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Dharmapala chintanaya for Sri Lanka - EDITORIAL

15 September 2015 06:37 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Launching week-long ceremonies to mark revivalist Anagarika Dharmapala’s 151st birth anniversary, President Maithripala Sirisena said on Monday he believed Sri Lanka needed to revive and re-live the Dharmapala chinthanaya.

The President, addressing thousands of students, teachers and parents at Dharmapala Vidyalaya in Pannipitiya, said the core and centre of the Dharmapala chinthanaya was to revive our Sri Lankan identity, to be Sri Lankan and buy Sri Lankan.

Rejecting claims by some that the Dharmapala Chinthanaya was essentially a Sinhala Buddhist revival, the President said he believed the Anagarika’s vision went far beyond that to compassion, understanding and respect for all people of all religions and races. Those who practise the Buddha Dhamma will be protected by the Dhamma. The central theme of which is to make all beings happy.

Outlining some practical principles of the Dharmapala chinthanaya, the President said Sri Lanka’s people need to revive the habit of buying what is grown or made in Sri Lanka. Last year Sri Lanka spent more than Rs.6,000 million to import various items and this trend needed to be turned around. He lamented that some people, when they wanted to buy some item, would ask whether the item was made in Sri Lanka or imported. They often preferred the imported item on the myth that the quality of imported items was better than what was made in Sri Lanka. This thinking pattern needs to change as does the quality of what we produce in Sri Lanka.

The President has repeatedly pledged he would initiate a national food production policy, so that Sri Lanka could reduce its dependence on imported items including some processed rubbish that is dumped in our country by some Trans-national corporations (TNCs).

According to economic experts, some 100 of the most powerful and biggest profit-making TNCs are controlling or manipulating the economy of the world, especially third-world countries such as Sri Lanka. This economic neo-colonialism is worse than the military colonialism practised before the collapse of the empire states. Earlier they came with their armies and navies to plunder our wealth and resources. At that time we were at least able to see what was happening. What is happening now is largely unseen, but unfortunately most people in third-world countries like Sri Lanka do not even care to get to know the story behind the story. So we wait in blissful ignorance until one day we realise the TNCs have plundered so much that we have little or nothing left.

Two key areas have been identified in the National Government’s plans to revive national food production. One is the revival of our dairy milk industry. At present Sri Lanka is largely dependent on imported powdered milk which, according to people-friendly nutritionists, is not even half as nutritious as fresh milk. When fresh milk is processed into powdered milk, half the nutritive value is lost. Preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavour-enhancing substances are known to be added, with some nutritionists saying there are questions as to what harm these additives could cause to children. One particular TNC is known to have been mainly responsible for milking our dairy industry dry in the 1980s. Nutritionists say it is tragic that one of Sri Lanka’s leading social service movements has tied up with another trans-national milk giant. They say the aim is to revive our dairy milk industry, but sometimes this milk of human kindness is killing.

The other area to improve the quality and safety of food produced here is to gradually reduce the use of imported agro-chemicals and switch to organic agriculture. The new National Government has not made a commitment to continue the fertilizer subsidy for farmers, because it is seriously considering ways to go back to the good old organic agriculture which has sustained Sri Lanka for thousands of years. We hope this will be another important principle in the “be Lankan buy Lankan” vision of the Dharmapala chinthanaya.         
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