Prof. Anthony Joseph Weeramunda
An online commemoration event was held last week, organised by the Sociology Alumni Association of the Colombo University, in association with the Department of Sociology there, to appreciate the contribution that Professor A.J. Weeramunda, who passed away three months ago, made to the Department, training of undergraduate and graduate students and sociological and anthropological research over three decades, since the early 1980s. The well attended event showed the wide ranging impact that his presence and work at the University of Colombo has had on his students and colleagues there, over several decades. What I attempt in this short narrative is to highlight a few significant contributions he made to promote critical social science research in Sri Lanka, based on my own observations, over three decades, when I had the opportunity of closely interacting with him as one of his colleagues in the Department.
Professor Weeramunda became a regular staff member in the Department of Sociology, in the early 1980s, and was already the Head of Department when I moved in there, in 1985 as a young lecturer. Though he was much senior to me, at the time, I immediately felt that he did not worry about his seniority in dealing with his colleagues. He began to address me affectionately as Siri, giving me the tacit understanding that I should reciprocate by addressing him by his first name, Joe. No doubt our graduate studies for several years, in two broadly similar western countries, made the above interpersonal adjustment that much easier. But, then it did not take long for me to realise that he was a kind, unassuming, friendly, informal, humorous and down to earth person who did not worry about hierarchical values.
Joe Weeramunda was not just another academic. While his commitment to serious academic research and dissemination of knowledge was quite clear throughout, his personality has been multifaceted from his undergraduate days. Though his main area of study at Peradeniya was English, he also had an interest in the Sinhala language, performing arts, drama, and even religious activities in the area of his own faith. Exposed to the work of such well established, eminent academics, like Edmond Leach, S.J. Thambiah, Gananath Obeyesekere and Ralph Peiris, already as an undergraduate, his interest in Anthropology and Sociology no doubt grew rapidly. His decision to pursue his post graduate studies in Anthropology at Washington University, in the United States, was no doubt a reflection of the above interest. On the other hand, his subsequent research interests that he pursued after his post-graduate studies indicated an influence of even a wider spectrum of scholars.
Several years prior to joining the Colombo Sociology Department, as a permanent staff member, in 1985, I was a visiting lecturer there for several years. It was during this period, in 1984, Joe worked with several Sri Lankan and foreign academics, notably James Brow, Mick Moore and Gananath Obeyesekere, to organise a landmark conference at Anuradhapura on Symbolic and Material Dimensions of Agrarian Change in Sri Lanka. ‘This conference brought together many Sri Lankan and overseas scholars with diverse theoretical orientations. This was necessary given the longstanding theoretical controversy over symbolic versus materialist orientations among anthropologists and sociologists at the time. In the Colombo Department of Sociology itself, this division was evident. While Dr. Newton Gunasinghe, another well known academic there at the time represented the Materialist school, as was evident from his research and writings on agrarian relations in Sri Lanka, while Joe was more tilted towards the symbolic. When a good selection of papers presented at the above conference was published by Sage India in 1992 as a collection of essays edited by James Brow and Joe Weeramunda under the title: Agrarian Change in Sri Lanka, it immediately attracted the attention of many scholars and students alike, in both Sri Lanka and overseas. I was fortunate enough as a younger academic to have had the opportunity of contributing to both the conference and the publication.
As a well trained liberal arts scholar and an Anthropologist, Joe displayed a keen interest throughout in conducting field research on diverse themes over several decades. He was convinced that undergraduate students should not only be exposed to theoretical discourses within the subject but also undergo practical training in conducting ethnographic research in the field. This would have been been at least partly due to his own exposure to field research conducted by senior scholars there with the involvement of undergraduate students at Peradeniya. So, he naturally tended to encourage students to spend time in the field, both in rural and urban areas. For instance, even the academic curriculum was modified to some extent to accommodate this aspect of undergraduate education in sociology in Colombo.
The Department of Sociology in Colombo was fortunate to establish an academic exchange programme with Leiden University in the Netherlands, in 1985, when Joe was still the Head of Department. This programme opened up many possibilities for promoting sociological and anthropological research on a range of themes, including the growing phenomenon of labour migration from Sri Lanka to the Middle East. Many academic visitors from the Netherlands actively took part in research activities for a number of years in collaboration with members of the academic staff and students in the Department. These research activities no doubt pleased Joe as he could see his students playing an active role in field research as part of their studies.
Joe Weeramunda served the University of Colombo for about three decades. He made a highly significant contribution to the development of the academic and research programmes in the University’s Department of Sociology. He took an active interest in the development of research and other skills of the students. His very friendly and informal ways of dealing with his students helped him to develop a good rapport with students. As many of his former students attested at the commemoration event, he was not just another university professor for them. It is no doubt his multifaceted personality that appealed to them, turning their experiences as undergraduate and postgraduate students into lifelong memories.
I, as one of his colleagues in the Department for three decades, would remember him not only as a brilliant scholar but also as a good friend and a humble, down-to-earth person.
Emeritus Professor of Sociology,
University of Colombo
WHO taken hostage by global corporate network
by Dr Wasantha Bandara,
Patriotic National Movement
According to the reports of various independent research institutes in the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) is currently contemplating bringing the entire decision-making authority of the global health system under its control. It is also reported that WHO is planning to use two main devices for that purpose: the revision of the International Health Regulation system (IHR), and the signing of a new global epidemic convention to bind all countries of the world to the organisation’s strategic plan and the guidelines based on it.
This process is called “One Health Agenda” and that will give power to make decisions in respect of all areas affecting public health under the authority of the World Health Organization. Accordingly, the World Health Organization will have the power to influence decision making at the global level in relation to many fields such as food, agricultural production patterns, animal production process, environmental protection, population variables, etc. This situation is very serious due to the fact that the big companies that provide funding to the World Health Organization have been given decision-making power over the process and fields of deploying those funds. For example, if funds are provided for a specific project, the organisation does not have the power or ability to deploy the funds according to the priority, no matter how critical the priorities are. As such it cannot be hidden that the World Health Organization currently determines technical decisions and set priorities according to the wishes of funders.
As such, many researchers have revealed that WHO is almost completely dependent on private funds for all its budgetary requirements. According to Dr. David Bell’s research reports, the biggest funder of that organisation is Bill Gates and the umbrella organisations dominated by him. Dr. David Bell accuses Bill Gates of using his funds as leverage to shut down the entire world and introduce mandatory vaccination programmes during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no secret that a large vaccine market was created and the accounts of large companies were fattened. It has now been revealed that the Bill Gates and Melinda Gates Foundation invested large amounts of money for it even before the pandemic. However, even though the orders are given by WHO for epidemic control, the programmes in every country of the world should be launched with the funds of the taxpayers of those countries.
Accordingly, WHO is accused of having destroyed 200,000 small businesses in the world while 40 new billionaires were created by the end of the Covid epidemic. The whole process has been dubbed by various researchers as “epidemic industry”. Therefore, in the future, it is possible to present an “epidemic package” with measures such as new epidemics control measures and mass vaccination programmes, as well as imposing restrictions on economic and social activities and shutting down the entire world in the end. The cost will be borne by the taxpayers of the respective countries and the profits will be credited to the accounts of Global Corporate network.
Accordingly, the billionaires can ensure that the process is carried out the way they want through the International Health Regulations and the New Pandemic Convention, which gives WHO “global police powers” as mentioned above. New regulations revealed to be currently being drafted will introduce new criteria for declaring a global pandemic and health emergency. Consequently, by creating an epidemic or emergency situation that can happen or is likely to happen, it is possible to recommend actions to be taken in a real situation. For example, it is possible to completely shut down a country and create a global mass market by implementing mass vaccination programmes or preparing for other medical interventions.
According to the new international health regulations, the directives given by WHO are mandatory and all the countries that were parties in 2005 are obliged to implement those directives. Also, the new regulations empower the Director-General of the World Health Organization as an individual to independently declare a health emergency or a global pandemic. As such, the possibility of the independent expert committees to challenge the objectives of the funders is minimal. A mechanism will also be set up to ensure that the relevant orders are strictly implemented by establishing a very comprehensive centralised enforcement process. Accordingly, member countries are constrained in their ability to seek other options other than submitting to the directives of the Director General of the World Health Organization. As an extension of that, the Director General will be empowered to publish any country’s data without that country’s permission, as well as to provide it to the requesting party to be used for any purpose.
Above all, the Director General will have the power not only to deploy the resources of member countries but also to make decisions on intellectual property rights and will also have the power to censor the disclosure of information. Also, it is considered a very autocratic situation to make individual people bound by regulations. Accordingly, the public will have to be obliged as individuals to submit to the closure of borders, the imposition of travel restrictions, to follow the quarantine process, to submit to medical research, to submit to mandatory medical treatment and vaccinations.
In that way, it is very clear that in addition to binding countries and individuals by the new international health regulations, the new Epidemic Convention creates many other obligations. According to the draft currently under discussion, the power of the World Health Organization will spread beyond epidemic control. For example, a global supply chain will be created under the supervision of the World Health Organization for health supplies. In addition, each country must allocate 5% of the national health budget to maintain the emergency situation management structure of the WHO. As an extension of that, each country should create a specific governance structure for the health emergency situation management process under the supervision of the World Health Organization.
This new global pandemic agreement will expand the mandate of the World Health Organization indefinitely under the umbrella of ‘One Health Agenda’. Accordingly, the control of climate change as mentioned above is also considered as a health emergency and the power to impose restrictions and orders related to it has been submitted to the authority of the World Health Organization or in other Words the authority of the funders. In this way, the World Health Organization will have the power to impose orders overriding the local laws of a country. In such a situation, in the name of controlling climate change or in the name of controlling a related health emergency, the Director General of the world health organization will be able to take over the power to control the entire world’s food production system.
WHO is not the only organisation that comes forward to confirm the need for this so-called one health agenda. Not only the United Nations Organization, the European Union, the United Nations Children’s Fund, but also the Global Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have come forward to spend money for that and popularise the concept. Even if this organizations invest in the so-called epidemic industry in this way, the operating costs should be borne by the taxpayers of the respective countries. Hence, Dr. Bell states that the public must invest money for billionaires to make profit and ultimately to become victims of exploitation and destruction. The World Economic Forum has introduced a new theory to provide protection for this evil process. It is known as Public Private Partnership. In order to give it further legitimacy, it is termed as the transformation of the process from the dominance of shareholders to the dominance of stakeholders.
It is very clear that the end result of this private-public or private-government partnership is that the profits of the entire process are accumulated in the accounts of a handful of big companies. To facilitate this process, the World Economic Forum and the United Nations signed an agreement in 2019 and thereby impose the business interests of large companies on sovereign countries through this United Nations and its affiliated international multilateral organisation network. It is in the context that the World Economic Forum gathered in Davos, Switzerland in 2020 presented a new theory called “The Great Reset”. A key device in that theory is contractual private-public cooperation. In other words, the global multilateral institutions system is used to re-establish or reset the world according to the wishes of the global billionaires’ forum or the World Economic Forum. In that process, a Global Decision-Making system will be established.
Eventually, that so-called decision-making system becomes a global governance system or a global government of billionaires. The seriousness of the process is hidden by not naming it the global government but created as a technical decision-making system at global level. But the real situation is the creation of a global government above the independent states of the world. The World Health Organization will become the most powerful tool used to manipulate or control states in the way that the global government desires. Accordingly, the ultimate goal of the new International Health Regulations and the new Global Epidemic Convention should be understood and redefined in this greater context or bigger picture.
It can now be clearly seen that the current moment in which the world is undergoing a great economic depression is being used to pass a critical juncture related to the process of re-establishing the world. It is obviously a kind of imperialist operation. Accordingly, the next World Health Assembly will be used to adopt international health regulations. If that operation becomes a success, the relevant amendments will be put to the vote in May 2024. There, only a simple majority is required to pass those resolutions. But according to the procedure of the conference, the member countries will have a period of 10 months to reject the relevant amendments. As such, in March 2025, the process of creating a new world will begin. If a country has the courage to oppose it, only that state will have a limited space to act according to the international health regulations that have been in force since 2005.
Meanwhile, the World Pandemic Convention will also be put to the vote in May 2024, but will require a special two-thirds majority to pass it. After the adoption of the convention, if endorsed by 30 countries, all signatory countries are bound to implement the convention. But global giants are not waiting until then, and will launch an operation in September 2023 to begin a rehearsal through an operation called the Global Pandemic Response Platform. There is no doubt that it is a rehearsal to guide countries to the 2024 Agenda.
Of that proposed ‘Climate Change University’
by Dr. Ranil Senanayake
With the Sri Lanka country statement to COP21 held in 2015, Paris being ignored by the ‘Climate Change’ bureaucrats for eight years, there is concern that the agricultural community is running out of time. The recent change in management seemed to show some promise by appointing Eric Solheim as the Advisor on climate change. Thus in August of 2022 the Sri Lanka country statement to COP 21 was submitted to him in the hope that he could initiate the urgent actions that need to be attended to. Sadly, there seems to be no acceptance of this statement by the Government up until today. One trusts that the stupid public statements like “Sri Lanka will take the lead in ensuring the developing economies have the resources to mitigate climate change” have been crafted by the bureaucrats and not the advisors.
Now, we are presented with another silly political gundu, a ‘Climate Change University’. In terms of climate change, they are compromisers of our farmers and our fishermen. They are guilty of not putting in place the official machinery, to prepare for the oncoming stress factors, driven by climate change. Heat stress to our crops and the loss of ocean productivity are the most obvious. A nation would respond to such a scenario by having its agricultural scientists focus on breeding heat tolerance into our crops. We do not need a university to tell us that heat is going to be a problem. It was stated eight years ago in the Sri Lanka country statement to COP21. It said:
“(1) We are aware that the optimum operating temperature of chlorophyll is at 37 deg C. In a warming world where temperatures will soar well above that, food production will be severely impacted. We would request the IPCC to address responses to this phenomenon.”
If we are a nation unable to listen to its own voices or even the voices of others. What can be done to penetrate the echo chamber that politicians benefiting from earmarked funds have created around themselves? Globally, the scientific community are warning us that the crisis coming, we can see the wave on the horizon, but most people are still rooted in the dream that life will proceed as normal and are willing to let the corporations and politicians, calm us by moving the deck chairs a bit more, for us to enjoy our ride on their Titanic.
The oceanic levels are going up as a consequence of climate change. In Sri Lanka the current rate is around 3.6mm per annum. However, research published in February 2022 shows that sea level rise is accelerating and projected to rise by a foot by 2050. If there was any coordination on climate change, we should be mapping out the rice-growing areas prone to salinisation. We should be accessing salt tolerant rice varieties into the national rice breeding programme. We should be evaluating alternate crops for saline areas. We have the resources to respond, we do not need to wait for a climate change university to tell us that.
Without awaiting the lucrative construction of a new university, could we not consider the request of the Sri Lankan Country statement to COP 21 to be considered by the line ministries today and action plans drawn up? If we have funds for this new university is it not better to award the funds to existing institutions to respond to the oncoming crisis.
Sri Lanka Position Paper
To the UN Conference for Climate Change (COP21) Paris 1-10 December 2015
Sri Lanka is a vulnerable island in the face of Climate Change. An increase in the intensity of rainfall will erode our mountains and create increased flood damage. An increase in the sea level will render much of our productive agricultural lands saline. An increase of ambient temperatures will reduce our agricultural productivity. We are in agreement with the view that an increase of the Carbon Dioxide concentration in our atmosphere will contribute to this vulnerability.
We are aware of the great difference in carbon dioxide that is emitted from biological sources and carbon dioxide emitted from fossil sources. One has sequestered rates measured in thousands of years while the other in millions of years. Yet the cost is still the same. We would request the IPCC to address the relative costs of each.
We are aware that the optimum operating temperature of chlorophyll is at 37 deg C. In a warming world where temperatures will soar well above that, food production will be severely impacted. We would request the IPCC to address responses to this phenomenon.
We are aware that the critical Ecosystem services such as; production of Oxygen, sequestering of Carbon, water cycling and ambient cooling is carried out by the photosynthetic component of biomass. This is being lost at an exponential rate, due to the fact that these Ecosystem Services have not been valued, nor economically recognised. We would request the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to examine the value of photosynthetic biomass.
Sri Lanka will place her development agenda on a fossil free target and will promote an economic recognition of the ecosystem services generated by the photosynthetic biomass. In this way we offer to act in a globally responsible manner as well as to contribute in creating a cushioning effect for the climate extremes that are before us.
The gold and phone smuggling MP
A rogue caught with the goods, literally in the act of walking through the VIP lounge at Katunayake. He walks home Scot- free after paying a fine of some millions; and to cap it all, he walks in to Parliament next day, as though nothing had happened! I wouldn’t have been surprised if the govt. ranks clapped in unison to welcome him! At least the opposition could have booed. Maybe it is not parliamentary practice, but they have done worse time and again.
I think Parliament should rethink the moral code for MPs. It is pretty obvious that there is neither moral rectitude nor ethical conduct among parliamentarians. Or else would the culprit have the brass to walk in to parliament the very next day?
It is a sad state of affairs when people don’t understand, that perks and privileges go with responsibilities and a high moral code. Walking into a VIP lounge with contraband gold is the lowest depths an elected official can descend to.
His explanation after the event is almost vulgar. He says he does not know ,who put what in his bags although he has mentioned a golaya who accompanied him and packed his bags. I doubt even his strongest supporter would believe him. Instead he must be cringing in shame. That statement alone should cost him his seat. He is not worthy of the appellation Hon. MP.
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