Lies, damned lies and statistics

Published : 12:01 am  January 21, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,484 views  |  
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Massaging the numbers The American author Mark Twain popularised this quote in his article ‘Chapters from My Autobiography,’ published in the magazine North American Review in 1906. Twain wrote: Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.’ However, it must be pointed out that, the phrase is not found in any of the former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s works and the earliest known appearances of the quotation were years after his death. Economist Robert Giffen writing in the Economic... 

Nepal’s ‘Cash’ and ‘Dash’ Maoists

Published : 12:01 am  January 14, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,967 views  |  
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Contempt for the political class grows World over, there is a growing revulsion among activist voters to the behaviour of the professional political class in their societies. The fulltime politician who has a no other occupation other than politics is a relatively new phenomenon in the political environment. In the past politics was a past time taken up by those who had economic security through some other field such as a profession, the legal or medical ones being the most common, land ownership or business. But as the amount of power the political class assigned to itself – by fair means and foul – over time increased rapidly, throwing the principles of good governance to the winds, the... 

Divi Neguma: A community-based development intervention

Published : 12:00 am  January 10, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,657 views  |  

Are rural agriculture and fishery communities excluded? The Divi Neguma Law which was enacted on 8 January 2013 by Parliament with a majority of 117 votes was operationalised on Friday 3 January 2014 by Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa signing the gazette notification for setting up the Divi Neguma Department. The department combines five organisations, including the Sri Lanka Samurdhi Authority, the Upcountry Development Authority (formerly the Kandyan Peasantry Commission of the D.S. Senanayake era) and the Southern Development Authority. All the employees of these organisations will become permanent and pensionable Government servants. Divi Neguma will serve 1.8 million... 

The Kejriwal Phenomenon

Published : 12:01 am  January 7, 2014  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  1,913 views  |  
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A corruption-free South Asia? A new thunderbolt has hit the political scene in South Asia. The South Asian voter after decades of being lied to and cheated by a class of self-serving professional politicians, a political class which has given a new meaning to the word parasite, since South Asia emerged from colonial bondage many moons ago, has today seen new hope in the Aam Admi Party (AAP) [the Common Man Party] of India led by Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, who swept the polls held recently. They won 28 of the 70 seats, pushing the ruling Congress down to eight seats and the BJP to 32. The AAP was launched on 26 November 2012. The party made its debut in the Delhi Legislative Assembly... 

2014: A year of change for women in business?

Published : 12:01 am  December 31, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  Leave a Comment  |  794 views  |  
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On 10 December 2013, as the year was drawing to a close, something unprecedented happened at Henry Ford’s venerable General Motors (GM). Mary Barra took the wheel, as CEO, to become the most powerful woman in the US car industry. Barra is one of a fast growing cadre of top female managers at GM; a quarter of its factory management are female. The cutting-edge technology electric vehicle program is driven by a woman. Barra has been described as ‘a coach, and that’s the sort of management style this company needs’ says David Cole of the Centre for Automotive Research. She takes over from Dan Akerson, a former military man, who leaves on a high note. His new Chevrolet Impala has been cited... 

MOOCs and the developing world

Published : 12:01 am  December 24, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte  |  1 Comment  |  1,093 views  |  
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The potential for a revolution in university education Analysts have pointed out that in the way that some countries bypassed land telephone lines in their bid to enhance telecommunication facilities and went on straight to mobile connectivity, the opportunity offered by Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at the tertiary level would give an opportunity for countries to bypass brick and mortar universities and go straight onto online courses at the tertiary level. It was in 2011 that Stanford University in California, USA, launched its first MOOC. Since then these internet-enabled tertiary education programs have really taken off, engaging millions of users. The large MOOOC providers such as... 

Oh Madiba, we need you here – now!

Published : 12:00 am  December 18, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,459 views  |  
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The King-Emperor of Reconciliation The year was 1995. The date was 24 June. It was the Rugby World Cup final at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, South Africa, between two southern hemispheric rugby power houses: The All Blacks of New Zealand and the Springboks of South Africa. This was the ‘new’ South Africa, christened the Rainbow Nation by Arch Bishop Tutu. The nation that had emerged out of the horrors of white Afrikaner dominated apartheid. Rugby, even then in South Africa, still was the white Afrikaner man’s sport. South Africa had been readmitted to the International Rugby Board in 1992, after the end of apartheid, after being expelled for discrimination against people of colour, i.e.... 

Corporate philanthropy

Published : 12:00 am  December 10, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  983 views  |  

 Applying business acumen to CSR The impact of corporate philanthropy is usually measured by a head count of the number of persons who are assisted by a particular social or financial development intervention of a charitable nature by a business enterprise. It is usually defined in contrast to various shared or blended value approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in which corporates seek to do well by doing good. However, a different approach is being promoted by the Committee for Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), currently chaired by Doug Conant, one time longstanding (for over a decade) CEO of the Campbell Soup Company. CECP had advanced the view that corporate philanthropy... 

‘People living in stone houses should not throw glasses’

Published : 12:04 am  December 3, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  1,242 views  |  
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Loka saama nayikawa, apey mara doothikawa (Leader of world peace/our devilish messenger) The sub title appeared on the wall of the Colombo University in 1976 shortly after the Non-Aligned Summit was held in Colombo, at which Sri Lanka’s Prime Minster was elected Head of the Non Aligned Movement. In the 1977 election, the government was routed and the Prime Minister deprived of civic rights. The current Chairman of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, allegedly in responding to British Prime Minister Cameron’s call for an international inquiry into war crimes, if Sri Lanka does not hold a credible inquiry before March 2104, commented: “People who live in glass houses should not throw... 

Colombo’s new casinos: A high risk venture?

Published : 12:01 am  November 26, 2013  |  Category: Charitha Ratwatte, Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  2,149 views  |  
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At the recent Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo, the Australian tycoon who is the key investor in the much-touted ‘Iconic integrated resort’ with a casino which is to be built in Colombo was a star performer. A local newspaper quoted him as saying, “Nothing will stop Sri Lanka from becoming a top end gambling Mecca.” A profound prediction for this thrice-blessed Dhamma Dweepa! It is difficult to access any definite information on the current status or dimensions of his proposal, especially in the context of existing law – the Casino Business Regulation Act No. 17 of 2010, which inter alia requires that the minister issues a license to a casino and that the minister specifies a... 

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