LLRC Report – Post-Election 2015

Lessons Learnt from the Rajapaksa Capitulation (LLRC)

Average people learn from their own mistakes while the wise learn from the others’ but the stupid never do. Rajapaksa Capitulation offers us many lessons . Here are my top 7.

Chess Fallen King and Pawn1. Impermanence

Almighty Rajapaksa, Formidable Rajapaksa, Omnipresent Rajapaksa..to an average mind like me, until a few weeks ago, his defeat was unfathomable. He was, in all sense of the word, the chief executive of the island. He was the legislature in the island. He was the judiciary and media in the island. It appeared as if all corner stones were laid for an unending construction of his empire.

But proving Lord Buddha’s one of the three marks of existence, impermanence (anikka in sanskrit) buoyed to sink down what appeared to be one of the most durable leaderships of Asia.


2. It is the Greed, not Need that Breed the Defeat

There was a logical argument by the supporters of Rajapaksa; if the leaders like JR and CBK who failed in the war operations were elected twice to enjoy full two terms in the office, doesn’t Rajapaksa deserve the third term as a reward for defeating the terrorism? Well, it sounded logical for a moment.

The man who supposedly deserved a third term eventually had to lose a good third of his 2nd term. Doesn’t it remind us the Aesop’s fable that taught us about The Goose that laid the golden eggs?


3. Home and office ….nah..  not a cute couple

It is almost a cliché to keep your personal and professional lives apart for many valid reasons. But Rajapaksa just made a mockery of his governance by bringing his family into office and office into family. Brothers, sons, nieces & nephews, in-laws.. oh my oh my, what a mess it was.

Although all of them were born before Rajapaksa was elected as the president in 2005, hardly any of them were known except Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa, his elder brother. When he left the Temple Trees upon his defeat, I did not see any of his family to show solidarity in his unexpected loss.

He came alone, he left alone, in between, the family sang along !


4. Cannot be friends of all ideologies

It was once said that He will never have true friends who is afraid of making enemies. The statement makes sense to a man of principles, not to Mr. Rajapaksa.

Before the election was declared, Ven. Gnanasara Thera was with Rajapaksa so were Hakeem and Badurdeen. LTTE terrorist leader K.P. was with Rajapaksa, so was the Sinhala Buddhist leader Ranawaka. 13+ Dr. Jayatilleka was with Rajapaksa so was the 13- Mr. Weerawansa. Plaintiff Hirunika was with Rajapaksa so was the defendant Duminda. The ironies were aplenty.

One might argue that it epitomized the power of this man to unite different ideologies. Well, it was proven otherwise at the dawn of the election results. Mr. Rajapaksa tried to please everyone including opposite end extremists but he did not get the same courtesy in return.

Losing based on principles is more honorable than winning based on popular choices. Eventually he proved have no principles nor popularity.


5. Answer the present questions

For the 2015 AL exam, if a candidate submits the answer sheet from 2010 past exam, no matter how good it has been answered, will the candidate go through? Mr. Rajapaksa submitted the wrong answer sheet in his campaign.

Ending the fierce war against the terrorists was remarkable, a feat that has not been achieved by many world leaders. But that was an old answer, an answer nobody questioned in 2015. In accordance to the Maslow’s Hierarchy, during the post-war period, people climbed up the requirement hierarchy from physiological and safety needs to question the sense of respect and belongingness for which Mr. Rajapaksa failed to provide answers.

The closest we can get in the world politics is Winston Churchill who suffered heavy defeat in the general elections immediately after the victorious world war. At least the Sri Lankans were bit more grateful than the English, weren’t they?


6. Cheap stuff has a hole (Ulundu wade is an exception to the rule)

Since a decade or so, patriotism/nationalism is the winning card in Sri Lankan Politics. Mr. Rajapaksa had the ‘look and feel’ of a more national leader while the opposition leader, Mr. Wickramasinghe appeared to the public anything but patriotic.

Meanwhile there are mainly two parties who make nationalism their bread and butter; Mr. Ranawaka (JHU) and Mr. Weerawansa (NFF).  Mr. Ranawaka was an erudite, sharp speaker who is known to talk substance. Mr. Weerawansa, too was sharp in his blunt logic, calculative in his miscalculations, creates a broader picture in his narrow mind. Nevertheless, both appeared to be winning horses for Rajapaksa at the first instances.

At the wake of the election heat, JHU made their demands in order to support Mr. Rajapaksa. So did Mr. Weerawansa. Both set of demands would hurt Rajapaksa’s personal agendas but he badly needed at least one of them to blow his patriotism/nationalism/racism trumpet. Rajapaksa opted for the cheaper option, the one he could bargain for corruption charges instead. (Watch from the 20th minute).

Cheap stuff having a hole is a good old Sinhalese saying, but this cheap choice itself was hole, a pit hole for Rajapaksa Regime. Had he sacrificed a bit to retain JHU, I doubt the UNP lead opposition candidate would have ever won the ‘race‘.

Cheap stuff proved costly at the end.


7. Never let the vice to lead the wise

Having said all the above lessons, I find the last point decisive in his surrender at the election. In person to person comparison, Mr. Rajapaksa might have been rated touch above Mr. Sirisena by the public in terms of leadership and trust even after disregarding the effect of election bribery and media mismanagement.

Being he himself the centre of charisma in his leadership and his camp, I find it a massive blunder to let some of the less attractive people to run key positions in his regime, and specially in the campaign. As a direct example, it was highly imprudent to let his ludicrous son run a big portion of the election campaign which I am sure, brought only negative votes.

Join with me in saying….”Shah Rukh Khan ta ………..”


Well, it is much easier to criticize the leaders while sitting on an armchair. Lives of the world-famous leaders in the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela exemplify the fact that no leader is perceived perfect.

As the watchfull citizens of today and potential leaders of tomorrow, we should learn the lessons from our past leaders and continue to nag the present leaders to deliver goods. Mr. Rajapaksa left a nostalgic legacy behind him in which, the victory over LTTE terrorists was the most pronounce. My only fear is that did he also give birth to the Muslim Prabhakaran before his exit.

May the country be healed with love and peace !

Capacitors, the Crooked Politician in the Electronics World

All politicians promise but some deliver & a few never. Ceramic capacitors resemble the later in the world of electronics.

Capacitor, also known as condenser, is a device with two electrodes (two conductors) and a dielectric in between. The use & application of this simple device is as same as the use of salt in cookery.

The classroom theory on this component is quite simple and straightforward. However, recently it turned out to be that this simple device seriously defies its straightforwardness and demands much more respect and attention.  

The premise for this post is ceramic capacitors which are very prevalent.

Capacitors come with their ratings imprinted on them, same as candidates before an election. For example, 2.2uF/1206/250V/… The value 2.2uF is not gospel truth. In fact it is the first lie that the device (or the manufacturer) professes.

The capacitance of a capacitor is true only when it was just manufactured, at room temperature, at the atmospheric pressure, at no physical deformation & more interestingly at NO DC VOLTAGE across the capacitor. If I may rephrase, the rated capacitance is valid only when all these conditions are met at the same time. Under these circumstance, can a capacitor be ever trusted?

Following is a short explanation of degradation of capacitance in a capacitor.

1. Aging

From the hour it was born, capacitance of a capacitor decays. This decay is significant in the first 100 hours while the decay slows down as it usually follows a logarithmic curve. For example, a 2.2 uF capacitor can be 2 uF after 4 days of its birth and 1.8 uF after 1 year. Remember that this is still without any voltage applied to it !

However, thanks to the dielectric properties, the aging can be reset to zero by heating the capacitor upto 150 deg C for several minutes. This information should be obtained by the manufacturer.

2. Size and form

2.2 uF ceramic capacitor with different sizes can perform differently and give different tolerances. This should be kept in mind in your designs.

3. DC bias

This is the funniest part of all of a capacitor. Although, a capacitor may come as 2.2uF/250V as soon as it is applied 250V dc across the device, capacitance can drop up to 70%. This means that 2.2uF might be actually 0.6uF at its rated 250V dc. This is a serious point to note in the critical engineering designs.

4. Temperature

Temperature is another factor that affects the capacitance. However, on this, the manufacturers are open and the coefficient is usually noted.

There is an intriguing phenomena that when the DC bias already degrades the capacitance, the effect of temperature rise is next to nothing. I presume that the property of dielectric that both DC bias & temperature rise affect is the same.

5. Pressure

Pressure is another factor that affects the capacitance of a capacitor. But usual engineering work are not intended for high pressure applications. A lot of R&D is involved in the pressure related capacitors.

There we come to the end of a practical preview of the crooked capacitors. Also note that a capacitor can accumulate charge even if it was completely discharged due to a phenomena called dielectric absorption. Therefore discharging capacitive components before handle is & always will be a good engineering practice.

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