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Pursuit of Knowledge The purpose of war and conflict

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Seeing through the myth:

An analysis By Dr. R.R. de Silva

Man’s greatest feat has been his constant pursuit of knowledge. Unlike other sentient beings in the animal kingdom who do, to some extent, display momentary interest such as when ‘having to gain entry to a container of food’, man has constantly delved on matters of philosophical interest such as where we hail from and where we are headed. The entire story of humanity then oscillates between not knowing and not knowing.

Within these two anthropological milestones, a few men have discovered a formula for achieving great comforts at the expense of other men. Whether these men come from the East or West, whether they are white, oriental or black (although most often white), they have but one objective – global domination, holding no less than the rest of the population in bondage.

The average citizen has been made too busy to see through the myth. Prof. Herbert Macusse in his essay, titled “An essay on liberation,” explains in the very first few pages, how the masses are being provided the necessary training to become obedient workers. These obedient voluntary slaves then become the fodder that fuels the major corporations. Living a life tuned into a rhythm of never-ending obligations, the average citizen is programmed through conditioning to feel the need to seek employment, earn a fair living, pay taxes and keep their heads down while looking after family and friends. This, the citizen is expected to continue until death with no regard to “the virtues of selfishness” that Ayn Rand had so beautifully and succinctly articulated in a book by the same name. The Media first sets the standards that alters your needs into wants. Then using the smallest social unit – “the couple” – the corporation drills into the psyche of man, the need to follow the prescriptive path laid out into modern financial slavery. Unbeknown to many, the trap is set as early on as conception as antenatal care costs commence and continue until, as in some countries, such as Japan, where the parents’ debt is handed down to successive generations.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourselves the questions – Why does school last 12 years, and not nine years or 15 years? Why are the subjects we study the subjects we study? Who chose and defined the syllabus? Why are we forced to attend a registered school? Why are we punished for truancy? Why are we put into tribal uniforms – when uniforms divide and are the instruments of mass identity culling. There is rarely room for individuality among uniformed individuals.

Meanwhile, we experienced to a great extent disruption of life and lifestyle through the grace of the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV -2). Suddenly there was no rush and the most important people around the world spent time at home, washing their hands and hiding behind masks. One cannot but stop to wonder what rush our lives had been until then. People began to experience solitude. Many, could not handle the loneliness, the isolation. Many could not live with the people they had vowed to spend their lives with – till the day death parts them. But others picked up very fast and engaged in gardening, reading, watching movies and if one had sufficient stocks even a booze.

Home cooking became option-less and many despite the shortage of material did experiment. Life and nature, at least for a short while, had a break. But alas, the race is back on with possible truths labelled as conspiracies, governments across the globe acting in concert with numbers that do not appear to reflect the true position.

The Coronavirus has rendered borders closed and time immemorial advice to stay together has made a 180 degree turn with government public health advice now to socially distance ourselves from our normal gregarious selves. The last such epidemic, which may have required face masks and social distancing, took place in 1918 at the tail end of World War 1 – the so called ‘Spanish Flu’. Every war as we know has had a purpose.

In the case of the Covid-19 virus, face masks have rendered us asexual and identity-less minimising any form of human interaction, including sexual attraction. In fact, Public Health guidance forbids social contact through enforced social distancing, in some countries even sex is forbidden. How will this affect our population, especially the young and impressionable? Is this a depopulation attempt? The question should cross your mind! Meanwhile, the situation is pushing people towards a cashless society, digitalising the undigitalised, as more and more people are captured by global digital surveillance systems. Pandemic commotion allowing for uncontrolled data harvesting of vulnerable populations by opportunistic governments colluding with corporates. For instance governments have only hitherto dreamt of citizens volunteering their every whereabout.

The purpose of war has always been commerce. Imperial colonisation was the beginning of the exponential ascent of money and wealth for Europeans, in particular, the British, funded by their Monarchy of German descent. To understand this let us take a look at an article from no less than the BBC – the British Broadcasting Corporation, a media group funded by Her Majesty’s UK Government. Lets review World War 1 because that is what children are most likely to be taught first in world history. I say that the purpose of this war was profiteering as this article by the BBC also suggests. After all the British who are now recognized as the frontline saviours of the world in that war actually have German heritage. This is why the Royal family changed its name to Windsor from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1917.

As the bodies piled up in a war known to have been fought in the trenches, technological advancement saw the development of tanks and aeroplanes develop rapidly to be tested on the field while money was being made. However, not enough people were suspicious of this. Why ? The reason is education – the brainwashing that schools undertake on behalf of their corporate masters whose proxies in legislative bodies around the world prescribe for the average citizenry. To understand this let us dig deeper. According to Elizabeth Bruton of Leeds University, what a lot of people did not see was how the war drove technologies that we are using today like the development of communication technology. The Marconi Company, whose founder was Guglielmo Marconi, led the way with transatlantic broadcasts. They developed voice over wireless. Subsequently Mark Harrison, an economics professor at Warwick University, describes the war as a driver for production. According to this professor, the allied forces/ nations out-produced the Germans. On the other hand businesses, such as shoe-makers and shoe polish producers, had done immensely well according to Terry Chairman the historian at the imperial war museum.

Though seen as the ‘war to end all wars (referring to World War 1)’ The BBC article cites Smedley Butler then a US marine corps Major General who had written in 1935 that “war was far too profitable to be impossible again” points to the profits of steel and weapons manufacturers. Munitions maker du Pont had had the value of its stock rise 374% from 1915 to 1918 and had consequently distributed dividends worth 458% of the value of each share. Shipping companies also paid dividends of 44.7% in 1915 and 47.5% in 1916. 

Meanwhile, in the public space media promoted the idea of righteousness and noted that outright profiteering that hurt people would be punished heavily. As a result one article in the Western Daily Press reported in November 1917 that Henry Thompson, a Lincolnshire farmer, was fined £1,800 (about £90,000 in today’s money) for selling potatoes above the maximum allowed price. Does this ring a bell? We certainly do not live too far from that.

Finally, the sweeping meant disconnecting from the other side. For example, “Having a German-sounding name like Schweppes was bad for business and lots of firms made a declaration that they were British through and through. “Lyons Tea sued Liptons for suggesting its board were German. Bovril had it in its adverts that it was all-British and always was British,” he says, while hotels and restaurants stated that they had fired their German and Austrian waiters.

And this then is but a part of World War 1’s commercial interests. Did anything in the above paragraphs sound familiar? Well if it didn’t, read on.

According to a research article on the website of the National Bureau on Economic Research, one researcher points out that when World War I began the US economy was in recession. But a 44-month economic boom ensued from 1914 to 1918, first as Europeans began purchasing US goods for the war and later as the United States itself joined the battle. “The long period of U.S. neutrality made the ultimate conversion of the economy to a wartime basis easier than it otherwise would have been,” The researcher adds that “Real plant and equipment were added, and because they were added in response to demands from other countries already at war, they were added precisely in those sectors where they would be needed once the U.S. entered the war.” Moreover, Entry into the war in 1917 unleashed massive U.S. federal spending which shifted national production from civilian to war goods. Between 1914 and 1918, some three million people were added to the military and half a million to the government. Overall, unemployment declined from 7.9 percent to 1.4 percent in this period, in part because workers were drawn into new manufacturing jobs and because the military draft removed many young men from the civilian labour force.”

Today, a few friends who have had difficulty with their payments on leases for their vehicles have shared with me the institutions from which these leases had been sought had not honoured the so called ‘Moratoriums’ that news telecasts across channels in Sri Lanka have spoken so highly of. Yet in another case several individuals are now having to pay even more so than they had had to. Building owners continued to earn albeit in some cases at discounted rates the rent due for the curfew days of March to June, and now for October and possibly November.

But essentially, people dug into their savings, as their fixed deposit interest diminished and interest rate drops have not been passed on to people’s debt as credit card payments, loan repayments as well as leases pile up with no recognition of the situation.

 

“Minimisation of life’s volatilities is the secret of long term survival”—Dr. R.R. de Silva 2010

References

https://www.hnb.net/media-center/2020/hnb-group-posts-rs-3-3-bn-pat-for-q1-2020

https://www.ndbbank.com/investor-relations/reports

https://www.combank.net/newweb/en/interim-financials

The writer is a doctor of medicine & invites feedback via email to rds001@protonmail.com


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Islamophobia and the threat to democratic development

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There’s an ill more dangerous and pervasive than the Coronavirus that’s currently sweeping Sri Lanka. That is the fear to express one’s convictions. Across the public sector of the country in particular many persons holding high office are stringently regulating and controlling the voices of their consciences and this bodes ill for all and the country.

The corrupting impact of fear was discussed in this column a couple of weeks ago when dealing with the military coup in Myanmar. It stands to the enduring credit of ousted Myanmarese Head of Government Aung San Suu Kyi that she, perhaps for the first time in the history of modern political thought, singled out fear, and not power, as the principal cause of corruption within the individual; powerful or otherwise.

To be sure, power corrupts but the corrupting impact of fear is graver and more devastating. For instance, the fear in a person holding ministerial office or in a senior public sector official, that he would lose position and power as a result of speaking out his convictions and sincere beliefs on matters of the first importance, would lead to a country’s ills going unaddressed and uncorrected.

Besides, the individual concerned would be devaluing himself in the eyes of all irrevocably and revealing himself to be a person who would be willing to compromise his moral integrity for petty worldly gain or a ‘mess of pottage’. This happens all the while in Lankan public life. Some of those who have wielded and are wielding immense power in Sri Lanka leave very much to be desired from these standards.

It could be said that fear has prevented Sri Lanka from growing in every vital respect over the decades and has earned for itself the notoriety of being a directionless country.

All these ills and more are contained in the current controversy in Sri Lanka over the disposal of the bodies of Covid victims, for example. The Sri Lankan polity has no choice but to abide by scientific advice on this question. Since authorities of the standing of even the WHO have declared that the burial of the bodies of those dying of Covid could not prove to be injurious to the wider public, the Sri Lankan health authorities could go ahead and sanction the burying of the bodies concerned. What’s preventing the local authorities from taking this course since they claim to be on the side of science? Who or what are they fearing? This is the issue that’s crying out to be probed and answered.

Considering the need for absolute truthfulness and honesty on the part of all relevant persons and quarters in matters such as these, the latter have no choice but to resign from their positions if they are prevented from following the dictates of their consciences. If they are firmly convinced that burials could bring no harm, they are obliged to take up the position that burials should be allowed.

If any ‘higher authority’ is preventing them from allowing burials, our ministers and officials are conscience-bound to renounce their positions in protest, rather than behave compromisingly and engage in ‘double think’ and ‘double talk’. By adopting the latter course they are helping none but keeping the country in a state of chronic uncertainty, which is a handy recipe for social instabiliy and division.

In the Sri Lankan context, the failure on the part of the quarters that matter to follow scientific advice on the burials question could result in the aggravation of Islamophobia, or hatred of the practitioners of Islam, in the country. Sri Lanka could do without this latter phobia and hatred on account of its implications for national stability and development. The 30 year war against separatist forces was all about the prevention by military means of ‘nation-breaking’. The disastrous results for Sri Lanka from this war are continuing to weigh it down and are part of the international offensive against Sri Lanka in the UNHCR.

However, Islamophobia is an almost world wide phenomenon. It was greatly strengthened during Donald Trump’s presidential tenure in the US. While in office Trump resorted to the divisive ruling strategy of quite a few populist authoritarian rulers of the South. Essentially, the manoeuvre is to divide and rule by pandering to the racial prejudices of majority communities.

It has happened continually in Sri Lanka. In the initial post-independence years and for several decades after, it was a case of some populist politicians of the South whipping-up anti-Tamil sentiments. Some Tamil politicians did likewise in respect of the majority community. No doubt, both such quarters have done Sri Lanka immeasurable harm. By failing to follow scientific advice on the burial question and by not doing what is right, Sri Lanka’s current authorities are opening themselves to the charge that they are pandering to religious extremists among the majority community.

The murderous, destructive course of action adopted by some extremist sections among Muslim communities world wide, including of course Sri Lanka, has not earned the condemnation it deserves from moderate Muslims who make-up the preponderant majority in the Muslim community. It is up to moderate opinion in the latter collectivity to come out more strongly and persuasively against religious extremists in their midst. It will prove to have a cementing and unifying impact among communities.

It is not sufficiently appreciated by governments in the global South in particular that by voicing for religious and racial unity and by working consistently towards it, they would be strengthening democratic development, which is an essential condition for a country’s growth in all senses.

A ‘divided house’ is doomed to fall; this is the lesson of history. ‘National security’ cannot be had without human security and peaceful living among communities is central to the latter. There cannot be any ‘double talk’ or ‘politically correct’ opinions on this question. Truth and falsehood are the only valid categories of thought and speech.

Those in authority everywhere claiming to be democratic need to adopt a scientific outlook on this issue as well. Studies conducted on plural societies in South Asia, for example, reveal that the promotion of friendly, cordial ties among communities invariably brings about healing among estranged groups and produces social peace. This is the truth that is waiting to be acted upon.

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Pakistan’s love of Sri Lanka

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By Sanjeewa Jayaweera

It was on 3rd January 1972 that our family arrived in Karachi from Moscow. Our departure from Moscow had been delayed for a few weeks due to the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It ended on 16th December 1971. After that, international flights were not permitted for some time.

The contrast between Moscow and Karachi was unbelievable. First and foremost, Moscow’s temperature was near minus 40 degrees centigrade, while in Karachi, it was sunny and a warm 28 degrees centigrade. However, what struck us most was the extreme warmth with which the airport authorities greeted our family. As my father was a diplomat, we were quickly ushered to the airport’s VIP Lounge. We were in transit on our way to Rawalpindi, the airport serving the capital of Islamabad.

We quickly realized that the word “we are from Sri Lanka” opened all doors just as saying “open sesame” gained entry to Aladdin’s cave! The broad smile, extreme courtesy, and genuine warmth we received from the Pakistani people were unbelievable.

This was all to do with Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike’s decision to allow Pakistani aircraft to land in Colombo to refuel on the way to Dhaka in East Pakistan during the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It was a brave decision by Mrs Bandaranaike (Mrs B), and the successive governments and Sri Lanka people are still enjoying the fruits of it. Pakistan has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of our country. They have come to our assistance time and again in times of great need when many have turned their back on us. They have indeed been an “all-weather” friend of our country.

Getting back to 1972, I was an early beneficiary of Pakistani people’s love for Sri Lankans. I failed the entrance exam to gain entry to the only English medium school in Islamabad! However, when I met the Principal, along with my father, he said, “Sanjeewa, although you failed the entrance exam, I will this time make an exception as Sri Lankans are our dear friends.” After that, the joke around the family dinner table was that I owed my education in Pakistan to Mrs B!

At school, my brother and I were extended a warm welcome and always greeted “our good friends from Sri Lanka.” I felt when playing cricket for our college; our runs were cheered more loudly than of others.

One particular incident that I remember well was when the Embassy received a telex from the Foreign inistry. It requested that our High Commissioner seek an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Zulifikar Ali Bhutto (ZB), and convey a message from Mrs B. The message requested that an urgent shipment of rice be dispatched to Sri Lanka as there would be an imminent rice shortage. As the Ambassador was not in the station, the responsibility devolved on my father.

It usually takes about a week or more to get an audience with the Prime Minister (PM) of a foreign country due to their busy schedule. However, given the urgency, my father spoke to the Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Sectary, who fortunately was our neighbour and sought an urgent appointment. My father received a call from the PM’s secretary around 10 P.M asking him to come over to the PM’s residence. My father met ZB around midnight. ZB was about to retire to bed and, as such, was in his pyjamas and gown enjoying a cigar! He had greeted my father and had asked, “Mr Jayaweera, what can we do for great friend Madam Bandaranaike?. My father conveyed the message from Colombo and quietly mentioned that there would be riots in the country if there is no rice!

ZB had immediately got the Food Commissioner of Pakistan on the line and said, “I want a shipload of rice to be in Colombo within the next 72 hours!” The Food Commissioner reverted within a few minutes, saying that nothing was available and the last export shipment had left the port only a few hours ago to another country. ZB had instructed to turn the ship around and send it to Colombo. This despite protests from the Food Commissioner about terms and conditions of the Letter of Credit prohibiting non-delivery. Sri Lanka got its delivery of rice!

The next was the visit of Mrs B to Pakistan. On arrival in Rawalpindi airport, she was given a hero’s welcome, which Pakistan had previously only offered to President Gaddafi of Libya, who financially backed Pakistan with his oil money. That day, I missed school and accompanied my parents to the airport. On our way, we witnessed thousands of people had gathered by the roadside to welcome Mrs B.

When we walked to the airport’s tarmac, thousands of people were standing in temporary stands waving Sri Lanka and Pakistan flags and chanting “Sri Lanka Pakistan Zindabad.” The noise emanating from the crowd was as loud and passionate as the cheering that the Pakistani cricket team received during a test match. It was electric!

I believe she was only the second head of state given the privilege of addressing both assemblies of Parliament. The other being Gaddafi. There was genuine affection from Mrs B amongst the people of Pakistan.

I always remember the indefatigable efforts of Mr Abdul Haffez Kardar, a cabinet minister and the President of the Pakistan Cricket Board. From around 1973 onwards, he passionately championed Sri Lanka’s cause to be admitted as a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and granted test status. Every year, he would propose at the ICC’s annual meeting, but England and Australia’s veto kept us out until 1981.

I always felt that our Cricket Board made a mistake by not inviting Pakistan to play our inaugural test match. We should have appreciated Mr Kardar and Pakistan’s efforts. In 1974 the Pakistan board invited our team for a tour involving three test matches and a few first-class games. Most of those who played in our first test match was part of that tour, and no doubt gained significant exposure playing against a highly talented Pakistani team.

Several Pakistani greats were part of the Pakistan and India team that played a match soon after the Central Bank bomb in Colombo to prove that it was safe to play cricket in Colombo. It was a magnificent gesture by both Pakistan and India. Our greatest cricket triumph was in Pakistan when we won the World Cup in 1996. I am sure the players and those who watched the match on TV will remember the passionate support our team received that night from the Pakistani crowd. It was like playing at home!

I also recall reading about how the Pakistani government air freighted several Multi Barrell artillery guns and ammunition to Sri Lanka when the A rmy camp in Jaffna was under severe threat from the LTTE. This was even more important than the shipload of rice that ZB sent. This was crucial as most other countries refused to sell arms to our country during the war.

Time and again, Pakistan has steadfastly supported our country’s cause at the UNHCR. No doubt this year, too, their diplomats will work tirelessly to assist our country.

We extend a warm welcome to Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is a truly inspirational individual who was undoubtedly an excellent cricketer. Since retirement from cricket, he has decided to get involved in politics, and after several years of patiently building up his support base, he won the last parliamentary elections. I hope that just as much as he galvanized Sri Lankan cricketers, his political journey would act as a catalyst for people like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to get involved in politics. Cricket has been called a “gentleman’s game.” Whilst politics is far from it!.

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Covid-19 health rules disregarded at entertainment venues?

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Believe me, seeing certain videos, on social media, depicting action, on the dance floor, at some of these entertainment venues, got me wondering whether this Coronavirus pandemic is REAL!

To those having a good time, at these particular venues, and, I guess, the management, as well, what the world is experiencing now doesn’t seem to be their concerned.

Obviously, such irresponsible behaviour could create more problems for those who are battling to halt the spread of Covid-19, and the new viriant of Covid, in our part of the world.

The videos, on display, on social media, show certain venues, packed to capacity – with hardly anyone wearing a mask, and social distancing…only a dream..

How can one think of social distancing while gyrating, on a dance floor, that is over crowded!

If this trend continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coronavirus makes its presence felt…at such venues.

And, then, what happens to the entertainment scene, and those involved in this field, especially the musicians? No work, whatsoever!

Lots of countries have closed nightclubs, and venues, where people gather, in order to curtail the spread of this deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of thousands.

Thailand did it and the country is still having lots of restrictions, where entertainment is concerned, and that is probably the reason why Thailand has been able to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

With a population of over 69 million, they have had (so far), a little over 25,000 cases, and 83 deaths, while we, with a population of around 21 million, have over 80,000 cases, and more than 450 deaths.

I’m not saying we should do away with entertainment – totally – but we need to follow a format, connected with the ‘new normal,’ where masks and social distancing are mandatory requirements at these venues. And, dancing, I believe, should be banned, at least temporarily, as one can’t maintain the required social distance, while on the dance floor, especially after drinks.

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana keeps emphasising, on TV, radio, and in the newspapers, the need to adhere to the health regulations, now in force, and that those who fail to do so would be penalised.

He has also stated that plainclothes officers would move around to apprehend such offenders.

Perhaps, he should instruct his officers to pay surprise visits to some of these entertainment venues.

He would certainly have more than a bus load of offenders to be whisked off for PCR/Rapid Antigen tests!

I need to quote what Dr. H.T. Wickremasinghe said in his article, published in The Island of Tuesday, February 16th, 2021:

“…let me conclude, while emphasising the need to continue our general public health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowded gatherings, to reduce the risk of contact with an infected person.

“There is no science to beat common sense.”

But…do some of our folks have this thing called COMMON SENSE!

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