had a lot of faith in "godaya" Nanayakkara and from my
last conversation with him I got the comfortable feeling that he had
matters in hand. Afterall, whichever side you are on, no one really
wants to see the old People's Republic going down the drain. Most of
us have a fondness for the place and will always continue to have.
We may choose to live elsewhere but we still love the People's Rep.
|Sri Lanka has fewer people than expected
Jul 25 2001 18:27 IST COLOMBO, July 25 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's first
census in 20 years has shown that the island has 3.5 percent
fewer people than the authorities had originally thought, census
chief A. G. Nanayakkara said Wednesday. The July 17 census
showed the island's population was 18.66 million, down from an
original estimate made at the end of last year of 19.35 million.
Nanayakkara said the population growth rate in the past 20 years
had been an annual 1.22 percent. The final head count was not
held in the embattled north of the country,...... But
Nanayakkara said that the initial listing of households
throughout the country gave them a near accurate picture.
Nana was a good, steady guy...good with his Averages and Calculus
and the nice sort of curves and lines that we used to do in
mathematics. I remember the curves! I still like curves! They were
called Parabolas! Looked like the nose end of a Boeing 747..after
separating off from the main part of the fuselage....
GOOD OLD NANA!
"Ahh! Good ol' Nana" I said, to Mrs F the other day.
She was trying to knit and watch a stupid prog. called Big
Brother on the telly. "What?" she asked. "I said
that Nana was a good chap" " Who is Nana" she asked
whilst furiously carrying on with her knitting. It is sometimes not
easy to carry on a conversation with Mrs F. After all we've been
married over 25...but I do digress...
To get back to Nana and the census,
it came as a bit of a surprise this a.m to find the above splashed
across all the news services. I was totally taken aback! Nana has
cocked it up I thought. I mean, who in his right mind would go about
revising the figures up and down like that!
By the time I had spotted this
damnatory news item, it was midmorning here in GB and I was at work.
We are on BST not GMT, by the way.
This was an emergency and I dropped everything. Old Nana's
credibility was at risk! Time for all good men to come to the aid of
As usual I couldn't - unfortunately -
work out what time it was in the old People's Rep. So I first phoned
Mrs F to find out.
She was right. It was late afternoon
in Srilanka and Nana was still at the office but probably listening
to the cricket commentary.
I managed to surprise him by the
simple expedient of calling him "Nana!" in a
commanding, authoritative sort of manner.
"Sir!" he said obviously mistaking me for a high
ranking Minister. (Only Ministers are addressed as 'Sir' these days.
Everybody else is addressed as 'Uncle' or 'Hullo')
"AdooOO Godaya!" I
said in my normal friendly manner to which some people take an
immediate disliking to..
There was an audible groan of
recognition at the other end. "It's you Guyy-ya isn't it"
he said. It was easy to work that out. Nobody, not even the
President, addresses him as "Ado Godaya!"
Pleasantries and greetings thus
having been exchanged I asked Nana what went wrong with the census.
I was surprised when he said that "No, no, no, no, nothing went
wrong , nothing went wrong and we got what we wanted, what we
" You see we estimated our
population at 19.35million. That got us a lot of aid from most of
your aid organisations and we are allright on that but then we ran
into problems, ran into problems. Family planning organisations
wouldn't pay up because we had not kept our promise and our
population had gone up and we were straying well away from
descending towards ZPG"
"What the hell is the ZPG?"
"Zero Population Growth"
explained Nana, wearily.
"Ha! And so you decided to
downscale the figures" I said understandingly.
"And on top of that the Pry
Minister wanted to show that the population was going down"
went on Nana.
"Bugger!" I exclaimed
without thinking and realised that the expression was totally
inappropriate under the circs.
GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY!
readers of our pages would know the Pry Minister's attitude towards
"Let me get this right Nana, so
you wanted to back the Pry Minister's policy of Go Forth And
Multiply?" I asked.
"What policy? What policy?"asked
"The Go Forth & M Policy!
Its in the Bible! Genesis!" I said.
"I have never read the Bible"
said Nana "I am a Buddhist. And who is Jenny Essis?"
I let that go. No point talking about
an ancient work of fraud, I thought.
"So" I said, getting back
to the business in hand and conscious of the fact that BT were
probably charging me their usual extortionate rates for this phone
call, "you had to lower the figures!"
are just begining to understand Guy-ya" said Nana
I never realised that a census was
such a delicate, diplomatic, balancing act. I thought that you went
around a few households, filled out a couple of forms and then on
the way home bought a bottle of Arrack and a calculator and did your
homework like a good boy.
"Do we really know then how many we have got in the old
People's Rep?" I asked trying to get to the so called "nitty
gritty". "Yes we do!"
said Nana triumphantly. "First we take the results of the last
"Twenty years ago!" I
"...and project it by a factor
of 2.83 percent. Then we take the mean of the two figures but allow
for a blah blah figure for the actual population growth and taking
into consideration that since the infant mortality rate has blah
blah and the age of first marriage has increased by a factor of blah
not withstanding the increasing female to male ratio which presently
stands at...and of course the improved life expectancy figures which
we have from the WHO..and...and..Meta analysis and ...bias And
As I have said before, I was never
good at figures. I felt a headache coming on. Furthermore, with my
strict Catholic upbringing I was brought up to believe that
deviations were not normal!
"Thanks Nana" I said
"Take care! Look after yourself
and look after the old People's Republic for our sake! Speak to you
©Copyright Gyan Fernando 2001
First written on the 26th of July 2001