Sujata Gamage,Opinion and Issues

Avurudu: When we eat the same thing at the same time

Views - 619 Friday, 12 April 2019 00:00

Avurudu falls on 14 April Sunday this year. On this day at 2:09 p.m., the sun crosses an imaginary line that separates the constellation Pisces from Aries, marking the dawn of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. The period from 7:45 a.m. to 2:09 p.m. is


Grade 5 Scholarship Examination: Make it smarter, abolish not!

Views - 287 Friday, 29 March 2019 00:00

The President has made headlines declaring an intention by the Government to abolish the Grade Five Scholarship examination. The President is free to express his opinions but policy making has to be led by the Minister of Education and ratified by th


Recognition of and support for international schools is essential for equity in education

Views - 106 Friday, 15 March 2019 00:00

If we are to realistically address the increasing demand for quality education in a debt-strapped developing country such as ours, it is essential to allow a parallel system of private education opportunities within a policy environment that makes en


The free tabs initiative is a worthy investment if the objects are articulated and outcomes monitored

Views - 77 Friday, 1 March 2019 00:00

The Budget of the Government of Sri Lanka for 2017 included a line item for Rs. 5 billion to provide free tabs for students who enter the Advanced Level (A/L) classes in public schools. It was a long overdue allocation of funds to fulfil a campaign p


Rolling back big government – The next big challenge

Views - 105 Thursday, 24 January 2019 00:40

Preliminary estimates in the 2019 Budget to be presented on 5 March this year include an income of 2.5 trillion and a debt service requirements of a whopping 2.2 trillion, leaving only a net income of 0.3 trillion. As for expenditure, the Government


Reforming public corporations and enterprises: Focus on performance not inputs

Views - 252 Thursday, 10 January 2019 00:29

Recently the President issued a circular on recruitments to boards of public corporations and enterprises, overriding the prerogative of ministers to appoint boards to such entities under their jurisdictions. The new process includes the review of a


Value of regulated landfills: Megapolis Ministry must communicate

Views - 347 Tuesday, 23 October 2018 00:00

Our policymakers may do the right thing but not do it too well by not communicating the larger purpose of their actions. The current fuss about the proposed Aruwakkalu landfill is one such example. As the Ministry of Megapolis correctly points out,


Free tabs for A/L students: Limits and opportunities

Views - 384 Tuesday, 10 July 2018 00:27

‘Tabs for A/L students’ and ’13 years of education for all’ are two promises from the 2015 election manifesto of the UNP. Both are game-changer promises, but a promise in a manifesto is only a starting point. Bureaucrats have to expand the id


The evolving shape and form of the presidency in Sri Lanka

Views - 323 Tuesday, 15 May 2018 00:00

Even the strongest critics of the 1978 Constitution will have to agree that it is a well-constructed piece of legislation with an architecture which is internally consistent. While a Constitution ensures the citizens their rights, the right of repres


Learn from local elections to get on with the provincial elections

Views - 159 Friday, 27 April 2018 00:00

As Churchill had said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried


Liberal democracy as a sellable brand: The challenge for the UNP

Views - 221 Friday, 6 April 2018 00:10

With the No-Confidence motion behind it, the United National Party (UNP) is promising deep reforms in the party. Unless the party


Asbestos, glyphosate and polythene bans: Cases of lazy and irresponsible policymaking

Views - 344 Friday, 30 March 2018 00:05

The President retracted the ban of asbestos in the face of Russian pressures. The glyphosate ban is now under review


A framework for a Cabinet reshuffle – if the Government is serious about it

Views - 413 Friday, 2 March 2018 00:00

On 16 September 2015, still under the euphoria of a new government and new possibilities, I wrote an article titled ‘The real issue is not the size of the Cabinet but its performance’.


Liberal democracy is dead. Long live liberal democracy.

Views - 299 Tuesday, 20 February 2018 00:00

Liberal democracy as propounded and practiced by the UNP is dead. Beating up the statistics of the recent local election will not bring it back, but the UNP still remains the best vehicle for reviving liberal democratic ideals. Pohottuwa or the Sri L


Enough piecemeal solutions: A coherent HR policy for the health sector is needed

Views - 130 Friday, 2 February 2018 00:00

The anti-SAITM movement was never about SAITM. It was essentially a coming together of statist protectionist segments in society together with the extreme left to stop private higher education of any form.


Problem is not us women and booze: It’s paternalism and capriciousness in policymaking

Views - 404 Friday, 19 January 2018 00:00

The other day the President of Sri Lanka went public expressing his intention to revoke a ministerial order revoking the notion that a woman of any age has no more maturity than a youth less than eighteen years old.


Local elections: The process, results and the future

Views - 2051 Friday, 5 January 2018 00:00

The local elections are scheduled to take place on 10 February, after a long period of anticipation. As a country


Quotas with ‘zipping’ for women in local government

Views - 1312 Friday, 28 July 2017 00:08

The other day I met a woman who is a card-carrying member of a major political party. She is the president of the midwives association in her area. She exuded leadership. She has so much to share with her community about health, lifestyles and oth


Plastics ban is good in parts; room for corrections?

Views - 1521 Friday, 14 July 2017 00:00

On Tuesday Cabinet approved a proposal by the President as Minister for Environment on short-term, mid-term and long-term measures to curtail the use of polythene or the soft form of plastics familiar to the average citizen as shopping bags and lu


Electoral reforms: Lessons from Indonesia and South Africa

Views - 1626 Friday, 30 June 2017 00:10

  The Constitutional Assembly in the Parliament of Sri Lanka hosted Dikgang Moseneke, the former Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa and an architect of the South African Constitution, to deliver a lecture on ‘Reaching


Disaster response needs an active National Council, not a dedicated Ministry

Views - 1939 Friday, 2 June 2017 00:08

Ministers may get photo ops but local action is what gets the jobs done – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara   Floodscaused by heavy monsoon rains have not receded yet. This flood happened in the wake of another major flo


Time for civil society to act on the solid waste disposal problem

Views - 2186 Friday, 19 May 2017 00:00

Sometimes there are events which compel you to take action. The tragedy of Meethotamulla is one such. In spite of all the available knowledge on solid waste management and all foreign sites visited and workshops attended by officials, a mountain o


Towards responsible environmentalism in solid waste management

Views - 2034 Friday, 5 May 2017 00:05

In an article published as early as 1992, Jim L. Bowyer, professor of forestry at the University of Wisconsin pleaded for responsible environmentalism. He described responsible environmentalism essentially as “paying attention to human needs


Meethotamulla: Assigning the blame correctly

Views - 3057 Friday, 21 April 2017 00:00

At a recent panel discussion on ITN television themed ‘Mountains of garbage’ where the writer was a panellist, S.M. Marikkar, MP for Colombo District, brought a file with copies of communications from him to authorities regarding the M


Representation for women need not be at the expense of a bloated local government

Views - 2274 Friday, 7 April 2017 00:00

The two major parties in Government have apparently agreed on constitutional reforms that do not require a referendum. With presidential powers already reduced to some extent and independent commissions now functioning more or less, electoral refo


Cavaliers, roundheads and the big match season

Views - 2389 Friday, 24 March 2017 09:48

Big match season lays bare the tribalism and sexism in our society     Big match season brings out the best in us and also the worst, I think. The camaraderie and the loyalty of the old boys and the enthu


Legislation is needed to restructure the gatekeepers of higher education

Views - 2518 Friday, 3 March 2017 00:00

Two prominent gatekeepers of higher education in Sri Lanka are the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC). They have achieved this status due to an artificially created scarcity of credentials, or access to cre


Time is right to break the iron triangle of a medical monopoly

Views - 5130 Friday, 17 February 2017 00:00

A protest by State university students, calling on the Government to intervene and close SAITM. While there is a dire need for more doctors, we have thousands of able and willing youngsters who miss opportunity for a free-of-charge medical educati


RTI is good, but open data is better

Views - 2628 Thursday, 2 February 2017 00:08

The Sri Lanka Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016 is to become effective in a few days. The act was gazetted on 4 August 2016, but embargoed for six months with an additional space of another six months allowed for all provisions of the Act to


Offline digital content critical for Government’s tabs initiative

Views - 2752 Tuesday, 27 December 2016 00:02

Sri Lanka’s Budget 2017 included an expenditure of Rs. 5 billion to “provide free tabs for almost 175,000 students who enter the Advanced Level (AL) classes and around 28,000 A/L teachers.” The evidence is overwhelmingly against


Today's Columnists

Poignant pondering on a patriarch

Monday, 22 April 2019

Almost five months have gone. It is with a profound sense of sadness that we experienced the demise of our veteran teacher, respected author, legal luminary, an accomplished ambassador, an eminent public servant and an amazing human being, Dr. Wickre


Enemies of democracy – Part I Demand for a strongman to rule the country

Monday, 22 April 2019

I posed the following question to a group of university students recently: ‘Do you desire to have a strongman to rule Sri Lanka today?’ The students, made up of both genders in the age group of 25 to 35, chorused the answer in the affirmative. Wh


The sad demise of Jet Airways

Monday, 22 April 2019

Jet Airways of India, once the premier full-service carrier of the sub-continent, has ceased operations. “Jet Airways and its Board of Directors have been forced to take this extreme measure, as prolonged and sustained efforts with lenders and auth


No more stones to break Sri Lankan bones

Friday, 19 April 2019

Trial by fire is not a new ordeal to Christian community. It predates Notre Dame and Nazism by millennia. In fact, a decade or so before Nero torched believers to light Roman avenues, Jewish religious leaders put Jesus-followers to the test as the Ch


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