An Open letter to the Minister of Science and Technology Professor Tissa Vitarana
Posted on November 26th, 2009

By Charles.S.Perera

 In the year 2005 the  Minister of Science and Technology Professor Tissa Vitarana  had devised a plan to take Science and Technology to the people of the backward villages, by  organizing Vidatha Resourse Centres 

 It is a commendable  plan ,  a bold step  taken by the Minister  Professor Tissa Vitarana to make the villagers aware of the possibilities of the  application of modern Science and Technology in their villages to uplift their life style by using correct science and technological applications  to improve their income by turning  out saleable  commodities from what grows in their gardens, or turn out items of utility from other simple raw material easily available in their villages.  It has become  a boon for those hitherto  neglected section of our society-the Villagers that make up a considerable  percentage of our population.

 In order to implement this very important and immensely beneficial plan, the Minister recruited  about 350 of the then unemployed Science Graduates as Science and Technology Officers.

 But unfortunately the Minister has not considered  the importance of motivating  these young graduates  to apply themselves to make the plan -the brain child of the Minister,  handed over to them a success.  Nevertheless, despite lot of difficulties they encountered the young graduates  have  done a  remarkable amount of work not only to make the plan a success but also to make it  a  profitable  occupation for  the  villagers.

 I had the privilege to attend an Educational and Sales Exposition of  the activities of the Science and Technology Officers of the Central Province at the District Secretariat  Premises in  Kandy .  It presented to the public how taking Science and Technology to  the villagers had made the villagers  alive to  Science and Technology  and  with the acquired knowledge  they have been able to  make saleable items from  articles found in their village environment.

 There were dehydrated vegetables, jack and bread fruits,  sliced manioc, labeled and packed into neat packets. There were  also items of food   in differ ent sizes of bottles neatly labeled.  The dehydration machines had been developed at NERD and offered through  Vidatha Resource Centers to the villager either to be purchased or make use of them. There were also other machines developed by  NERD, such as rice cookers, and portable “fire holders” exhibited.

 There were  packeted “kitul” jaggery and honey in bottles of convenient sizes. There were home made yogurt. They were all reasonably priced, and there was a brisk sale of the exposed articles.  Besides food items, there were items made out of leather and wood, and clay. They were being sold by the producers themselves who were ordinary men and women from villages.

 It was very impressive and some of the people I spoke to said that  some of them had been without employment, and the Science and Technology Officers were for them a god send  because they provided them with the technical know- how to turn out different items  and  found sales outlets.  They said that they now make a living out of what they have learnt, thanks to these young Officers.

 After speaking to the villagers and to the active young  Science and Technology Officers , as an outsider who saw and recognized  the laudable  contribution  of these Science and Technology Officers,  I wondered  whether these young  Officers  are  sufficiently compensated  and provided with incentives to continue to give of their best to the work entrusted to them to make it a greater success ?

 They do not really complain,  but  they say  that though they are interested in the work they do,  as they see with great satisfaction  the fruits of their endeavour,  in  helping at least some of the villagers to better their living conditions by actually learning, and putting into effect a useful industry. 

 But yet they regret that they are not given  the necessary incentive and encouragement  despite the hard work they put in, to  work  as any other government servant, looking forward   to improve their professional situation. They regretfully  observe that their whole hearted application in doing a service to the people is not recognized, and that they are not provided  with  professional compensation by way of promotions, and more involvement  as government servants.

 They were recruited to implement  the scheme started by  Professor  Tissa Vitharana the Minister of Science and Technology,   to take science and technology to the village. But the Minister may   be satisfied that the plan he had prepared  really helps the people at grass-root level.  And that the young Graduates he has recruited have been able to make his plan a reality.

 Yet he leaves it at that without taking into consideration the future of these young graduates  who put into  effect  this considerably valuable program.   They are government servants by name.  They have no hope of  any sort of promotion,  and are even prohibited from sitting for the Administrative Service Examination, due to a protest by the General Clerical Service.

 It is an exploitation of the youthful graduates, holding them  “under threat” either  to do whatever they are asked to do under whatever condition,  lest they be without employment.   To add insult to injury the Minister has appointed  another group of persons to coordinate the services of  these  Science and Technology Officers.

 Ironically these Coordinators  are not even Graduates, and have no knowledge or experience in the type of work done by the Science and Technology Officers. Their only qualification is that  they belong to the  Political Party of the Minister.

 That is an abuse of Ministerial position  and violation of the human right of dignity of work  of these Science and Technology Officers.  If Coordinators are necessary they should be recruited  from among the Science and Technology Officers  according to their seniority or  efficiency of the performance of their duties.

 But the explanation given by the Ministry  for appointing Coordinators without a recognized qualification, out side the  Science and Technological Officers  themselves , is  to make the “controller”  more  effective,  as  a coordinator selected from among the  Science and Technological Officers would  not effectively control  his “colleagues” in service. 

 This is an absurd argument as officers in any service are promoted from among those in service.  And further,  it is not a valid reason  to appoint political favorites  who are not even  more qualified or experienced than the Science and Technology Officers themselves. It would only discourage them and dampen their enthusiasm  to give their best to the work. 

 It is a regrettable lapse, to an other wise highly praiseworthy plan, which takes Science and Technology to the village.  The plan is still in its “enfancy”  and the Minister could still improve it by recognizing  the yeoman service of those who implement the plan  and make them full fledged Government Servants.

 It is time that the Minister of Science and Technology Professor Tissa Vitarana  step out of his Ministerial and  Political garb,  to look at  these  young Science Graduates as the Professor of Science and Technology that he is, and appreciate  the enormous  work they are doing  to make his pet project  work to the benefit of the people at grass-root level. 

 It is only then  that  he would understand that  these young gradutes have a right to be  recognized as other government servants with  possibilities of  carrier development,  and sit for competitive examinations in the Government Service to take  higher  professional responsibilities.

 That would be a fair and a just means of compensating young graduates who are doing a real job implementing  a laudable plan of the Minister of Science and Technology Professor.Tissa Vitarana,  to better the condition of living  of the so far neglected villager.

One Response to “An Open letter to the Minister of Science and Technology Professor Tissa Vitarana”

  1. Kit Athul Says:

    Charles sheds light on a side of jurnalism that is not addressed by Sri Lankan main media. This is because the main stream media still lives in pre May 18th 2009 fantacy. Only want to focus on press freedom but forgets about the Sri Lanka’s security and economic stability posed by Tamil terrorists living abroad including the Tamil Nadu politiations. If Tissa Vitharane reads this article, which I doubt, will not understand half what Charles has brought to the open. Appointing political supporters with, “in Sinhala”, MALAPOTHE AKURACKWATH KIYAWANNA BARRY AAYE is the norm of the day. But this has to change! The only way to change this thought process is by opening up issues by similar articles, again the main stream media in Sri Lanka is pre-occupied with so called press freedom and not bringing such issues to the open like what Charles brought up in this article. Now that Tissa Vitharane’s 13th amedment (I call it Rajiv Ghandhi amendment) has gone down the drain (Please some one push the lever to flush it) he must look at science and technology with a different pair of glasses. If he has Glaucoma or Cataracts, which I do not know, should correct them with surgery. Why I brought this rather sarcastic analogy is beacuse of the following: About eight months ago, I think the president wanted him to look in to using Nuclear technology to generate elecriticity. What did Tissa Witharane do! He immediately held a press conference and said that he was going to INDIA to get the latest Nuclear technology, (I have forgotten what the correct term for this technology is) that will generate elecricity much efficiently than the technology used today. In my opinion, at least, it is the joke of the century. Why, because INDIA is advance in only developing Nuclear Bombs and not in Nuclear technology. These are totally different subjects and are beyond the scope of this comment page, but I will attempt to explain breifly the difference. Today INDIA has a fully tested GOLF BALL necular bomb that is effective only up to 25 to 50 miles. No other country has it. (This device was specifically developed to attack Sri Lanka, there is no doubt about it) (Another area INDIA is advanced is Computer Software and is it only cofined to Bangalor, rest, Ha! they are in pre historic state) In my opinion President Rajapkse should do, is to call Minister Vtharane and tell him to go to China and go around the country collecting high tech projects that can be executed in Sri Lanka. Then come back to him and talk about how to fund them. I hope this suggestion makes sense to the reader. Now what has Tissa Vitharane done to uplift technology and employ garduates from rural communities? Nothing! I would like to ask this question: What has Tissa Vitharane done to the project late Lalith Athulathmudali started, THE MAHA POLA? (almost in bankrupt stste) Nothing. Maha Pola was started to the advacement of rural youth by giving them scholarships to attend Universities. I hope the honorable minister will read the article and my comments, and reply to this. (Wishfull thinking)

    I hope men form his ministry will not come and break the windows of Charles Perera’s house in Kandy. This type of article does bering unwanted forces into action and I am concerned about it. Hopefully the author will complete his holiday and collect relevent info, and get back to France safely.
    Kithsiri, Florida, USA

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