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Saho – Nostalgic Camaraderie, Atemporal Order, and a Prefab Cultural Landscape



by prof. Ari Ariyaratne

Saho (the Comrade) is a novel that deserves better attention from sophisticated readers. It is written by Ariyarathna Athugala, a Sri Lankan academic who has shown his talents and skills previously as a prolific writer and a playwright.

A group of college students, living in an unspecified college campus in Sri Lanka, is central to this novel. The dramatis personae are Tharu, Sandu, Hiru, and Ratu. Sandu has freshly graduated from college and secured a dubious probationary college teaching position, which would not be likely to last more than the time duration of an academic year. Nearing graduation, her friends face an equally uncertain future. Their unsettled prospects notwithstanding, the main characters in this novel are inclined to become entangled in the themes common to their age groups in a college campus environment, such as romance, ambition, and the generally lukewarm reception to authority, control, and convention.

Hence Saho is a work fitting well with the genre of novels known in the West as college novels. Sometimes known as academic or campus novels, this genre often appeals to its niche audience, consisting of high schoolers, college students, and the likes. Aligning with the popular trope that college is the happiest four years of one’s life, at times, some college novels (and the movies based on such novels) have been successful in grabbing readers’ attention beyond their traditional constituency.


Prefab Cultural Landscape and Atemporal Order

The story unravels in a prefab cultural landscape. The author carefully confines his chosen characters and their activities mostly into several places in the college campus, such as the playground, the cafeteria, the classrooms, the library, undergraduate dormitories, and private boarding houses.

Moreover, this made-beforehand landscape and those who inhabit in it exist without relation to time, as if they live in an eternal present. Atemporal order is accentuated due to another reason. The names of most characters in this novel bear cosmic connotations, and as a result the reader feels galactic. More to the point, the main characters express their this-worldly feelings, thoughts, and actions while alluding to Other-Worldly or extraterrestrial vastness simultaneously. For instance, they see some lecturers’ conduct in this college campus as akin to that of extraterrestrial beings (p. 26). Moreover, they jokingly point out that a thinly made stringhopper is worthy for nothing but to use as the protective viewing of a solar eclipse! (p. 79). Likewise, Rathu, a main character in the novel, insinuates the following: Hiru’s sunrays have boosted Saho’s morality, Sandu’s moonlight has awakened his desire, and Tharu’s rock-throwing (after appearing on the scene like a comet rose from the distant sky) has brought a tragic end to Saho’s life (p. 65).


Nostalgic Camaraderie

Although the main characters share the commonality of being relatable to each other as young adults facing similar predicaments in a college campus environment, they also impart profound dissimilarities. For instance, Sandu can spew lines from classical English literature in her class sessions while others in the group reacting cluelessly as if the linguistic barrier is something insurmountable. Similarly, Hiru proves in the end that she can hang out with her friends while concealing her complicit life. By the same token, Rathu can mingle with his friends while insinuating their responsibility for Saho’s death simultaneously. The strongest commonality they all share, without a doubt, is nostalgic camaraderie.

Let me describe succinctly what nostalgia does. Nostalgia essentially crushes the surface of an atemporal order and a prefab cultural landscape, and it does so by resurrecting time and place. It sets up a frame of meaning within which positing a “once was” in relation to “now” is possible. Nostalgia is a crucial narrative function of language that orders incidents temporally while dramatizing them in the mode of “things that happened,” that “could happen,” and that “are happening now.” In this sense, to narrate a story is to place oneself in an event and a setting, and to relate something to someone. In other words, nostalgia makes it possible to create a relational interpretive space in which meanings have straight social antecedents.

It is to this interpretive space the author brings in the competing memories of camaraderie, a core concept of mutual trust, friendship, and unity. The strength of Athugala’s novel rests on his adroit depiction of Saho, the deceased protagonist of the narrative through competing nostalgic memories. At the novelist’s hand, Saho has become an interpretive space where competing memories of camaraderie are presented, negotiated, contested, and fiercely fought out. His immanent and pervasive presence is made manifest in such a way that the reader begins to feel Saho’s living presence.


Novel to Film Adaptation

Let me end this brief note on Professor Athugala’s novel by adding a word on its transition to a film. “I first wrote the screenplay,” says the author in the preface of the book, inferring that it was the film project that he had in mind at first, and on his way of getting that job accomplished, the novel came into being later. If one sets aside the familiar query which came early, the chicken or the egg, one cannot help but remember that many college novels in the West have become college films later.

Let me give just one example. German writer Heinrich Mann’s 1905 novel Professor Unrat or ‘Professor Filth’ was one of the earliest predecessors to the genre of college novel. The movie, adapted from the above book by the German director Josef von Sternberg, was Der Blaue Engel or ‘The Blue Angel’ (1930). The film was the first feature-length German full talkie. It presented the tragic transformation of a respectable professor (played by Emil Jennings) to a cabaret clown and his descent into madness. While bringing Marlene Dietrich (who played the role of Lola-Lola, the cabaret dancer and singer) international fame, the film also introduced another distinguishable trait in the genre of college film and its sister categories, the film of teenage romance and melodrama, and the coming-of-age film. That hallmark was the film’s musical score and the songs which could sensationalize the audience. As mentioned by film historians, when Marlene Dietrich was singing “Falling in Love Again” in this movie, Western filmgoers at the time have embraced not only the playful, flirtatious, and self-consciously seductive character of cabaret girl and the nutty professor, but also the musical score that immensely helped Dietrich to deliver it.

Although the college film genre was introduced to Sri Lankan cinema by the veteran film director Sugathapala Senerath Yapa with his Hanthane Kathawa or ‘Story at Hanthana’ in 1968, this category never became a well-established movie genre. Subsequently, Yapa’s film spawned a trove of trivial imitations and cheap parodies in many Sri Lankan films, however.

Only a few films that can be genuinely considered college films arose subsequently. Wasantha Obeyesekere’s 2002 film Salelu Warama or ‘The Web of Love’ and Asoka Handagama’s Ege Esa Aga or ‘Let Her Cry’ (2016) were two of such distinctive college films.

Several teenage romantic melodrama films also followed. One of the earliest movies in this category was Ranjith Lal’s Nim Walalla or ‘Horizontal Line’ (1970). Moreover, Lester James Peris’s Golu Hadawatha or ‘Silent Heart’ (which was based upon Karunasena Jayalath’s novel bearing the same title) was screened in 1972. Furthermore, the plot of Sumithra Peris’s film Gehenu Lamai or ‘Girls’ was adapted from Karunasena Jayalath’s novel, and it was released for Sri Lankan film audience in 1978. In addition, Sunesh Dissanayake Bandara’s 2004 film Adaraneeya Wassanaya or ‘Romantic Rainy Season’ was elicited from Upul Shantha Sannasgala’s novel titled ‘Wassana Sihinaya’. Just as their Western counterparts, the musical score and some of the songs in these movies could sensationalize their Sri Lankan niche audiences.

In line with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave that it invokes in the beginning (in Chapter 2), Athugala’s novel unfolds to become a college novel with an allegoric flavor. Even though the action of the novel takes place in a realistic space, the characters inhabiting that space seem to act almost like the dramatis personae in an allegory. When one reads an allegory in the form of a novel, the narrative itself acts as a moral lesson or message. In an allegoric work, concrete things such as characters, setting, and objects are likely to represent deeper meanings. Therefore, when adapting a novel with an allegoric tinge to a film, it generates a fertile ground for a cinematic metaphor to germinate and thrive.


Allegory and Cinematic Metaphor

Let me give an example of how great filmmakers combine realism with a parable of life. Let us focus on the Japanese New Wave film Woman in the Dunes (1964). This was the film characterized by the American film critic Roger Ebert as “a modern version of the myth of Sisyphus, the man condemned by the gods to spend eternity rolling a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll back down” (Chicago Sun-Times, February 2, 1998). In this black-and-white film adapted from the novel penned by Kobo Abe in 1962, the director (Hiroshi Teshigahara), the writer of the screenplay (Kobo Abe), the cinematographer (Hiroshi Segawa), and the composer of music (Toru Takemitsu) fruitfully collaborate to construct one of the most powerful cinematic metaphors that I have ever seen.

The metaphor is sand, literally, and cinematographically! In this part existential art film, the protagonist is an amateur entomologist-cum-schoolteacher who goes to a place full of dunes in the Japanese countryside. He misses the last bus to go back to the city. Lured by a group of villagers, the man decides to spend the night at a house in the dunes with a young widow living there. The man observes that the woman is busy shoveling sand until the wee hours of the night. In the morning, he also notices that she is sleeping with her bear naked, sand-covered, and widely exposed body in the only room in this shack they are both supposed to share for sleeping. “Are you shoveling to survive or surviving to shovel?” visibly stunned, the man (Eiji Okada) asks, and the woman’s (Kyoko Kishida) answer is the following: “If we stop shoveling, the house will get buried. If we get buried, the house next door is in danger.” Before he knows it, he is entrapped in a tomb-like shack at the bottom of a sandpit to become a laborer for shoveling sand and to become the widow’s lover!

The villagers periodically lowered from above to the sandpit supplies and the water required for their meager existence. In his prolonged struggle to get out from the sandpit, the introspective scientist discovers how to get water from the dune. Sand, which covers people with many problems slowly, leads them eventually to life-giving water, he realizes. Understanding this symbiotic relationship between sand and water gives meaning and purpose to life, he perceives further. So, the amateur entomologist gives up his long resolve of getting out of the sandpit, abandoning the woman, heading back to the city, and embracing his old self. Eventually, he gets out of the sandpit from a rope ladder lowered by the villagers. Yet the man decides to accept his new identity and family and gazes at the dunes studded expansive landscape dispassionately.

Saho is a promising college novel that warrants heeding of the refined reader.

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Sat Mag

Teach students animal rights for a better world



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:

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:, 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,

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Sat Mag




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

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Sat Mag

Cleaner production – an urgent need



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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