The Government was recently considering a water cut due to the severe drought. There were doubts about the supply of electricity also. There was a time in Sri Lanka when rain water was collected from the roofs as is done in countries such as Thailand and Japan. Today few if any people do this rain [...]


Protect nature and harvest rain water


The Government was recently considering a water cut due to the severe drought. There were doubts about the supply of electricity also. There was a time in Sri Lanka when rain water was collected from the roofs as is done in countries such as Thailand and Japan. Today few if any people do this rain water harvesting. We prefer to pay water bills, instead of collecting water from nature.

I asked some Gampaha pilgrims why most of their paddy fields were fallow. They said that in earlier days they had rivers and streams, bathed in wells and ponds. That water flowed to the streams and they made use of it to irrigate the fields. Today they use tap water for the bath and the water goes to the toilet pit.
Obtaining natural water from wells was a good exercise for our bodies also. Who did away with this? The British, the Dutch, the Portugese or the Cholas? No, we did it.

My mother had seven children. We all were born at home, not in hospital. Today from conception to birth most people go to hospital. Big hospital bills and transport costs have to be met. One of my friends took his daughter for her confinement to Australia with his wife. His wife too was ignorant about normal birth as she was born through surgery. Since the daughter was complaining about pains, the parents took her to hospital. But the doctor sent her back saying she had time. I was told about the suffering those parents and their daughter went through for one or two months. The doctor treated the daughter to have a normal delivery. Today the Western system has changed. The European culture that advocated surgery has now changed. We need to realize this. Today European countries do not deliver babies by caesarian operations. They have come to know the side effects. What has happened to us? We need to get back to the practice of normal child birth and get used to living in accordance with nature.

A couple, both doctors practising in Moneragala, informed me that a doctor has started a project of womb removal. Mothers after the birth of their first born have their wombs removed by surgery. Earlier, children were considered the wealth of the family. Today even this wealth is not available to the poor.
Recently we heard that there were over fifteen thousand vacancies in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone alone. There is a dearth of workers in private establishments. We have far too many workers in the state sector.

We are reluctantly compelled to admit that there are many who are earning money without paying any income tax. A tax should be levied on private security institutions, cleaning services, three wheeler and cab drivers. As was done earlier red number plates and meters should be made compulsory. Cab and three wheel drivers cause lots of problems, including many accidents. In Singapore, the taxi service is run under government supervision. So there is an income to the government and the people are also protected.

More people are now going overseas to earn a living. To do this, they get into debt and often their families are ruined. On the other hand, we see an increasing number of workers coming here illegally from India and other countries. So our problems are also increasing.

At the Gangaramaya, we have been successfully carrying on a vocational training programme snce 1979. This was started when J R Jayewerdene was the president and Ranil Wickrememesinghe was vocational training and youth affairs minister.

Our institute was set up in line with Mr. Wickremesinghe’s vision.
We are continuing this without aid from the government. But today the number of people enrolling is less. People are satisfied with a small job, a good pay, lunch money and money for transport. The country is going that way. We will run short of learned or skilled people. We may have to get qualified and capable people from abroad.

We build houses with doors and windows to get fresh air and light, but cover them with expensive drapes and remain in darkness. With the result we have to have lights on during the day too adding to our electricity problem. Today there is little or no provision to obtain sunlight from the roof. We avoid both sunlight and fresh air. We depend too much on refrigeration which is an act against nature.

During the Sirima Bandaranaike Government radio licensing was scrapped. If radios, TVs and phones are registered and a tax is imposed on them, the income could be used to pay midwives and help the poor at childbirth. Earlier we bought most items from the nearby boutique, today most people go to supermarkets even to buy salt. Family life is on the decline today, and the preparation of a good, wholesome meal for the family is not done often. We do not take enough care of our health. This is mainly due to laziness. Most people do not have time to wash their clothes. The laundry culture has reached even the remote village.

Today cleaning services in schools are done by outsiders. Outsiders are making desks, chairs and the maintenance is being done by others. There is so much wastage and corruption taking place this way. People contribute voluntarily at the temple, church and kovil. Similarly they will contribute to the government if there is no wastage.

Our country was known for its magnanimity. We need to reflect on whether these qualities still exist. Publish an advertisement regarding availability of rooms in an elders’ home, and we will know the truth. In those days when an animal was found dead on the road, someone had it picked up and buried. Today the dead animal is allowed to remain there until it is torn to pieces. The environment was there always to help people to live comfortably and with freedom. Today we cannot understand this. Good qualities and good ideas are hard to find. Till we have these corrected, we cannot develop the country.

In Japan there is a TV channel that shows the daily life style of people the whole day. When I asked someone about this, he said that this helps the people to know what others are doing and correct any of their shortcomings. The policy in that country is to get everyone to do what is expected. In our country, images of half-naked people appear in TV and newspapers. Let the managements of these institutions take of note this. I hope those in authority and those heading media institutions behave in such a way that they respect others and wish to have the respect from others too in return. They should show programmes that can be viewed together as a family and not show what should be abhorred. Why cannot those in authority enact regulations regarding this? Why don’t we see demonstrations against these? May be the majority of the people do not wish to know or understand.

Previously visitors were invited to the parlour of the house. Later it was the kitchen. Today it is the bathroom. What has happened? Why do people wish to show off this way. They even get into debt, to create a false impression. They sacrifice even their daily food to impress others. I get reports about these and some even come and talk to me about such matters. The Lord Buddha preached against taking loans. He told us to live within our means.
Let all beings be happy and contented.

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