Feedback on Features

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 20 2020
Columns Feedback on Features

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando

Two of the feedbacks the writer received for two separate articles of his had different perceptions. The articles were published in Ceylon Today on 5 August 2020 and 1 October 2020 with the headings ‘Reckless Driving and wanton Disregard’ and ‘University Ragging in Sri Lanka’ respectively

University Ragging in Sri Lanka

The first feedback came from a lady who referred to the ‘University Ragging in Sri Lanka’ article. She assumed the writer had missed out on some valid points. Her observation was that every single article was of the same opinion. She was curious to know why every writer repeated the same motive and why a different perspective could not be presented of this disparaging situation?

Extension of school life

University education she said is an extension of a youth’s school life. In Sri Lanka, primary and junior schools provide education up to the university entrance. However, ragging is rarely heard of in primary and secondary schools except for instances when bullyboys cause embarrassing situations. Therefore, she is bemused by the drastic change in behaviour that occurs when certain students gain University admission.  She says ‘there is something wrong with the Administration of the Universities”. Given these circumstances, is it possible to project her comments as fair?

She considers students who underwent the local ‘school system’ are subject to the ‘domineering behaviour of teachers and principals’. The mental trauma primary and secondary schools students suffer reflects later on their University Dons and peers. After all, University education lasts only for a few years. She stresses how the same timid primary and secondary school student turns into a perverted bully with absolutely no regard, respect or fear towards the University hierarchy.

By the time a student enters University hardly much changes as the conditioning he or she has received at junior and secondary levels has already inflicted the mental change and damage.  She thinks there are divisions within the local school administrations actively promoting ragging?  It makes more sense to her as to why it might be the reason why ragging was never eradicated, and tormenters act with impunity.

Vicious Circle

Theories on ragging are many, the ragger caught in a vicious circle, maintains levels of brutality as a constant. This is why it’s so hard to understand why undergraduates spend their four to six years getting tempted to be undisciplined. She is curious to know why only a minor percentage of students turn to bullies while ninety-nine per cent of university undergraduates do not engage in ragging. Nevertheless, it is strange how the University Administration remains a constant factor. 

Students who enter universities are supposed to be the cream of our society and the future builders of the Nation. She says “our higher education system lets them down disastrously”. In the writer’s view too, he agrees with the bulk of her views and that a new education policy needs to be introduced so that any future Government cannot deviate from the ‘National Education Policy’.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is well aware of this problem. The President intends to bring a new National Education Policy to be included in the New Constitution by next year.  Everyone hopes the banning of university ragging will be included in the new Constitution and hopefully, the problem of ragging in Universities in Sri Lanka will be rooted out forever. 

Reckless Driving and wanton Disregard

The other reader sent his comments on the article ‘Reckless Driving and Wanton Disregard’. He states thus: As another victim of road indiscipline, I have the following observations and comments to add:

The roads in Colombo City, which matter most, are either poorly constructed or maintained. Often workforces undertake repairs during the day and at peak traffic times causing traffic congestions compelling road users to ignore lane discipline.

Some roads have four lanes. These roads narrow down to single or two lanes ending in chaos.

Yesterday I was overtaken by another vehicle right on the over-head bridge in Nugegoda where the accident in your article took place.  Therefore, a CCTV camera is a must to cover traffic movement on the Nugegoda overhead bridge. Although, many discussions have taken place about the soldier who lost his  life no action has been taken so far.

Under the Nugegoda overhead bridge, there is chaos compounded. Traffic lanes have disappeared, and Natural Laws of Darwinism takes over to get the hell out where eight lanes converge.  The motorists are pathetically expected to depend on their Karma than on their vision to extricate themselves from this tormenting administrative ‘catalepsy’.

Overtaking is yet another concern. No matter what regulations are imposed, overtaking from the left is paramount.

Tuk-tuks (three-wheelers) need not stop to pick up or drop the passengers as they like in the middle of the road. Criss-crossing lanes is inevitable (although fines are in motion in the City limits).

The pedestrians are compelled to use the main roads where  ‘pavements’ are not available.

Busses stop on the middle of the road to pick up or drop passengers hindering the movement of traffic, despite introducing fines. It is highly dangerous.

Pedestrian crossings are not lit. Hence, the pedestrians, for their safety, cross where there is light. 

There are no adequate parking bays or meters, particularly in front of schools,   clinics, banks and lawyers’ offices.    

I believe what we lack is a modern public transport system accommodated with an AC, clean, comfortable and punctual. If there is such a system, it will undoubtedly reduce the traffic flow by about 50 per cent e.g., by introducing Monorail and Park and ride systems!

All these facts are not meant for the eyes only of the responsible traffic administrators and the traffic police. Remedial action must be taken because whatever said and done in Sri Lanka road discipline is long overdue .

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By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 20 2020

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