculture has to graduate from its present state to more organised, more focused, better, yielding, more profitable agri businesses. To do this certain steady policies have to be in place. Some protectionism would not be entirely out of place. Highly developed countries like the USA, Japan and Australia, are extremely protective of their own agriculture.

With the government change in 1994,emphasis was given to uplift the poor farmer by re-introducing the fertiliser subsidy and reducing duties on agricultural inputs. 

But the sector's contribution to GDP has continued to decline. Agriculture which was the major contributor -46.6% in 1950, is now at a low of 17% (1997). 

A food shortage looms in the future. As an increasing population pressures land resources and soil fertility declines, the demand for food may well overshadow supply. 

As Dr. Jayawardena himself put it: "For food security, we cannot depend on other countries' food. We have to improve our own."

Law and Citizen By Dr. C. Ananda Grero

Dowry: A knotty case

In our society "dowry" has still not lost its importance. In most marriages, dowry plays an important part and usually the parents of the girl (i.e. the prospective bride) come to a settlement either with the parents of the man (i.e. prospective bridegroom) or with him, about the properties given as dowry. Voet (the Roman-Dutch Law Jurist) described dowry as property, which is given by a woman or someone else, on her behalf to a husband so that he may bear the burden of the marriage.

It is also said that the giving of a dowry was a responsibility which derived from the parental duty to secure for one's daughter the best possible marriage. Dowry was a means of achieving this object. Indeed, independent advantages, which the daughter herself may have possessed, such as wealth and beauty, did not diminish the paternal responsibility which was in this respect aimed at giving a legitimate portion to a wealthy daughter (Mrs. Shirani Ponnambalam - Law and The Marriage Relationship In Sri Lanka). 

Citizen Paul married one Miss. Premila, and they lived as husband and wife for sometime. Her father in consideration of the marriage between his daughter and citizen Paul, deposited in a bank account a substantial sum of money. The bank pass book was given to Paul on the day of the marriage. After marriage he suggested that his wife purchase a block of land in Pannipitiya and accordingly she withdrew part of the money and gave it to him.

After the purchase, a house was constructed for which Premila spent her dowry money. After the construction, both of them occupied this house. 

Later citizen Paul filed action in the District Court claiming a judicial separation from his wife Premila and alleged she was at fault. She the defendant in the case, filed answer denying that any cause of action (any ground for such case) had arisen for the plaintiff husband to sue her and asked that his case be dismissed. She stated in her answer that their matrimonial home at Pannipitiya was her property and the legal title was in her name and she was entitled to the beneficial interest therein. She further stated in the answer that the plaintiff husband held this property in trust for her benefit. 

At the trial several questions (issues) were raised by both parties. The defendant (Premila) too raised a few issues and three issues were in relation to the said matrimonial property. 

The plaintiff's (Paul's) lawyer objected to the said three issues on the ground that they could not be raised in divorce action or action for judicial separation. The District Judge held in favour of the plaintiff and disallowed these issues. 

Against this order, the defendant petitioner (Premila) made an application in revision to the Court of Appeal. A very similar matter came up before two Judges of the Court of Appeal, Justice Douglas Wijeyaratne and Justice P.R.P. Perera (now a Supreme Court Judge) for hearing. This case, Premanie Samarasinghe V Leelaraja Samarasinghe, is reported in [1990] I, Sri Lanka Report at page 31. 

Justice Wijeyaratne in an elaborate judgment discussed about the giving of a dowry as shown in the Roman-Dutch Law, how dowry could be recovered in case the marriage was dissolved, or if the couple was judicially separated, how forfeiture of benefits derived out of dowry could happen and the recovery of such property by the wife when the marriage was dissolved due to the fault of her husband. 

The Roman-Dutch Law principle was stated by him as follows: The effect of a divorce on the property rights of the spouses (husband and wife) depends upon whether they were married in or out of community of property. 

It further depends on whether or not an order of forfeiture of benefits was made against the defendant (i.e the defendant in the case). Since the law considers that a spouse should not be allowed to benefit financially from a marriage which has been wrecked through his (or her) fault, the plaintiff (either husband or wife), in an action for divorce on the ground of adultery or malicious desertion, may claim against the defendant the forfeiture of all benefits past and future which the defendant has derived from the marriage. 

Referring to the position in our country, he said, a husband could be given by way of dowry from or on behalf of the wife, a house or parcel of land or cash. With the cash he may have bought a house or a motor vehicle in his name. During the marriage the wife may have contributed her earnings for a similar purpose. Then if the marriage is dissolved owing to the fault of the husband he is liable to forfeit (give up as a penalty) those benefits. 

He then discussed the law regarding divorce and judicial separation and what form of relief should be claimed in an action (matrimonial) by a party in terms of our law. 

He referred to section 615 (1) of the Civil Procedure Code which states: "The Court may, if it thinks fit, upon pronouncing a decree of divorce or judicial separation, order for the benefit of either spouse or of the children of the marriage, or of both, that the other spouse shall do one or more of the following:-

(a) Make such conveyance or settlement of such property or any part of it; (b) pay a gross sum of money; (c) pay annually or monthly such sums of money; (d) secure the payment of such of money under paragraphs (c) or (d) by hypothecation (mortgage) of immovable property. 

Justice Wijeyaratne, observed that the words "upon pronouncing a decree of divorce or separation" [in the said Section 615(1)] imply, that these questions which can relate to forfeiture of benefits by the guilty spouse (guilty of matrimonial fault) could be put in issue at a trial for divorce or judicial separation. 

In the case before the Court of Appeal, the defendant petitioner (i.e. the wife who moved in revision like Premila) in her answer had not counter-claimed for divorce or separation on the ground of any matrimonial fault on the part of the plaintiff respondent (the husband), but had merely asked for dismissal of the plaintiff's action. If the plaintiff (husband like Paul) succeeds, he will obtain judicial separation due to a fault of the defendant (like Premila). If the defendant (wife) succeeds the plaintiff's action will be dismissed and she will not be entitled to relief claimed by her (i.e. the relief in respect of matrimonial property raised as issues at the trial). 

Therefore it was held that issues raised at the trial (with regard to dowry property and benefits derived out of them) cannot be allowed. 

This affirmed the Order of the District Judge rejecting the said three issues, and the revision application was dismissed. Justice Perera agreed with the said judgment. 

Thus, Premila's claim regarding the matrimonial property may not succeed as she has not claimed it in her answer other than the dismissal of her husband's action. (Names are fictitious)

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