Sri Lanka


Readiness of School Leavers for the Workplace of the Future. Sujata N Gamage, LIRNEasia. September 2018
ICT contribution to Sri Lanka’s and the region’s logistics sector Professor Rohan Samarajiva (drawing from Abu Saeed Khan; After Access Team & Shazna Zuhyle of LIRNEasia & ITU-ESCAP) Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Sri Lanka, 19 September 2018
Fernando, L., Surendra, A., Lokanathan, S., & Gomez, T.
Few days back, I spent time at the Dompe District Hospital (a modest 100 bed hospital where people go for clinic visits but not for surgery) observing the impressive progress made in re-engineering work processes and introducing ICTs. The story is well told in Roar.lk. All the doctors worked with laptops and barcode readers. Each patient presents a barcode.
Prof. Rohan Samarajiva was recently invited to the ’99 Minutes’ show hosted by Shan Wijethunga on the national television corporation of Sri Lanka, ‘Rupavahini’. The full panel discussion on energy regulation (specifically electricity) in Sri Lanka, can be found below:
Galpaya, H. N., Suthaharan, P., & Senanayake, D. L.
Supporting evidence-based policy making and implementation by governments in the emerging Asia Pacific is an important part of LIRNEasia’s raison d’etre.  This support is extended in many ways.  The latest is the acceptance of the Sri Lanka government’s invitation extended to founder chair Rohan Samarajiva to serve as Chairman on the countries apex ICT Agency.  Rohan was a member of the original Board of the ICT Agency, which was established in 2003 to implement a pioneering integrated ICT development initiative called e Sri Lanka.  He contributed to its design.
Hate speech is one area where our thinking was strongly influenced by work in Myanmar. I recall listening to a passionate presentation by Nay Phone Latt on the subject at an awareness program for legislators in Yangon and discussing the issues with Phyu Phyu Thi in relation to her research presentation at IGF in Joao Pessoa. When our researchers were on the field in Myanmar, the problems in the Rakhine emerged. This is a hard problem, requiring balance between prior restraint of speech and control of hate speech leading to violence. We will continue to engage with the topic.
I was asked by the FT about the Facebook shut-down decision of the government. Here is my response: It is true that Facebook as well as Viber, etc. have been, and are being, extensively used by various extremist groups to organize. The climate for this conflagration was created by mainstream media such as Divaina, which gave coverage to hate speech as well as by hate speech messages that were circulated among their circles of friends and family without central direction by members of the majority community using social media, not limited to Facebook. The root cause of the problem lies in this insidious spread of falsehoods and hate over multiple years, not solely in the specific messages being communicated now.
Policy making in times of rapidly changing technology is not easy. Here is a description of the architecture of the new 5G networks: The new technology, known as 5G, delivers wireless internet at far faster speeds than existing cellular connections. But it also requires different hardware to deliver the signals. Instead of relying on large towers placed far apart, the new signals will come from smaller equipment placed an average of 500 feet apart in neighborhoods and business districts. Much of the equipment will be on streetlights or utility poles, often accompanied by containers the size of refrigerators on the ground.
This is not the first time Engel’s Law has been written about here. And unlikely the last time. The 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey report is out and we’ve started poking around for insights. Here is a sample: From a high of 60.9% of total household expenditures spent on food in 1990-91, the food ratio has declined to 34.
I was invited to speak at the launch of the UNDP-funded DataSmart initiative of the Ministry of Disaster Management, where some work is being done by Sarvodaya Fusion. I talked about the need not only to collect data, but also to ensure that it produced the right kind of information that could be translated by the beneficiaries into action that saved lives and protected assets and livelihoods. We need to think beyond generalized disaster warnings to provide people in particular locations with specific, actionable information that they could use, such as the river will crest in this particular location at x meters at this specific time. I went on to talk about the need to have more granular rainfall data that could be fed into models that could yield the kinds of actionable information people living in our river valleys could use. The attenuation of microwave transmissions caused by rainfall is built into the operation of the ubiquitous mobile networks.
The Household Income and Expenditure Survey is an important report. The 2016 report is just out. The previous report (2012-13) found that 12.5 percent of Sri Lankan households lacked telephone service, fixed or mobile. By 2016, the phoneless households had declined to 8.
The work on building trust-enhancing mechanisms for electoral demarcations has been an important component (not applied in the case of local government elections). On the 13th of February, Team Leader Sujata Gamage shared her research with colleagues at the Trivedi Centre for Political Data at Ashoka University.
Many of the discussions at organizations such as ours that are driven by the need to influence policy through research, center on indicators. We need to be able to communicate quickly and effectively how things have changed for the better or for worse, ideally in comparison with benchmarks. The best way to do this is through an indicator. In academic settings, it is common to bemoan the incompleteness of various indicators, when those same academics are faced with the task of communicating their research to policy makers or the general public, they fall back on one or at most two indicators to tell their story. One thing I say about indicators is that they are all imperfect.
   LIRNEasia’s first publication for 2018 has just arrived. Summing up the learnings from multiple projects, LIRNEasia’s Human Capital Team Leader Sujata Gamage contributed a chapter to Education in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Islands, edited by Hema Letchamanan and Debotri Dhar for a prestigious book series entitled “Education Around the World” published by Bloomsbury. She is now engaged in converting these insights on general education into practical policy measures at the invitation of the Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka. The book also includes a chapter on higher education, co-authored by Board Member Vishaka Nanayakkara.