Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya is one of the key UPFA politicians who moulted, so to speak, towards the end of the Rajapaksa government and gained dazzling yahapalana fleeces. They are now competing with their Joint Opposition rivals to make a public display of their patriotism in a bid to shore up their waning popularity. Devapriya has, for his part, embarked on a mission to save the Sinhala race and Buddhism! He is, however, not alone in this endeavour. He is of the view that procreation, of all things, is the only way to achieve that goal. Arguing that it is futile to blame others for the woes of the majority community, he has urged Sinhala Buddhist mothers to produce at least five or six children each. A tall order!
Given the straitened circumstances most people find themselves in at present, one fails to understand how they manage to tie the knot let alone produce children. Prices of essential commodities and services have gone into the stratosphere and many families live below the subsistence level. (Some government pundits have urged them to eat Croton and jak leaves!) It is only natural that they opt for small families, that, too, amidst difficulties. As for producing more children, one may say, both their spirit and flesh are willing, but the home economy is weak.
The yahapalana politicians, preoccupied with procreation, however, should not get disheartened; there are some ways and means they can explore in their efforts to engineer a population increase. They can enlist the support of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), which is on the lookout for the slightest excuse to impose power cuts. It is being argued in some quarters that rolling blackouts lead to baby booms. If they are right, then the yahapalana grandees can, with the help of the CEB, determine the average family size in this country through blackouts, which they can selectively impose in areas where they desire an increase in population; the CEB can be instructed to maintain a steady power supply sans any brownouts and blackouts, at a lower cost, if possible, in places where the birthrate has to be kept low.
If the members of the majority community take Devapriya’s advice seriously by any chance, will the government be able to ensure that education, health, social welfare and transport sectors are developed to cater to an increase in demand consequent to a population explosion? Schools and hospitals are already overcrowded and characterised by a chronic dearth of facilities. Some dengue patients are currently dying for want of proper medical care. The army has been called in to help hospitals tackle the situation. The state-run schools cannot accommodate any more students and the mad scramble for Grade One admissions worsens every year. More than 125,000 out of 150,000 students who qualify for higher education at the GCE A/L examination are denied university admission every year for no fault of theirs as funds allocated for developing the seats of higher learning are woefully inadequate.
It is no exaggeration that the mere thought of school admissions and other such gruelling problems associated with children’s education is depressing enough to put newlyweds off consummating their marriages. The only way one can overcome these problems and amass enough wealth to raise a large family is to take to politics and get on the gravy train.
Meanwhile, what if the politicians representing other communities emulate Devapriya and succeed in getting their people to do likewise? That may lead to a procreation contest of sorts among communities and Sri Lankans will multiply like rabbits.
How does the WP Chief Minister and others of his ilk propose to meet the new challenges resulting from a massive increase in population? The Western Provincial Council has manifestly failed in waste management. Garbage is piling up in the Colombo city and its suburbs. The government tells us the waste generation per person a day is about one kilo. How bad the situation would be in case of a massive growth in population is not difficult to see. How does Devapriya propose to solve the waste disposal problem in such an eventuality?
Let the yahapalana politicians be urged to solve the problems troubling the existing population urgently without worrying about procreation.