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SIR PONNAMBALAM ARUNACHALAM (1853-1924)

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On the 98th Death Anniversary which falls on January 9, 2022 Compiled by Sega Nagendra and Suresh Murugaser, great grandchildren of Sir P. Arunachalam

FAMILY

Ponnambalam Arunachalam was the youngest Son of Gate Mudaliyar A. Ponnambalam.

He was born on September 14, 1853, to a highly respected and a well-educated professional family originally from Manipay, Jaffna.

Gate Mudaliyar Arumuganathapillai Coomaraswamy, his maternal grandfather, was the Tamil representative of the first Legislative Council established in 1834, following the recommendations of the Colebrooke-Cameron report of 1832. Colebrooke, coming from England, which was agitating for reform of the electoral system, was surprised at the autocratic powers exercised by the Governor of Ceylon since 1802. He effected a reduction of those powers by setting up an Executive and Legislative Council.

Sir Muttu Coomaraswamy, who was Arunachalam’s mother’s brother, had been a friend of Lord Houghton, Palmerston and Disraeli, in the London of the 1860’s. Sir Muttu was the first Ceylon Tamil (and probably, the first Asian) to receive a Knighthood, and the first non-Christian Asian to be called to the English Bar.

Sir Muttu’s only son, Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy, world-famous art critic and author, who played a pivotal role in the cultural revival of India and Ceylon (including the proliferation of Buddhism in the latter), died in 1947 in Boston USA where he had worked in the Fine Arts Department for many years.

Both the elder brothers of Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam were educated at the Colombo Academy (now Royal College), and then at Presidency College, Madras.

His eldest brother Ponnambalam Coomaraswamy had a distinguished career as a Proctor and was the Nominated Tamil Member of the Ceylon Legislative Counsel from 1893.

The next eldest child of the family, his brother, Ponnambalam Ramanathan, an Advocate, succeeded their uncle, Sir Muttu Coomaraswamy as the Nominated Tamil Representative, serving from 1879-1893, and later on from 1921 to 1924. Ponnambalam Ramanathan was also elected to the Legislature as Member for the Northern Province (Northern Division) seat, and occupied it from 1924 till his death in 1930. In addition to this appointment, Ramanathan was the island’s Solicitor-General from 1893-1906 for a period of 13 years, acted as Attorney-General on several occasions, and retired as a pensionable officer in 1906.

EDUCATION

Like his older brothers, Ponnambalam Arunachalam had his early education at the Colombo Academy, but, having won the English University Scholarship in 1870, he entered Christ College, Cambridge. He took with him a reputation as a student of exceptional merit, recommended by Sir Walter Sendall, Director of Public Instruction. At Cambridge, he proceeded to annex the Foundation Scholarship.

While at Cambridge, Arunachalam distinguished himself in both Classics and Mathematics. In the records of Christ College he is referred to as a “brilliant mathematician and an able classics scholar”.

As a student, Ponnambalam Arunachalam was in a position to watch the changes made by Disraeli to the voting system in Britain, and stored his observations for future reference.

Arunachalam had qualified for the Bar in England and was looking forward to a legal career, but on his return to Ceylon in 1875 his uncle Sir Muttu Coomaraswamy persuaded him to sit for the Civil Service examination. He did so, and his talent and academic excellence ensured that he was the first Ceylonese to enter the prestigious Civil Service through open competition.

GOVERNMENT CAREER

Arunachalam was not appointed to the Government Agent’s office in Colombo and then to a series of judicial posts in various parts of the island. This was a policy unofficially adopted by the British Government of the day, which effectively debarred outstanding Ceylonese from taking high office in Government and instead appointed them to various parts of the Island in different capacities, such as District Judges, Police Magistrates, and Commissioners of Requests.

When he was District Judge of Batticaloa and in the Fourth Class of the Civil Service, Sir Arthur Gordon appointed Arunachalam over the heads of about thirty seniors, among whom was Mr. (later Sir) Alexander Ashmore, to act in the office of the Registrar-General and Fiscal of the Western Province. A protest memorandum was lodged with the Secretary of State. But Sir Arthur Gordon, who obviously recognized merit when he found it, had his way and Arunachalam took office as Registrar-General.

Arunachalam now set himself to reform the Fiscal’s office which had become a den of corruption and inefficiency He reorganised the departments of Land Registration and Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages, for which he was warmly congratulated by the Governor. The Times of Ceylon, reporting at the time Arunachalam entered the departments, on the Administration Reports on Land Registration and Vital Statistics, observed that they were places where chaos and corruption held merry sway. Fraud was rife. Dishonest deals often took precedence over genuine dealings, and everybody’s property and title were endangered.

The measure of the man may be seen in the way he set about reforming the Registrar-General’s Department. Sitting by the side of the various clerks as they performed their tasks, he patiently learned their work before launching the reforms by which he stopped the unconscionable delays and dishonesty prevailing in the registration of deeds, and ended the practice by which official work was being conducted as a form of private practice with fees levied privately for its discharge.

He started a real Record Room, supplied it with a system and an index, and founded a Benevolent Society which saved many a clerk from the grasp of money-lenders as well as from social disgrace and penury, paid many widows and orphans, and made clerical lives lighter and brighter. These activities were noticed by a distinguished American statistician, who informed the Governor of Ceylon that “there is not published in the entire United States a report equally valuable and comprehensive”.

Governor Sir West Ridgeway entrusted the organisation of the 1901 Census of Ceylon to Arunachalam. The report elicited the thanks of both the Governor and Secretary of State. But it was Armand de Souza, Editor of the Ceylon Morning Leader, an influential paper of the day, who wrote:

“The curious reader…. will find the Report which introduces the Census of 1901 perhaps the most luminous dissertation on the ethnological, social and economic conditions of the Island. In Sir P. Arunachalam’s Account of the history and religions of the Island in his Census Report would be found the language of Addison, the eloquence of Macaulay and the historical insight of Mommsen”.

In 1906 Arunachalam was appointed to the Legislative Council. In 1912 Governor Sir Henry McCallum nominated him to the Executive Council, as a personal appointment; and on his retirement from the Public Service in 1913, he was knighted in recognition of his distinguished service to the country.

POST-RETIREMENT

In 1913, a new phase in Arunachalam’s life began. In this year he joined a political movement demanding self-governance for the people of Ceylon. In an historic lecture entitled ‘’Our Political Needs”, given at the insistence of D.R.Wijewardene, Arunachalam crystallised the arguments for self-government.

In 1915 he was elected the first President of the Ceylon Social Service League for the upliftment of the poorer classes in Ceylon.

In 1917 he founded the Ceylon Reform League, and

In 1919 he delivered an address to a Sinhalese conference under the patronage of F.R.Senanayake, for the purpose of organising Peoples’ Associations throughout the Sinhalese districts of the Island for political, social and economic improvement. This movement directly gave birth to the Lanka Maha Jana Sabha.

HIS VISION

Arunachalam’s unstinted commitment to his dream of “Unity is Strength” illustrates the strong unity that existed at that time amongst the people of Ceylon, when Sinhalese, Tamils, Moors, Burghers were united in their approach to social reform. Unfortunately, the country now marches to a different drum resulting in mass exodus of many talented individuals and their progeny!

NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

On December 11, 1919, the Ceylon National Congress was inaugurated, with the unanimous election of Arunachalam as its first President. It was he who advised various political organizations such as the Ceylon National Association, the Ceylon Reform League, the Chilaw Association, and the Jaffna Youth Association to unite into one body and lodge a joint appeal for political reform.

The Jaffna league joined the Ceylon National Congress on a condition: namely, that in a reformed Legislative Council there would be a special seat for the Tamils of the Western Province.

LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

The reformed Legislative Council of 1921 did not have a seat for a Tamil.

The Low Country Association, with 11 voters elected Sir Henry De Mel in 1921, whilst the Town of Colombo with an electorate of 4,325, elected his Brother-in-Law, Sir James Peiris, unopposed. The vast number of people felt this to be the cause of Sir Ponnambalam’s untimely resignation from being the first President of the newly formed Ceylon National Congress (CNC), to form which he had exerted so much effort, persuasion and energy for quite some time. They all expected Sir Ponnambalam to be elected as the member for Colombo Town and Sir James Peiris who was a prominent member of the Low Country Products Association, to be elected by that body.

FATHER OF UNIVERSTY EDUCATION AND “SWABASHA”

Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam’s contribution to the field of education was that of a pioneer. In his notes to the Director of Public Instruction, he stated that the fundamental defect in the system of elementary education in Ceylon was that English was employed as the medium of instruction.

In a real sense, as has been pointed out, he was the father of the concept of ‘Swabasha’. Unfortunately, this idea was worked upon by later politicians who mis-read it, totally rejecting English, which could have been the link language unifying the different ethnic groups of Ceylon. Since at that time the people of Ceylon were still functioning as a united family, the need for a link language did not assert itself. The paths of History are littered with missed opportunities, and sadly, this was one of them.

Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam has been rightly called the Father of the Ceylon University Movement as he was responsible for the Ceylon University Association which was formed in January 1906. In his memorandum to the Governor, Sir West Ridgeway, requesting the Government to appoint a Commission to report on educational progress and needs, Arunachalam appealed to the Government to create a “Ceylon University”; or at least to raise Royal College to the status of a University College, which would be of lasting benefit to the people and a fitting monument to His Excellency’s rule in Ceylon. He suggested that Ceylon and Indian History and Geography could replace English History and Geography on the curriculum of such an institution. “His Excellency on 15 October decided to take no action” was the negative response he received from the Governor’s Secretary.

ACHIEVEMENTS IN A NUTSHELL

Looking back on Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam’s career, we contemplate a life studded with immense contributions in a range of different fields of endeavour. Those contributions by which he will always be remembered include

His membership and Presidency of the Royal Asiatic Society

His role as Founder President of the Ceylon Saiva Paripalana Sabhai (a religious organisation which encourages the practice of Hinduism)

The re-organisation of the Registrar-General’s Department (a Herculean task, magnificently performed)

The formation of the Ceylon National Congress, whose real potential for national unity was destroyed by the petty self-interest of some influential sections of the Sinhalese

His original and outstanding contribution to the establishment of the Ceylon University College.

The steadfast belief in the unity of his country’s various communities in a single sovereign state, which he carried with him throughout his life.

THE FINALE

By then, Sir Ponnambalam was an exhausted and tired genius, perhaps disillusioned, yet one who understood human nature and became more forgiving and gracious. Towards the end of 1923, he undertook a pilgrimage to visit the Sacred Shrines in India. In the midst of his devotions at Madurai in South India, he passed away on January 9, 1924, leaving behind him memories of a noble life well spent in the service of his Country and his people.

THE TRIBUTES

The day after his death, the “Ceylon Daily News” described him in an Editorial as ‘’the most powerful personality in Ceylon’’ and the “Times of London” described him as ‘’Founder of modern Ceylon’’.

When Professor Marrs, the first Principal of the University College, heard of Arunachalam’s death at Madurai on January 9, 1924, while on a pilgrimage worshipping at the Hindu temples in South India, he summoned the students of the University College to the main hall and addressed them in these words:

“Gentlemen, I have asked you to assemble here at this hour as a mark of respect to the memory of one who was in a very real sense the Father of the University project in Ceylon. Little or nothing has been said of that side of his activities which to those who were in close touch with him was the inspiration of his latter days – the side which concerns you and me as members of an institution so dear to his heart, the Ceylon University College Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam presided over the Public Meeting which was called to consider the question of the establishment of a University in Ceylon on January 19, 1906. From that day to the day of his decease Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam has pursued his object to use his own words, “without let or restraint”, undeterred by the doubts of men without vision or the delay to which an untried project must, I suppose, always be subjected by conservers of tradition”.

Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam has been honoured by the erection of his statue in Parliament Square in 1930, and by the unveiling of his portraits at Royal College and at the Offices of both the Ceylon National Congress and the Ceylon Social Service League. His name graces Arunachalam Hall, the first Hall of Residence to be opened to students at the University of Peradeniya in 1951, and a commemorative one-rupee postage stamp was issued in his memory on March 10, 1977. His philosophical and religious contributions were collected and published in 1937, with the title “Studies and Translations”.

In his ‘’Message to the Country’’ published by his good friend D.R. Wijewardene (who had returned from Cambridge with a degree in Law and as a Barrister, and persuaded Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam to resume his political activities) in the very first issue of the ‘’Ceylon Daily News’’ of January 3, 1918, he declared :

‘’ In our zeal for political reform we must be on our guard against making it an end. We seek it not to win rights but to fulfil duties to ourselves and our Country. People have a distinct task to perform. Our youth will seek their own well-being. They will work in unity so that all the intellectual forces defused among men may obtain the highest development in thought and action. With our youth inspired by such ideas, I would like to see our Country rise with renewed splendour to be a beacon light to all lands. ‘’

The next substantial reference to him was by the late, great Mr. D.R. Wijewardene himself, who was his great friend and admirer. On the occasion of Ceylon’s independence, he rose from his sick bed, whilst in retirement in 1948, and in ‘’Ceylon Daily News’’ reflecting on events over 32 years earlier, he wrote: – ‘’ In those days, the national consciousness was dormant and there was nothing in the spirit of the times to stir it to life and activity. Later, largely as a result of Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam’s work, the fire of the national soul was quickened. When he delivered his epoch-making address on April 2, 1917 on ‘’Our Political Needs’’ at the Masonic Hall, that leader of imperishable memory set in motion influences that were to change the history of this Country. It was both a starting point and a blue-print for the important Constitutional changes that followed.

The immediate outcome of that meeting was the formation of the Ceylon National Congress. It was then that the national movement which has brought Ceylon to the threshold of Independence received its stimulus. Public opinion began to speak for the first time with a firm tone’’.

Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam stands out as an outstanding leader of honesty, integrity and achievement, and is a beacon to us all.

Most of us would have been satisfied by association with one or other of such monumental endeavours. But Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam seems to have been a human dynamo – a true nationalist and patriot of Ceylon.

A short time after Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam’s death, grateful people honoured his memory by erecting his statute in the grounds of Parliament House. It was unveiled by the Governor, Sir Herbert Stanley on April 3, 1930. It was the first statute to adorn these premises, and stood in solitary splendour till the statute of his brother Ramanathan was erected in 1953. The inscription of the statute reads as follows:

SIR PONNAMBALAM ARUNACHALAM

1853 -1924

Scholar, Statesman, Administrator, Patriot

Erected by a Grateful People in

Testimony of a life nobly spent

In the service of his country and

Signal services as the champion of

A reformed legislature and of

His matchless devotion and

Steadfastness in the cause

Of the Ceylon University



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Features

Glimmers of hope?

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The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self-interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away.

Some of Cassandra’s readers may ask whether she is out of her right mind to see glimmers of hope for the country. She assures them she is as sane as can be; she does cling onto these straws like the dying man does. How else exist? How else get through these dire times?

What are the straws she clings to? News items in The Island of Tuesday 24 May.

‘Sirisena leaves Paget Road mansion in accordance with SC interim injunction.’ And who was instrumental in righting this wrong? The CPA and its Executive Director Dr Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu. It is hoped that revisions to the system will come in such as giving luxury housing and other extravagant perks to ex-presidents and their widows. Sri Lanka has always lived far beyond its means in the golden handshakes to its ex- prezs and also perks given its MPs. At least luxury vehicles should not be given them. Pensions after five years in Parliament should be scrapped forthwith.

‘Letter of demand sent to IGP seeking legal action against DIG Nilantha Jayawardena.’ Here the mover is The Centre for Society and Religion and it is with regard to the Easter Sunday massacre which could have been prevented if DIG Jayawardena as Head of State Intelligence had taken necessary action once intelligence messages warned of attack on churches.

‘CIABOC to indict Johnston, Keheliya and Rohitha’. It is fervently hoped that this will not be another charge that blows away with the wind. They do not have their strongest supporter – Mahinda R to save them. We so fervently hope the two in power now will let things happened justly, according to the law of the land.

‘Foreign Secy Admiral Colombage replaced’. And by whom? A career diplomat who has every right and qualification for the post; namely Aruni Wijewardane. If this indicates a fading of the prominence given to retired armed forces personnel in public life and administration, it is an excellent sign. Admiral Colombage had tendered his resignation, noted Wednesday’s newspaper.

‘Crisis caused by decades of misuse public resources, corruption, kleptocracy – TISL’.

Everyone knew this, even the despicable thieves and kleptocrats. The glaring question is why no concerted effort was made to stop the thieving from a country drawn to bankruptcy by politicians and admin officers. There are many answers to that question. It was groups, mostly of the middle class who came out first in candle lit vigils and then at the Gotagogama Village. The aragalaya has to go down in history as the savior of our nation from a curse worse than war. The civil war was won against many odds. But trying to defeat deceit power-hunger and thieving was near impossible. These protestors stuck their necks out and managed to rid from power most of the Rajapaksa family. That was achievement enough.

Heartfelt hope of the many

The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away. As Shamindra Ferdinando writes in the newspaper mentioned, “Well informed sources said that Premier Wickremesinghe was still making efforts to win over some more Opposition members. Sources speculated that vital finance portfolio remained vacant as the government still believed (hoped Cass says) Dr Harsha de Silva could somehow be convinced to accept that portfolio.”

Still utterly hopeless

Gas is still unavailable for people like Cass who cannot stand in queues, first to get a token and then a cylinder. Will life never return to no queues for bare essentials? A woman friend was in a petrol queue for a solid twelve hours – from 4 am to 4 pm. This is just one of million people all over the country in queues. Even a common pressure pill was not available in 20 mg per.

Cassandra considers a hope. We saw hundreds of Sri Lankans all across the globe peacefully protesting for departure of thieves from the government. The ex-PM, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s answer to this was to unleash absolute terror on all of the island. It seems to be that with Johnson a younger MP stood commandingly.

Returning from that horror thought to the protesters overseas, Cass wondered if each of them contributed one hundred dollars to their mother country, it would go a long way to soften the blows we are battered with. Of course, the absolute imperative is that of the money, not a cent goes into personal pockets. The donors must be assured it goes to safety. Is that still not possible: assuring that donations are used for the purpose they are sent for: to alleviate the situation of Sri Lankans? I suppose the memory of tsunami funds going into the Helping Hambantota Fund is still fresh in memory. So much for our beloved country.

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Ban on agrochemicals and fertilisers: Post-scenario analysis

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By Prof. Rohan Rajapakse

(Emeritus Professor of Agriculture Biology UNIVERSITY OF RUHUNA and Former Executive Director Sri Lanka Council of Agriculture Research Policy)

There are two aspects of the ban on agrochemicals. The first is the ban on chemical fertilisers, and the second is the ban on the use of pesticides. Several eminent scientists, Dr Parakrama Waidyanatha (formerly the Soil Scientist of RRI), Prof OA Ileperuma (Former Professor of Chemistry University of Peradeniya), Prof C. S. Weeraratne (former Professor of Agronomy University of Ruhuna), Prof D. M. de Costa University of Peradeniya, Prof. Buddhi Marambe (Professor in Weed Science University of Peradeniya) have effectively dealt with the repercussion of the ban on chemical fertilisers which appeared in The Island newspaper on recently.

The major points summarised by these authors are listed below.

FERTILISER ISSUE

1. These scientists, including the author, are of the view that the President’s decision to totally shift to organic agriculture from conventional could lead to widespread hunger and starvation in future, which has become a reality. Organic farming is a small phenomenon in global agriculture, comprising a mere 1.5% of total farmlands, of which 66% are pasture.

2. Conventional farming (CF) is blamed for environmental pollution; however, in organic farming, heavy metal pollution and the release of carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases from farmyard manure, are serious pollution issues with organic farming that have been identified.

3. On the other hand, the greatest benefit of organic fertilisers as against chemical fertilisers is the improvement of soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties by the former, which is important for sustained crop productivity. The best option is to use appropriate combinations of organic and chemical fertilisers, which can also provide exacting nutrient demands of crops and still is the best option!

4. Sri Lanka has achieved self-sufficiency in rice due to the efforts of the Research Officers of the Department of Agriculture, and all these efforts will be in vain if we abruptly ban the import of fertiliser. These varieties are bred primarily on their fertiliser response. While compost has some positive effects such as improving soil texture and providing some micronutrients, it cannot be used as a substitute for fertiliser needed by high yielding varieties of rice. Applying organic fertilisers alone will not help replenish the nutrients absorbed by a crop. Organic fertilisers have relatively small amounts of the nutrients that plants need. For example, compost has only 2% nitrogen (N), whereas urea has 46% N. Banning the import of inorganic fertilisers will be disastrous, as not applying adequate amounts of nutrients will cause yields to drop, making it essential to increase food imports. Sri Lankan farmers at present are at the mercy of five organizations, namely the Central Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture, the Private sector Pesticide Companies, the Non-Government organizations and the leading farmers who are advising them. Instead, improved agricultural extension services to promote alternative non-chemical methods of pest control and especially the use of Integrated Pest Management.

Locally, pest control depends mostly on the use of synthetic pesticides; ready to use products that can be easily procured from local vendors are applied when and where required Abuse and misapplication of pesticides is a common phenomenon in Sri Lanka. Even though many farmers are aware of the detrimental aspects of pesticides they often use them due to economic gains

We will look at the post scenario of
what has happened

1. The importation of Chemical fertilisers and Pesticides was banned at the beginning of Maha season 1 on the advice of several organic manure (OM) promoters by the Ministry of agriculture.

2. The Ministry of Agriculture encouraged the farmers to use organic manure, and an island-wide programme of producing Organic manure were initiated. IT took some time for the government to realize that Sri Lanka does not have the capacity to produce such a massive amount of OM, running into 10 tons per hectare for 500000 hectares ear marked in ma ha season.

3. Hence the government approved the importation of OM from abroad, and a Company in China was given an initial contract to produce OM produced from Seaweed. However, the scientists from University of Peradeniya detected harmful microorganisms in this initial consignment, and the ship was forced to leave Sri Lankan waters at a cost of US dollar 6.7 million without unloading its poisonous cargo. No substitute fertiliser consignment was available.

4. A committee in the Ministry hastily recommended to import NANO RAJA an artificial compound from India to increase the yield by spraying on to leaves. Sri Lanka lost Rs 863 million as farmers threw all these Nano Raja bottles and can as it attracts dogs and wild boar.

Since there is no other option the Ministry promised to pay Rs 50000 per hectare for all the farmers who lost their livelihood. It is not known how much the country lost due to this illogical decision of banning fertilisers and pesticides.

Recommendations

1. Judicious use of pesticides is recommended.

2. The promotion and the use of integrated pest management techniques whenever possible

3. To minimize the usage of pesticides:

Pesticide traders would be permitted to sell pesticides only through specially trained Technical Assistants.

Issuing pesticides to the farmers for which they have to produce some kind of a written recommendation by a local authority.

Introduction of new mechanism to dispose or recycle empty pesticide and weedicide bottles in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.

Laboratory-testing of imported pesticides by the Registrar of Pesticides at the entry-point to ensure that banned chemicals were not brought into the country.

Implementation of trained core of people who can apply pesticides.

Education campaigns to train farmers, retailers, distributors, and public with the adverse effects of pesticides.

Maximum Residue Level (MRL) to reduce the consumer’s risk of exposure to unsafe levels.

Integrated pest Management and organic agriculture to be promoted.

1. To ensure the proper usage of agrochemicals by farmers

All those who advised the Minister of Agriculture and the President to shift to OM still wield authority in national food production effort. The genuine scientists who predicted the outcome are still harassed sacked from positions they held in MA and were labelled as private sector goons. The danger lies if the farmers decide not to cultivate in this Maha season due to non-availability of fertilisers and pesticides the result will be an imminent famine.

The country also should have a professional body like the Planning Commission of

India, with high calibre professionals in the Universities and the Departments and

There should be institutions and experts to advise the government on national policy matters.

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Thomians triumph in Sydney 

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Nothing is happening for us, at this end, other than queues, queues, and more queues! There’s very little to shout about were the sports and entertainment scenes are concerned. However, Down Under, the going seems good.

Sri Lankans, especially in Melbourne, Australia, have quite a lot of happenings to check out, and they all seem to be having a jolly good time!

Trevine Rodrigo,

who puts pen to paper to keep Sri Lankans informed of the events in Melbourne, was in Sydney, to taken in the scene at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition. And, this is Trevine’s report:

The weather Gods and S.Thomas aligned, in Sydney, to provide the unexpected at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition, graced by an appreciative crowd.

Inclement weather was forecast for the day, and a well drilled Dharmaraja College was expected to go back-to-back at this now emerging competition in Sydney’s Sri Lanka expatriate sporting calendar.

But the unforeseen was delivered, with sunny conditions throughout, and the Thomians provided the upset of the competition when they stunned the favourites, Dharmaraja, in the final, to grab the Peninsula Motor Group Trophy.

Still in its infancy, the Sevens Touch Competition, drawn on the lines of Rugby League rules, found new flair and more enthusiasm among its growing number of fans, through the injection of players from around Australia, opposed to the initial tournament which was restricted to mainly Sydneysiders.

A carnival like atmosphere prevailed throughout the day’s competition.

Ten teams pitted themselves in a round robin system, in two groups, and the top four sides then progressed to the semi-finals, on a knock out basis, to find the winner.

A food stall gave fans the opportunity to keep themselves fed and hydrated while the teams provided the thrills of a highly competitive and skilled tournament.

The rugby dished out was fiercely contested, with teams such as Trinity, Royal and St. Peter’s very much in the fray but failing to qualify after narrow losses on a day of unpredictability.

Issipathana and Wesley were the other semi-finalists with the Pathanians grabbing third place in the play-off before the final.

The final was a tense encounter between last year’s finalists Dharmaraja College and S.Thomas. Form suggested that the Rajans were on track for successive wins in as many attempts.  But the Thomians had other ideas.

The fluent Rajans, with deft handling skills and evasive running, looked the goods, but found the Thomian defence impregnable.  Things were tied until the final minutes when the Thomians sealed the result with an intercept try and hung on to claim the unthinkable.

It was perhaps the price for complacency on the Rajans part that cost them the game and a lesson that it is never over until the final whistle.

Peninsula Motor Group, headed by successful businessman Dilip Kumar, was the main sponsor of the event, providing playing gear to all the teams, and prize money to the winners and runners-up.

The plan for the future is to make this event more attractive and better structured, according to the organisers, headed by Deeptha Perera, whose vision was behind the success of this episode.

In a bid to increase interest, an over 40’s tournament, preceded the main event, and it was as interesting as the younger version.

Ceylon Touch Rugby, a mixed team from Melbourne, won the over 40 competition, beating Royal College in the final.

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