26 October, 2020

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The Story Of Looking Right From The Left

By Mahesan Niranjan

Prof. Mahesan Niranjan

Prof. Mahesan Niranjan

On a rather rainy day a couple of years ago, the year 2010 I believe, two middle aged men in deep thought and nostalgic conversation, attempting to cross the main road outside the campus theatre of HillTop University in Sri Lanka, had a narrow escape. A fast moving car, going completely out of control, came to a sudden stop, crashing into a roadside lamp-post with a loud noise.

“Screech!” “Thud!”

Who were the two men, and why were they not looking carefully before crossing the road?

The two are my friends. One is Sivapuranam Thevaram, my drinking partner from Bridgetown, who was taking advantage of the end of the long running deadly war in our country to visit the place on Earth he loved the most. From the structure of his name, you will immediately infer that Thevaram is of Tamil ethnicity and he comes from the Northern parts of our island.

His friend was Dakunu Aarachchige Richmond Sinhaya. Not his real name, of course, but from the structure of the name I have synthesized, you will infer that he is of Sinhala ethnicity, and that he comes from the South.

During the golden days just prior to scaling up of the deadly war, Sinhaya and Thevaram were contemporary students at HillTop. Though they were supposed to be from the opposite camps, the mutual respect and affection they had for each other were above all known bounds of those particular traits.

You might wonder why I chose the name Sinhaya to refer to a friend from the South. After all, the image portrayed by the chief of the animal kingdom has recently been hijacked to represent a particularly nasty aspect of political thought in our country, right? Well, I have chosen that name because during his teenage years, Sinhaya approached public examinations in a manner very similar to how the King of the Jungle would attack, tear into his prey and finish the job. No examiner was known to set a mathematical problem that Sinhaya could not solve. His talents were unparalleled and natural.bothale

Thevaram, on the other hand, though mediocre in his natural abilities, was raised in an environment of unparalleled inertia. He was a product of an educational environment of immense social and parental sacrifice, exceptional state schooling and even more industrious private education. Mass production of university entrance was the single minded objective of the community around him, very focused on benefitting a small social class, with all other damages of its inertia swept under the proverbial carpet, and to this day remaining unacknowledged in popular political discourse.

Thevaram knew of those environmental advantages and its knock on effects.

Sinhaya knew that Thevaram knew.

That, perhaps, was the basis of the bond between them.

If you subscribe to a simple-minded model of the political spectrum, linearly going from Left to Right, you might place my friends firmly on the Left.

Walking along the road, my friends were reflecting and catching up after thirty years, narrating their experiences and trying to explain to each other how the world around them had changed.

Thevaram described an incident. Just the previous day, he had given a lecture at HillTop in the topic of modern biology, and the computational advances and challenges of the post-genomic era. Half way through his lecture he had looked through the window, at the ever peaceful looking mountain range at a distance, so well etched in his memory. In his line of sight was the outer perimeter of campus looking untidy with grass grown uncontrolled to a few feet tall. Later that day, over a glass of arrack in the Faculty Club he had mentioned it to the chief administrator of the institution: “Why can’t we just cut the grass and keep the place neat and beautiful? That is not rocket science, nor does it cost a huge amount, does it?”

“Look,” said the administrator, “last week a fellow came to my office. He had a letter from the Minister, simply instructing me to give the guy a job.

“`What can you do?’ I asked him.

“He chose the gardening department, where he will do a few minutes of work in the mornings, and spends the rest of the day chewing bulath [betel leaves, a particular delicacy enjoyed by our countrymen who rest more than they work].

“What then do you expect me to do?” lamented the chief.

It was now Sinhaya’s turn to observe. “Look at the Halls of Residence,” he said, remembering the days they both lived in rooms across one of those corridors. “We have lost control of their management. We don’t even know who is living in which room!”

“How so?” queried Thevaram, “aren’t there wardens and sub-wardens managing them?” “Yes, but that is in theory,” continued Sinhaya, “the student union is powerful, so whoever is allocated a room, the union guys can bring a gajaya [squatter] and force the occupants to share the room.”

“What was one of our biggest assets,” he said with a sigh and continued after a brief pause, “has now become our biggest liability.”

The assessment of the ugly state of the Halls and the Estate caused my friends pain. It wasn’t just that. It was quite clear in their minds that these were just two examples of issues of much wider scope and severity.lookright

What might be a solution, they both wondered.

“Perhaps,” they said almost simultaneously to each other, “the way forward is to privatize much of these functions.”

The embarrassment my friends felt at the use of the “P-” word was evident. I, too, am embarrassed by their assessment. This is not what I would have predicted of my friends thirty years ago.

“Screech!” “Thud!”

The recklessly driven car that went out of control and nearly killed them had come from the Left.

Perhaps due to their age and experience, or perhaps the middle class lifestyle they had acquired since graduation, they were distracted and were looking, for inspiration, to the Right.

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  • 4
    14

    Prof. Mahesan Niranjan

    RE: The Story Of Looking Right From The Left

    “Look,” said the administrator, “last week a fellow came to my office. He had a letter from the Minister, simply instructing me to give the guy a job.

    “`What can you do?’ I asked him.

    “He chose the gardening department, where he will do a few minutes of work in the mornings, and spends the rest of the day chewing bulath [betel leaves, a particular delicacy enjoyed by our countrymen who rest more than they work].

    “What then do you expect me to do?” lamented the chief.

    Thanks for the write up.

    This scenario has been going on for a long time on the other Govt. Depts and Government Corporations. Perhaps the politicians ran out of places there.

    “The recklessly driven car that went out of control and nearly killed them had come from the Left.”

    “Perhaps due to their age and experience, or perhaps the middle class lifestyle they had acquired since graduation, they were distracted and were looking, for inspiration, to the Right.”

    What does the Left Want? Equal Pay for Unequal or less valuable Work or Production.

    What does the Right Want? Unequal Pay for Unequal or less valuable Work or Production.

    By the way, Prof. Mahesan Niranjan, do you know anything about

    the IQ of Hill Top University (Peradeniya) Students who were tested from the various Faculties and Departments. Do not know the period. Also heard that the rankings were as follows, but do not know the actual values, so that can be compared to other countries.

    Top: Science Faculty: Physical Sciences ( Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry)

    Next: Engineering Faculty: ( Electrical, Civil, Mechanical)

    Next: Medical Faculty/ Dental Faculty

    Next: Science Faculty : Biological Sciences ( Chemistry, Botany, Zoology)

    Next: Arts Faculty. Do not know the Departments such as English, Sinhala, Tamil, Pali, Economics, Philosophy, Sociology, Geography etc.

    Amarasiri wonders, if any testings have been done for Sri Lankan University Students. This is useful information so that Sri Lankan students can be compared on an international scale in this global economy for competitiveness and innovation.

    • 2
      13

      Prof. Mahesan Niranjan

      RE: The Story Of Looking Right From The Left

      “Well, I have chosen that name because during his teenage years, Sinhaya approached public examinations in a manner very similar to how the King of the Jungle would attack, tear into his prey and finish the job. No examiner was known to set a mathematical problem that Sinhaya could not solve. His talents were unparalleled and natural.”

      “Thevaram, on the other hand, though mediocre in his natural abilities, was raised in an environment of unparalleled inertia. He was a product of an educational environment of immense social and parental sacrifice, exceptional state schooling and even more industrious private education. Mass production of university entrance was the single minded objective of the community around him, very focused on benefitting a small social class, with all other damages of its inertia swept under the proverbial carpet, and to this day remaining unacknowledged in popular political discourse.”

      “Thevaram knew of those environmental advantages and its knock on effects.”

      “Sinhaya knew that Thevaram knew.”

      “That, perhaps, was the basis of the bond between them.”

      Thanks.

      The “Thevarams” were known for their hard work. Sinhaya knew that the Jaffna Farmers were hard workers.

      Now back to the bi-modal IQ distribution of the “Thevarams”.

      What is the cause of this Bi-modal distribution? Generics, Food Vellahalism, Castism, etc.? Just curious!

      The Story Of Two Graphs drawn by A Tamil Man: By Mahesan Niranjan Onion Prices and Tamil IQ Distributions

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-story-of-two-graphs-drawn-by-a-tamil-man/onioniqdistributions/

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-story-of-two-graphs-drawn-by-a-tamil-man

  • 2
    4

    “Look,” said the administrator, “last week a fellow came to my office. He had a letter from the Minister, simply instructing me to give the guy a job.”

    When I was working in a Government Department in the early 1970s, it was Simply Not Done, for Politicians to make Illegal Written Requests.

    Any Illegal Telephone Requests from Politicians were Recorded, and Encouraged by me, the Gossips in the Department, Spread the Word that I was doing So.

    Needless to say, Discipline at the Time was such, that the Illegal Requests soon stopped.

    • 6
      2

      Hamlet

      “Needless to say, Discipline at the Time was such, that the Illegal Requests soon stopped.”

      Did it actually?

      It started in the hey days of Siri Mao/ NM/Colvin/ Pieter, ….. . Almost all state owned banks/institutions were filled with employees who had some connection to the ruling party of the day according to my Elders. The politically powerful who were part of the political network were appointed to the top jobs and promoted over the heads of other hard working and deserving candidates.

      A hardworking Sinhala speaking Elders of mine had wasted his brilliance nearly fifteen years before he was promoted to the next grade all because he would not carry b***s for the politicians.

      • 3
        0

        What bull is that?
        Its the norm worldwide when it comes to government service.
        follow the policy or get screwed.

        Its the same for the Manchester prof from talwekelle.
        If he does not follow his manager (generally of clerical grade) he will live in hell- that is your UK democracy.

        Even Putin has found it hard to get FDI and new technology so he plans to strike at will.His minister advised him to renegotiate with the west but Putin does not want to sacrifice `sovereignty` because his experience is KGB/FSB.

        You are just idiot with past prescriptions and if given power you would do even worse and gobble the economy like the rest from Peradeniya.

        the nation of bath guli clamoring for a government from the books that is fiction. Even your LKY was a knuckle duster to suit the Asian way of life.
        The majority would be feeling if only Gota was around we would have had discipline and even Tamils would congregate behind him.
        No one needs a sissy like Obama because more people die while he changes nappies for his family.

    • 2
      13

      Hamlet

      “Needless to say, Discipline at the Time was such, that the Illegal Requests soon stopped.”

      The Illegal requests started in the 1960s.

      However the illegal requests were somewhat “Civilised”

      1. A post is advertised in the Newspapers or Gazette for a vacant position, specifying the qualifications and experience needed.

      2. The Potential “culprit” applicant who has the required qualifications or close to the required qualifications, believes that by approaching their Minister, or some other higher up can get the Govt. Corporation or Dept. to give preference and select the candidate, before the interviews start.

      Here, the money is there budgeted, but trying to fill a vacancy.

      The minister sends a letter to the Chairman or head of the Dept. requesting that this candidate be selected to fill the position. The fact that the candidate does not have all the required qualifications is irrelevant.

      3. All the Candidates who had the stipulated qualifications are interviewed.

      The Dept or Corporation ranks the Candidates. Say, for example there were 4 vacancies. The Dept. selects the top 4 candidates.

      The minister sends two candidates.

      So The Final Selection is.

      a) the two Best candidates, and

      b) the two Ministerial Candidates.

      The Chairman was appointed by the Minister, and he complies. Others “understand” the situation.

      However, What is Worst is when candidates are thrown at a Govt. Corporation and asked to give them Jobs, when not budgeted and when required for work to be done.

  • 1
    0

    “Screech!” “Thud!” The recklessly driven car that went out of control and nearly killed them had come from the Left.
    The street is clearly one-way. Sinhaya knew that Thevaram knew that the driver was not reckless but did not read the street sign.

  • 0
    2

    [Edited out]

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