By Upatissa Pethiyagoda –
There are few things more pathetic than seeing a famished child. Sri Lanka has been very lucky in having not many cases of medically recognized starvation or acute deprivation. Many believe that this may soon change.
An assembly of several extreme circumstance have reduced us to this pathetic state. Shortages of milk powder, cooking gas, kerosene, food, pharmaceuticals, unprecedented price escalations, all have hit the poorest and self-employed parent the most. Covid-19 has also had an impact – but not as severely as the authorities claim.
Over and above all these, is the shamefulness of the vicious theft of public wealth. This has sadly become synonymous with Sri Lanka – its Trade Mark in the eyes of the World. The tragedy is that it hardly seems to bother us. As is natural in a country which has allowed politics to invade every field, the knee-jerk reaction, is to blame them. In most instances, the suspicions are backed by undeniable evidence. But who cares? The authorities that should monitor, detect and press charges against such crooks, are guilty of woeful dereliction of duty.
Parliament, as the repository of responsibility to steer the Ship of State, has led us all into a morass of duplicity, criminality, waste and disorder. The Aragalaya was a heroic attempt to expose this horrific state and communicate the popular anguish of all of us.
And what did the responsible persons of “our choice” do? Precisely nothing! They were fussing around, busy in political horse – dealing, feathering their nests, wasting time and money, meaningless “Sakachchas” and “Rasweemas” of no value (often chaired by some highly useless Minister) giving “instructions” to serious faced officials, who are already charged in their Terms of Employment to carry out these things
On this subject, there was this series of hugely publicized “Gama Samaga Pilisandaras” in one of which, one hapless officer was publicly berated and asked “What circular? As President, I am the circular”. “Your Excellency, I hereby christen you as “Sir Kiwula.” which name and title, you are henceforth empowered to use.
Some time ago, I suggested, as a means of tiding over a prevailing shortage of Milk Powder as Infant feed. And as an emergency measure, people could use carefully and sanitarily handled, coconut milk “Miti Kiri” as substitute for Dairy milk. In terms of nutritional value, one may note that Coconut Milk is said to be the nearest in composition to Mothers’ Milk.
Similarly, much was made of the fact that some school children were “reduced” to eating coconut kernel as lunch. If this was the case, it is certainly a very reasonable act, in the circumstances, Coconut kernel composition includes protein, carbohydrate, fat, sugar and essential minerals. So, these coconut products are by no means indicators of desperation. It seems a quite rational way of getting over this ongoing critical need. It should not be laughed off.
Another advantage is widespread availability. In fact, the various groups that are commendably helping In providing food needs for the deprived, should see this as a an easy co-operative activity. If we can make available a “Kurumba” a day for each schoolchild and younger children, this could be an easy means of emergency relief in helping us to tide over this time of great stress, until things get near normal again.