Saturday, November 19, 2011

If only the papers reflect the feelings of the Nation or just some who wish to suck up

If one looks at yesterday's Lankadeepa, the paper with the largest circulation, (18th November 2011) which coincides both as the 66th birthday of the President, and also the first anniversary of taking oaths for his second term as President, one would see 40pages in two supplements of paid advertisements giving praise to him for both the above while extending warm greetings. It is unquestionably a competition by the various Ministries to put full page ads from their respective ministers both referring to service given to them in developing the areas pertaining to those ministries. The English papers being read by an audience who I presume are less able to be talked down to have smaller supplements, specifically on the 1st Anniversary of the beginning and less mention of the birthday.

It must be remembered ironically that in Sri Lanka, Sinhala culture does not give as much prominence for birthdays as it is amongst the more westernized people who use the birthdays as an excuse for a party. So the fact that it was so highlighted in the Sinhala papers is a further example of dynastic servility of those whose whole existence depends on homage to their benefactor. The benefactor must be careful in realizing this as being something that has been purchased and not performed out of any altruistic motive, as most people who have expended the scarce funds of the ministries appear to be those not deserving of those positions due to their basic inadequacies. Just think if you were an upright and responsible person, who was concerned about the careful use of funds delineated to you would you spend Rs200K on a full page ad in a supplement. You would not care a hoot, if someone asked you why you did not put an ad for the occasion.

You would say, is it better to improve the livelihood of 200 people or curry favor by putting a full page ad, one among many that requires some of the world’s scarce resources to be cut, to make the newsprint to put in a newspaper! Does the occasion really warrant this sort of expenditure? Of course the papers are happy!

I can understand events such as a bodhi pooja in Sri Lankan tradition. It now extends as far as a one year dansala in Anuradhapura near the Ruwanveliseya Dagoba. I have no issue with alms-givings, as long as the state does not have to fund that too, and private individuals give of their own free will, and not coerced into it. So not to be seen as a kill joy in this commemoration, I believe such events can be commemorated in better ways, such as the tree planting campaign, which I whole heartedly support, which in commemoration can improve the livelihood of all that live in this country instead of restricting it to a fortunate, selected few.

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