Showing posts from 2011

Pri's Prize for Ignorance and Idiocy

Possibly my last blog for 2011, with this year's PPII (obscure acronyms is a hallmark of my trade but this is easily worked out)  awarded to our Ambassador in Washington shooting from the hip in response to a question he must have been asked about the latest International Crisis Group report on Sri Lanka on Women's Insecurity in the North and East. Please check his speech out here,and if you think the PPII is undeserved, please let me know!  Only just began reading the report, which comes with the biases that we have learned to associate with the International Crisis Group, but talks about the highly patriarchal nature of Tamil and Muslim societies, and the insecurities generated for women by, not just the military, but also by  the LTTE, and by society in general.   In the face of the Amabassador's vehement denials of the prevalence of sexual harrassment and rape in the Paradise Isle  an article in yesterday's Daily Mirrorquotes Police spokesman SP Ajith Rohana sayin…

No more dogs on the E01

On Boxing Day - decided to go south on the E01.  All in all a pleasant, uneventful experience, though returning in the late evening did provide a sense of  "is this really Sri Lanka?"  No dogs, just one thalagoya. Disciplined drivers - quite a number of them.  Only cause for concern were those holiday makers who seemed to have stopped for a picnic away from the hard shoulder, off the expressway on the reservations and who will have to re-enter the highway at unauthorised points without any time or space to gather speed.   For more thoughts on the expressway check out my article in the Island of December 13. 

The Prime Minister’s call will exacerbate Horizontal Inequality in Sri Lanka

I do take Harsha de Silva's well argued, and evidence based point in yesterday's Daily Mirror opinion   that the Prime Minister's call to ban  wheat flour could affect certain segments of the society more than others, but I do see a need to encourage other staples other than wheat flour, both from a nutritional and food security angle.  The long term goal of the Prime Minister's initiative could be positive even though the method employed is rather ham fisted.  (This is the same with the breaking up of illegal constructions on the beach in Unawatuna, where in the name of protecting the environment, the environment itself is currently destroyed - see

 Wonder how many readers remember how wheat flour crept into and lodged itself firmly into our diet.  There was the PL480 grant, an outcome of the US Marshall Plan; there was the Prima Factory built in the East; there were the efforts of Unilever in training and …

Photo essay - mobile phone use in Sierra Leone

Duncan Green's very interesting blog  - Mobile Phones and Farmers - what are the benefits?with what looked like a very contrived photo of two Maasai men in full regalia checking their mobile phones, one lounging on a plastic chair! inspired me to share these mobile related photos from Sierra Leone...

Hobnobbing with the great and the good

For the second time in a month!  First in Berlin, at the BMZ 50th Anniversary celebrations (BMZ is the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development),  that included a conference entitled  Minds for Change- Future Forum where I had the opportunity to hear Professor Muhammed Yunus, Nobel Laureate and the founder of Grameen Bank, among other things.  And again yesterday, at the Galle Face Hotel Grand Ballroom, where the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI) , a brainchild of Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranatunga, had its first inaugural event  - the Role of the Corporate Sector and Non-Governmental  Agencies in Poverty Alleviation, where Professor Yunus was once again a keynote speaker. 

It’s interesting that Bangladesh has produced  two greats in micro finance – Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder ofBRAC, and Muhammed Yunus, the founder of Grameen.  The former was knighted by the Queen for his contribution to mankind, and the latter won a Nobel Priz…

Real men....

thought this might be appropriate for Sri Lanka 16 days Campaign on Gender Based Violence

Dole abandons Banana Cultivation

Really good news!! Dole has abandoned their banana cultivation in Somawathie National Park (,  Well done EFL!  
Can we do something to restore the cleared areas?


Saw a whole lot of cut branches in the CEPA parking lot last evening.. not sure yet, how we responded to our landlord's request to cut down or trim the tree that was overrun with caterpillars, because they (the caterpillars) were interfering with the neighbours' grandchildren's play!  Hope we trimmed the branches as Karin suggested (thank goodness for our resident environmentalist and tree lover!) and didn't bring the whole tree down. Will find out tomorrow. 
The request itself is worth a moment of thought.  As Karin pointed out, caterpillars are seasonal.  When I was a child  we just learned to avoid the trees with caterpillars, and if we were unfortunate to be get them on our skin, we were treated for the itch. There was no question of cutting down trees for our comfort!  Seem to remember that caterpillars turn into butterflies and moths, that they are food for the birds, and are essentially a part of the green environment. Given that it takes several years to grow t…

End of Emergency, Violence in Jaffna and Dole destroying national parkland

It should really be a good day, today,  theEmergency has been ended.  But there was also this report from Groundviews on my FB which was disturbing
Around 100 young men from Navanthurai, a village in the Jaffna District, were detained in an operation conducted by the Sri Lanka Army around 1.15am on 23rd August 2011. The villagers were severely beaten by the army and dragged to the main road near the Navanthurai Army Detachment located around 300 meters from the village. The men were loaded onto buses and handed over to the Jaffna police around 4 am and taken to the Jaffna courts by 10 am and produced before the Jaffna District Judge at around 1 pm the same day (23rd August). Despite their injuries, the men were held without treatment for over 8 hours. 20 of the most seriously injured were admitted to the Jaffna General Hospital after 10 am, on orders by the District Judge. The rest were denied treatment until around 7.30 pm when we received information that all detainees had…

The bulldozer and chainsaw continue to make Colombo Beautiful!

All those who saw my blog about the transformation of Gregory's Road - read this from Groundviews

 and since this view will no longer be available to you feast on it!

"chucking bottles breaking in, it was good though, it was good fun.."

This BBC clip is one of the more pathetic clips of the London riots. When young girls begin to think rioting is FUN.. the way to get free booze at 9,30 in the morning.. and they hope that it will continue to happen because they were having such a good time - it is like they have no sense of what is right and wrong, and THAT  is really scary....

Neduntheevu (Delft) and Mr Blogg's Bridge

Some thoughts on DBS Jeyaraj's blog of 19th July  about eco-tourism in Neduntheevu or Delft  (check out   I have been to Neduntheevu maybe once or twice when I was much younger and on holiday in the home of family friends in Tellipillai,  and  twice since the war ended. 

On my last visit   I spent almost twenty four hours on the island, arriving on the morning ferry from the mainland, and returning, not on the boat that returned visitors at 2 pm  but by the ferry that went out again the following morning.   We travelled around the island by truck and motor bike, had meals with Nelson and his family, drank palmyrah toddy,  bit  the kottakelangu,  and spent the night  in the home of Printha and her parents.

In this time, I had a brief first hand experience of life as it is lived in Neduntheevu, while drinking  in the beauty of plains with their feral ponies, marvelling at the silent sea lapping gently on a pristine beach, fascinated by th…

Macadamised Order - the new Gregory's Road

After the mayhem of construction, what we have ended up with.  These photos were taken at 6.30 a.m. in the morning on a Sunday. The big trees have been preserved, the cars are parked in tarred parking spaces on one side, and a 'beautiful pavement" has been built for pedestrians on the other.  Even on a weekday the road is a lot more orderly, and as  a member of CEPA's Board of Directors put it "a pleasure to drive on".   The new Gregory's Road, the Southern Expressway - all very 21st century, all very pleasurable to drive on, no doubt, but   at what cost?  and to whom?

"More green on the sides of the streets"

In the 7th Sujata Jayawardena Memorial Lecture delivered by Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse you can hear him say quite clearly that there should be "more green on the sides of the streets" of Colombo. 

In that case WHY would he transform Gregory's Road, one of Colombo's greenest,  into a horrendously paved area?

Robert Chambers - Cutting Edge Challenges for Mainstreaming Participatory Approaches

Robert Chambers gave a public lecture at the Hector Kobekkaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute last evening, organised by Mallika Samaranayake and IPID.  I was invited to provide a 'felicitation' address in a felicitation ceremony that  preceded Robert Chambers' lecture on the above subject, and included talks by Mallika, Professor Madduma Bandara and Professor Hiran Dias.  Below you will find the full text of my felicitation speech -but before that some random gleanings from Chambers' talk!

Definition:  ERR - Egocentric Reminiscence Ratio - increases with age and with alcohol consumption, is higher in men than in women
Quotation from Doctor Zeuss - "Adults are obsolete children" Qualitative methodologies have the 'rigour of democratic interaction'. Quotation from Gandhi - " We must become the change we wish to see"
and now, my 'felicitation address':

Domestic Violence - how lightly can you take it?

I won't be surprised if I win a prize for the worst blogger in the world.. I don't seem to be able to do it regularly....only when I get really angry about something.. or highly amused...well right now I am really angry about this news item in today's Daily Mirror, reproduced here from the online version Paba leaves hospital Monday, 21 February 2011 00:00 By Yohan Perera and Supun Dias

Popular Actress and member of parliament Upkesha Swarnamali (better known as Paba0 who had been undergoing treatment at Sri Jayawardenepura Hospital was discharged last morning, hospital sources said.  Swarnamali had been hospitalised with facial injuries following a family dispute. Her face was swollen around one eye and she had a black eye. Police said that the dispute was gradually being resolved, and the parties were expected to reach a settlement. Her husband Mahesh Chaminda Walawegamage was asked to come and make a statement at the Mirihana police station but had not turned…