Lose the Battle, yet Win the War

In search of a pragmatic & permanent solution for the beloved juniors of E-Fac, University of Moratuwa against the traumatizing conflicts with NDT students. For others, solving it is a part of their job but for us, it’s about our life.  

Conclusions

A radical change in the vision is called for from the undergraduates of E-Fac. It seems to be the only solution that will be fully on your hands to win the war of degree, even having been losing the minor battles on the way.

Preface

I express my deepest concerns to the severely injured juniors from the assault by the organized criminals. My daily prayers will be with you for a quick physical and mental recovery and express my solidarity with their parents and loved ones in this difficult time. While categorically condemning the violence, I expect the disciplinary committee of the university along with the Police will take all necessary actions to bring the criminals before justice as soon as possible.

Being a past pupil of E-Fac, UoM (2005-2009) and an ardent activist of EFSU, the purpose of the article is not to appraise the magnitude of the ambush and continue to spoil the undergraduate’s mindset but to harshly talk about the bitter truth of the status and lay solid grounds for a radical change in the vision of ‘cream’ of Sri Lanka.

Why did they hit ‘us’?

This is the first question we must investigate with a lot of sincerity. Based on my observations, this should be their response against the immediate adjacent fight, in which E-Fac claimed ‘victory’. Some of you must have seen the pictorial evidence of the celebration of E-fac by writing on the street and on the notice boards or on an FB page (Non Developed Technicians, which has now been put down). But that fight might have been an effect of another previous cause and that might have been of an even prior cause and so forth we can trace the causes until the period of Adam and Eve.

The point is this brutality is not an isolated incident. Yes, it’s fierceness was outrageous, magnitude is beyond comprehension or in a nutshell, the retaliation is out of proportion, still it is not an alien incident. I do not blame the present pupils alone. I own a part of the blame as a past pupil for passing the baton of hatred to the juniors, all the batches of E-fac in the past 15-20 years or so are to be blamed for nurturing an egomaniac poison tree within the faculty, without uprooting as and when we could have turned the tide. As a result, today Roshan is in the ICU, his parents are in despondence, you, the ‘cream’ of the nation, are being sent home. No matter who’s fault it is, you do not need a lot of IQ to understand who suffers eventually.

In a broader perspective, the incident does not look unfamiliar in relation to what happen outside the university. Killing under the day light by the government officials, no lawsuit or disciplinary action against them, thuggery used against different ideas are prevalent news. At a time of debacle of law and order of the country, it wouldn’t be too surprising if a bunch of ruthless and rootless students thinking of getting away after bringing such calamity to the very own alma mata they share.

Going beyond the spiral effect of clashes, it’s worth  to pinpoint the exact root cause. In my understanding and experience, the infamous B.Sc-NDT fights can be characterized as a collision between ego and envy of a minority of each group. I have no sense of belongingness nor I owe a word of advice to the ITUM, but to the E-Fac Moratuwa. Therefore, I earnestly call upon for a radical change within you, the fellow juniors of E-fac, Mora, which seem to be the only lasting solution that is under our control.

Who should find solutions and why?

You and I are the children of common men of this poor Sri Lanka. Had our parents about LKR 8 – 10 million to burn, we wouldn’t have taken the hard way of getting the best results in the district with so much of effort and sacrifice. And sadly but truly, for most of us, this is the only way out of poverty, only bridge to reach our simple, humble dreams.

And also we have more than enough natural disasters as a faculty to worry about. For example, while the funds for the state universities are being constantly curtailed, the extreme capitalistic government allows more private institutions which offer degrees from ‘higher’ ranked Western universities. The students who can afford to study there mostly belong to the well-to-dos in the country who speak better English that you and I and who have contacts to high profile people in the society. Guess who would be preferred for employment at the end of the day.

Now the natural disasters themselves call us upon for a dramatic uplift as a faculty. Instead, what are we doing?? Dear juniors, more than anyone else in the university, we, as a faculty, should feel responsible of the university, more than anyone else, should take care of the university, should nurture the university and uplift its name as a team because if we perform well, the university performs well, and in return, it bridges us to our dreams and even beyond that.

The point is, let’s be fully responsible of protecting our university. Let’s be fully responsible in finding solutions to prevent disgraceful incidents and indefinite interruptions.

The question is, what are the solutions?

Solution Option 1 – Counterattack, physically

Some of you must be boiling now with the intention of retaliation, a well planned physical attack. Trust me, you are not in a club of one. Being not so gentle undergrad, I have been there, done that.

By now, all of you and may the future undergrads be fully aware that physical fights will never ever bring you victory over the ultimate war, but may be a lonely battle. Sooner or later, you will suffer of being physical and the later will it be, harsher the price you will have to pay.

May you momentarily be a spineless or ball-less undergrad because you are there for a much worthy and noble cause.

Solution Option No. 2 – Relocation of NDT 

In fact, this is not a choice for the ministry of higher education, but an already made decision which hasn’t been implemented since a long time. But this is not the only thing that the governments have failed to do over the years. EFSU leaders, both present and future, should constantly nag the administration to follow the decision, without waiting for a calamity to wake up.

Having said that, I personally believe that waiting until the relocation happens to avoid tragic clashes is somewhat similar to ask women to cover up their bodies to avoid being raped. Seduction can take place, but physical reaction on the observation is more of a beastly behaviour. In the same way, there could be enticements for fights. But we always have the option of choosing not to due to the reasons discussed before.

Drop that thought. If you still continue to think, relocation is the only plausible solution, whose hands does that decision lie on? If it’s on S.B. Dissanayake, one of the most shamelessly dishonest hypocrites in modern times, I would rather anticipate an apology & a self-withdrawal from the NDT students.

Remember, no one in Sri Lanka should be more desperate than you, the students, for an immediate re-opening, peaceful environment for education, an uplift of the university because for others, it’s pat of their job (in the best case), but for you, it’s about your life.

Solution Option No. 3 – Know your value but don’t show the price

The best mode of retaliation against the enemy is self-improvement. And in the same way, they say that no graver mistake than correcting the weaknesses of your enemy. These call us to keep a step further in moral values at this time of troubles while being oblivious to the perpetration by NDT students.

I thoroughly believe, not theoretically but being part of several student clashes in the university, egomania is the primary reason for clashes in our university. And this is where the solution lies, a solution which is fully under our control.

  1. Know your true value

The reason for condescension could be that no one has actually told your true value.

You must know that University of Moratuwa is the ‘MIT’ (not the one in Malabe) of Sri Lanka because it is undoubtedly the best technical faculty in the island. Unlike a diploma, a bachelor degree is a global identity for which you will soon have ownership. You will be completed with approx. one third of earning a doctorate, if you wish once you finish the bachelor degree whereas for a technician with any diploma, the conversion to a bachelor degree itself is a daunting task of about 5 years in Sri Lanka or a few couple of millions of rupees in the UK through cheap university colleges.

The scope of jobs you are eligible for is unlimited once you pass out. There are more or less 7 levels in which engineers could function in the industry.

  1. Sales engineering
  2. Operation-maintenance engineering
  3. Commissioning
  4. Project engineering
  5. Product engineering
  6. Development
  7. Research

You, as a bachelor degree holder, could grow up to function in any of these levels whereas a technician will be employed mostly in the first 3 levels for which the technical knowledge requirement is minimal. Now you need to think, whether the NDT graduates steal your jobs or actually you steal their jobs in the Sri Lankan market.

You must think globally and act locally. The whole world is waiting until you pass out. No matter when and where the economy experiences a down-turn, the vacancies for engineers, will hardly down-turn. World’s giant companies like Google or NASA  and also the universities like MIT, or Cambridge are waiting to embrace you. You are more than potential to be part of them, and those who wished from our university are now part of them. Do you still have time to fight with NDT students or is it worth? Or isn’t it worth to lose a mini battle or two that might otherwise undermine a fabulous future that you can achieve? This what you are born for, if you wish. At least, this what you are capable of. You must know your value.

2. Don’t show off the ugly price !!

We, at any cost, should not forget that the title ‘cream of SL’ was earned based on merely 3 subjects at A.Ls. Some of appalling FB status updates as below suggest otherwise.

“Bloody Inhumane NDT students should accept the fact that it is because of the fame of the University of Moratuwa, created by the engineering student that that would even get a job, those bloody useless people shouldn’t forget that the capacity requires to score AAA and SSS in ALs are totally different and so they should never try to be equal with the engineering fac…..”

“Some idiots seem to be thinking that because they use the same premises and eat in same canteen they also should earn the same status …”

Passing A.Ls in flying colours, in my eyes, only suggests that student was hardworking and well focused, over a particular period of time (6-24 months). A.Ls barely or never test our creativity, imagination & communication skills which are corner stones for success as an engineer. None of the exams in the university tests our attitude to life, self-discipline nor humility, which I believe, are the corner stones to success as a human being. The point is that no exam qualification has ever guaranteed or will ever do that you and I will be successful engineers or human beings. Perhaps, that ‘dumb’ guy who got 3Ss can be our employer one day as Bill Gates does.

We also do not earn any ‘status’ after graduation if not for a lower one in the private firms (mainly in Sri Lanka) in which you will realize the ‘dumber’ people who followed commerce subjects in A.Ls or ‘even dumber’ people who did CIMA after O.Ls are the ones in the limelight.

Also this highlights how hard the hierarchical dichotomy has hit on some of us. No matter how small and insignificant may it be, every piece in a jigsaw puzzle is absolutely required to complete the picture. Regardless of the education level or direction, everyone is essential  to sustain the economy and everyone deserves the respect equally, because, shouldn’t we respect only the humanity? The act of giving away an exclusive bow to someone’s material gains while looking down upon who has underachieved than self, is the true spinelessness.

It should also be noted that if a company employs NDT graduates without knowing their diploma content but due to the fame of the university, that should be a charity organization. No profit making institution will be that shortsighted.

Having said that, most of the ‘silly points’ I share in this article are not something that I was born with. I learnt them over the years by making mistakes, like throwing stones at NDT students at the 2006 fight. The analogy of the jigsaw puzzle was learnt after that fight by a well respected senior professor who is now abroad. In fact, the title of this article was  inspired by a command given to me by a famous madam in the university during another student conflict. So if I could learn my lessons, you definitely can, because, it took two attempts for me to be a part of the ‘cream’.

Ending Remarks

If I may summarize the whole content, there is a problem with NDT students mainly because of some of our ego and some of their envy. We cannot control their envy neither their discipline. Neither can we let go the degree because, for most of us, it decides our future. We cannot leave the responsibility of finding solutions  to the government nor the university administration because their job is more important to them than our degree.

Only remaining possible and controllable solution is our attitude. Be responsible in your actions and solutions.

Drop your ego, or let your dreams go

Aravinda Perera

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7 thoughts on “Lose the Battle, yet Win the War

  1. from Global perspective option 3 clearly stands out as the most sensible one…. but in a situation where public expenditure on education is drying up, R&D initiatives are deterred and economy of the island is not expanding in a way which create diverse job opportunities, what still bothers me is the potential long term consequences that this or any other option EFSU choose, might bear on profession in sri lanka….. :-S

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