September 7, 2019

Evidently there is still an unquenched perception among Sri Lankan parents to send their children abroad for higher education, because it appears that since Sri Lanka gained independence from the British in 1948, there has not been a single government policy to introduce a pragmatic education policy that affords every qualifying student to gain entry to a university.  However, what we experience today is ‘university student marches in the country and how they are being treated with water cannons and tear gas bouts. On top that senior undergraduates’ involvement in universities with unimaginable sadistic ragging have made some students to commit suicide and a fair percentage of students have abandoned the university education altogether out of fear or disgust.

The Difference

In the UK too,  ragging exists in universities as a pun, but not as a sadistic exercise. New students are divided into groups and, an appointed leader for each group becomes in charge of his group, whose function is not to subject the nervous new comers to sexual abuse or heartless ragging manoeuvres unlike in Sri Lanka, but to help the  appropriate group of new comers where the amenities within the university complex are such as toilets, cafeteria, library and lecture halls etc. Basically, the Leader of the group becomes a friendly guide

Ragging in Sri Lankan Universities have existed for many years, and some of the. ‘olden day students’ had formed unions specially to protest against such despicable activities but, over the years, it seems it has  worsened to a state of more horrific and nauseating concern.

Over the decades, inadequate administrative mechanisms have created an asymmetrical society in the country, thus widening the gap between the poor and the opulent. This is reflected today by  the number of people whose aim is to get away from Sri Lanka seeking greener pastures in the belief that border controls and immigration authorities in the West or Australia are easy to surmount. In doing so, those unfortunate individuals who are detected by immigration officials as ‘illegal immigrants’ in mid sea have ended up as ‘prisoners’ in detention camps, thus putting an end to their dreams, high expectations and their delusions of grandeur.

Why do people fall prey to immigration racketeers and are prepared to pay heavy charges to transport them through rough and  dangerous sea journeys in unsafe boats? Naturally it has to be that such folks are frustrated to the core about the affairs of the motherland. These helpless victims get caught to  such sharks by either spending their life time savings, borrowed money or worst being by selling their houses and properties.


Current immigration regulations are intensely complex and Border Controls are exceedingly stringent and the word “ illegal immigration” has become the most reviled word in most countries. On the other hand, Sri Lankan economy depends today mostly out of  sending migrant workers legally, particularly to Middle Eastern countries and depend on their remittances to Sri Lanka in foreign exchange (to their kith and kin), which amounts to millions of dollars. Such remittances are recorded as one of the latest and highest foreign exchange earnings for the country’s economy. 

In such a scenario poor men and women accept jobs in foreign countries however menial those may be with the intention of refining their future. True, certain individuals have benefited financially, but with a dose of mental and physical hardships! The million-dollar question is whether such monetary benefits could be equated to the damage it causes to their family fabric? Some  mothers leave their infants and young children home with the fervent hope of bringing smiles and sunshine to the family, but on the contrary, in certain cases it has proved exactly the opposite way.

Sri Lankan women seeking jobs abroad

Middle Eastern employers are noted for ill-treatment to their foreign domestic staff and confine them to the boundary walls of their environment. This has led to unfounded misunderstandings at home where the husband and wife had gone astray, and the smiles have transformed into frustrations and tears due to various factors including infatuated situations and families getting  split-up causing divorces and leaving their children to pick up the pieces of psychological jigsaws.

Out of those immigrant voters sent with the blessings of the government, many females have returned home, after working abroad for many years, harassed by the employers’ families, without any wages and battered in various cold-hearted manners too. Last week a batch of women arriving at the Bandaranaike International Airport from Kuwait, will send warning signals and reminds the government authorities about the dangers of women allowing to leave the country to work especially in the Middle Eastern countries.    


Languid workers

The  bare fact is that those Sri Lankans in general, who have been brought up to work very languidly, do indeed sweat out every minute of the day at work abroad, in order to earn every single Dollar , Pound, Dinar, or Riyal for their living. If the same energy, enthusiasm and dedication had been applied locally, then Sri Lanka would have been at the economical zenith agriculturally and industrially, and there would have been adequate jobs for everyone and  there was no need for anyone thus cutting down the urge to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Ironically for those who have led comfortable lives at home and have burnt their boats completely,  and given up secure jobs, at the drop of a hat, due to various frustrations, become too late when the penny begins to drop and realise the green pastures they sought are much to be desired ! Frankly speaking, however overtly one praises about one’s new environment, in comparison with one’s home upbringing, the refracted feelings within one covertly will be a strange subtle feeling of nostalgia haunting  and bringing memories from home, despite one’s attempts to put on a brave front and console oneself with the new forms of material and financial gains one enjoys. The very feeling of being a ‘second-class’ citizens along with an ‘emptiness’ with such sentimental feelings of the motherland’s past experiences will always begin to haunt one, in spite of whatever brave front one attempts to put on.

In short, the mere feeling of being a ‘second-class’ citizens in a foreign land will not be  so easy to erase from one’s mind, however much one attempts to conceal such feelings, whenever one comes to know about immigrants and immigration on political debates on TV, or when one prejudiced and foulmouthed racist shouts at one saying: “ You black bastard, go home where you came from”.

Maiden Flight Experience


An airline passenger’s maiden experience with the nonplussed feeling, along with uncertainty when leaving Sri Lanka will take over an individual at a height of 36,000 kilometres up in ‘God’s Land’ where one becomes isolated  and confined to a single seat; a peep through the window of the aeroplane one could only observe a sea of white clouds akin to a spread blanket of white cotton wool below! This is how the writer felt as a young student, many moons ago, when he took off from the Ratmalana Airport on an Air Ceylon flight to Bombay, as international flights did not take off from Ratmalana airport. The only two airlines that catered for Sri Lankan passengers were B.O.A.C (British Overseas Airways Corporation) and the TWA ( Transworld Airlines). As an incentive to passengers, TWA offered two stopovers before reaching one’s destination (in the writer’s case –  London). Fascinated by this incentive the writer decided break journey in Bombay and Zurich, in Switzerland, as his second choice in the belief that he may be able to see two world cities as it was indeed a novel experience for a young lad during that era. In doing so, on a sunny early January morning the writer bid goodbye to his mother and the family with glossy eyes.


Experience in Bombay having to share a room with another student (TWA arrangement),  who was flying to USA on an American scholarship, was an amusing experience, but in the night  at the Zurich Hotel, it turned out to be a hair-raising experience for a blossoming youth, when a pretty young woman, with features of  Marilyn Monroe,’ while smoking a cigarette sat in front of this youth at the hotel restaurant and started sending smoke bubbles to his face. He broke out in a cold sweat and took to his heels straight to his room leaving his dinner on the table,  and fastened the lock.

Heathrow airport landed on snow

On a freezing early January morning he landed at Heathrow Airport. Today, Heathrow Airport has transformed and expanded up to 5 terminals. Passengers now have easy access to tube trains to one’s nearest destination from the airport itself by underground tube railway, which has been a major development in moving with the times. Today some of the underground tube trains are self-operated and  a ‘driver’ sits in the driver’s cabin merely to take the ‘fear’ out of passengers, and also to observe activities taking place within the coaches for passenger protection via city cameras. Politically the UK is going through a rough ride with Brexit. If the new Premier, Boris Johnson, it is predicted, cannot come up with a “no-deal” scenario, a leaked document called “The operation Yellowhammer files” reveals that Britain will experience food and medicine shortages and thousands of people could be left without clean water and the whole country is likely to be in chaos in a reasonable worst-case scenario.

Pic credit: google photos, Ceylon Today Newspaper

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