| by Victor Cherubim
(December 14, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Fuel poverty is a particular problem among the old in UK every winter. With the Big Six Energy suppliers hiking prices of fuel, over and above inflation, some 25,000 elderly people of the 10 million pensioners, die every year from cold related illnesses, because they are unable to keep themselves warm. There is also cold comfort whether to buy or not to buy, as prices of food and essentials at supermarkets escalate.
|Crowd of people. Photograph: Image Source/Getty Images|
The definition of fuel poverty is when a household needs to spend more than “a tenth of its income on fuel to make a satisfactory heating regime,” (usually 21degrees for the main living area and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms). Today we are informed that the elderly need to spend a seventh of their income from their pension on energy bills.
So why the “who,ha” about cost of living in Britain, or for that matter in Sri Lanka. Given a chance nearly everyone in Sri Lanka, idolises the life style in Britain. Can we deny them that luxury of purpose? People sell their wherewith all to come to Britain. They will risk the safety of their lives, pawn themselves to the hilt to people peddlers, fly with false passports to ten or more destination airports, seek the refuge of refugees, “Kiev, Ukraine” to arrive in Dover, frozen in the undercarriages of long distance juggernauts, to be interrogated by eager UK Border Agency, all in the name of being in Britain. More recently, they have come in the guise as students to study at nondescript colleges of education, paying abominable fees to get enrolment in unheard of subjects. Yet Britain lures Sri Lankans, and deports weekly many to back to Sri Lanka. Why?
British High Commission in Colombo, days ago announced faster Visa processing for selected businesses, companies and visas for business travel. The Business Express Programme is another way of luring Sri Lankans to invest in UK, at the same time while Sri Lanka wants Tamil diaspora to invest in Sri Lanka.
Who said the grass is always greener on the other side? Perhaps, in the bleak of midwinter, the grass is of a different shade of green, with the frost cover in the ghettos of immigrants in East Ham or at Southall, where the smell of curry makes their “nostrils cheer,” or the chewing of “tulsi” makes for happiness. Perhaps, Sri Lankans have also a nostalgia for anything that smells British. On a lighter side, there is a feeling in England of “freedom”. There is the odd attraction for both young and old that nobody bothers about you as you are left unnoticed; to live a life of “automated” contentment. This is normal until recently during Christmas time when the “coppers,” especially the special constables, who are sometimes voluntary recruits, want to stop and search scrupulous as well as unscrupulous and weary travellers at underground and train stations, partly as security and party to show rank.
Whilst credit rating agencies around the world are down grading the economies of nations including France and Sri Lanka, “pillock” Jeremy Clarkson says he will shoot striking public sector workers in front of their families. Bernard Henri Levy, the French Philosopher, rightly or wrongly wants to know “who are they” as he refers to the credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor and Moody. He argues that they are not accountable to anyone, yet the so called western world wants Sri Lanka to be accountable.
Sri Lanka is sovereign nation not a sovereign bond. It is accountable to its citizens and to the UN conventions it is a signatory to. There is no question of heating or eating in Sri Lanka. With a land endowed by nature, it is up to Sri Lanka to preserve its destiny with man and nature. Its people are now demanding action to tackle economic hardship and employment. The hope for all is that the goods will somehow be delivered with initiative and ingenuity.