Continued from last week
From the beginning of British colonial rule, primary and secondary education in the Sinhalese and Tamil medium was free from the kindergarten to the Senior School Certificate level (equivalent to today’s GCE ‘O’ in Grade 11) . But the English medium schools constituting about 10 -15 percent of the schools in Sri Lanka charged fees. The best the children educated in the native languages, namely Sinhalese or Tamil, could reach was the teaching profession or becoming notaries, village headmen or ayurvedic physicians. The better jobs and access to tertiary education and the learned professions of law and western medicine, judicial positions, executive appointments in the public service as well as the better private sector jobs were only to those who attended the fee levying English medium schools. The official language of the government was English till 1956.
In 1928,the British government appointed a Royal Commission headed by Lord Donoughmore to inquire into further reforms to the constitutions to meet Sri Lankan aspirations. The Donoughmore Commission which consisted of progressive British politicians of the day, was fully convinced that the grant of universal adult franchise should be introduced in order to enable the ordinary people to elect representatives of their choice in order to speak on their behalf in the legislature. The Donoughmore Commission’s recommendations were incorporated to a new constitution, promulgated in 1931. By this constitution, whilst Sri Lanka was still under the British, universal adult franchise was granted to Lankans to elect their own representatives to the legislature which became known as the State Council. In the newly elected legislature, a Board of Ministers were elected. The State Council appointed a Special Committee on Education headed by C.W.W .Kannangara which introduced the free education from the kindergarten to university level in 1942, also by a majority recommended that the medium of instruction in all schools should be the mother tongue in the primary classes.
Having had the privilege of primary, secondary and tertiary education in English, he was one of the most persuasive advocates of native language education known as ‘ Swabhasha’ education. Sir Ivor Jennings records in his autobiography that the politicians’ views prevailed on this policy over the educationists’ opinions. Kannangara proposed that a child should receive education in his or her mother tongue and this triggered a debate in the Special Committee on what ought to be considered the mother tongue of a child. There were some Sinhalese and Tamil children whose mother tongue was English as that language was what was spoken in their homes. According to Sir Ivor, the politicians including Kannangara proposed a legal formula called ‘racial or ethnic mother tongue’. According to this formula, if the language of the progenitors of the ethnic group of the child’s father is Sinhalese, it should be irrefutably presumed that the Sinhalese language was the child’s mother tongue which should then be his or her medium of instruction in primary school even if his mother tongue was in fact English at home. This legal formula was proposed in respect of Tamil children too.
When it came to Muslims, Burghers and Malays, the Special Committee could not recommend applying this principle. If the legal formula of racial mother tongue was applied to these ethnic groups, the mother tongues of Muslim, Burgher and Malay children would respectively be Arabic, Portuguese/ Dutch/English and Malay. In order to overcome this difficulty, Muslims, Burghers and Malays were permitted to receive education in the English medium till the 1970s. Thereafter, the English medium education completely disappeared from the schools and the Dutch Burghers, Muslims and Malays were compelled to study either in Sinhala medium or Tamil medium in the national school system. The Kannangara Committees’ recommendations were adopted after Independence. Sinhalese and Tamil children in the English medium schools were required to study in the Sinhalese and Tamil mediums. The English medium schools were allowed to teach only the Muslim, Burgher and Malay children in English. Kannangara was in fact the father of abolition of English medium education although S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who was responsible for the enactment of Sinhala Only Act of 1956 is often wrongly blamed for Swabasha education. It was in the Bandaranaike’s tenure and his widow’s terms in power that the English medium was abolished in the secondary school level and in the tertiary level in universities except in Science, Engineering and Medicine courses.
Within two years of the Free Education Ordinance passed in 1942, as many as 44 Central Colleges were established throughout the country, mainly in the rural areas, with well equipped buildings, laboratories and hostels. These schools initially taught rural children in the English medium and some rural children entered the University of Ceylon from them in the early fifties. It certainly was a great revolution. However, the subsequent language policies adopted by successive governments deprived these rural children and others from established English medium schools the benefit of English medium education.
When Singapore gained independence in 1965, only 10 percent of the schools in that country used English as the medium of instruction whilst 80 per cent taught in Chinese and the rest in either Tamil or Malay. Lee Kuan Yew did not abolish English medium education but converted all non- English medium schools to English within a decade giving all Singaporean children, regardless of ethnicity, an equal opportunity to be taught in the English medium. He retained English as the working language of the country making English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay as official languages. Lee did this in a country where 80 percent of the population is ethnic Chinese. If Sri Lanka’s post Independence leaders had adopted this policy, we would not have had ethnic conflicts, tension, communal riots and a 30-year civil war immensely benefiting our development with an ethnically all inclusive public sector, private sector and governance in a unitary state. The Dutch Burghers and Tamils and educated Sinhalese would not have left these shores for more secure and greener pastures in the western countries.
Dutch Burghers of today speak out
In an evening, after the sun set, I paid a visit to Frederick van Buuren, 88,a Dutch Burgher who lives with four Dachshund pet dogs in a small house at Mattegoda, a Colombo suburb. On my arrival, his four dogs started barking at me. Welcoming me Mr. van Buuren said, “They won’t bite” telling the dogs kindly, “Don’t bark. He is a friend.” After their barking subsided, I started my conversation. He said: “My first paternal Dutch ancestor was Willem Regenereus van Buuren. He married Anna Catherina Verwyk. The first European paternal ancestor of my mother’s family, who arrived in Sri Lanka in 1772 was Daniel Meerwald. His hometown was Neusol in Hungary. I was an automobile technician . I studied at Wesley College, Colombo. There were only two Dutch Burghers in my class, myself and another child with the Dutch family name Van Twest. I was born in Trincomalee on September 23, 1932 when my father worked at the Public Works Department as an engineer there.
My Dutch Burgher identity and consciousness within the family I grew up in was very significant in terms of conversations, traditions, customs, perceptions, moral, social, religious and political ideas etc.. My father was very conservative, and he insisted that we should maintain our identity. On the Christmas table we always had Dutch delicacies like Breudher and Poffertjes (Dutch Mini Pancakes) etc. We are a closed community. We moved only with the educated Sinhalese and Tamils. I was a Methodist. My wife, Angela Jansz, was a Catholic. A few months after my marriage I became Catholic by conviction. The Dutch Burghers have always been conservative and right wing politically. Only exception was Pieter Keuneman, a Cambridge educated son of a Dutch Burgher Supreme Court Judge. He was the leader of country’s communist party.”
Asked what the major cause for migration of thousands of Dutch Burghers to Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom,he opined: ” The exodus of Dutch Burghers to these western countries was due to Sinhalese Only policy introduced by Prime Minister Bandaranaike in 1956 and the communal tensions that erupted in its aftermath.” He had migrated to Canada in 1966 with his Dutch Burgher wife and three daughters. His wife passed away in 2006. “I obtained my duel citizenship in 2008. Since 2008, I have lived in Sri Lanka because I feel lonely in Canada and love the climate and warmth of people here. I don’t suffer any discrimination on the basis of my Dutch Burgher identity. My Sinhalese neighbours treat me well.”
Frederick van Buuren
Mrs. Anne-Marie Scharenguivel, 65
, when asked what she thought, had been the major grievance of the Dutch Burgher community in post-independence Sri Lanka, said: “Our major grievance has always been our inability to be educated in our mother tongue, English, as the medium of instruction in the schools and the fact that all Govt departments function in Sinhala. I was forced to educate my sons in International Schools at great cost due to this. Sinhala is a language, not spoken anywhere else in the world! Thankfully the English stream is being reintroduced in schools but there are no proper teachers now competent to teach in English.”
I asked her: “When thousands of Dutch Burghers have migrated to Australia, Canada and the UK, why did your parents and you opt to live in Sri Lanka? She replied: “My father was well established here as Deputy Chief Waterworks Engineer in the Colombo Municipal Council. He later became the Head of the Waterworks Dept (which was absorbed by the Water Board later) and also Acting Municipal Commissioner. I never wanted to leave either, and neither do my sons! But now the future seems to be bleak for the Dutch Burgher community in particular and for the other ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka. This is the first time in our lives that my sons and I have felt like immigrating “
Mrs.Scharenguivel, a born Catholic, schooled at St.Bridget’s Convent and lives in Dehiwela, a suburb of Colombo.
Mrs.Doreen van der Hoeven, 64
, is a mother of two sons. She is a Dutch Burgher who lives in Kalutara, a coastal town 40 km south of Colombo. “My father was a guard in the Ceylon Government Railway. In those days, A lot of Dutch Burghers worked in the Ceylon Government Railway as engine drivers and train guards,” she said adding “My mother who is 94-years old is a Scharenguivel. My parents were Dutch Burghers. I was educated at Methodist College, Colombo. We are Methodists by religion. I am the only child in my family. I became aware of my Dutch Burgher identity when I was a child. I used to ask my parents why we were different from others in language, family name and complexion. Then my parents would tell me about my Dutch Burgher ancestry. I am a nurse by profession. I still remember having Dutch Breudher on our family Christmas table in my childhood. Most of my Dutch Burgher cousins, relatives and friends have migrated to Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Our community was affected by the Sinhala Only language policy which did away with English as a medium of instruction in the schools and as an official language. That was the reason for Dutch Burgher migration.”
Doreen van der Hoeven
Voices of the Young
Miss Andriana Melder, 23, is a young Dutch Burgher lady with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of London. She is now studying for the Bar examinations A Catholic and old pupil of Holy Family Convent, Colombo 4, she lives in Nugegoda, in the suburbs of Colombo.
“My first paternal Dutch ancestor was Reverend Willem Melder who had come from Holland to serve as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church of Sri Lanka (founded by the Dutch in 1642 and now known as Christian Reformed Church of Sri Lanka). He had married Madalena Petronella Perera at the Wolvendaal Church in Colombo. The initial ancestors of the Melder clan in Sri Lanka worked as Dutch Civil servants and the later as planters and spice traders. At one point in my paternal family tree, my ancestors had become Catholic leaving their Protestant faith for some reasons, she said.
Speaking of the significance of her Dutch Burgher identity ,culture, religious and moral values , Andriana opined: “My Dutch Burgher identity played a pivotal role in my upbringing. My father was very proud of this identity and his heritage. He would often point out old buildings and vast portions of land In Melder Place and Pietersz Place in Nugegoda now mostly sold off or occupied by other communities due to the migration of our relatives to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. Claiming that these lands once belonged to our ancestors, he had fond memories of playing cricket in the vast fields, fishing and even hunting with my late grandfather with a double barrel gun slung over his shoulder.
“We were brought up to value our culture, the elders set the example by maintaining records and journals for the younger generations to refer. Many articles too have been preserved to generate knowledge of the yesteryears of the Melder clan. My late paternal grandmother and my grand aunts and uncles on my father’s side, used to relate stories from the good old days in the times of Ceylon, about the great big dances and parties they used to throw on various occasions. The carefree, happy- go-lucky attitude passed down through the generations is visible even in the youth in my family today. There is no pressure as to marriage, sense of fashion or lifestyle. The freedom to make up one’s own choices have been ingrained even in our young minds. Learning to play a musical instrument, singing and dancing is an essential aspect of our life. This has resulted in many Burgher youth becoming fond of the arts. My extended family is very religiously and not racially inclusive as many of my relatives have inter married into various faiths and races. Education takes centre stage in our family as most of my ancestors are well educated and rounded individuals who have achieved much in their respective professions. The general perception among the other ethnic communities that most Dutch Burgher youth lack morals and religious affiliation is profoundly untrue. Many of us are staunch practicing Christians (Catholic and Protestant) whose morals have been intertwined with religion. The Dutch Burgher families are a closely knit community and they value familial aspects in their relationships.
Asked what in her opinion, have been the legitimate grievances of the Dutch Burgher community since Independence, Andriana said, “It is the lack of recognition even as a minority. The language and cultural barriers are pertinent to date and the lack of an inclusive system for all races is still present. The Dutch Burgher community has contributed much in terms of construction, law and the judicial system, religion, hybrid culture and cuisines. They are a unique community.
“The post 1956 migration of many Burgher families from the island was a result of their not
seeing a future for their children in the new Ceylon. Most migrated to Australia because
Australians had a life style close to theirs. Others moved to Canada, the UK and New Zealand.
Many Burgher migrants held very senior positions in the Mercantile, Banking, Medical, Academic
and Public sectors abroad. Most of them still consider the island known to them as
Ceylon, as their beloved home that nurtured them as a community for about four centuries.
We decided to remain in SL as my father was well established in his profession and because
of my grandparents from both sides of the family. I would like to leave SL once I complete my studies as many of my friends and relatives are already abroad and seeing how their lifestyle seem much better and their future more promising, I too would like to migrate one day.”
Speaking of the future of the Dutch Burgher Community, Andriana said: “The Dutch Burgher community is dwindling at present with the vast increase in migration and inter marriages taking place. Further, with racist ideologies rising once more, the future for the minorities seem bleak.”
My last interview for this article was with a young Dutch Burgher Fabian Schokman, 24. A graduate in Theology he now reading for a Bachelor of Laws degree of the University of London. A Catholic by faith, Fabian is very outspoken. “My first paternal Dutch ancestor was Jan Arentsz Schokman who had come to Sri Lanka from Amsterdam in 1697 who was a ship’s carpenter’, said Fabian. When asked how significant was his Dutch Burgher identity and consciousness within the family he grew up in the conversations, traditions, customs, perceptions, moral, social, religious and political ideas , Fabian said: “It had a strong bearing on my upbringing, especially in terms of perceptions and to a greater level, openness to liberal ideologies. Tradition has always being a closely guarded and cherished part of my upbringing, especially by the elder generation. It varies starkly across a spectrum. Identity is a matter of self perception and this self perception would vary widely among a single family, multiple families that comprise of a unit and most certainly in the community in general.
“As I mentioned, there is and has always being the ultra-conservative and ultra-liberal ends of the community and every shade in-between. As with the other questions, this must be analyzed from within the spectrum. Of course the more traditional Dutch Burgher families are undeniably facing the extinction of cultural identity as assimilation means more and more of the individualistic aspects of the community are fading off to give way to a more conforming cultural identity. The days of a monolinguistic, starkly distinct community are fast fading, yet in a more general perspective, the community in my opinion, because of its minute size faces a number of issues stemming from lack of political representation. I believe that one’s identity is and should be a part of everyday life. As a lesser minority, even in the context of school and community in general, I have found the Dutch Burgher community to be rather close-knit, not least on account of the vast inter-connection between each other. That being said, this identity is in no way antithetical to centrist Sri Lankan values.
Fabian seems to think that the future for the Dutch Burgher community in Sri Lanka seems less bleak than what other members of his community believe. He opined: “The Dutch Burgher community has always had a spirit of endurance and survival imbued deep within itself and as a result the community will survive, perhaps more intact than other lesser non-monogamous minorities. At present the community has found prominence in the private sector and I particularly don’t see a return to the age of civil service dominance. There is also a deep sense of pride and cultural revival in the younger generation and this does make the future seem less bleak. However in comparison to the larger minorities with considerable communal and political representation, a stable lineal prediction is difficult to project.”
Politicos junketing while ordinaries are sinking in COL mire
There was a pall of silence over who accompanied our President to the Big Apple for the Big Meeting of the United Nations. Hence our curiosity was roused, minds scratched around for news. Cassandra WhatsApped a good friend of hers now living in California and asked her whether she knew who accompanied our Prez.
We thought in these hard times only the very essential and relevant to the occasion VIPs would be taken along: a lean contingent would be Prez Wckremesinghe’s orders. Cassandra hurried to her computer and googled. Plenty on President Ranil Wickremasinghe’s address to the UN General Assembly on 21 Sept., which was on the theme, “Rebuilding trust and reigniting solidarity and its relevance to Sri Lanka’s recent challenges.” Reading many articles Cass gathered that Prez RW had dealt with the country’s economic and other travails; global geopolitical landscape; climate action taken and to be taken; carbon reduction et al in his address at UNGA.
It was stated in one article that the Prez was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, Secretary to the President E M S B Ekanayake, Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardena and other senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So, she rested her mind that no extraneous hangers-on had accompanied the Prez.
Then came a newspaper write up that MPs Rohitha Abeygunewardena and Mahindananda Aluthgamage were in the contingent – stalwarts of the SLPP. What use were they in the context of the topics on which the Prez made his UN address? Were they experts on any issues that would have been discussed at side meetings? Experts on economics, geopolitical matters, climate change, balance of world power? NO! It seemed to be a pure (or rather impure) peace-making gesture and to keep quiet two demanders for Cabinet positions.
Sops to Cerberus in the way of a plane ride to and from, and a stay in one of the more expensive hotels in the Big Apple? Can you believe that the MPs and two die-hard Pohottu MPs and previous ministers want a joy ride and will do anything to get one? Also, that we poor Sri Lankans, suffering such slings and arrows of bad fortune in a bankrupt country with soaring prices to be paid for even the water we drink, food we so niggardly eat and electricity we so sparingly use have paid for these two to junket? We have to fork out taxes, even those with nothing to show as assets. And where does a huge amount of this collected money go? To pay for pleasure junkets for those we feel have no right to go to the UN General Assembly.
When Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President, he would take a huge group of persons who in the majority were completely redundant and of no use at all to these UN General Assembly annual gatherings. A worker in the UN in New York commented that most of those who went along dispersed soon after they had landed, in a fleet of cars hired for the visit, making a vehicle-hiring Sri Lankan in the US rich. Most of them were not even present when the Sri Lankan president made his address.
At least, they could have helped to reduce the mass of empty seats in the UN Assembly hall. Thus, it was surmised that he was repaying his catchers for being loyal to him – at our expense. No dissent, whether loud or soft, then. No one dared question why or wherefores. No one wanted to be taken on a white van ride; or worse, taken on the final journey. Cassandra must add here that a couple of brave women journos did speak up.
And to think there was a replay of this junketing in 2023, though reduced, under a Prez who understands well the plight the country is in and the need to save every rupee of government money. However, junketing was offered at the country’s expense. And by order of Prez RW. The two mentioned are very rich politicians.
Cassandra experienced a happening that showed her how wary people are now, and untrusting. It is a natural outcome of the type of person the Sri Lankan is thought to be in these much-changed times. Do you remember when even in Middle East airports the Sri Lankan passport was treated with utter disdain and suspicion? Cass recalls that en route to Britain she had her passport and other Sri Lankan travellers’ passports confiscated on entry to the airport in Dubai and handed back only when the plane was re-boarding. She squirmed with embarrassment and resentment, but realised it was all because Sri Lankans had behaved shamefully dishonest and thus all Sri Lankans were branded untrustworthy.
Cass bought some tickets to enjoy a singing and dancing of Julius Caesar. The thousands she gave the young girl were found to be short. Saying she would get the balance from her driver, she instinctively took the tickets and was about to step out when she noticed the consternation of the box office girl. Suspicion, she realised, that she would not return. Cass apologised, placed the tickets on the counter, went out to get the Rs 500 needed and then, retrieving her tickets, commented it was so sad that the young one could not trust this old dame. She assured her it was no fault of hers; she was doing her duty, but people nowadays had killed the trust that was a given in years gone by. Even an absolutely honest and honourable person, grey-haired maybe and dignified, is treated with suspicion. What a sad state of affairs! But we ourselves are to blame since cheating and dishonesty are strong features of the present-day islanders of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
Use heart, know heart
By Dr Mohan Jayatilake Consultant Cardiologist
Every year on the 29th of September, World Heart day is observed to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is heart diseases and strokes. As heart diseases are a leading cause of death in the world people must be educated about them and the timely prevention to achieve this goal. World Heart day commenced in 1999 through the joint efforts of World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Heart Federation (WHF).
The theme of the World Heart Day 2023 is “Use Heart, Know Heart” emphasizing the importance of healthcare worldwide. This year’s campaign focuses on the essential step of knowing your heart first. The World Heart Federation has created this day to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases.
The key message of World Heart Day this year aims to encourage people to look after themselves, others and nature as well. Putting a coordinated effort to improve ones’ own lifestyle and diet and motivating others to do the same can lead to a reduced number of CVD cases.
Heart diseases and strokes are the worlds’ leading cause of death claiming 17.9 million lives every year. According to WHO statistics 82% of deaths coming in from low and middle income countries are due to lack of resources.
Since a healthy heart is the gateway to a healthy life it is important to ensure the health of your heart. With the growing number of heart patients worldwide it has become a cause of concern since of late.The day is observed by organising events worldwide to make people aware about the warning signs of heart disease so that people can take steps accordingly to avoid this disease.
Together with members of WHF spread the news that at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and strokes could be avoided if main risk factors such as heavy smoking, unhealthy diet, reduced physical activity (sedentary lifestyle), stressful lifestyle, psychological issues, hypertension, diabetic and heavy alcoholism are controlled. Being obese and overweight, BMI (Body Mass Index) more than 25, is found to be one of the main risk factors that may harm your heart. Air pollution also can lead to coronary artery disease and stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer as short term and long term effects.
Fortunately now we have almost come out of COVID 19 pandemic which caused more vulnerable patients having severe cardiovascular events.
Events of the World Heart Day 2023
There are numerous events at the national and international level promoted by WHF. They disseminate information and hold discussions of various heart ailments at different platforms. Some of them like posters, podcasts and forums are quite popular. The day is marked by providing free fitness check-ups, fundraises, walks, runs, concerts and sporting events. All such events encourage people to stay active and be aware of their health.
Global leaders recognise the urgency to give priority to prevention and control of heart diseases and other non-communicable diseases (NCD).Which include cancer, diabetic, and chronic lung diseases.
How to contribute to observance of the event on World Heart Day
By undergoing heart health check at a center near you.
By managing your weight and keeping BMI index under control with less than 25.
By trying to stay active through different physical activities
By attending seminars to learn about different life saving activities like CPR
By attending fitness lectures and lessons of healthy living
According to this year theme also, use your heart for the betterment of others’ heart, by taking following steps to reduce the burden of heart disease. Stop smoking – Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more prone to get heart diseases and strokes than non-smokers. Passive smoking inside the house will also harm your own heart and your family health, causing cardiovascular disease.
Avoid alcohol – Stressful conditions in life can lead to use of alcohol and smoking. Meditation, yoga, music or involvement with any other aesthetic will help to minimize stress and to move away from alcohol.
Healthy diet at home
Limit saturated fats and trans fats
Limit salt and sugar intake
Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables
Unhealthy diet is one of the main causes of obesity, diabetic and cardiovascular diseases. Rapid urbanisation, changing lifestyle and easy access of fast food have made the dietary pattern unhealthy.
Animal products mainly beef, pork and poultry with skin, mutton, lard, butter, cheese carry lot of saturated fats. Avoid having trans fats which are in baked, processed and fried food items, certain margarines and spreads. Take lean meats, poultry without skin, low fat dairy products, fish and nuts with vegetable oil in moderation.
Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive physical activity or at least 75 minutes of high intensive physical activity per week. Families should limit the amount of time spent in front of TV or continuous reading to less than 2 hours a day in a seated position. Exercises should be a regular part of life.
World is now facing visible epidemic of obesity. It affects your cardiovascular health and also affect your wellbeing.To lose weight, do regular exercises, have healthy diet, cut down starch and sugar and alcohol. Have plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Psychological health can affect your cardio vascular health. Regular exercise and practice relaxation, reading, being with friends and family, adequate sleep, various hobbies maintain the positive attitude towards stress free life.
Know your numbers
Visit your doctor or health care professional, check your blood pressure regularly and take steps to control it and take regular medication.Know your cholesterol- high cholesterol is another factor for cardiovascular disease. Check regularly and control with dietary measures and medication. Know your blood sugar- Diabetic is another major factor for cardiovascular disease. Diet control, medication and professional advice required to control it.
Know your warning signs
To know the symptoms of CVD will help your survival because earlier the treatment better the chances of survival. Chest pain of tightening or burning in nature with pain radiating down the upper limbs or to the neck and jaw or back, associated with sweating and nausea are your warning signs.
Sudden weakness of limbs, slurring of speech, deviation of mouth, double vision could be due to a stroke. Knowing these symptoms and seeking urgent medical attention allow you to get treatment early to prevent life threatening complications.
Take your medicine regularly and correctly
If you are already diagnosed with heart disease or with stroke, taking your medication regularly will reduce another similar episode in future.
Breast feeding and lifelong health
Breast feeding is the best form of nutrition for newborn and infants according to WHO. Increasing public awareness is important. Infants who are breastfed tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as lower rates of obesity.
Both undernourished and over nourished early in life can increase the risk of developing cardio vascular diseases. Maternal obesity during pregnancy has been associated with obesity in children which also increase the cardiovascular disease risk.
As always our emphasis will be on improving heart health across all nations in adult male and female as well as children. By adopting lifestyle changes, people all over the world can have longer and better lives through the prevention and control of heart disease and stroke. This was highlighted on this most important day to persuade people on maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Pride from Buddhist perspective
By Dr. Justice Chandradasa Nanayakkara
In Buddhism, the word mana (Pali) connotes the idea of pride, arrogance, vanity, or conceit, etc. Although these words are used synonymously and interchangeably, subtle differences in meaning are to be found between them. Pride is defined as an inflated state of mind arising out of such things as accomplishments, wealth, knowledge, fame, etc. People tend to evaluate their abilities, qualities, and other achievements by comparing them with those of others. This attitude of comparing one’s achievements and other characteristics tends to evoke pride in people.
According to Buddhism, these comparisons with others can take one of three forms. (a) thinking I am superior to others (seyya mana) (b) thinking I am equal or as good as others. (sadisa mana) : (c).thinking I am inferior to others (hina mana). Pride is an extremely powerful latent tendency that is difficult to overcome and can exist even in those who have attained all the first three stages of enlightenment that is sotapanna, anagami, and sakadagami. It is only on attaining Arahatship that the last vestige of the fetter of pride (mana samyojana) can be eliminated.
When pride arises in a person he sees others having lower qualities, less possession, less fame, and accomplishments, etc. Pride can propel a person to dizzying heights, or tear him apart. It is one of the ten unwholesome mental factors that shackles a person to samsara and an endless cycle of suffering (vissudimagga).
Pride is so deceptive that people are often oblivious to it. It can inconspicuously and insidiously seep into our thinking until we are completely absorbed in it ourselves. As an extremely latent tendency pride lies dormant until it comes in contact with the five sense objects. Pride as an unwholesome emotion is considered an obstacle to spiritual growth in every religion and it is something that Buddhists should strive to avoid.
Pride stems from attachment which is one of the greatest sources of suffering. Pride pervades all orders of society from the highest to the lowest. Prideful people’s yearning for validation and recognition is so pronounced in our society that they try to get a sense of self-worth by promoting themselves on social media platforms and posting their pictures, awards, and other accomplishments. Their main objective is to boost their egocentrism and show the world that others cannot measure up to their achievements. Prideful people generally do not acknowledge pride in themselves but are quick to recognise and condemn pride in others.
Pride clouds the mind and manifests in unwholesome thoughts and actions. According to Dhammapada. “we are the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows one, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon”.
In Buddhism pride has been compared to a fragile bamboo bridge. (Yo manam udabbadhi asesam nalasetum va sudubbalam mahogho so bhikku jahati or aparam urago jinnam iva tacam puranam). He entirely blots out conceit as the flood demolishes a fragile bamboo bridge. – such man gives up the here and the beyond, just as a serpent sheds its worn-out skin. Human pride is just as fragile and shaky. Pride may easily be upset by a whiff of public opinion, hurt by any fool’s snide remark, or hurled down deep by defeat, failure, or misfortune. (nyanaponika)
No human demeanor is more open to contempt and criticism than pride. Pride arises from an egocentric evaluation of oneself in relation to others. Whenever pride arises in a person it deludes his mind and fails to see things as they truly are.
Beneath every manifestation of pride lies self-esteem. It is the conviction of superiority over others. It is the feeling that we are what they are not, or that we can do what others can’t do. Success in early childhood may sow the seeds of it. The praise of relatives fosters it. Once planted, it grows. (Brian Fawcett). Over time, you develop the habit of comparing yourself with others. But it is important to remember that no human being deserves any more or less respect than another regardless of title, wealth, fame, etc.
Pride can also serve a positive, productive purpose, but it has a dark destructive side too. There is nothing wrong with feeling satisfaction when a person achieves some goal in life such as being successful at a competitive exam, when promoted to a higher echelon in one’s field of work, or when he is praised for some work or mental quality. In this instance, pride is considered wholesome as it is aligned with his own merits.
Praise within limits, from a knowledgeable person can be stimulating and encouraging as it motivates him to a higher level, but if it stimulates his ego and allows his accomplishments to define who he is, it is something to be deplored. In these situations, claiming pride beyond what is deserved can easily develop into arrogance or becoming self-centered. Even if one were to achieve success in some field of activity there is no reason whatsoever to feel conceited and arrogant. Moreover, pride in a positive sense helps a person to behave in moral, socially appropriate ways in their social interactions. However, it is important to bear in mind that success in a given field is likely to breed pride and arrogance, and failure to do so may breed pessimism and depression.
They say pride goes before destruction. Pride and arrogance are obvious in many political leaders and people in leadership positions. Proud leaders become immune to their deficiencies and weaknesses. They present themselves as flawless and impeccable. When people in leadership positions are consumed excessively by pride widespread suffering could ensue. Pride in a leader can also be the cause of misery in a nation.
Pride in a general sense relates more to our opinion of ourselves on the other hand, vanity to what we would have others think of us. Vanity is self-absorption in one’s appearance, qualities, accomplishments, etc. is sometimes referred to as narcissism. This infatuation based on attachment to one’s self-image is identified as Mada (Sanskrit) in Mahayana teaching.
Self-absorbed people believe that their looks and appearance will remain the same and carry them through life. Today, people particularly women who are steeped in vanity spend an enormous amount of money on grooming products such as anti-aging creams, lotions, etc., to enhance their beauty. They also resort to other procedures such as facelifts and plastic surgery to counteract their age.
Vanity is detrimental not just to the person displaying it, but also to those around them. It is considered a hindrance for both Buddhists and people who belong to other religions, as it is decried by every religion. Vanity is a delusion that compromises sanity. For a person caught up in vanity, throwing off the chains of attachment would be difficult.
Buddhism teaches that the world and everything in it are illusory and impermanent, even the very looks and appearance over which people obsess are subject to the same law of impermanence and eventually wither and fade. It takes persons with tremendous abilities to do away with vanity when it is ingrained in them. Self-absorbed people tend to pay attention to other people’s shortcomings and weaknesses rather than their own. They usually fail to notice how much their actions hurt the people around them.
An antidote to pride is humility or modesty which is a forgotten quality of the contemporary world. Today, the virtues of modesty are becoming lost in our world, as immodesty is becoming widespread. At the same time, moral purity and values are on the decline. People are losing sight of the importance of modesty and the significance it should hold in their lives. A modest person does not boast of his own merits or achievements. He would rather feel embarrassed if anyone eulogizes him in his presence never exalt himself and becomes prideful when others compliment him.
Most people associate humility with a lack of self-esteem and a lack of confidence in one’s abilities. Humility is a quality found in a wise person with many qualities. They say when the tree is loaded with fruit its branch bends towards the ground. Similarly, a modest person is always attentive to people and never poses as an important person. By being humble we do not denigrate ourselves and jettison our self-esteem. As a legendary British writer, C.S. Lewis aptly says “True humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less”.
In Mahayana Buddhism humility is one of the precepts. it is a wholesome state of mind in which we focus on our positive qualities and accomplishments to justify a sense of superiority and not look down on others. Humility forbids ascribing to ourselves greater worth than we possess.
Pride can affect even people who lead a spiritual and religious life. Any pride that arises in connection with the practice of Dhamma is also deplored in buddhism. It is called spiritual pride.
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