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Friday, 7 December 2012

The Broken Teak

The Broken Teak




I still remember the smiling face of late Prof. Osmund Jayaratne, giving his last official lecture at University of Colombo; behind the majestic looking Rangoon Teak table at the old Physics Lecture Theater....

As confident as the Rangoon Teak, the late professor delivered his silky speech (it was more than a lecture) on the last section of general physics, as he had done it for several decades in the same lecture theater.

"Physics is more beautiful than even the most beautiful ladies....", he ended up his long-cherished academic career with a tribute to his ever-so-loved subject........

...........and that marked the end of an era in Sri Lanka...

An era of academics who bowed out with happy hearts and smiling faces........

An era of academics who enjoyed their academic life despite many ups and downs........

An era during which, being a "university academic" was a sign of prestige irrespective of his or her political views.........

After 20+ years, today I see a different picture. Although, I am away from Sri Lanka I have regular contacts with many academics who are my long term friends...


For the last three months I am seeing extreme disappointment, disgust and loss of hope in the academic circle....... Among them are even few die-hard government supporters. 


And my estimation is that within next few months a large number of science and engineering academics who have no bonds to their respective universities will be flying away.... 

Many of them have already applied for positions at foreign universities. Coincidentally, several developed countries (which are popular destinations for our professionals for the last few decades) have brought up policy documents to invite high brains from South Asia. 


Of course, some people will be happy (check comments in many SL news websites)... They may say that it is good for the economy as a useless lot is leaving the country, easing the burden on the government pay roll.  And... the government will also be unaffected as many 100s of substandard Indian PhDs will be ready to serve at half the wage. 

India produces few 1000 excellent PhDs every year who readily find jobs with salaries 4-5 times higher than the best university academic salaries in Sri Lanka....


But.........................?


Only a few knows that how much a country should spend to bring up a good PhD. 

Only a few knows the real value of a good PhD. 

Only a few knows how much effort the developed countries and even newly developed states put in order to attract Academics from developing countries,

and ..................

Only a very few understand that the government and a good part of our society are inadvertently giving the fullest support to those countries to pull  the best of the brains out of Sri Lanka. 


....and within a couple of years the country will be a brain-desert and suddenly everyone will understand that we are left only with broken-teak...... A system with those wounded hearts that don't leave the country due to various reasons but not making any productive work as they are depressed and frustrated...

The whole picture unfolded in the last few months reminds me the story of Shrewd Peter................

Shrewd Peter caught Pneumonia after walking in the cold rain.  He knew that if the Doctor diagnose the real sickness he will be charged a lot as medicine for pneumonia  is expensive. Thus, Peter went to doctor and insisted that he has ordinary cough. Whatever the doctor said, he was very adamant on the fact that he has ordinary cough and insisted medicine for that. Finally, doctor also decided to give medicine for cough. 

Peter came home, proud and happy, as he has outsmarted the doctor...and lived happily for few days...until he went on his last journey. 

A shrewd minister can outsmart academics,
but for what......? and for how long.....?   

   






1 comment:

  1. Sir, I'm a final year student specialized in Engineering Physics @ University of Colombo, your idea is very strong and encouraging. Me and my colleagues also thinking of going abroad for higher studies. but I also want to serve my country....
    but don't know how.
    I'm thinking of involve in politics in Sri Lanka since I sense that it is the best way???
    but confused ..
    If we can make aware our people and change their attitudes about universities in Sri Lanka.
    Then we can protect our good brains and move our country to forward..

    ReplyDelete