A biography of poverty
Measurement, Meanings, Methods And Requirements by Dileni Gunewardena was
launched at a ceremony held recently. The book that is expected to be of use
to a wide section of people is presently one of its kind in the country.
Measurement, Meanings, Methods And Requirements dedicated to Gunewardena's
baby daughter, Lavanya Maureen De Mel focuses on three main questions
namely; "Where do we need to be? Where are we, and How do we get to
where we need to be?
the first part of the book, Gunewardena concentrates on "Where do we
need to be and attempts to provide an overview of the consensus (and where
there is no consensus an outline of the areas and nature of disagreement) on
international best practices in relation to poverty measurement
international literature on poverty measurement is a vast area and somewhat
like the proverbial elephant. Typically, social scientists of different
disciplines and practitioners of different approaches, like the blind men in
the fable are familiar with their own methodology and only marginally aware
of developments in other approaches to measuring poverty (and consequently
apt to dismiss them out of hand)," says Gunewardena.
to Gunewardena, a new empirical debate has arisen as to whether poverty has
increased or decreased in the developing world in this era of globalisation.
the area of poverty measurement is experiencing a new phase in conceptual
advances evident in the last few years/months. This study is a combination
of a non technical review and manual," explains Gunewardena.
study comprises three sections, a review of conceptual approaches to poverty
measurement, a review of international best practice in relation to poverty
measurement and a review of data requirements (and typical sources) for
second part of the book deals with improving poverty measurement in Sri
Lanka and focuses on improving the country's poverty measurement methodology
in the light of the best practices identified in part one. "This part
of the book identifies areas in which Sri Lanka is lagging behind and
outlines a plan of action that identifies priority areas for improvement,
key players in the improvement process and steps that need to be taken by
the key players," added Gunewardena.
Gunewardena's interest in poverty measurement began in 1993 when she was
involved in producing a poverty profile for the World Bank's Poverty
Assessment of Sri Lanka. Gunewardena made use of the raw data from the
household income and expenditure surveys conducted by Sri Lanka's Department
of Census and Statistics (SLDCS).
has conducted lectures at the World Bank Institute South Asia Region
workshops on economic growth and poverty reduction and participated in the
South Asia Regional Consultation on the World Development Report 2000/2001.
Gunewardena has also won the Award for Best Research on 'Escaping Poverty'
together with Dominique van de Walle, at the first Annual Awards Competition
Global Development Network in December 2000 for a paper on 'Sources of
Ethnic Inequality in Veitnam.'
has a Ph.D in Economics from an American University (Washinton DC) and her
BA (Honours) in Economics from the University of Peradeniya. At present the
author works as a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics and
Statistics, University of Peradeniya.
technical study was commissioned by the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA)
with financial sponsorship by the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) to
facilitate the setting up of a study programme on improving Sri Lanka's
poverty measurement methodology and the poverty information system.
hands on canvas
and see the little hands that create magic,
guided and moulded by veteran teacher Swineetha de Alwis. The touch of this
magic hand of Swineetha's has been displayed in the creative work of the
little ones in their canvas frames.
charm and elegance are all imbibed in the artistic creativity of the little
ones. Students within the age group of six to 18 have displayed their
talents, which have been geared and sharpened by their Guru, Swineetha.
is not just drawing. It is an expression of thought and feelings with
creativity and patience. There is a life in their drawings. A bird on
child's canvas is not just a bird we see in a magazine but there is
something more in it. The child's expression of his/her feelings - serene,
calm and life like, with a refined touch.
exhibition commences on July 9 - 11. It will be opened by Prime Minister
Roads' proceeds presented to UNICEF
needy school in the deep south of Sri Lanka will receive a library from the
proceeds of a country music concert held earlier this year with sponsorship
from Emirates, Airlines and Cargill.
funds raised from the concert, 'Country Roads XII' will be used to build an
800 square foot library at the Veriyagama Maha Vidyalaya at Suriyawewa in
the Hambantota District. The school accommodates 631 students and has 29
the proceeds on behalf of the school, UNICEF Resident Representative in Sri
Lanka, Ted Chaiban thanked the sponsors, Emirates Airlines and Cargills for
their support. "The southern region of Sri Lanka is an area that tends
to get forgotten in the development process," he said. "This
project will be a start to building the capacity of a needy school and is
hence a very worthy cause."
Sales Manager Colombo, Devika Ellepola who represented the airline at the
presentation said: "Corporate Social Responsibility is an important
focus areas for Emirates. Emirates has established the Emirates Foundation,
a non-profit organisation that supports children's' welfare around the
world. The Emirates office in Sri Lanka also supports a large orphanage in
(Ceylon) Ltd., Deputy Chairman/Managing Director, Ranjit Page said his
company was privileged to be part of the project and would continued to
support such community welfare initiatives.
by the Country Music Foundation, 'Country Roads XII' held in January this
year featured the German country music band Mavericks and Texan Bob
Livingston, an accomplished country artiste who has performed with Willie
Nelson and other American country music greats. 'Country Roads' is the
country's longest running concert series, and supports programmes undertaken
by UNICEF in Sri Lanka.
the writer, then the story, or vice versa - it's value-added
think it was America that started the trend with its squat pocketbooks, two
books in one, and I asked Punyakanti, do I begin with the frontside or
backside? She was her charming self in reply. Her publisher hit the right
spot (or side) too, for more taking this double offering apart would have
given us two very slim books that would have undoubtedly cost us than this
'couplet' with its distinctively different covers. Also, you can place them
on your bookshelf right way up or right way down.
Years and Missing In Action are both deeply poignant. They both swim in seas
of longing and love and bitter-sweet memories, seas where dolphins weep and
loneliness is like an undertow that belies the sunfreaked waters of age and
the sun-smoked waters of young sorrow rising in the dismal thunder of war.
you read first, there is that unmistakable stamp of the great artiste that
Punyakanti is, Sunset Years gives us so much - her own story and it is told
with a sweet simplicity (no psychoanalytical puff pastry) that brings us
close to her: the wife, mother,
grandmother, her fears and fantasies, her serene moments, her joys, her
human need for warmth and companionship.
a writer reveal so much? That, too is a matter for a better thinker than I.
Does one's humanity and all its sadness and happiness allow for public
scrutiny? Many tell me that this carries its own risks. It can be as a
mind-plea for understanding that could be taken for weakness. I don't think
so. I look at it, instead, as a life message and told in so stately, yet so
humbly a manner that it draws us to her, tells us that we are one with her
and have also felt to greater or lesser degree as she did, faced life's
trials as she did, knowing triumph and disaster. We share her humanity and
truly, we are all aathma-companions on our lifetime journeys.
a little introductory poem, she wonders why she could not have been born a
I were born, A tree I could stand up, To wind and rain, Thunder and
true, but then the wind, rain, thunder and lightning are the ills that
buffet us. Her point is that the tree can stand unmoved. We humans are of
different stuff. So many of us crumble under the hammer blows;
could watch my leaves fade, And fall back to, Earth, Without a moan.
is so hard for us to lose a leaf. A son dies and we are desolate. Every leaf
falling from the parent branch is a wringing of the spirit. Does she prefer
that unfeeling state, preyed on upon by misfortune, death's reminders,
was I born a human, When I could have been, Closer to Nirvana, Born a tree?
find this same question, or one very like it in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.
To live to die.... we recall no pain at birth, yet dread the pain of death.
Pain, in any form, is part of the human lot and yet, life's keyboard has its
tinkling treble to counter that dismal bass. Punyakanti is now 71 and knows,
more certainly than ever, that she has begun the last chapter of her life.
Don't you see? She had to put that life on paper. Her 1987 book A Way Of
Life gave us sketches of her own childhood. But like us all, the yesterdays
live in little mindcorners - our mental sunsets. What matters is whether
tomorrow will dawn - our sought-after sunrise, and all we have is this day
in which we can tell of past and hopes of future and, in bringing them
together, make reality of dreams and dreams of reality.
offer a distillation, we have Punyakanti, widowed at 42; living for her
children; seeking new friends; forming a new social life yet never thinking
of re-marriage. "Our home was sacred ground. I could not bring another
to spoil its memories." Then the grandchildren: "I was lucky.
Being a grandmother was better than being a mother. Joy without
responsibility." Then her writing; "The problem is: Do I want
Nirvana? Do I want heaven? The day will come when I cannot stand on my own
feet anymore. What then?"
autobiography is a search for life. She sees around her a rampant world, a
rat race, noise, confusion, a decay of values and her thoughts are
rapier-cuts. "Our troubles began when we turned our backs on the soil,
on the waiting earth and reached for other things." And she asks:
"In day-to-day living, can I turn mere existence into life. Am I a
person or just an instrument of writing?"
a lot of her story concerns the birth of her books as well. "I have
published 14 books, I have six grandchildren. And yet today I ask myself
'what is the meaning of life? I am kind of living from day to day, expecting
to die at any moment. I want to finish this story before that
happens.'" And she quotes Wordsworth:
in our youth begin with gladness, But hereof comes in the end, Despondency
she reminds: "Writing is like childbirth. Both are creative."
does reflect herself in her writing. Turn the book over and we have Missing
In Action - stories of people who face life's many conflicts. Every one is a
portrayal of those monstrous slings and arrows that bruise the mind-flesh
with an unearthly vindictiveness. Loves, abortions, mother-hatred,
father-love, marriages stripped of veils and bouquets and triumphals that
peal. "There goes the bride", uprootings and replantings, loss
that shouts the sky and crimsoms it with shame.
are stories that must be read slowly. They recount with heart-strokes, life
as we think it isn't, but which turns to face us every way we look. What is
so emphatic is the way Punyakanti portrays human need and greed, horror that
harrows, wanting so haunting, reactions that the infractions of a
pot-bellied social order neatly whitewashes.
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