“We have the responsibility to ensure that together with the freedom we have won, we can also have economic independence that will enable our people to live a good life.
“Let us act to drown out poverty, inability and conspiracies against the people in an abundance of prosperity. That is our singular expectation” said President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his address declaring open the Deyata Kirula National Exhibition, at Oyamaduwa, Anuradhapura, on February 04.
“With our election to office we placed the Mahinda Chinthana before the people to change this situation; to rebuild the villages and to help raise again the cultivator who was the village producer. We saw the necessity to rebuild the agrarian economy,” the President said.
Address by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the opening of the “Deyata Kirula” National Exhibition, at Oyamaduva, Anuradhapura – February, 4, 2012
I am very happy to be able to hold the Deyata Kirula National Exhibition amidst the villages of Oyamaduva in the Kingdom of Anuradhapura. Sixty Four years after we gained freedom this is the first morning that we held independence celebrations at Anuradhapura.
Anuradhapura was our first kingdom. It is today’s World Heritage City that remained the capital of our Motherland for more than 1,000 years. It was King Pandukabhaya who transformed the ancient Anuradha Grama to the great City of Anuradhapura. You are aware that he constructed the moats, walls and fortifications to build Anuradhapura as a well organized city. He developed Anuradhapura so much, making it such an active city that required the appointing of a ruler to attend to its needs at night.
What remained among the great cities of the world for more than a thousand years since its founding, the Kingdom of Anuradhapura began to collapse later due to enemy invasions, diseases such as malaria and many other reasons. The people left the Kingdom. In later years great patriots such as Valisingha Harischandra began to study and explore Anuradhapura. Similarly, the Ven. Narammala Sumanasara Thera did a great service to rebuild, this sacred city of Anuradhapura. I have also heard of the great contribution made by businessmen from Ruhuna such as Delkada Appuhamy to restore the Ruvanveliseya. With the progress of this work, attention was systematically turned towards the monuments such as the Atamasthana. However, despite such interest in Anuradhapura, no attention was paid to the many thousand villages in this region. In every era whatever happened to towns and cities, little attention was paid to the villages.
It is my belief that what went wrong for us in history is the lack of attention paid to the villages that are around us here today. There are historical reasons for this. Foreign invasions of kingdoms in the past did not have much impact, because the village was economically strong and independent. There was not much purpose in capturing a city and robbing the treasury, because the villages had the necessary strength, independence and capability for self-sustenance. The village had irrigation resources such as tanks. It is clear that our freedom was protected because our villages remained strong.
We are a nation that has faced massive invasions in our history. We were able to rise again because our agrarian-economy was strong in the past. We had our irrigation tanks and canals. We know that it was the English who were able to totally subjugate the country. After the revolt of 1818 the tanks and all irrigation facilities in Wellassa were destroyed. The people faced great destruction at that time with curfews and martial law, the killing of youth and letting the village decline in importance. The abundance of the village was destroyed. It was not possible for the village to rise after that.
Yet, there was a greatly responsibility placed on us. With our election to office we placed the Mahinda Chinthana before the people to change this situation; to rebuild the villages and to help raise again the cultivator who was the village producer. We saw the necessity to rebuild the agrarian economy. That is why through six and a half years the cultivators were given the fertilizers at great loss to the government. From the time paddy cultivation began in our country we have been able to give the highest price to the cultivator for a kilo of paddy.
The paddy fields in our country that were once abandoned are now being cultivated. Today, in Anuradhapura alone, more than 60,000 hectares of paddy land are under cultivation. An income of Rs 2,500 million has gone to the hands of cultivators. In recent years those who cultivated onions, chillies, cashew nuts, corn, undu and other crops have earned many millions. The rural community engaged in cultivation has obtained a large income from their work.
We decided to strengthen our villages by imposing heavy duties to stop the import of produce that can be grown here, by giving bank loans to cultivators, and by building and maintaining both large and small irrigation projects. We built the village roads. One cultivator told me that although earlier they used tractors on these roads they now even feel bad about the use of these roads that have been newly constructed and paved. Thus, the village has now been modernized.
Our efforts today are not confined to building the economy, but are also directed at building the necessary background to raise the community and livelihood levels of the village. Today, it is the children from distant rural villages who mostly win the coveted first and second places in scholarships through government examinations for the GCE Ordinary and Advanced levels. In the Advanced Level it was a student from Jaffna that obtained the highest marks in arithmetic. The highest marks in the scholarship examination went to a student from Velvettithurai. Earlier, there was a student from Vijayaba Vidyalaya in Hambantota. Today a child from Debarawewa will do well. This shows how today the children from distant rural villages are getting increasingly focused on learning. They have begun to show their skills in examinations and are developing their knowledge in science and technology. The pilot who we meet on an aircraft today hails from a distant village school. The jobs that were once confined to those in Colombo and other cities and towns are now obtained by village youth. Computer literacy in the country has gone beyond 30 per cent, and is now at 45 per cent. Today, people in the rural villages are also benefitting from Information Technology. Therefore, tourists and the Tourism Industry also see the progress and values of the village. What is essential for us is to eliminate poverty in the village.
The Hon. Minister raised a question as to why a project such as Deyata Kirula was brought to village areas such as Buttala and Anuradhapura. Some see this as a huge carnival. They criticize this. But they must come and see the difference for themselves. They must see how these rural roads have been built and carpeted. Time was when one could not walk or even use a vehicle on the Thanthirimalai Road. Today the new roads have brought the town and village closer. Anuradhapura and this village have been brought closer. Just as we launched the project to supply water to Thanthirimalai yesterday, when the villages begin to get water, electricity, transport facilities, sports grounds and other facilities, some see these as carnivals. When these facilities are brought to the village some have a cross-eyed view of such work. What we seek is to unite the town and village and provide the facilities in towns to the villages too. Through this exhibition we have been able to give the children of our country understanding of the development that is taking place in the country; to know how the village areas have been developed. That is our expectation from this. We have the responsibility to ensure that together with the freedom we have won, we can also have economic independence that will enable our people to live a good life. Let us act to drown out poverty, inability and conspiracies against the people in an abundance of prosperity. That is our singular expectation.
It is, therefore, necessary for us to develop villages such as Oyamaduva. It is to demonstrate this that we have brought Deyata Kirula to the village. I congratulate all of this achievement. We have so far conducted Deyata Kirula focusing on individual districts. Its benefits went to one district at a time. But, we have now decided that next year Deyata Kirula will be conducted to represent four districts of Ampara, Trincomalee, and Batticaloa in the East, and the Polonnaruwa District, and through this to obtain participation for development of the entire region. I call upon all Hon. Ministers, and all officials to prepare from now on to take the next Deyata Kirula to these areas.
I wish you all a Prosperous Future.
May you be blessed by the Noble Triple Gem!