I may be young but according to my experience nothing can be free. Everything comes to this world has a cost. In the sense it may not be a monetary value all the time. In Sri Lanka education and health is provided free of charge up to a great extent. But how come something is free? Even though we do not see it directly people of this country pay all the taxes and levies to keep these services provided free of charge. So ultimately somebody is paying for all these.
If I remember correctly (can’t remember where I read it) the great writer Maxim Gorky has once said “if you get something free it should either be mother’s love or the sun’s light. Nothing else is entirely free”
The famous English teacher Sakvithi Ransinghe’s money swindling is the latest hot topic in Sri Lanka except for war and revolutions in daily dirty politics. That person climbed up the ladder really fast. He became some sort of an icon in no time. I observed him advertizing his construction and property development company in most of the week end news papers. It was an eye catching advertisement that at least took half a page. The advertisement says 6, 000 rupees monthly interest for each 100, 000 rupees of investment. That is 72% interest per year! To build the confidence he put photos of his and Edwin Ariyadasa, who is renowned elderly media personnel in the country. I’m sure Mr. Ariyadasa must have also been swindled by this professional robber. That was not all. There appeared another advertisement introducing a CD pack with a walkman that is said to be a new method of learning English. Students can listen to them whenever they can and learn the language at any time they like. This also was a product of Mr. Sakvithi. There was more. This person appeared in the national television of Sri Lanka and in a few other channels as well to conduct English lessons. I have never seen that privilege given to any other private tutor. So Mr. Sakvithi built up a very nice public interface to deal with the general public of this country. He always made sure that he appears and behaves like a real gentleman. That is the feeling I got. I believe if somebody is too smooth there is always a problem with him or her. That is my experience. So for me this guy fell into that category.
If you have a look at the week end news papers the highest number of the advertisements are regarding foreign traveling or migration or foreign higher studies. The second highest is for spoken English classes. The third highest is by enchanters, witches, deities promising to make what’s impossible, achievable with their super powers. These have become a mania in the news papers. By looking at the number of advertisements and the amount they may be spending on advertising we can assume there is a large client base for these. Otherwise how can they at least cover up their advertising costs? This trend has come up like popping up mushrooms. Mr. Sakvithi is not the only English tutor who does this. There is one call Selaka Rajasinghe who promises to teach English just in 8 days. He has a money back guarantee as well! There is another one call Rathna Liyanage who has some sort of parallel investment company just like Mr. Sakvithi. But since of late he seems to be a bit quiet. These people even have branches in a number of towns as well. They put well reputed local personnel as their coordinators. Most often they are elderly government servants like retired principals, retired post masters etc. I believe these people are getting a commission for their work. This improves the confidence over the so called investment companies.
I think even though the literacy is very high in Sri Lanka majority of the people in this country are not intelligent enough to face the complexities of the modern world. They get caught easily. Same thing happens with politics. Politicians just need to put the face on TV. It doesn’t matter whether it is regarding something good or bad. They just need to show their faces to the public so that they will go into the minds of the public and will get more votes next time. This is the truth about Sri Lanka. It is not difficult to track down the true nature of people like Mr. Sakvithi. These types of English tutors say they have classes in Nugegoda in the morning, in the noon they are in Kalutara, in the evening they are in Galle. The morning next day they are in Gampaha, in the noon they are in Kurunegala and in the evening they are Kandy. All seven days they travel and teach like this. I wonder how somebody can be so efficient and travel all the places and teach? In our culture teaching is an art that cannot be done in this way running here and there all the time. While doing all these if the tutors say they do something else as well, I don’t understand how they find time. It is obvious that they will fail in everything because they are trying to do so many at the same time. Most often I have heard that these classes are finished in two or three weeks even though they are said to be 3 months or 6 months courses. They take the total payment in the first 2 days and then vanish. This is just getting the advantage over the poor young people who are in need of spoken English due to the colonial imagination that still exists in the minds of the Sri Lankan administration and job market. So because of the majority don’t look at the outer world with broadened and analytical eyes and minds they get caught to swindlers like Mr. Sakvithi. When these cheaters say they are giving big interest for investments our people don’t think of it. They don’t care whether it is possible or not. Even the American banks who have better ways of investmenting got bankrupted and still getting bankrupted. Our public doesn’t know these important facts because the majority is interested in just watching mega teledrama series and superstars. There are so many stars. Super stars, kid stars, dancing stars, adventurous stars etc. The channels are so much interested in delivering these needs. If not these they just broadcast something helpful to improve their political allies. That is the entire world the public see in this country. These Sakvithi incidents may be byproducts of this narrowing of minds in this country. Valued programs could have minimized the Sakvithi blow because the broadened thinking would empower people to improve their intelligence to recognize possible hardships prior to their arousal. Further people who have a good reputation have been caught by these types of swindlers in a few occasions now. Once professor Sucharitha Gamlath got caught to “Pongu Thamil”. Now Edwin Ariyadasa got caught to this fellow. Probably it may happen due to hardships in their elderly age. So we are in an era where we can trust others up to some extent that we feel is safe.
Sakvithi incident is said to be the one with the most number of entries in the police book. At one place I saw there comes nearly 500 complaints a day. Mirihana police station has put a separate section to handle them. Police premise is crowded like a public market place. The police have introduced a new form to take the complaints. The best part is this Sakvithi’s real name has never been Sakvithi Ranasinghe. He has used a passport with the name “Abeyratne Mudiyanselage Chandana Weerakumara Ranasinghe” to vanish to south India. It is like a fairy tale how this fellow swindled nearly 900 millions. I consider this incident a byproduct of not broadening up the minds of our people. We just try to live in a dream world.
My second inspiration, the Indian co-worker who works really hard all the day along, is a thing to talk. Sometimes it is scary to look at the way he works. I have heard that Indians and Chinese are really hard workers but I never thought they are working this hard. The person I’m talking is really talented. He knows what he do and he makes sure he works all the time. It is not that we don’t work. But his dedication is a thing to practice. There may be facts which influence him to be so. May be he is rewarded, maybe he just do it for satisfaction.
There is only a single simple conclusion I made by looking at him. If there had been any easier way to earn money why does that person work so hard so willingly? That is the same reason why I work this hard with giving all my best effort, simply because there is no easy way to earn money!