Hear them out and win their hearts

By Galaboda Siri Gnanissara Nayaka Maha Thera (Podihamuduruwo - Gangaramaya)

Newspapers published the news about a protest staged by students, when Minister S.B. Dissanayake went to declare open a building at the Peradeniya University on July 12. No one remembers now what happened when J.R.Jayewardene went to open a Private Medical College, during his tenure of office as President.

Professor Stanley Wijesundera, Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo was assassinated inside his own office. We who eyewitnessed this incident can recollect the reasons that led to it. The fact that his elder son was also a student of that newly inaugurated Medical College, we feel was a reason for his assassination. This is a good instance to prove that parents should be mindful and act with the interests of their children in mind in the present world replete with luxury and comfort. They should bear in mind that the time has now dawned to protect their children without exclusively pursuing luxury.

University of Peradeniya

Minister S.B. Dissanayake should have started not with garlands but by enquiring into the facilities provided for the students. Of these facilities, lecture rooms, water supply, health and sanitation, hostels, private boarding houses, dining rooms and kitchens assume priority. Next is the field of education. Universities today have been overwhelmed by a greed for money. The tuition classes held on holidays such as Saturdays, Sundays and Poya Days for external Degrees and Diplomas, have become rivers flowing with money. It is a matter for happiness, that teachers derive special economic benefits through this system. It will be equally good, if at least part of that income is utilized for the well-being of students. We do not know whether it happens. May the rulers look into that.

Apparently many university students today are engaged in night jobs. Whether it’s permitted or not, the way of life, the economic conditions, domestic problems are factors that impact the lives of university students and could lead young lives astray if they are not obstructed or controlled. Everybody seems to live in a fairy land. Those in the administrative service have not even thought whether it is necessary to look into the health conditions of the students and their private lives. Who is responsible for nurturing the students under a good system of administration, in their education and the management of those who study for three or four years as resident undergraduates?

Of what use are those good-for-nothings who enter into the administrative field as sick-people and persons without any knowledge? The time has approached when the exact reality should be fully appreciated by the President, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Deputy Ministers, MPs and all others. It is no longer necessary to talk about terrorists and war. Those who are in power and others should get together to prevent terrorism and wars occurring in the future.

The rulers should not lead lives that would seem to the masses as though they live in luxury and happiness. Humility, simplicity, contentment, are fundamental values of all religions. Everyone makes mistakes. It is essential to have the wisdom to realize the mistakes that have been made. Those who realize their mistakes will make an attempt to get rid of the mistakes. There are those who tar others, but there are no persons who tar themselves. Parents must accept the faults of their children and correct them.

There is no specific responsibility that has been assigned to the clergy of this country. In such a context, only a handful of people appreciate even this service that is being rendered by the clergy. University students are the lifeblood of the future generation.

The need of the hour is discipline, law and order and good governance. Generally for Education, Higher Education and Development of the country, we need versatile people.

Everybody agrees that Minister Dissanayake is a very efficient person. He can get things done, is educated, and the highest seat of education - the University – has been handed over to him. He acquired his university education in this country. I am not certain in what country his children are studying. But he received his appointment while the problems were sizzling. He had to face the issues while he was yet getting ready to do whatever he could. What he and the Deputy Minister had to face at Peradeniya, which is very much like the heart of our University system, is quite pathetic.

Newspapers said he had ordered the authorities to conduct a disciplinary investigation into the matter. There is no authority higher than the Minister himself in this field. I request of you dear Minister, with affection, to focus attention once more on what I have said in this article at the start, to enable you to reduce the tension of this issue. The Minister who was incarcerated and had to eat prison meals (maybe perhaps he did not eat them) may have acquired experience about profit and loss, praise and blame etc. This problem has gone deep, not just yesterday or today, but in the distant past. The problem cannot be solved by staging a walk, only compassion and loving-kindness are essential. There are those who lead the students astray. But the Minister and the rulers must be capable of saving the students from that fate.

It is of no use to evade the issue by imputing the fault on political parties. The root cause should be treated to bring about a cure. The wound can be healed and must be healed. Thailand, China and Malaysia are countries that have corrected their administration by winning over the University students. During the days of President J.R.Jayewardene there came a time, when no one could defuse the problem about Nurses. He handed it over to Minister Thondaman (Senior). He solved it methodically, but through temporary palliatives. Those who resort to temporary measures must proceed on some specific future plans, accepting that there is nothing permanent in the world.

It is futile to regret the past or lament on what happened in the past. May the Minister succeed in continuing unperturbed, considering the stones and brickbats in place of flowers and try to make his glorious name S.B. Dissanayake shine perpetually in Sri Lanka. Let everyone accept the fact that our values have deteriorated. Let the misery and poverty of this land be an example and a fitting opportunity, to enable the people to realize that virtue, humanity and wisdom are much greater than wealth and affluence.

There is a method by which something could be done as university students, but there is hardly anyone who would guide the University Students’ Unions to learn those methods. It is not proper to give razors to monkeys. It will not be easy to stop what those who get razors will do. May the Minister have advisors who show the right path. May Students’ Unions too have such advisors.

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