Friday, August 12, 2011

Much to learn from China on path to economic progress - President

Much to learn from China on path to economic progress - President 

When considering the relationship between economic development and social equality, it is clear that the former should be achieved by seeking better understanding between the cultures and traditions of the people of a country and their future expectations. I believe we can learn much from China in this regard, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa today (August 11), when he was conferred an Honorary Doctorate by Beijing Foreign Studies University. The citation of the Doctorate stated that it was awarded for fostering peace and reconciliation within the country and the world, creating an environment in which all the communities can live in harmony and strengthening friendship and understanding between Sri Lanka and China. The President acclaimed the contribution made by China as a dominant economic power to the development of many countries including Sri Lanka. “China is also engaged in considerable work on infrastructure development in many parts of the country, that contribute to the rapid economic development that we seek to achieve after the successful defeat of terrorism”, he said.
“I must also record here the deep gratitude of the people of Sri Lanka to China for their commitment to support Sri Lanka in the battle against terrorism that we concluded with success; and for the assistance given for reconstruction and resettlement in the former conflict zone in our country”, the President added.
He elaborated on the long links that have existed between Sri Lanka and China which date back to the 4th Century. Having mentioned the development of the relations between the two countries which were influenced by Buddhism and East-West trade, he noted the significance of the Rubber-Rice Pact in 1952 that resulted in a great boost. “It is worth recalling that Sri Lanka signed this pact despite much opposition from our former colonial rulers and the countries of the West that were opposed to the People’s Republic of China”, he added.
Later, the newly built Sri Lanka Research Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University was declared open by President Rajapaksa.
He was also conferred the honorary lifetime presidency of the Research Centre by Chancellor of the University Prof. Chen Yulu.
The measures taken by President Rajapaksa are instrumental not only in improving the standard of education in China and Sri Lanka, but also creating world peace, Prof. Yulu said.
The President met with the Chinese students studying the Sinhala language at the University. He also planted a tree within the University premises as a token of the friendship between China and Sri Lanka.
The event was attended by Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Higher Education S. B. Dissanayake, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and MP Sachin Vas Gunawardena.
Here is the full text of the speech made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa:
Let me first express my thanks to the Chairman, Mr. Yang Xueyi and the President, Mr. Chen Yulu of the Beijing Foreign Studies University for the invitation extended to me to participate in these memorable events of this important institute of learning.
I am deeply touched and most grateful for the honour conferred on me today, on this historic occasion in the annals of the Beijing Foreign Studies University. I consider this to be a significant recognition of the long and healthy friendship between China and Sri Lanka, as well as a symbol of the commitment between our two countries to foster better understanding among youth, specially through the promotion of educational exchanges.
Seventy years is a commendable record for a university that is committed to the promotion of understanding and better relations among countries and nations through the study of language. Language plays a prime role as a means of communication not only within a country but also between diverse cultures. Our literature reflects our valuable traditions and the legacy of our development practices in the ancient times. It is language that builds a link between our literature and religious culture.
The temple was the centre of the educational practices in our village society. Many of our great writers, poets and ideologists were well read Buddhist monks, nurtured by the valued concepts of Buddhism. Likewise, our folklore was nourished by religion. Unlike today, our ancestors learnt languages through an oral tradition passed on from generation to generation. Those who possessed a vast amount of knowledge and experience were considered called the erudite.
Further, other cultural aspects such as theatre, music and other forms of art were shaped and embellished by elements of language. Knowledge of language is an essential requirement to understand and deeply study the core values of a nation.
The importance that China has given to the study of foreign languages is underlined by this university being established just twenty years after the great Chinese Revolution that marks its 90th anniversary this year.
It is also of much significance that today’s events mark the 50th anniversary or Golden Jubilee of the Sinhala Language Department of this university. My congratulations are extended to the University for its proud record of service in education and to the Sinhala Department to its commitment to the study and spread of the Sinhala language in China.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
This university is the first in China to offer foreign language programmes, and, I am pleased to know that it offers the most number of foreign language programmes than any other university in China.
The Sinhala Language Department established in 1961 has been a great source of understanding of China by the Sri Lankan people, and of Sri Lanka by the Chinese people. It is, therefore, most fitting that this important anniversary is also the occasion when the Sri Lanka Centre will be established in this university. This is a further expression of the importance that China, its academics and its policies on education, place on the study of Sinhala, as part of its wider global reach in understanding the cultures and traditions of other nations.
I think it would be proper to refer here to the very long links that have existed between Sri Lanka and China. These date back to the 4th Century when Roman historians recorded the trade links that China had with Sri Lanka.
Buddhism also contributed to the strengthening of these links with the two visits in the 4th and 5th centuries by Fa Hsien the Chinese Buddhist monk, who traveled to Sri Lanka to acquire knowledge of Buddhism and Buddhist scriptures.
These links continued for many centuries and during the Tang Dynasty several Chinese monks visited Sri Lanka in search of Buddhist teaching.
When talking of this, we cannot ignore the significance of the Silk Route. Sri Lanka was also linked to this Route that traversed from Qian in China to Constantinople in Turkey. Therefore, East-West Trade was at the zenith during that time, and the knowledge of different languages was necessary.
Coming to the more recent past the friendship between our two countries had a great boost with the signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact in 1952. It is worth recalling that Sri Lanka signed this pact despite much opposition from our former colonial rulers and the countries of the West that were opposed to the People’s Republic of China. This is also the first trade agreement that the People’s Republic of China signed with a country outside the Socialist Bloc.
Our relations have been growing ever since and took a further step ahead when Diplomatic Relations were established between our two countries in 1957.
Today, there are many landmarks in my country that symbolize this great friendship that covers many areas of development and progress. These include the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall – a gift of China that brought Sri Lanka to the conventions market in the world. Our Supreme Court is housed in a building gifted by China and very soon we will be opening the Centre for Performing Arts in Colombo, which is an important gift from China for the development of artistic expression in Sri Lanka.
China is also engaged in considerable work on infrastructure development in many parts of the country, that contribute to the rapid economic development that we seek to achieve after the successful defeat of terrorism.
I must also record here the deep gratitude of the people of Sri Lanka to China for their commitment to support Sri Lanka in the battle against terrorism that we concluded with success; and for the assistance given for reconstruction and resettlement in the former conflict zone in our country.
At this important seat of learning, I wish to state that since peace was restored in Sri Lanka, we have given great importance to the expansion of good education among the people in the North and East of our country. Rehabilitated cadres of the terrorists are now attending schools and some have entered universities, too. We have provided them with the opportunity to follow different language courses, too.
China holds a dominant position in international trade today. The development of China has contributed to many countries including Sri Lanka, moving towards development through economic policies. When considering the relationship between economic development and social equality, it is clear that the former should be achieved by seeking better understanding between the cultures and traditions of the people of a country and their future expectations. I believe we can learn much from China in this regard.
I am glad to know of the presence here of the first Sinhala language student of China in the modern period – Mr. Zheng Yuzhong. I understand that he worked in the Chinese Embassy in Colombo from 1959 to 1972, and was the interpreter to Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai during his first visit to Sri Lanka 1964, with his deep knowledge of the Sinhala language Mr. Zheng was the first Sinhala language lecturer and Associate Professor of Sinhala at this great university. I wish Mr. Zheng Yuzhong good health and many more years service in the cause of good relations though the study of language.
10-Gift_Sinhala_booksThe very existence of the Sinhala Language Department in this university is an important sign of China’s interest in fostering and strengthening friendship between our two countries. I note with great satisfaction that more than 100 Chinese students have mastered the Sinhala language in this Department.
The study of a language brings a natural interest among students in the country from which that language comes and of its people. Having met many a Chinese Diplomat in Sri Lanka, I have been greatly impressed by their knowledge of Sinhala and see in this the success of this Department. I believe the Sri Lanka Centre will also contribute to this deeper understanding of Sri Lanka among the Chinese people.
I must also mention here the important contribution to understanding made by the Chinese International Broadcasting Service, which also celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. The Sinhala language service of this station has also done much to build good understanding between Sri Lanka and China. I trust it has also benefited from the Sinhala Language Department of this university.
It is necessary to mention here the student and teacher exchange programmes between China and Sri Lanka that are in operation today. This university has two agreements with the University of Kelaniya and the University of Colombo for productive student - teacher exchange. I believe we could develop these programmes further with more openings in Sri Lankan universities for Chinese students to further their studies, not only in Sinhala but in other disciplines, too. I trust there could be a mutual exchange of such opportunities between our two countries.
In conclusion let me once again extend my thanks to this university, as well as to the Government and to the people of China for the continued support extended to Sri Lanka. I look forward to the friendship between our two countries growing stronger in the years to come.
I wish you all a bright future. 

Diabetes on the rise

Diabetes on the rise 

Latest medical researches have revealed that 15 % of the population of this country is afflicted with diabetes, and another 15% has pre-diabetes condition.  The specialist doctors point out that even children are becoming afflicted with diabetes.
Reports on the subject say that at present nearly 250 million people throughout the world are afflicted with diabetes, and every ten seconds one death occurs due to this disease.  Non-curable wounds cause the limbs of diabetic patients to be removed every 30 seconds.  Six million people get listed annually as diabetic patients.  The reason for this disease is the rise of glucose level in the blood due to non production of insulin hormone in the pancreas.  Such patients should be injected with insulin.  The 2nd reason is the insulin being not conforming to the required level.  The 3rd reason is the diabetic condition of pregnant women.
Doctors point out that consumption of unwanted food, lack of exercise, mental depression and smoking and intake of liquor are the main reasons for causing diabetic condition. About 5% of the patients have inherited the disease  from their parents.
A medical research has found that  about 15 %  of working population in the Colombo District are diabetic patients.  The doctors say that the children becoming affected with the disease is on the increase.  They say that the children mostly take instant food  and  food varieties that contains  high  contents of oil, sugar  and flour several times a day.  The doctors also point out that lack of exercises in the children due to them being confined to studies alone may make them vulnerable to getting affected by diabetes.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pakistan two navy ships arrive inColombo port on a goodwill mission

Two Pakistani Naval ships returning from China arrived in  Colombo port today on a three-day visit

Pakistan Navy Task Group comprising PNS Sword Class Frigate PN Ship Shamsheer and Combat Support Fleet Tanker PN Ship Nasr reached Colombo after participating in the Brunei Fleet Review 2011.

In accordance with naval traditions, the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) ceremonially welcomed the ships and the crew on arrival. Various events have been planned for the visitors during their stay in Colombo.
According to SLN, PNS Shamsheer is a guided missile frigate with a displacement of 3143.9 tons. It is 123 meters in length and carries a complement of 28 officers and 215 sailors. The ship has a state of the art weapons and surveillance system and is commanded by Captain Ahmed Farooq.

PNS Nasr is a fleet oil tanker with a displacement of 21850.7 tons. It is 170.45 meters in length and carries a complement of 23 officers and 296 sailors. It is a Combat Support ship which supports extended operations of Pakistan Navy. The ship is commanded by Captain Ovais Hyder.
The visit is a part of a cruise to enhance defense relations and goodwill between the two countries, Pakistan news agency APP said.
Such visits are part of regular exchange Port Calls between the two navies that bolster the cooperation between the two countries.
Pakistan is a close ally of Sri Lanka and Pakistan Navy regards cooperation with Sri Lankan Navy is of paramount importance.
The visit will open new avenues of bilateral cooperation between the two friendly navies and garner the existing strong bonds of friendship between the two countries, a statement said.

London Violence

Riots spread across Britain as London calms

Britain's worst riots in decades raged into Wednesday as youths ran amok in Manchester and the industrial Midlands but London was quiet with 16,000 police swamping the streets to stem violence.
In Manchester, Britain's third-largest city, youths smashed shop windows and looted shops and chased photographers away from the scene in what police described as the city's worst violence in 30 years.
Elsewhere, hooded rioters set fire to buildings in West Bromwich and Wolverhampton in central England and a police station in nearby Nottingham was firebombed, although there were no reported injuries.
Looters also targeted shops in the second city of Birmingham for another night and 200 rioters pelted police with missiles in the northwest city of Liverpool as the nation faced up to a fourth day of unrest.
But in London there was no repeat of the wave of violence which left parts of the capital in flames on Monday night, as vigilante mobs took to the streets to defend their communities.
Police were bracing for more trouble after what they said was the worst night of disorder in living memory in the British capital, and their numbers were ramped up from 6,000 to 16,000 on Tuesday night as Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to do "everything necessary to restore order to the streets".
Shops in many parts of London closed early and put down their shutters on the advice of the police.
Scotland Yard said early Wednesday that 768 people had been arrested in London for violence, disorder and looting.
The focus of Tuesday's violence was Manchester in northwest England, where police were driven back by gangs of hundreds of youths who covered their faces with scarves and ski masks.
Gangs smashed their way into shoe shops and set fire to a girls' clothing store in the city centre.
Two raiders smashed the glass entrance of the Arndale shopping centre, central Manchester's main shopping mall, allowing hundreds of youths to pour into a shop and emerge with armfuls of clothes and shoes.
Looters cleared out an electrical store as powerless police watched on while other gangs squared up to officers and shouted obscenities in their faces, an AFP correspondent reported.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of Greater Manchester Police, who joined the force after moving to the city in 1981, called the scenes "senseless violence and senseless criminality on a scale I have never witnessed before."
There were similar scenes in Birmingham, and in the neighbouring town of Wolverhampton youths clashed with riot police brandishing shields.
West Midlands police, which arrested 109 people over Tuesday's disturbances, said it was investigating reports that a shot had been fired during the disorder.
Despite the unrest, police and cricket officials announced that the Test match between England and India, due to take place at the nearby Edgbaston ground, would begin as planned on Wednesday.
In London, hundreds of Sikhs camped out overnight Wednesday to defend the community of Southall in the capital's west.
The group, some dressed in traditional clothing, organised motorcycle patrols and monitored the train station for troublemakers.
Similar mobs of football supporters congregated in Eltham, south London, in an effort to deter looters.
An AFP reporter witnessed a gang of around 150 men running down a street in Enfield, at the centre of much of the previous trouble, shouting "England, England, England".
In a development which will do nothing to calm tensions, Britain's police watchdog said it found no evidence that Mark Duggan -- whose shooting by police last week was the catalyst for the riots in London -- had fired a gun at officers.
In a pre-planned operation, armed officers stopped the taxi in which Duggan, 29, was travelling in the multi-ethnic district of Tottenham in north London. Shots were fired and Duggan died at the scene.
Duggan's family said they were "completely gutted" by the findings and called for "answers" from the police.
Despite the controversy surrounding the shooting, Cameron warned rioters: "You will feel the full force of the law."
Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said the rampage by hundreds of hooded youths was "unprecedented" and police resources were stretched "to an extent I have never seen before".
He said plastic bullets -- used during sectarian unrest in Northern Ireland but never before in mainland Britain -- have been considered to stem the tide of unrest.
The violence has raised questions about security ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games, and it prompted the cancellation of Wednesday's friendly between England and the Netherlands at Wembley Stadium.
A 26-year-old man found with a gunshot wound to the head in a car in Croydon died in hospital on Tuesday, police said, becoming the first fatality of the riots.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Buddhist archaeological sites in Pakistan

Buddhist archaeological sites in Pakistan

by Chandana Wijekoon 

Only a few people have a true understanding of Buddhist sites in Pakistan which is acclaimed as a truly Islamic People's Republic. This is because only a small group of people in Pakistan get to read and understand reports on the Buddhist sites in their country.
Therefore, I believe that it is timely to make an analysis of the archaeological sites in Pakistan and the measures which are being taken to safeguard them.
Taxila is the old capital of the State of Gandhar. It is a location with ample sunlight and is situated in an ideal and precious block of land. It is considered that the site was in existence in the 6th century BC and this has been determined by archaeologists who have unveiled a plethora of artefacts ranging from coins, play pots, jewellery and other creations. It is due to these reasons that the UNESCO has declared it as a World heritage site. It is also an open museum.
There are, still the vestiges of ancient Buddhist civilisation along with 12 stupas and a large number of Chinese and Burmese dagobas efforts of the Pakistan archaeological authorities and their attempts to conserve them should not be underestimated even in the light of the impossibility to trace their roots.
The efforts of intellectuals, archaeologists, and tourists who roam the site have enabled the dissemination of various studies, unfolding the Buddhist heritage of Taxila, which is an ancient site sandwiched between the banks of the Indus river. Rawalpindi and Peshawar both belong to this site.
This is indeed an idyllic site which is around 100 kilometres in length from east to west and 70 kilometres from the Northern slope to the south it is enveloped with mountains. On the Northern
range is the Buher, Swat, Dir and Bajaur mountains and the first capital of the area was Pushkalawathi which is known as the Charshada town. It extends to the cities of Taxila, Manik Yala city and the Jhelum city. It was at that time that the art of Ghandhar originated between the first and seventh centuries BC.
It is also considered that the origin of Taxila was during King Darius I between 422 and 586 BC. It was also approximately in 327 BC that King Alexander the Great travelled in the Indus River through the city of Attock to extend his military operations to Central Asia and he arrived in Taxila, Chronicles have unfolded that King Chandragupta who was also considered as the first King of the area and that he extended his reign from Northern to Southern India and also to Hindu Kush in North Afghanistan  .
Emperor Asoka has also ruled the State of Gandhar. It was his unbridled devotion to Buddhism that it also spread to North India as well. But his kingdom could not be extended beyond to what it was till then, following his demise. From the end of the 3rd century BC to first century BC, Gandhar has also been a part of the Kingdom of Bactria as well. The area that was known as Bactria is now the Bolkh region in Northern Afghanistan.
The Thushanese who were known to have been immigrants from China have endorsed their power in Ghandhar from first century BC to third century AD. King Kanishka who was a pious Buddhist was also instrumental in enforcing a series of Buddhist traditions within the Gandhar region. There were a series of monuments which evolved in that time.
According to archaeological evidence, there had been the evolution of the Greeko-Roman culture also which have been embedded into the culture during that time and they have also given priority for Buddhist civilisation as well.
Gandhara is the name of an ancient kingdom (Mahajanapada), located in Northern Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the valley of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River. Its main cities were Purushapura (modern Peshawar), literally meaning 'City of Man' and Takshashila (Modern Taxila)
The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from early 1st millennium BC to the 11th century AD. It attained its heigh from the 1st century
to the 5th century under the Buddhist Kushan Kings. The Hindu Shahi, a term used by history writer Al-Biruni to refer to the ruling Hindu dynasty that took over from the Turki Shahi and ruled the region during the period prior to Muslim conquests of the 10th and 11th centuries. After it was conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 CE, the name Gandhara disappeared. During the Muslim period the area was administered from Lahore or from Kabul. During Mughal times the area was part of Kabul province.