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Election reminiscences Part III

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Continued from October 10

This story is hard to believe, but nevertheless true. It was the general election of 1947 and the results of the Akuressa Electorate were announced. It being a stronghold of the Communist Party, its candidate. W.P.A. Wickramasinghe was an easy winner. After the election results were announced, the counting staff found, to their horror, that they have overlooked three ballot, boxes!. The agitated Returning Officer rushed down to Colombo and informed the Elections Commissioner about it.” Get back at once and somehow get the candidates to agree to the counting of the three ballot boxes in their presence,” said the Returning office, adding, “If it makes a difference to the result already announced, contact me.”

The candidates readily agreed to accommodate the Returning Officer and when the votes were counted the original results remained unchanged, with the majority of votes a so counted, with the winner.

One ola leaf reading in Madras, written thousands of years ago, gave the name of a future Prime Minister of Sri Lanka as ‘West Ri Vandaran’. (West Ri Bandaranaike).

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The Sinhala New year dawned a few days after this General Election. But despite the fun and festivities, thousands of people were still licking their election wounds, the air was hardly friendly. In a certain village, some right thinking people decided to organize an Avurudu Uthsavaya (New Year Festival), and invite the person who had been selected as MP and his rival, who had lost, as Chief Guests.

As the winning MP was proceeding to the festival, in his brand new Pajero, he saw his rival’s battered W jeep being pushed along the road by some youngsters. Stopping his Pajero the MP asked his rival, who was at the wheel, “What is wrong?” “I don’t know machang, the damn thing just packed up,” was the reply. “And now I’m going to be late for the Avrudu Uthsavaya to which I’ve been invited.” “Jump into my vehicle,” said the MP, “I am also going for the same festival.

When the crowd saw the two erstwhile rivals arriving together, they were given huge cheers amid the din of lit crackers. In their speeches both politicos appealed to the villagers to forget their political difference and live in harmony. “If we can be friends after such an intensive and bitter campaign why not you people?” the two of them said.

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Elections are replete with pre and post violence. At the 1936 State Council Election, the Matale Seat was won by B.H. Aluvithare. He was getting ready for the victory parade, when some gunman opened fire. The winner and about 15 others were seriously injured four were dead. Several others were also injured. Of interest is that William Gopallawa was one of the defeated candidates at this election. He was later to become the President of Sri Lanka.

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When S.W.R.D. Banadaranaike was cast ashore on the golden sands of political power in 1956, some MPs were ill-educated, clueless, nonentities. “We shudder to think how you are going to speak in Parliament,” said a friend to one such MP. “Why should I speak I say? The Speaker is there no?” retorted the MP.

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One day a senior minister read aloud a newspaper headline, in the presence of several fellow MPs, “President Carter sends Cyrus Vance to India.” “Sir!” said a new young MP promptly, “If he sends any to Sri Lanka, I want three or four vans for my electorate!”. (Cyrus Vance was the US Secretary of State).

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In 1956, a large number of MPs donned the popular mass appeal garb called the national dress. One such MP went to a Government Department to get some work done. The head of the Department saw him and called one of his assistants to find out who he is. The assistant offhandedly said, “He is either an MP or a peon, as both of them looked alike these days!”

Apart from the above dress, some of the MPs wore a trouser (instead of the verti), donning the banian of the national dress on top. It was called a ‘Kapati kit.

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In the General Election of 1956, when SWRD’s Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) swept into power, the Colombo Central Seat riveted everybody’s attention. M.S. Themis, a minor employee in the Postal Department, proved to be a killer, when he was returned as one of the three members to that seat, routing a Mayor, (V.A. Sugathadasa) a Minister, (Dr. M.C.M. Kaleel), Ex-Ambassador to Burma (A. E. Goonesinghe). I still remember ‘contributing my mite, in the form of 10 cents, to Themis’ election fund when the till went round at one of his meetings.

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One day an MP who made every effort to impress and make his presence felt, both inside and outside Parliament, greeted the former Prime Minister Sir John as “Hallo John!”, Sir John’s angry reaction is better imagined than said. Another day a lady known to this MP, gave him a lift to the Parliament. As there were some parcels on the front seat she apologetically requested him, “I hope you don’t mind occupying the back seat.” To her horror he blurted out “My lady, I am comfortable on your back side.” At the destination, very correctly, he thanked the lady, whereupon she courteously replied, “Don’t mention.” The politician then told the good lady to her utter embarrassment, “Don’t worry, I won’t mention it to anyone.”

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One day a lady had taken the train from Colombo to Kandy and had got into the wrong carriage. When a minister met her at the Kandy station, he had said “Madam! I am sorry you had a miscarriage.

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One day a young M.P. told S.W.R.D. “Sir! I am going to make my maiden speech in the House tomorrow and what form should it take?” The premier had replied, “My dear fellow! A good speech should be like a fashion-conscious girl’s frock. So short as to arouse interest but long enough to cover the subject.” One of his Cabinet Ministers who was a smug, pompous ass who made every effort to impress and make his presence felt, limped into the House one day. Seeing him the Premier asked, “My dear fellow! what’s wrong with you?” “My ankle is swollen Sir,” replied the Minister. “So your lower extremity is also swollen?”

There was a young MP who had more money than brains. He used to buy new cars and sold them off each time, only a short while later, to buy another. One day SWRD asked him, “My dear fellow! I heard that you have bought another new car. What happened to the car you bought last month?” “I sold it Sir! I get rid of anything once the novelty wears off ” My dear fellow!” I hope you don’t ever get married.”

One day a party stalwart said, “Sir! We promised the people Sinhala Only in twenty-four hours and it is weeks since we were elected. Nothing seems to be happening and the people are asking awkward questions.” “My dear fellow,” said Bandaranaike, “What does one mean by 24 hours?” “One day,” replied the party man. “Exactly”, chuckled Bandaranaike “and we shall make Sinhala Only the state language one day!”

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On the appointed day, a deputation of a Trade Union called on one of the clever Ministers in the SWRD Cabinet. He was a very witty man who told the deputation that he liked to meet trade union delegations as they had very interesting demands, adding that in Marseilles, the dock workers who handled a shipment of women’s underwear went on strike demanding “a temptation allowance!”

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During election time several years ago, two candidates vied for the Galle Seat. A fellow club member took a thousand rupee bet with another, that one candidate, whom he named, would win. The two ‘betters’ handed a thousand each to a senior member who would hold it and pay the winner. But a few days later, when he heard from several people that the other candidate was the sure winner, my friend got cold feet. So as a form of ‘insurance’, he stealthily took a bet with someone else that the candidate he had named the first time was going to lose. Once again it was thousand rupees. He was now assured that his money was safe, for he would be losing and wining!. The results of the Galle seat were announced in the early hours of the morning, and that evening my friend walked jauntily, into the club and collected his winnings from the senior member. As he was handed the money, all those present gathered round him, congratulating him and demanding drinks. He could not but oblige and at the end of the evening he was down almost a thousand rupees.

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Soon after the general election of 1970, Neale de Alwis, who had been MP for Baddegama and had been appointed a Junior Minister, found himself faced with a political problem which needed a political solution, a phrase very much in vogue these days. Some of his catchers, (in this case the boys of the LSSP Youth League of the area), wanted two school teachers transferred out of the electorate for working for Neale’s rival, the UNP candidate. Neale promised to look into the matter.

About a week later he dropped in at the office of the Principal of the school where the two teachers worked, and asked him about them. The Principal gave a glowing account of their work, and told the MP most emphatically that transferring them at this stage would do untold harm to the students who were preparing for the O/Level exams. “Sir,” said the Principal, “even if you replace these two teachers, I don’t think you could do so with teachers of this calibre. Neale de Alwis nodded, thanking the Principal and left.

A few days later his Youth Leaguers were at his doorstep again, complaining to the MP that the ‘errant’ teachers were still at the same school. Whereupon, in very unmistakable terms, Neale de Alwis told them that he was not prepared to sacrifice the future of dozens of innocent children for political expediency. “These two teachers are doing a fine job of work,” he snapped, “and if they are good workers I don’t care a bloody damn whether they are UNP or Federal Party!”

One day, as I was coming out of the Galle Kachcheri I saw Neale de Alwis coming down the stairs of his office. He was then the Political Authority for the Galle District too. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, he was confronted by a constituent who went into a long tale of woe about his son who was working far away from home, and was asking for a transfer to a place closer home. After listening to the old man, Neale told him that he had got his son employment with the greatest difficulty, and that it was most unreasonable for him to ask for a transfer to his home station so soon. “Manussayo,” said Neale, “if our young men are not prepared to leave their villages to go and work, this country will never progress.” The chastened voter went away muttering under his breath.

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It was just after the Kesbewa by-election, held after the death of the sitting member, the poet of the revolution, Somaweera Chandrasiri. The UNP did not expect to win it. But thanks to a three cornered contest, they did. ‘Subsequently, in Parliament SLFP leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike, by adding the figures polled by the SLFP candidate and the independent candidate (also an anti UNPer), attempted to prove that the ‘progressive’ forces had actually won the by election. While the UNP, going by the figures she had given, had lost it.

When she sat down after her weighty treatise, UNP Chief Dudley Senanayake rose and his eyes twinkling said gravely, “Madam? wish you many more victories of that nature.”

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In the last State Council whose period should have been over in 1941, but was extended up to 1947 because a general election couldn’t be held while a world war was going on, there was a very controversial, but colourful politico. One day, Sir D.B. Jayathilaka the Leader of the House, who was on holiday in England, bumped into this politico in a London Street.

“Hullo,” said Sir D.B. in surprise, “What are you doing here?” “Sir. I came for medical treatment,” said the young man “Why, what’s wrong with you?” asked Sir DB much concerned. “My doctor says something is wrong inside my head,” the other replied.

“I say, you didn’t have to come all the way to London to find that out,” said Sir DB, roaring, with laughter. “We could have told you that back home! After all you are the man who moved two motions in the State Council, one calling for a ban on dowries, and the other calling for the establishment of licensed brothels in Ceylon!” At this sally, the younger politico joined in the laughter.

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An apparently eccentric politico had done all his canvassing in his large electorate on foot and when he filed his election return, it was discovered that his election expenses came to the princely sum of 13. He was Dr. A.P. de Zoysa MSC Colombo South.



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Sat Mag

Teach students animal rights for a better world

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Five years ago, I requested the Head of the Bar Council of India to get animal welfare introduced as a subject in the law colleges. He did it immediately. The result has been much more sensitive and informed lawyers, an annual moot court that is hosted by NLU Bangalore, PhDs in animal welfare (the first one was in NLU Cuttack), more people aware of animal welfare activism and far more sensitive judges. A big thank you to Shri Manan Kumar Mishra!

22 years ago, at the instance of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, who supported all new ideas, we built the National Institute for Animal Welfare in Ballabgarh. Unfortunately, the government fell when it was ready. The Congress shut it down, and now the BJP is in its seventh year without restarting it. The Minister for Environment gave it to JNU. They fooled around for 2 years and then returned it to the Ministry, who slept on it for two years and then handed it to Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, who have ignored it for three years and only now have appointed a retired vet to make a course. I have lost all hope. In 2002, I wrote out all the courses, made some textbooks, contacted Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, for teachers, got a grant from UNEP for the library. But nothing has happened and nothing ever will. The magnificent seven-acre centre now houses ten people of the Animal Welfare Board of India and runs “awareness” courses of three days each for the student vets of The Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS).

But there are huge job opportunities for trained animal welfare people: shelter managers, gaushala managers, laboratory managers, forest and wildlife officers, city management of animals, elephant rescue centres, city snake rescuers, poultries, slaughterhouses, to begin with and hundreds of others. I simply cannot understand why it has taken so long for even one course to begin.

A huge thank you to the Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, Prof. Nageshwar Rao, and to Professor P. V. K. Sasidhar, for starting the first-degree related course in India for animal welfare. Prof. Sasidhar has been labouring at the modules for over three years now. The first session itself has over 800 students!

It is a PG Diploma in Animal Welfare (PGDAW) and the admissions are open for the January 2021 Session. The Online Admissions ink: www.ignouadmission.samarth.edu.in/.

The PGDAW programme is meant for animal welfare volunteers and professionals across India, and for graduates / post-graduates interested in studying animal welfare. I have seen the learning module and I like it. I wish I had been able to compile the 3000+ articles I have written on every aspect of animal welfare. They could have been part of the course. But my editor has been fooling around with the 7 volume compilations for 5 years now, and I have no idea when she will be done. National Book Trust had offered to print them all, but not even the first volume is ready.

The IGNOU course has four core components: Animal welfare science and ethics, Animal welfare issues, Animal welfare laws and policies, and Animal welfare practices and standards.

Animal welfare is concerned about the welfare of all animals that are managed in some way by humans. Farm animal welfare means the care of animals grown for milk and meat, and that is where animals suffer the most. Welfare issues, pertaining to working, performing, companion, zoo, lab and street animals, need a great deal of attention as well. The PGDAW programme, in 85 modules, has covered welfare, science, ethics, issues, laws and standards, of all farm and draught animals – cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, working animals like donkeys and horses, performing animals, pets, zoo and lab animals. These modules have been developed in collaboration with The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, University of Edinburgh, UK.

It’s a one-year course, and graduates from any discipline can take it. It has two objectives: To impart science-based animal welfare education through open and distance learning. To build the capacities of stakeholders to take socially responsible decisions concerning animal welfare. The total fee of the course is Rs. 5400/-.

Who should take this course : Obviously all young people interested in animals, Employees Working in Animal Welfare Organizations/NGOs/Gaushalas, Faculty, Researchers, Technical Staff & PG/PhD Students in Universities, Research Organizations and Veterinary Colleges, Veterinarians / Para-veterinarians in State Central Government/RVC & Para-Military Forces, Members of State Animal Welfare Boards/SPCAs, Members of CPCSEA/ Institutional Animal Ethics Committees /Animal House Facilities, Civil Servants, Officials and Researchers Working in Forest Departments, Zoos and Wild Life Institutes, Faculty and Research Scholars under Zoological Survey of India and Zoology Departments, Law Professionals and Police Personnel dealing with Animal Welfare Laws and their Enforcement, Graduates Seeking Career as Animal Welfare Professionals.

Ideally, I would make it compulsory for all schools – if we want a better India.

The Programme Coordinator, Prof. P.V.K. Sasidhar, School of Extension and Development Studies, IGNOU, New Delhi (e-mail: pvksasidhar@ignou.ac.in), has great credentials himself. He has been in the Agricultural Research Service of ICAR (2003-09), a Norman Borlaug Fellow of USDA, Tuskegee University, USA (2008), USAID Fellow, Michigan State University, USA (2015), and an OIE Performance of Veterinary Services Evaluator, OIE (2018).

 If you want to join this, now is the time. Also, if you have suggestions to make it better, write to the Professor. I would recommend it for activists in Sri Lanka and Nepal as well, as the issues are the same.

( To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org)

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SUPUN JAYASINGHE’S RITES OF PASSAGE

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A tale of a boy’s courage

By Uditha Devapriya

Situated at Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha, the Planetarium continues to captivate and fascinate, yet unless you strain your eyes, you can easily miss it. It’s one of those places you go to, through a prior appointment, and emerge from wishing you could go back in again. I must have been in Grade Five when I visited it on a class trip in 2004. Supun Jayasinghe was in Grade Five, too, when he went there with the rest of his class seven years later. The only exception, apart from the year of the visit, was where he came from: a 100 miles away, in Dambulla. It was the first time he had been to the city.

Intriguing and exhilarating as such a trip may have been, he had other things in his head. A few months later, he wouldbe sitting the Grade Five Scholarship Exam. How would he study for it? What marks would he score? Where would he go, if those marks turned out to be high? These questions nagged him, yet for the moment he let them off.

In any case, the ride had been exhausting: having started at four in the morning, it was about nine when the bus entered the city. It made its way to Independence Avenue, and from there towards the University of Colombo.

Between Independence Avenue and Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha, the Race Course faces Royal College. Intrigued by the Arcade, then the College, Supun and his classmates turned to their teacher. Standing up, he looked at them and described what they were, laying emphasis on the school more than the complex. Having described it in detail – the oldest public school, the most popular such institution, and so on – he brought the discussion back to his audience. “You have your scholarship exams this year,” he reminded them. “Try scoring as high as you can, because if you do, you’ll get a chance to come and study there.”

The memory of those words remained in Supun for a long time. The moment he heard them, he vowed to get as high a mark as he could, to get that chance, to come here.

Whatever the shortcomings of the Scholarship Exam may be, there’s no denying that it has opened up a world of opportunity for an aspiring lower middle-class. Supun’s father, a businessman, and mother, a teacher, hailed from this middle-class. Having attended a local Montessori and a Model School, he spent the whole of 2011 studying for the exam, forfeiting what little free time he had poring over books under a tree in his front yard. Yet, while he hit the books as hard and as much as he could, he did not push himself to compete with his peers. He’d told everyone he would ace the paper, but that owed less to a desire to be the best in the class than to a yearning to enter the best school he thought there was.

In any case, he got what he wanted. The marks came home somewhere in December 2011: having aimed at 180, he had scored 186. An even better piece of news came soon afterwards: the cut-off mark for Royal in 2012 happened to be 182. This meant only one thing: he would be boarded at the College Hostel, the following month, the following year.

The decision to go to Colombo did not come easy. Supun’s mother had opposed it at first, claiming it was too far. The marks were what convinced her. Even so, going to a city he’d only heard about and seen just once, and choosing to stay there for the better part of the next seven or so years, was a challenge. How would he fit in? What would he have to adjust to? Did people act there the way they did here? Did they differ in how they studied, read books, wrote answers? How they ate, drank, walked, and talked? He had much to think about, and as the weeks drew the year to a close, not much time to think them over.

Before everything, of course, there was the question of visiting the Hostel. On January 8 a letter arrived at his home, notifying them that the new term would commence a few weeks later, and that an orientation would be held before it did, on January 20.

Excited as he was, Supun nevertheless felt uneasy. On January 19, he and his father made their way to a rented house at Mount Lavinia, where a not-so distant relative lived. The next day came slowly, excruciatingly slowly. “I couldn’t sleep, I did not want to,” he remembers it today. Somehow, the night passed, and the following morning, having consulted and checked out at an auspicious time, the two of them made their way to Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s public schools, in particular those whose origins go back to the 19th century, are distinctly British in their architecture. The historian K. M. de Silva not unjustifiably calls it bland, unremarkable, and passé, when compared with Portuguese and Dutch architecture. For all their blandness, though, the British invested these buildings with an aura of expansiveness, with corridors giving way to gardens, quadrangles, and still other corridors.

Finding their way through an endless maze of entrances and exits, Supun and his father could not locate the Hostel. When they finally did, they were ushered into an orientation. Supun remembers two things from that day: his new class (6N), and the school song. The latter awed him: he hadn’t listened to many English songs, let alone school anthems, until then.

Having returned home after the orientation, father and son were told that the new term would begin five days later, on January 25. The second time around they came to Colombo in a car. Starting the journey of more than a hundred miles at four in the morning, they arrived at their destination at one or two in the afternoon.

At the Hostel the usual procedure was followed. The seniors directed him to his room. Each room had bunker beds. Not used to sleeping on them, he chose the first compartment, sharing the bunker with three others. When the last of the parents left, he predictably felt his nerves on the edge. The old fears returned: would he be able to fit in?

As with all public schools located in the city, the history of Royal College has woven itself into the history of its surroundings. Confusing at first, its topography extends from one end to another, covering a great many sites. To socialise into and familiarise himself with such an environment physically was not, however, tough for Supun. The real challenge lay elsewhere: the all too ubiquitous presence of English, and the melange of race and religion within the classroom. In other words, language proficiency plus cultural assimilation.

Glancing through his achievements from then, it struck me how his resolve stood out in them all. Back in Dambulla he had neither let the achievements of his peers ruffle him nor allowed himself to be overtaken by a desire to do better than them. He always, for instance, came first at his first school, but not because he wanted to beat everyone else to it; he just wanted to do something, and when he put his mind to it, he tried to do it somehow, on his own.

In Colombo this remained his philosophy. Whether it was winning creative composition and literary criticism prizes, becoming Junior Prefect (2015) and Junior Steward (2018), right before winding up as Steward (2019) and Chairman or Secretary of a great many clubs and societies (to list just some: Philatelic, Science, Library Readers), he let himself into whatever he took a fancy to. He did not, however, abandon his academics; studying for his O Levels, he ended up with nine As. Needless to say, on the field and in the class, at studies and sports, he confronted, and got over, those two challenges of proficiency and assimilation.

Supun’s story, I realise when I read through it, at once reflects and deviates from the norm. Reflects, because it conforms to the general pattern (initial difficulties at getting used to life in the city being followed by assimilation into the cultural and social patterns of that city), and deviates from, because his willpower is hard to find among his peers, or at least most of them. There is a reason for that: born with congenital anomalies on his right hand and leg, he has refused to let them get in his way, having won medals at the Para Games (2018) as well as for volleyball, boxing, table tennis, hockey, baseball, scouting (with a President’s Badge in 2019 to boot). By all accounts, this is to be admired, as it should be even now.

Steven Kemper dedicates the last chapter of his book on advertising in Sri Lanka (Buying and Believing) to a Sinhala lower middle-class family, residing in the outskirts of Colombo, who manage to realise their aspirations through their second son gaining entry to Supun’s school. Kemper, ever sensitive to the vagaries of class, points out how two-pronged entering a better school can be: a “singular opportunity”, yet one that comes with the price of accommodation “in a hostel.” Boarding their son, the family later relocates to Colombo. They make that move because they have to: the son is their link to the city, and to all it represents.

This country is home to a great many families who aspire for a better life, and one way through which they seek that life is education: not merely what you study, but where you study. Supun’s case is therefore illustrative: it’s the story of every other middle-class child. What’s interesting is how their integration to the city has brought about a transformation in the country’s elite schools. In that sense Supun’s story, as with that of the family in Kemper’s book, is not only illustrative, but also instructive. A Senior Prefect today, waiting for his A Level results, he finishes the conversation with a simple personal credo: “I’ve always aimed high and big, and I think I’ve always got there.” I am inclined to agree.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

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Cleaner production – an urgent need

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By Dr. Debapriya Mukherjee
Former Senior Scientist
Central Pollution Control Board, India

If we look into the areas close to the industrial sector, production of pollutants particularly from Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) has damaged the natural environment by excess emission of wastewater, gas or other solid waste. Environmental agencies are failing miserably in controlling pollution from most of the SMEs across the country. SME contributes asignificant fraction of total environmental burden in developing countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. Despite enforcement of environmental acts and regulations, the consumption of huge quantities of resources and energy, within a remarkably short period through industrial production had a far-reaching influence on natural environment. Reducing this burden needs environmental improvement at the micro level, a goal which has been stubbornly elusive in India. 

According to my observations, the major problems in SMEs, are old technologies, poor management practices, limited availability of funds, inadequately trained officials, lack of appropriate inspection and monitoring and overall sustainable gap between enforcement agencies, industries and communities because impassivity of top management in environmental sector and political will have impeded sustainable environment management.  Regulatory pressure on the SMEs could not implicate positive effect on environment to maintain sound ecosystem as observed in many areas close to SMEs such as foundry, sponge iron, electroplating industry, food processing, tannery and others. 

Environment Sustainability (ES) to maintain wholesomeness of the environment by controlling production of pollutants has been practically jeopardized. The possible reason is that several industrial complexes have been established without considering environmental and social impacts and thereby sustainability of industrial development is not gaining momentum. This dismal ES remains well hidden because social aspects (such as human rights, corruption, poverty, child mortality, land degradation, illiteracy and health problems) and their interrelation with economic and environment aspects are not considered with due emphasis by the regulatory agencies. The traditional approach of enforcing environmental acts and regulations is unable to explain and address the complex dynamic inter-relation among economics, environmental and social aspects with time. Though environmental impact assessment and environmental management system as per the Environment (Protection) Ac are mandatory to establish and to operate any project but, ES, and social benefits are always questionable. Industrial growth without ES under prevailing socio-economic condition is definitely neglected and delayed.

Survey of these industries reveals that SMEs are mainly dependent on end-of pipe(EOP) technology and their functionality are not consistent. Regulatory pressure compelled these industries to install a pollution control system for compliance with standards. But non-compliance is a common feature due to non-availability/ non-operation/ failure of pollution control system. Though regulatory agencies inspect the industries once or twice a year they are unable to ensure consistent control of pollution. Also, the regulatory authority cannot evaluate the different compliance level and thereby violation of standard to any extent is subject to the same penalties as it is marginal violation. Environmental managers can easily control the pollution level within a permissible limit during inspection by manipulating raw materials feeding and/or by operating the pollution control devices. It is not always feasible with limited trained/experienced personnel to conduct in-depth study on material and water balance in order to justify the quantity of pollutants emitted to environment based on the monitoring data. Enforcement agencies put emphasis on performance evaluation of EOP technology as per the stipulated standard without considering ecological crisis and social problems in the area closed to the industries.  As a result, owners of the industries are not serious to initiate CP despite economic benefits associated with its implementation.  On the contrary, owners of the industries are well versed on how to tackle an adverse situation temporarily and make their units in operation. Regulatory agencies  issue time to time   closure notices or directives to improve the performance of pollution control system to the non-compliant industries.  In response to these notices, owners of the industries with the help of outside experts, find out temporary solution with little financial investment just to fulfill the legal requirement and not “real” requirement. As a result, actual compliance status over time remains well hidden and thereby environmental and social problems remain unattended. One ofthe reasons may be vested interests of the concerned officers entrusted for verification of the report. Otherwise why water, air and soil are still so much polluted?

In this context it may be  mentioned that the majority of residents are poor and do not have access to higher authorities for solving their problems as well as they are not well educated to explain their sufferings to the media/press highlighting ecological crisis created by these industries. Government has already launched various projects to remove poverty, to educate the people, to provide health facility and to create environmental awareness among the people to highlight the  pollution problem,  but implementation status of these projects is not always satisfactory. This has resulted environmental and social problems reaching alarming proportion in many industrial clusters in India and simply visual inspections supplement these findings. Limitations in government’s actions to solve the problems are not disseminated via media for public awareness for various reasons. Moreover accountability of government employees for implementing the projects in terms of success and failure is not properly evaluated because knowledge and hardship required for evaluating degree of success are practically lacking. 

This problem in regulatory organization, may be attributed to top management persons because they often recruit either new scientists/engineers or retired government engineers/scientists on the basis of political connections or bribes or nepotism to look after activities related to environment management but their style of management clearly exhibit impassivity towards CP implementation because of their poor technical capability. Whereas huge potential offered by the country’s young population is far from being leveraged. Also many highly qualified young scientists/engineers refuse to take up the challenging works related to environment management in these organizations because of the lack of knowledgeable and skilled experts to guide the newly recruited personnel, hostile environment and bureaucracy. 

This is really a disturbing situation. Thereby, India needs innovative minds to meet its formidable challenges. For this, both the state and central governments should take urgent action and must appoint highly qualified, broad-minded top most officers, who will recruit qualified competent engineers/scientists and give them state-of-the-art technology based on sound scientific evidence with no external interference. Fixing our organization system will require a complete overhaul of the recruitment system, changes in environment policy and implementation of CP concept in these SMEs. According to UN Environmental Progrmme (UNEP) CP is the continuous application of an integrated, preventive environmental strategy towards processes, products and services in order to increase overall efficiency and reduce damage and risks for humans and the environment. However this will be difficult with the present disconnect between science and policy in these organizations.

My experience clearly established the economic efficiency of CP through incremental innovation based on  production process optimization and thereby the payback period of investment towards CP technology was short.   Unfortunately, in India actual level of implementation of CP in industries in particular all SMEs as found in other countries  to deliver environmental advantage is not determined. Therefore, evaluation of actual environmental and economic performance improvement is an emergent need to maintain sustainable industrial development, social welfare, social equity and sound ecosystem. In India, the manufacturing industries and the government can play a major role in this sustainable development.  However, community pressure followed by enforcement of environmental acts and regulation has slowly changed the attitude of these industries but overall success towards consistent compliance is still a distant dream. 

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