A Word of Praise
Posted on April 7th, 2020

By Garvin Karunaratne

A word of praise is due to our President Gotabhaya, his team and the doctors of the Health Service for the excellent manner they are tackling the Coronavirus Epidemic.

Sri Lanka stands far ahead in the manner they are tackling the epidemic. We have so far had six deaths while the UK has some six hundred dead almost daily. Premier Boris Johnson seems lost and I hope he recovers and also regains the necessary strength.

President Gotabhaya and his team need no introduction to Sri Lankans. He is the leader that destroyed the monster LTTE that caused carnage in the entire island on a daily basis for three decades.  That was when his protagonists chided him of fighting the battle in Pamankada. My own opinion is that he is the only person that can do that task.

Our health service has been always very efficient.  I recall the afternoon when  I had the occasion to carry the corpse of a lad I had fished out of the sea at Polhena. In my bathing trunk, I carried the corpse, barged into the consultation room at Matara Hospital, laid him down on a  stretcher. I knew all the doctors and I requested them: “Please do what you can to bring him around.”  In a corner of my mind, I was a bit worried that I had to give him a blow or two to bring him under control when he grabbed me. But I managed to control him and to swim with him to the shore. We did the tricks we laymen knew, but to all intents, he looked dead. The doctors attended at once. Consultants on duty rushed in to help. By four in the evening, I was informed that the lad’s life was saved. We did have a great Health Service and I am happy to note the yeoman service being provided today.

My humble message both to our Excellency and our Health Service is congratulations.  The people are with you.

Coronavirus is taking its toll and there seems to be no end in sight. It may even cause the loss of our civilization.

Our President is at the forefront and we are extremely thankful for action being taken.

It is hoped that a vaccine will soon be found.  Generally, when a remedy, a vaccine is found in our capitalist world today, the pharmaceutical company obtains a patent and sells the product at a fanciful price. The firm is entitled to fix any price. Generally, the price fixed is so high that it is beyond the reach of ordinary people. No other company can even produce a similar version. Though a vaccine is found the Masses yet die because they cannot afford.

It so happens that my experience covers many areas of work both in Sri Lanka and abroad and have had the occasion to make decisions re innovations unearthed by officers who worked under my direction.  

Coop Crayon. When I worked as the G.A. at Matara in 1971, the craze in me to establish an import substitution programme entirely on my own, because the Ministry of   Plan Implementation was shy to approve any new programme, I directed my Planning Officer, Vetus Fernando, a chemistry graduate, to make a myriad of experiments to find the art of making a crayon.  This was accomplished in three months of hard work, working from six to midnight every working day for three months.  I decided that it should be a cooperative venture and authorized Sumanapala Dahanayake, the Member of Parliament of Deniyaya to establish it using cooperative funds as he was the President of the Morawak Korale Coop Union. Sumanapala established the Coop Crayon in three weeks, working day and night. I and the Katcheri stalwarts worked day and night with the workers, training them. We made it equal to the Reeves of those days.  Though We administrators and Sumanapala developed it to have islandwide sales,  President Jayawardena saw to its closure. Firstly he sent  NT Ariyaratne Deputy Director of Cooperative Development to audit and find something wrong to hang Sumanapala. The Deputy Director had to report after a few days of auditing that the industry was sound and paying. However, the industry was run down on the IMF dictate that the public sector should not attend to any trade or industry. Though an excellent industry we failed to take a care-a loss to our country.

The Youth Self Employment Programme of Bangladesh was designed and established by me when I worked as the Commonwealth Fund Advisor on Youth Development to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower. The details of the programme-the peculiar basic economics involved in guiding drop out youths who had forgotten even to read and write,  the basis of nonformal education – active participation, the art of guiding youths to build up their abilities and capacities as they struggled and strove to establish their commercial ventures to become successful commercial entrepreneurs and get trained in short special sessions,  were all decided by me in two hours of intense debate between me and the Secretary to the Treasury of Bangladesh, the highest officer in the country

when he objected to my suggestion that a youth self-employment programme should be approved. He vetoed it because an ILO attempt in the earlier years had resulted in a massive loss to the Treasury. I designed an established programme and trained the staff of youth directors to continue it and today it is the premier programme of youth employment creation that has guided three million to become self-employed. When I met Mr Asafuddowlah, the Additional Secretary of the Ministry in London, some ten years later, he told me that the “World Bank has made several attempts to take over, fund and control the YSEP which was firmly resisted by the administrators in charge” (2006:p.423). Today this Programme is firmly guarded by the Government as their own.

While Coop Crayon was sacrificed at the instructions of the IMF, the YSEP is today the guarded programme of the Government of Bangladesh.

May I humbly request our President Gotabhaya to direct the MRI and our Universities to find a vaccine to counter this coronavirus before it eats up our civilization and more let me plead of him to establish the making of this vaccine under state control, managed by the most respected scientists and the ablest of administrators so that it will help humanity and not be used for the cause of making fanciful profits. Our experience has been that though vaccines have been found Masses die because they cannot afford to buy it.

May I close with a word of thanks again to our President and our Prime Minister for their

the yeoman service in tackling the coronavirus.

Garvin Karunaratne,
Ph.D. Michigan State University
Former G.A.Matara

Author of:How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka and Alternative Programmes of Success,(Godages:2006)

How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development(Kindle/ Godages: 2017)


One Response to “A Word of Praise”

  1. aloy Says:

    According to a statement by GMOA’s Padeniya, last night, our medics also seem to have realized that this country is blessed with something other than their skills. Why not we make use of this advantage the nature has bestowed on us?.
    This is my proposal although some may think that it is laughable.

    I think it is a gold mine. The bell curve the (the normal curve) the west is relying on will take a couple of months or so to peak and will be still high for many more months to come. SL can offer the safety of our land to wealthy people who can offer a premium (say $ 10 millions per person) for a specific period of time. And I am sure there will be many multimillionaires as well as billionaires who would like to send their loved ones here to stay safe and also spend a holiday. For such a scheme to to work effectively in a safe manner to the citizens, the dedication shown by the armed forces and the medics is absolutely essential. Those coming should be quarantined in a center already established for at least three week before allowing them to enjoy the holiday. However the proceeds should only be directed to pay back our loans and not for anybody to divert to a personal account. If we can implement this,using a reliable team of patriots then it will be a part of the silver lining that we yearn for.

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