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Sri Lanka and Plastic: A match made in hell

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As Sri Lankans, I think we’ve all been overcome with intense patriotism when we see Sri Lanka being recognized internationally for something. Whether it’s being named ‘Lonely planet’s No.1 travel destination for 2019’, playing good cricket, producing world-class tea, or simply even being mentioned by a Hollywood celebrity, these moments never fail to make us feel proud of being Sri Lankan. However, as of recent times, we’ve been getting global attention for a very shameful reason. Sri Lanka has made a reputation of being one of the leading contributors to ocean plastic pollution in the world.

An Instagram photo by National Geographic, September 2019

 

A study by The Wall Street Journal, in 2010, found Sri Lanka to be the 5th largest contributor of marine plastic debris in the world. We produce, a staggering, 5 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste annually of which 640,000 tons end up in the ocean. One of the biggest impacts ocean plastic pollution has is that many marine animals ingest plastic debris floating around in our oceans and Sri Lankans, being people who love their seafood, will unknowingly be consuming these and harmful chemicals micro plastics.

Sri Lanka also relies heavily on its tourism industry, which brings in a large portion of the countries’ earnings. Marine plastic debris can often be seen washing up on the shores of the Sri Lankan coastline, often bringing with them a pungent odor, tainting the golden sands and turquoise waters that are a major attraction for foreign travelers.

The Wellawatte beach

The next big question is, ‘so what can we do about this?’ The answer is quite simple, really.

Avoid Single-use plastics

What exactly is single-use plastic? Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These items are things like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging. A good place to put this into practice is the supermarket. Out of courtesy, the cashier will offer to put that one book and biscuit packet you bought into a plastic bag. REFUSE! If you aren’t carrying anything else you can surely carry a couple of items in your hands without the need for a bag. Its small things like this that can make a big difference.

Proper waste management

Sri Lanka has introduced the concept of garbage segregation, separating plastic and polythene for recycling. It’s essential that we aid this effort by segregating our waste as much as possible and also making sure we collect any waste in general. A stray chocolate wrapper or a plastic bottle, no matter how far from the ocean, will end up being swept away by rainwater into the nearest drain or canal which will eventually reach the sea. Even items as insignificant as the plastic wrapper of the straw of a Milo packet should be disposed of properly.

You could take your effort a step further and hand in your plastic waste to one of the many recycling plants in Colombo.

Eco-friendly alternatives

It’s crucial that we look for eco-friendly alternatives to plastic in our daily lives. Simple things like using reusable bags instead of plastic bags to carry groceries, switching from polythene lunch sheets to more biodegradable lunch sheets or even banana leaves, buying glass bottled beverages over plastic bottled ones, patronizing shops that use paper or reusable bags/packaging over ones that use plastic. With so many people making an effort to lead more eco-friendly lives, it’s our responsibility as well to make greener changes to our lives.

Spreading awareness

Finally, spreading awareness and educating the citizens of our country is paramount. It’s only through proper education that this problem could be completely wiped out. Volunteer work such as hosting workshops, beach clean ups, peaceful protests or even something as simple as sharing a post could go a long way and help society see the damage being done and hopefully bring it to a stop.

As Robert Swan said “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”.

Rtr. Yasiru Gunaratne

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Joint Projects

We love the Sea

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#WeLoveTheSea, which was a Global Action to clean the beach, happened on the 15th of September 2019 at the Wellawatta Beach organized by more than 10 Rotaract Clubs. It was truly amazing to see how many Clubs had come together to clean the beach of its garbage contained shore. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country famous for being an island surrounded by the big blue sea, and this sea is Sri Lanka’s precious diamond. However, it is sad to see that people tend to overcrowd the beaches and pollute its shores, which harms not only its sustainability and purity but also its marine life. However, on the 15th of September Rotaractors from multiple clubs got together and cleaned the coast starting from one side to the end of the other side.

Before the beach clean-up. The messy shore.

This is how it happened!

Rotaractors arrived at the Wellawatta Beach at 9.30 a.m. on the 15th and the clean-up commenced at 10.00 a.m. There were sacks marked with ribbons in different colors (Black – Plastic, Brown – Glass, Pink – Rubber and cans, Green – Polythene, Cream – Metal, None – Degradable) to indicate what type of waste should go in the sack to make it easy for the collection of garbage and disposal of it as well. Each person had a sack to which they collected the relevant type of garbage into, and it was amazing how hard working everyone was because each sack contained garbage which had been collected along the coast. A while later it started to rain, but nobody hesitated to finish the job they started, everyone kept collecting garbage into their respective sacks, and it was surprising when individuals who had come to do their daily exercise at the beach too helped to clean the beach, which was something unexpected and beautiful to see. Moreover, a family who lives in the beachside as an appreciation of the hard work, made everyone who had volunteered to clean the beach, a morning cup of tea, which was very generous of them since everyone was soaking wet from the rain.

Working hard to make it right
Working hard to make it right
Working hard to make it right
Working hard to make it right

At first, it seemed like the beach was pretty clean, but the deeper we got in, we found a lot of little pieces of debris. Towards the end, we came back to the starting point and all the sacks were kept in one place. All the volunteers that morning removed a massive amount of garbage and prevented them from polluting the ocean. It was nice to see how strong we all are in number being able to help the environment united, as one, and the energy between the Rotaractors was amazing, and the appreciation and gratefulness from the bystanders were tremendous. Besides the actual act of cleaning the beach, it was evident that when people come together for such great causes it not only makes the cause so sweet, but it drives people to do more good, not individually but together as a community, because at the end of the day, Sri Lanka belongs to all of us equally.

 

Working hard to make it right

The sheer amount of garbage produced in the country—7, 500 MT daily—coupled with inadequate waste disposal facilities, has adversely affected our ocean’s ecology. Therefore, by doing such beach clean-ups it makes sure that plastic pollutants, to a certain extent have been prevented from going into the sea and harming the innocent ever so graceful marine life. 2/10 sea turtles die of consuming plastic bags mistaking them for jellyfish, and how sad and cruel is that? Due to dumping, and unethical ways of disposing the land produced garbage, many animals in the ocean go through tough times and end up dying, and initiatives like beach clean-ups is a very good start in protecting the ecology.

It must also be kept in mind that the ocean is for everyone, the sandy shores are for everyone, the beach is for everyone, and by keeping the beaches clean we not only help the marine life, but also it becomes a cleanly place for every living being including US humans, no matter how ironic it may seem since it is also the very same US who pollute the beaches. Not to forget the fact that this promotes tourism too! Sri Lanka is famous for its beaches and keeping them clean will surely attract many tourists!

It is of no doubt that everyone who joined hands to help our mother nature be clean in this hour of need, not only did a good cause, but also went away with some beautiful memories and newly built friendships which will be redefined throughout.

End of the beach clean-up. The clean shore.

 

Rtr. Bipash Suriyage

Cover Page courtesy of Rotaract Club of SLIIT

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Youth Time

Leadership

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              ‘’Leadership is the ability to get extraordinary

                     Achievements from ordinary people”

 

Leadership is not just a word or a role to be played simply. It is a small word that includes a huge meaning that takes each letter of this word to describe. Let us look into these Letters carefully to understand the true sense of ‘ Leadership’.

Listen twice as much as you speak. As one of the most important qualities of a leader, he should be a good listener rather than a chatterbox. Being the sole head of the group he/she must be able to listen to all the ideas that flow in from each member to analyze the problems and find optimum                       solutions for it.

Encourage people to take risks. This is a vital case as many are allergic to take risks. They think that the risks might only entail losses rather than goodwill. It’s the leader who gives that confidence and motivates him with optimistic thoughts.

Assess the facts before making a decision. There will be so many interests, involvements, influences coming your way. It is in the leader who verifies, evaluates, analyzes and decides which is best among all and which benefits the most.

Demand accountability of yourself and others . Being the leader you are responsible for what’s happening under your control. Also, you are accountable for works done on behalf of you, by you and also the work of your team.

Expect people to do their best . It is a duty for a leader to encourage the team members and motivate them to give their best in the works and responsibility they are given with. This will build up a team with great results and efficiency to work with.

Respect those “under” and “above” you, even if it is a normal team member or higher officials which you have to report to. All have to be given equal respect, as all humans in this world deserved to be respected.

Solve problems with the action . First and foremost, the leader has to be a person with patience and a humble mind. Where a person could analyze the situation well and decide on what’s true and fair according to relevant facts and analysis.

Honour your word . As you respect others ideas and views. You must always honor your word and stick to it. If you agree upon doing a certain thing, it must be done without any hesitate, This will make you a role model among the team members as well.

Include others in the process. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”. when working with a group, higher aims, higher motivations, goals could be achieved as a team together. Always delegate work between teams to get the maximum results.

Praise publicly , criticize and correct privately. This is the most important quality a leader should possess. this is where the inward respect of others build towards a leader. Appreciations have to be done publicly and criticizing or correcting a person’s fault has to be done privately. This is also another way to motivate a good team spirit.

In conclusion, each letter has a descriptive meaning for the word LEADERSHIP “ . As I mentioned before, just being a ‘Leader’ for its namesake won’t bring you anything, But, if you add the above principles to yourself and act accordingly, you will be able to be a leader to be remembered.   

Rtr. Shiffara Haarief

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Featured

A Belt! A Road! A trap?

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Colonialism, A thing of the past and yet not so much for those of us living in developing countries.

China, having emerged as a new economic powerhouse in the Orient, has taken many great steps to extend upon their economic success. The Belt and Road Initiative was the brainchild of this new emergence which estimates to be one of the largest infrastructure and investment projects in history, covering more than 68 countries, including 65% of the world’s population and 40% of the global GDP as of 2017.

This has lead to many assertions and allegations thrown around as to what’s the real deal behind this project. Many of these accusations have been made by China’s western counterparts who see this as a threat to the existing western-designed global financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. However these raised concerned aren’t necessarily unfounded and what lies between the lines do need to be realized.

 

A tool of global political puppeteering?

China isn’t exactly the first country that comes into mind when speaking of political meddling. Despite being a global power, China’s interference with foreign politics is minimum at most (Not counting Hong Kong nor Taiwan). Even in terms of military presence, China currently maintains only a single foreign military base located in Djibouti. China’s main purpose (as they claim it to be) is to improve global relations through economic cooperation and bring out joint economic prosperity for those within this belt. These infrastructure deals don’t seem to come with any sort of political strings attached (at least on paper). Thereby it is natural that many of these developing countries who have had to settle for many political concessions which may have to undergo many political concessions to get loans would seek out China in bail them out

A inflated story?

Sri Lanka has been the prime example taken by critics of the belt and road critics in proving its flaws. A harbor that ships are reluctant to come to and the prestige of constructing the world’s emptiest airport have created large doubts with regards to the sustainability of the Chinese projects. The lack of cash flow from these projects meant there was no way to settle the funds burrowed. This lead to the Sri Lankan government settling for a “99-year” lease of the port to  China Merchant Port Holdings Limited for $1.12 billion in 2017 where the Chinese state-controlled firm owned 85% stake. As doubtful as it remains, fears of Chinese militarization of this port alarmed India which prompted them to invest and take control over the airport to balance out any form of Chinese hegemony in the Indian Ocean.

Would this mean Hambantota will host WW3 before the Commonwealth games? Only time will tell.

There is a certain side to this debt trapping that is over-inflated. Common myth many Sri Lankans believe is that our debt problem is mainly owed to the large proportions of loans taken from China. While acknowledging that we do have a critical debt problem, Chinese loans aren’t the real problem here. Chinese bilateral loans only amount to 9 – 15% of our external debt which happens to be mostly concessionary loans and they even have longer debt cycles ranging around 19 years while the majority of our external debt which is International Sovereign bonds only have cycles of about 7 years. In reality, Sri Lanka’s debt crisis is attributable to its persistent Balance of Payment issues and its inability to bring about productive returns in the infrastructure projects it undertakes.

The best deal in town?

Through this project, China has spent billions of dollars investing in over 68 countries and by no means are there any assurances that all these projects will provide the expected returns. However, these projects play a pivotal role in bringing about the much needed infrastructural development in these developing countries which could potentially bring about the economic prosperity these countries yearn. Furthermore, these are countries placed as high risk by credit rating agencies thereby they face difficulties in gaining required funds to kickstart sustainable development programs. The Hambantota Port project, for example, has a greatly untapped economic potential. Given its close proximity to the East-West shipping route than the Colombo harbor, provides greater means of attracting ships as well. The port is further advantaged by the fact that there are approximately 3.5 square kilometers of vast land area, dedicated for port-related industries along with an additional 50 square kilometer industrial zone. This proves that perhaps the fault lies with government mismanagement or with the fact that it’s a little too early to expect returns from these ventures. Given the right management and time, these white elephants might just turn into pots of gold and truly make these deals worthwhile.

To conclude it is understood that beyond a reasonable doubt that China’s Belt and Road Initiative has greatly boosted China’s soft power in world politics. Perhaps the Road and Belt Initiative and its complementary Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) would act as a parallel economic system and would ensure that China brings about a new world order where Chinese political, economic and societal influences will dismantle and take over that of its western counterparts. China’s higher priority on noninterference with political matters of other countries and in the meant time its lesser commitment to adhering to human rights would perhaps be a welcome and an unwelcome change to the new world order we would see in the years to come. Is this a new age of neo-colonialism with a new colonialist or will it usher new dawn of development to the 3rd world? Only time will tell.

Rtr. Asel Gunaratne

 

 

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Youth Time

Singularity

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“By 2030 we would be able to access and share, experiences, thoughts, the wisdom of every human being similar to how we can access the internet today. The need for speech would be removed as we will be able to connect only by our thoughts”

“Singularity”, a phrase derived from mathematics to describe a mathematical object for which the exact properties cannot be analyzed, or where the laws of physics cease to exist. Therefore, it is simply the hypothesis that explains how the advancement in technology would be so complex that even the brightest minds among us will not be able to comprehend it.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) when categorized by intelligence, we have

  1. Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – The level of AI that exists around us today, from Google assistant to Siri and even advanced as the self-driving car. They’re specialized only in one area and operate only in the range of activities that they are programmed for.
  2. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – The form of AI that would be similar to the intelligence of a human being. AGI can learn, innovate, create, imagine, dream, reason and be driven by emotions similar to a human being. Even Though this type of intelligence has not yet been discovered, most people working in the field of AI are convinced that an AGI is possible.
  3. Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) – When an AI doesn’t just replicate human brain power or behavior but surpasses it, it is called an ASI.

 

How will a singularity begin?

If an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), were to be invented, it will start to freely improve its own software and hardware to become more intelligent or will design a machine that is smarter than itself. This new and more capable machine would then go on to design a machine which is even more superior to any of the previous ones. So, the cycles of self-improvement and unfolding of machines with higher and higher intelligence continue, until a runaway technological growth beyond any hope of control is triggered. That would result in a rapid emergence of Artificial Super Intelligence that could far surpass all human intelligence. The point which is known as the technological singularity.

 When will it happen?

The tools needed to make such a rapid technological transformation is still unavailable or still at the initial stages of being created, however with every new invention that comes to the market and with the increase in opportunity for anyone to access them , technology advancement is likely to make an exponential progress in the coming few years, instead of a linear one . Suggesting that creations that we were thought might only happen in “a million years”  will most likely happen in the next century.

Ray Kurzweil, a famous futurist, with a track record of 30 years of accurate predictions, who predicted the evolution of the internet well beforehand says

“We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”.

Accordingly, Kurzweil predicts that by 2030 Artificial intelligence will be smart as humans,

and by 2040 AI will not only exceed the brain power of a single human but all humans on earth combined.

Should we Fear it?                                                      

Since the reasoning and insights of an intelligent species such as that of an ASI will be far beyond the understanding capabilities of man, the possibility of not being able to keep up with AI and therefore being dominated by them (similar to the sci-fi movies) is a possible outcome. Physicist Stephen Hawking stated, ” I believe the development of full AI could spell the end of the human race” while public figures like Elon Musk and Bill Gates has also raised concerns regarding a similar future.

However, the more optimistic views on the opportunities that a singularity can bring include, the ability to solve issues such as world hunger, global warming, poverty, etc. Help man become a multi-planetary species or even immortal

Instead of machines ruling over us, people such as Ray Kurzweil believe that humans are likely to modify their biology to implant computer chips to the brain in a way that enables massive intelligence amplification. He stated

“What’s actually happening is machines are powering all of us. They may not yet be inside our bodies, but, by the 2030s, we will connect our neocortex, the part of our brain where we do our thinking, to the cloud.”

Furthermore, cracking the secret to immortality has never been more realistic. Either through the insertion of nanobots to kill viruses to stop the aging process, or by proceeding to an AI body, and abandoning our biological bodies to go live in a simulated virtual world for eternity. Privacy, the consequences of ending the natural process of life and the purpose of living, are all topics that can and will be intensely debated in the coming few years with the dawn of such an evolution. If forecasted accurately this would mean that by 2030 we would be able to access and share, experiences, thoughts, the wisdom of every human being similar to how we can access the internet today. The need for speech will be eliminated as we would be able to connect only by our thoughts. Elon Musk’s neural lace concept of a mesh that allows you to wirelessly connect and interact with computers through your thoughts via an implant in our brain allowing the brain to expand with it, demonstrates how a human brain and computer can be merged.

However, In Spite of the fact that a technological singularity may or may not happen, the world around us is changing at a much faster rate than what many of us are aware of, and we are to witness some of the most groundbreaking inventions in history.

Rtr. Hashini Wickramasuriya

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Featured

Decision Review System

DRS

“The Umpire’s decision is final.”

 This was universally accepted in cricket until the 2008 test series between Sri Lanka and India where the Decision Review System was first tested, and the cricket world would never be same again. The Decision Review System (DRS) was officially launched by the ICC on 24th November 2009 during the first test match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the University Oval in Dunedin. It was first used in ODIs during the England’s tour of Australia in January 2011.

The DRS is a technology-based system used in cricket to assist the match officials with their decision making. Television replays, technology that tracks the path of the ball and predicts what it would have done (known as Hawk-Eye), microphones to detect small sounds when hitting the bat or pad (known as Snickometer or Ultra-Edge), infra-red imaging to detect temperature changes as the ball hits the bat or pad (known as hotspot) are the main elements that are been used currently with DRS.

It’s been 10 years since the DRS has come into the cricket world and it has certainly proven to cause a major impact on the final outcome of some matches. As a kid, I remember watching the first series where the DRS was first tested. I thought to myself that day itself that this system is going to cause a big change in the future. A few decisions were overturned during that match itself. One such decision was when TM Dilshan was given out caught behind early in his innings and he opted for a review. The decision was overturned, and he went on to score a century which gave Sri Lanka a huge advantage into winning that particular test match.

Appealing for a review.

As I mentioned above, DRS has caused a major impact on the final outcome. Even though this system was introduced in a way it would cause a good impact, there have been many times where the DRS decisions have been controversial. Initially, DRS came under heavy criticism especially from the BCCI due to a perceived lack of clarity in the review process. When this system was first used, the protocols and the technology was half-baked. The process was badly handled. There was no one really in charge of the system by then and the TV director was the person who had to take charge. As an example, when reviewing an LBW decision, the point of impact is very important. Even the slightest changes can cause a big difference at the end. During this series, the point of impact was manually amended by the operators and which led to some obviously inaccurate decisions. Now the technology is solely controlled by the ICC. Still, the technology has some major confusions. One such example is the ball tracking mechanism. Only a handful of people know what the exact mechanism behind this system is. If the ICC could take the veil off the system and explain it to the entire world, it can avoid a lot of confusions caused.

The major problem with DRS now is in its protocols. Why does the benefit of the doubt go to the umpires? If the umpire gives a batsman out lbw, the batsman is even out if the even if a minute fraction of the ball is shown to be clipping the stumps. If on the other hand, the umpire has given the batsman not out, he will remain not out even if 50% of the ball is showing to be hitting the stumps. These are huge margins given for umpires. If the system is to be claimed near perfect, then what is the need for margins? Even if there are margins, why not have a clear protocol? For example, more than 50% of the ball hitting the stumps mean out and anything less than that is not out, irrespective of the decision of the on-field umpire.

Then there is another major question of what actually constitutes DRS. In some countries ball tracking, hotspot and Real-time Snicko are all included. But in others, only ball tracking is enough to constitute DRS. It’s true that all this technology is very expensive. There are boards which can’t even afford the ball tracking system. So, the system becomes unfair where some countries can afford the technology while some can’t afford, so they are forced to go with a truncated version of the system.

The DRS should comprise of a single universal system and should be applicable across the cricket world.  I believe this can be achieved by having a central fund allocated to providing the system wherever international cricket is played. I believe cricket should have enough money to be able to set up a corpus for technology.

The DRS is a good option to omit human errors which can change the decisions at crucial moments in crucial games. It must be provided with the right environment and a rigid protocol to reduce the confusions that can be caused by the system. I would like to leave everyone with a question.

Do you believe that the Decision Review System has proven to be beneficial or not to the cricket world?

Rtr. Thisura Ramanayake

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Featured

E-RYLA 3.0

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“Goal to make a 100 friends” , was always the vision of ERYLA. It was a project that started as the brainchild of Rtr Avnish Jain, with a simple idea of “Strangers to friends.” The project had numerous unique tasks that were conducted and completed on social media platforms, and giving rise to its popularity. Rtr Avnish was able to refine his project idea, and was able to work with RSAMDIO(Rotaract South Asia Multi District Information Organisation), eventually creating ERYLA to what it is today. ERYLA quickly gained traction and currently in its 3rd consecutive year, ERYLA 3.0 was done bigger than ever, with participants facing a variety of challenges over a period of 7 days, all while making new friends and connections. Under the guidance of RSAMDIO, this year’s ERYLA was hosted by District 3170 with DRR Nishita and Rtr Avnish at the helm.

The event kicked of on the 16th of september with over 150 participants representing 29 districts from 4 countries. Representatives from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal registered for the 7 day event, prepared to do challenging team building tasks. All participants were randomly split into whatsapp groups of approximately 20 per group. Members in each group were guided by group moderators, who took every step to make the experience as rewarding as possible , while maintaining a certain decorum expected of Rotaractors. As the first task, participants were asked to introduce themselves to the other group members with details such as their names , locality , rotaract experience and other general information. This simple team building task, was meant to “break the ice” and familiarise members with each other.

At this point my personal experience of ERYLA had already progressed further than I thought. I managed to meet some of the most exemplary rotaractors, from countries such as Bangladesh and India. For the second task, the entire group had a certain time limit , within which members had to pick a team name and slogan, they thought that best fit their group. The group I belonged to quickly set about making suggestions and voting, with us eventually settling with the group name Flyers(Pitched by me!) and the slogan “Love,Learn,Lead”. Once the group members had finalised the name and slogan, they had to vote a group leader. This role alone would give a unique perspective on leadership,
and was considered an invaluable experience. My group flyers, had a particularly interesting “voting” process, with Rtr Rahul and myself tied with equal votes, till another contender broke the deadlock voting me as the group leader for Flyers. While Rtr Rahul would become an unofficial vice captain, and one of my closest acquaintances from my first ERYLA.

The next days 6 days involved many creative challenges, such as “Story Day” challenge, which involved all the group members pitching in to write one amalgamated story, with the moderator starting the story, and adding occasional twists to plot, to make writing more difficult. The dynamics within the group, made the story writing extremely challenging, with individuals preferring contradicting endings. As we progressed further into the week, the groups were paired up, and added into one WhatsApp group, edging towards the goal of a 100 friends. My group “Flyers” were joined with group “Stellars” , and the two teams were pitched with competitive tasks. One such interesting task was the debate, where Flyers were arguing for pro “arranged marriage” while Stellars were for pro “Love marriage”. This again sparked a flurry of messages from all participants eager to defend their topic and make sound arguments.

As expected ERYLA 3.0 created a digital platform for which participants could interact, learn and build connections. With the final few days approaching , all members belonging to all groups, were added to 1 single WhatsApp group. The sheer amount of messages flying across was unbelievable, as participants continued conversations with multiple new individuals. This was a digital gathering of participants eager to meet members from the other groups , and maybe meet the goal of making a 100 friends.

My personal experience of ERYLA was rewarding , specially having held a leadership role, gave me valuable insight into fulfilling one’s duties. Even though I did not manage to make a 100 friends, i did meet some amazing rotaractors from extraordinary backgrounds, and managed to make a few lifelong friends along the way.

Rtr. Navin Suresh

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Featured

Millennials vs Gen Z

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For all the millennials who still think it’s them who run the world, it’s about time they had a major reality check and move over, because the generation Z is entering every major phenomenon as we speak, and they are here to stay!

There has been quite a contradiction as to how we can differentiate between Millennials and Gen Z from the birth years, as there are no such precise dates. Despite the confusion, the demographers state that the cohort starts from the year 1995 while some say it’s 1997. So, if you were born in the year of 1995 or later, then it can be safely said that you are a proud member of the Gen Z that makes up 25% of the world population.

Already emerging as the biggest threat to the millennials, the Gen Z purchasing power sums up to $44 billion according to the latest reports and these numbers will only keep rising in the time to come when who are now teens, but soon-to-be adults start entering the workforce. So how different are they from the Millennials? Are they just the same? You are about to get some answers.

The Gen Z differ from the Millennials in so many ways, be it their ways of thinking, patterns of shopping and what not. Regardless of the majority’s belief that they both represent all the same qualities the constant research has proven otherwise.

Gen Z are thought to be more pragmatic than idealistic. They are driven by what is real and practical. Often cited as pessimistic for following this approach but infact pragmatists are known to visualize the bigger picture to eventually get to the result. Millennials are however idealistic thinkers who believe there is always a way for anything.

Gen Z process information much faster since they have been living in a world full of technological advancements while many of the millennials have lived their childhoods without even cell phones, let alone smartphones. However, their span of attentiveness is much lower compared to millennials or any other preceding generation. All the same, people who belong to the generation Z are believed to be better than millennials at multi-tasking. While the latter counterpart needs to put in their maximum effort to one task at a time the gen z are experts in juggling between many, being resistant to any distraction getting in their way.

 

Gen Z are much thriftier than millennials. Having spent their childhoods in a world with a positive economy, the millennials did not need to give much thought or concern towards economy but gen z, they are very much concerned of it. It is very likely because gen z was born in an era of recessions. Hence, they are very realistic and more likely to start off their careers at a younger age.

Millennials do think that a college degree is a must but Gen Z, not so much. The latter is more in to self-employment and will be the future entrepreneurs. They are much thrifty as mentioned earlier and ‘Student debt’ is not something they would fancy. Millennials, however, are driven by the degree concept despite of the student loans.

Individualism is also one of the things that Gen Z value the most. They are all about representing who they really are, exploring gender norms and doing things that no one has ever done before. Unlike the millennials they have no brand loyalty, they just like to dress, eat and live as it fits and not into lavish spending. Always more vocal about their viewpoints, gen z is working towards social justice and accepting the world as it is.

Gen Z also prioritize privacy more than millennials do. They are conscious and have seen many vicious events take place all their lives from global terrorism, financial crisis to cyber-attacks and think that the world is not such a safe place. They believe the privacy is at stake and take great measures to secure their space.

 

All in all, millennials and the Gen Z are drastically different, and the latter are all set to outpace the millennials in no time. By 2019,32% of the global population will comprise of Gen Z and consequently will be the biggest contributors to the world economy.

 

So, let’s set the stage for the new entrants to the world economy and prepare ourselves for the GENERATION Z.

 

Rtr. Nethmie Pasqual

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General

Colombo: The Heart of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean

Sunset in Colombo

When you’re in Sri Lanka, this is the one place that you won’t miss out on. The whole country is based on this small city, which is the most populous in the country, which in turn makes it very busy and noisy and you will always be surrounded by about 50 people wherever you go. Even though this is the economic capital of Sri Lanka, and even though this is becoming a concrete jungle each passing day, there is still a surprising number of trees and greenery to be seen. Combined with the humid climate and the unpredictable rainfall, the essence of a true tropical island is still there in this city many of us call home.

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Out of the 22 million population of Sri Lanka, a staggering 5.6 million live in the Colombo metropolitan area and around seven hundred thousand people live within the city limits. Among this seven hundred thousand are Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Sri Lankan Moor and relatively small groups of Chinese, Portuguese Burgher, Dutch Burgher, Malay, and Indians. Add to this the growing number of European expatriates who find peace in this tropical climate, and the number of ethnic groups continuing to expand, makes Colombo an even more diverse city, both ethnically and culturally.

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In addition to accompanying a multi-cultural society, Colombo is also one of the most important tourist attractions in the country thanks to its historical monuments that were built in the time of the Kingdom of Kotte and as a colony of the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. This has been aided by the recent developments in the city to attract even more attention from all around the world. For a city that is small on a global scale, Colombo is home to some of the most important landmarks in the entire country and the world, including the Royal Colombo Golf Club, Viharamahadevi Park (previously known as Victoria Park), Gangaramaya Temple, etc. In the heart of the city is the Galle Face Green, which is a 12-acre park stretching along the coast. It was used as for horse racing from 1820 to 1893, when it was called the Colpetty Race Course, until horse racing was moved to the Colombo Racecourse. It was also used to play  Golf, Cricket and Rugby during the Colonial times. At present, on the 4th of February every year, the Independence Day Parade is held here.

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Situated south of Galle Face Green is the Galle Face Hotel. Built in 1864 by four British businessmen, it was initially called the Galle Face House. This hotel, which has a history of over 150 years, has welcomed celebrity guests including Mahatma Gandhi; the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin; John D. Rockefeller; former British Prime minister Edward Heath; Princess Alexandra of Denmark; Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh; First Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru; Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India and so on.  It was also known for Kottarapattu Chattu (K.C.) Kuttan, the iconic doorman who is considered as one of the oldest and the most famous hotel employees in the world, who worked here as a doorman until his death at the age of 94.

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Kottarapattu Chattu (K.C.) Kuttan
Kottarapattu Chattu (K.C.) Kuttan

Colombo has it own natural harbor, which was used by Indian, Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab and Chinese traders over 2000 years ago. In 1505, the Portuguese landed in Kotte due to a lucky accident which started the colonial era of Sri Lanka. They managed to establish control of Colombo by 1593 and used it as the capital to maintain their control over the coastal area and their major base in Goa, India. The name “Colombo” was first introduced by the Portuguese. The origin of that is still a mystery. One theory is that is it derived from “Kola-Amba-Thota” which translates to the “harbor with leafy mango trees”. Another belief is that it is derived from “Kolon thota” which means the port on the river Kelani. Then came the Dutch in 1638, after they signed a treaty with King Rajasingha II of Kandy, to aid the King in the fight against the Portuguese in exchange for island’s major trade goods.

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But the most important of all, the British managed to capture Colombo in 1796 by signing a treaty with the Dutch and they eventually managed to extend their control all over the island by 1815, unlike the other two who tried before. They are responsible for most the architecture and planning of the city, that still serves as the base for today. The buildings, structures, names and cultural roots of these three colonial eras has shaped Colombo in a unique way, that makes it stand out from any other city in the world.

It is no wonder you feel like you are walking through time when you are in Colombo, because it is indeed similar to a journal written about the history of Sri Lanka. The buildings, the places, the people you meet, are all part of its identity and character, which have their roots set over thousands of years ago by the numerous events that took place, and you can begin to understand why it feels so special to be a part of all this.

Rtr. Pruthuvi Fernando

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General

Maldives – Beyond The Beach

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A few months back I was blessed with an opportunity to visit Maldives for a tournament. Even though this country is just an hour away from Sri Lanka, I had never been there before. I always thought Maldives was just another island with beautiful beaches but that all changed after I arrived in Male, the capital of Maldives.

THE PLANE RIDE

We decided to take the 1.05 pm plane as we wanted to see the view of Male in broad daylight, and it was the best decision that we ever made.

The flight to Male was a short a1 hour and 15 mins (wasn’t even enough time to watch a movie). Nevertheless, the great blue sky and the spectacular arial view of the Maldives kept us occupied. As we drew closer to Male, we witnessed a great deal of small islands almost everywhere. Later, I got to know that Maldives comprises of over 1,190 Islands ( damn that’s a lot)!

Regardless of all those Islands, the Maldives is illustrated as the smallest Asian country with only around 427,756 inhabitants. It is also the world’s lowest country, with even its highest natural point being the lowest in the world, at 2.4 metres (which basically means not to dig holes in your backyard). However, putting all those facts aside, Maldives is a MUST VISIT DESTINATION, and I’m about to tell you why.

 

 

THE AIRPORT

We landed at VELENA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT on the island of Hulhule. This is the only international airport for the entire Maldives and this entire island contains just the airport. Once you land and step through immigration, you will just see the ocean. Yes, just the big blue ocean. No people, no houses and no roads, I stood still for about 5 minutes just staring at the ocean. You would’ve done the same. Why you may ask, and that is why pictures speak a thousand words.

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I’ve seen the ocean many times, but never like this, the beautiful blue water sparkling in your eyes.
Never have I ever seen water so clean and clear.
The ocean was glistening, it was just so beautiful and calm. Trust me, it would’ve taken your breath away.

Now comes the fun part, we had to go to Male, the main island. At the airport you are given the choice of travelling in a speed boat or by ferry. What did you think we chose?

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BEST RIDE EVER !!!!
The boat was so fast, it was literally flying across waves.  Since it was our first ride it was pretty scary as the boat was bouncing so much and there is no back door, and all you can see is the vast ocean. So guys, seatbelts are a MUST OKAY?

MALE, THE CITY

After surviving the 15 minute speed boat ride, we arrived in Male, the capital of Maldives. We got picked up by one of the tournament organizers and he took us to the Male Youth Center where all foreign teams of any sport are housed at.  What we noticed first from the cab ride was how small the roads were. Most of the time it was just one vehicle that could fit in a road. Secondly, what amused us was that Male was deserted, we did not see a single local on the street. This was extremely weird and led me to ask the cab driver the reason.

Well, we landed on a Friday, and apparently every Friday until 5 pm, Male is closed. Friday is prayer day. Maldives is a pure Islamic country and on Fridays, all shops, offices,  and almost everything is closed. Since there was absolutely no one on the streets, we decided to stay in and start exploring the next day.

The next day was an entirely different story! The place that we were staying at was next to a football ground, and at exactly 6 am we started hearing whistles blowing. I was curious, so I decided to take a stroll early morning and it turned out to be pretty interesting,

In Maldives, 70% of the local guys have curly hair. Maldivians can be clearly differentiated from a Sri Lankan or an Indian. They have their own dialect in which they space out every word when speaking in English, which was also very new to me. And then there were the females, wearing “Burqas” ( a cloth that covers the head) and as it is a pure Islamic country, the women do not wear exposed clothing. However that does not stop them from having fun, I passed a futsal ground which was hosting a tournament for women and man those girls had some crazy skills.

About Male…

Male is the mostly populated island in the Maldives, it’s the only island which is pretty hectic with buildings and many many sports arenas. The roads in Male are pretty small but its quite a maze, where if we were to drive a vehicle, we’d get lost. Nevertheless, the people always seem happy, there are shops every single corner and the food is pretty decent.

Artificial Beaches in Male

Male is just 5.8 km2 so we made sure we walked in each major direction. On each end we found an artificial beach.

As the name itself implies, it is a man-made beach and is a haven for the local people as well as foreigners. The reason for it being man made is that the Maldives government had made huge concrete pillars of sorts, and have dropped them about a mile from the beach. These rocks prevent huge waves coming into the island, while also acting as a barrier from big fish such as sharks. Thus, these beaches are safe to swim in, even in the dark ( which we did, and immediately regretted as the water was so cold).

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THE MALE FISH MARKET

One major thing we loved about Male was the freshness of their sea food. Like no joke, it was so delicious.

When you walk towards the jetty side ( sort of like a harbour), you will come across the most important area in Male, which would be the Fish Market. The variety of the fish and the prices would astound anyone. It was very cheap compared to the prices in other countries, and also the fish were very fresh, directly out of the sea. No wonder that they eat more sea food than meat.

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However, Male will be always remembered to us Sri Lankans for their indigenous food item, THE MALDIVIAN FISH! Most of us wanted to take this fish home, so we walked into a special hall inside the fish market called the Dried Fish Stall.

Now as we entered this hall, there were about 30 vendors with their fish in front of them, all speaking in Maldivian. The moment they heard us talk in Sri Lankan (Sinhala), all these vendors started to talk to us in Sinhalese as well. Keep in mind that when we asked each and everyone if they were from Sri Lanka, there was not a single person from Sri Lanka! Most of them were Bangladeshi, Indian or Nepali, and to pass boredom when they go out on their  long fishing trips (sometimes lasting for months) they learn each other’s native languages.

They love to bargain and always try to sell us more than we want, and the Maldivian dry fish was of top notch quality. The fish market should be on your list for sure.

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Hulhumalé

Male is quite strict in terms of rules, and doesn’t have much foreigners. For example, women aren’t allowed to wear skin revealing clothes when swimming in Male, and it is also pretty quiet at night. We heard from the locals, that there is an island close to Male known as HULHUMALE and according to them, that was the “happening” place in Maldives (exactly their words, not mine).

Hulhumale was said to have the best beaches in Maldives,  and was also packed with diving and jet skies and much more fun activities. To travel from Male to this island, we took a short ferry ride of 25 mins, Maldivians use ferry rides like how we use buses. Once we got to Hulhumale, we were not disappointed at all.

Hulhumale is very much different from Male. It has more foreigners, it is less strict and mostly it is very beautiful. Hulhumale has so much natural beauty, and the beaches are so mesmerizing. There is a special beach in this island for exclusively for tourists, where you can only enter showing your passport. This is the only place, where women can wear bikinis and take a dip in the light blue ocean.

You also can find really good sea food cafes right next to the beach and an open barbeque area which anyone can use, where we just have to bring the meat and charcoal for fire. Moreover, you can find all the water sports here, from jet skiing to surfing, and beach is extremely clean!

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So that ends my short stay in Maldives. I had to sum it up, but there are many many more beautiful places to visit, like the underwater restaurant and also traveling in a submarine.

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Keep a note to yourself that ALCHOHOL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED in MALE, but not in most of the other private islands. All in all, Male was pretty decent and the beaches were amazing. Would I ever return ? Without a doubt !! Nothing beat that nice nap I took on the shore of the Hulhumale tourist beach.

If you want to have a really good time, I’d recommend traveling to a private island. If not, and you’re on a budget just to relax, Male and Hulhumale would be the ideal destination for you.

Till next time !

Rtr. Nichula Liyanage

 

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