13 June, 2024


Improvising To Overcome Tragedy 

By Upatissa Pethiyagoda

Dr. 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.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    It is really heartbreaking to see kids going to school or to bed with empty stomach. This where the Charities run by the Ex-pats couldextend their hands to help. The GoSL should facilitate the diaspora to make sure the next generation are protected by the provision of good nutrition. It is time to stop ALL forms of DISCRIMINATIONS based on religion/caste/race etc. This is the CAUSE of current pathetic state of the country.

  • 1

    Dear Upatissa,
    Many thanks for following up on your article of ten days ago:
    In your previous article you highlighted the need for rational planning by digesting what Malthus had said about the inexorable result of the unthinking increase in population. I suggest that at this point readers see the need to observe the complexity of the problem facing us. Too many of our diaspora guys write patronizingly about “our backward and uneducated plebs” using “tadpole philosophy”:
    As opposed to that, Upatissa has sought for realistic alternatives. Let me see how the comments turn out.
    Panini Ediriinhe

  • 2

    Thank you for your current article Dr UP.
    I think it is expensive for poor parents to give coconut to their children compared to rice milk or other milk substitutes. People must finally break away from social myths and misperceptions about their own food sources.
    Dependent on jackfruits, bread fruit and similar articles of food, neither man nor beasts die easily. For example, Sri Lanka has easy-to-grow yams and maniok.

    During this critical period in Sri Lanka, food experts and other professionals in those fields should come forward and educate the people. To you university veterans, I urge you to break the silence and educate the masses properly and adequately.

    But the political thugs will again spread misleading lies and create a false opinion and create hellish problems. If so, the consequences will be dire, for the healthy conscience of the foolish majority will ultimately guide them in their daily diet.

  • 0

    More sad stories are spreading in the air about what our people eat. The media spread as if to draw the attention of fraudsters that “Kurumba” is not enough to live on. According to researchers, people do not die even if they do not eat for 2 weeks.
    The need of the hour is to encourage people in rural areas to grow their fields by providing them with proper fertilizers and manure.

    Food storage facilities should be provided regionally with the involvement of the international community. KOS DEL and other tubers are available throughout the year if storage facilities can be properly maintained. If our people are able to supply more potatoes, sweet potatoes and flour rich in nutrients into the country, you should not import flour anymore. If there is a will, there is a way, under one agricultural system. I believe that Reverend Samant Badda can be an inspiration to achieve this goal across the country. Not to criticize them, but if we are really serious about our issues, the need of the hour should be to use every minute and work hard.

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