AIESEC Sri Lanka National Awards Night 2020

The prestigious National Awards Night of AIESEC Sri Lanka was held on the 15th of April 2020 with the participation of enthusiastic AIESECers representing all the eight entities of Sri Lanka. The Awards Night recognized the tremendous performances and dedication of the members of AIESEC towards achieving “peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential”, with the utmost aim of encouraging them to be the future advocates of change.

AIESEC Sri Lanka is one of the largest nonprofit organizations on the island led by young people which is also committed to providing Sri Lankan youth with a greater vision and a sense of social responsibility to develop themselves as future leaders. Currently, it has an active membership of more than 1000 members representing AIESEC in University of Moratuwa, AIESEC in University of Kelaniya, AIESEC in University of Sri Jayewardenepura, AIESEC in University of Colombo, AIESEC in University of Peradeniya, AIESEC in University of Ruhuna, AIESEC in SLIIT and AIESEC in NSBM.

AIESEC Sri Lanka Awards Night 2020 Gala Night

Award Winners and Nominees

AIESEC in University of Moratuwa won the highest number of awards including the Excellence in Incoming Global Talent Award, Excellence in Incoming Global Volunteer Award, Excellence in Operational Sustainability Award and the Most Outstanding Local Committee Award. Also, AIESEC in University of Moratuwa was nominated for the Excellence in Outgoing Global Talent Award. AIESEC in University of Kelaniya won the second-highest number of awards including the awards for Excellence in Incoming Global Entrepreneur, Excellence in Outgoing Global Talent and Excellence in Outgoing Global Volunteer. Also, AIESEC in University of Kelaniya was among the nominees of Market expansion for the Outgoing Exchange Award and Excellence in Operational Sustainability Award.

The awards for Market Expansion for Outgoing Exchange and Excellence in Outgoing Global Entrepreneur were received by AIESEC in University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Similarly, AIESEC in University of Sri Jayewardenepura was nominated for the Excellence in Outgoing Global Volunteer Award and the Most Outstanding Local Committee Award. AIESEC in University of Colombo was nominated for the Excellence in Incoming Global Volunteer Award.

Kaushalya Gayan Batawala, the MCVP BD/OD for the term 17.18, was recognized as the Most Contributing Alumnus by AIESEC Sri Lanka. Moreover, Thilina Abeykoon was awarded as the Most Contributing NST Member of the term 19.20. Ovini Withanachchi and Devindi Diddugoda were among the nominees for the aforementioned award. Randi Munaweera won the award for the Best Emerging Young Leader while Banuka Hathurusinghe was awarded as the Best Young Leader. Oshadi Kaumada and Meleesh Randunu were nominated for the Best Emerging Young Leader Award whereas Shameemah Rishard and Nimsara Seneviratne were recognized as nominees of the Best Young Leader Award.

AIESEC in SLIIT was distinguished as the Most Progressive Expansion at the 2020 National Awards Night of AIESEC Sri Lanka.

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Battle for Global Technological Supremacy

Industrial Revolution is a perpetual process. Since its beginning in the 18th century, the industrial revolution has been a widely discussed topic all around the globe. Starting from the mechanization and the invention of the steam and water power of the First Industrial Revolution, the process has continued for almost two centuries. As a result of the Second Industrial Revolution, human beings were able to discover electricity power and mass production. The Third Industrial Revolution demonstrated a greater leap of the human kind’s potential with the introduction of automation, electronic and IT systems. Therefore, the initial question would be, what does the Fourth Industrial Revolution have to offer us?

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) illustrates the adoption of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Systems (IOS). In consequence, a series of social, political, cultural and economic upheavals will be unfolded over the 21st century. For example, technologies such as blockchain and smart materials will redefine and reduce the boundary between the digital and physical worlds. When smart technologies are implemented in the factories and workplaces, connected machines will interact, visualize the entire production chain and make decisions autonomously. Moreover, the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution consist of artificial intelligence, genome editing, augmented reality, robotics, and 3D printing. In some ways, the Fourth Industrial Revolution seems like an extension of the computerization of the Third Industrial Revolution. However, it will have a great impact on transforming industries, institutions and the lives of individuals on a global scale. Like every industrial revolution that took place previously, this industrial revolution will also elicit the inability to distribute fairly the resulting benefits. According to Professor Klaus Schwab, founder, and chairman of the World Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution would bring about challenges that are profound and have the potential of greater peril. Therefore, the decision-makers will be either caught in traditional and non-disruptive thinking or be too absorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future. Even though the former is relatively harmless, the latter will involve countries in a battle to achieve global technological supremacy.

From Industry 4.0 to Global Technological Supremacy

The technologies of the fourth industrial revolution are currently paving the way to a battle for global technological supremacy. It is evident that the United States and China, two countries having the world’s largest economies, are currently involved in this battle. The recent invention of the 5G technology has provided a thriving battleground for these two superpowers in the world. The 5G technology is essential for the Internet of Things, self-driving vehicles and other next-generation technology. Huawei is a prominent Chinese company that provides 5G services at a lower price. However, the US has recently imposed restrictions on China’s investment in its hi-tech sectors while banning Huawei products within the country. Similarly, the US has refused visas to Chinese scholars studying in US hi-tech areas. Also, have demanded that the Chinese government alter its industrial policies such as “Made in China 2025”. Therefore it is evident that the US is threatened by the possibility that China might gain technological supremacy over them, mainly by being the initial producer of the 5G technology to many European countries. On the other hand, by blocking down Huawei, the US and its allies are losing access to one of the world’s finest technologies. This slows down eventually their aim of achieving global technological supremacy. In addition, despite the fast technological growth, China is still reliant on US technologies. As a result, no party is likely to win this tech war which appears at the periphery of an intense trade war between the two countries to achieve global leadership and technological supremacy. Instead, it will have a negative impact on the global supply chain while decreasing the speed of global technological progress in the long term.
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Ragging and Its Negative Impact on Leadership

A university is a place with a diverse culture. It combines the young population of the country, coming from different socio-political backgrounds together and allows them the opportunity to excel in their knowledge. In addition, it is where the future leaders of the country are nourished in order to widen their perspectives. It is a place in which students have many opportunities to develop their personalities and skills essential to succeed in the future. In a university, everyone is in the same academic community. Therefore, no single political norm should be idealized within this academic community. In Sri Lanka, there are 15 universities and 19 higher education institutes that are operating under the authority of the University Grants Commission. All these institutes consist of a total of 116,388 undergraduate students studying in various fields. In these state universities and higher education institutions, every new student is supposed to go through a process called “ragging” which is conducted by the senior students. It is a well-known fact that the ones who practice this malicious process are encouraged by some political affiliations who try to instill a false sense of leadership in them. In addition, this vicious cycle of oppression which is repeated every year, comes with a false sense demolishing the social hierarchy and gap between the students, establishing the so-called “batch fit”, or brotherhood, and exposing students who come from rural areas to the new environment and practicing them to have a “tough life”. However, it is reported that as a result of “ragging”, 1989 undergraduates have abandoned their higher education in 2017 and 2018. Moreover, nearly 2000 students who pass their GCE A/L examination avoid entering the state universities although they have the necessary qualifications. Therefore, it is clear that “ragging” is no longer a healthy and tolerable process. Instead, it has become a platform in which students are exposed to verbal, psychological and physical harassment depriving their basic human rights and thus the opportunity to develop their personalities. Ragging in state universities has begun in 1974 when some trainee mathematics teachers at the University of Kelaniya (then Vidyalankara University) were subjected to ragging. One year later, University of Peradeniya reported the first ragging related death when Rupa Rathnaseeli, a 22 years old student from the Faculty of Agriculture, committed suicide after being paralyzed as a result of jumping off the second floor of the hostel to escape the physical ragging carried out by the seniors. The Sri Lankan government passed the prohibition of ragging and other forms of violence in educational institutions act in 1998 totally abolishing ragging and other forms of violence within the state institutes. Unfortunately, the list of the victims of ragging incidents has continued slowing down the progress of the state universities and higher education institutions in Sri Lanka. In 2019, the death of Shanilka Dilshan Wijesinghe, an undergraduate of the Diyagama campus of the University of Moratuwa, who committed suicide on 31st March leaving a three-page suicide note which states clearly the violent ragging of campus as the cause of his suicide proves once again how deeply and vastly students are affected by ragging. In the same year, four first-year undergraduates from Eastern University had been hospitalized due to ragging. The revealing of a second-year student from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Ruhuna on how he and other new entrants were subjected to ragging and sexual abuse by senior students shocked the entire country. Therefore, any incident related to ragging should not be handled with velvet gloves and severe actions should be taken against the practitioners of ragging. As mentioned before, universities are where future leaders are made and endowed with greater visions. Yet, ragging is not allowing young students to represent their own ideas because they are compelled to “go with the flow” and do whatever their so-called “seniors” have been doing throughout the years. If they try to resist, they are labeled as “weak” and not ready to take upon any challenge. These clichéd ideas which exist in state universities and higher education institutes should be vanished along with ragging mainly because it destroys completely the freedom that one naturally gains as a citizen and the capacity to develop as a person.
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How Volunteering Can Increase Your Chance of Being Recruited

“Volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale. And it matters profoundly. It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds”. – William J. Clinton

Volunteerism is one of the most selfless acts that one can get involved in as a human being. In fact, without volunteers nonprofit organizations will not be able to achieve their goals or fulfill their missions. Volunteerism has the power of “changing the odds” while discovering one’s full potential. As a result, most of the employers around the world are interested in recruiting volunteers. Also, the ability of providing one’s time and expertise through volunteering can make an immense difference in the world and within the respective communities. Therefore, it is a great way to build professional skills and find an employment.

Since volunteering usually encourages someone to work in diverse and challenging environments, it provides the opportunity to develop new skills which are related to a career. For example, organizing events and fundraising efforts help to develop the project management skills which are highly demanded by the organizations when recruiting employees. Similarly, volunteering requires the ability of working in groups leading and coordinating the team members which gives volunteers the skills related to team management. In some instances, volunteering is a successful way of improving your sales skills, second language skills public speaking skills and people management skills. All these skills are highly demanded in the world of work and therefore volunteering can increase your chance of being recruited.

Volunteering is a great way for you to meet new people and establish new connections. You can meet people with similar interests who are coming from different social and professional backgrounds and expand your network. Consequently, the connections and friendships that you get to make as a volunteer are comparatively stronger. Therefore, you can keep a list of contacts which include the members of the staff, board members, clients, other volunteers and suppliers and reach out to them whenever you need.

Corporate Social Responsibility is one of the core concerns of a company. It is considered as a factor which can increase the company’s stakeholder interest. Therefore, when recruiting employees the employers will prioritize the candidates who have been volunteering because they are renowned for their capacity to be invested in realizing a specific goal and passion of serving the community. It can definitely improve your chance of being recruited.

If you are still not convinced of how volunteering can increase your chance of being recruited, the statistics obtained by the below-mentioned researches and surveys will wipe all your doubts away. A LinkedIn survey has found that 41 percent of hiring managers view volunteer work as equal to a paid job. Another research shows that 81 percent of hiring managers feel volunteer experience is valuable and 60 percent of them see the act of volunteerism as a valuable asset when making recruitment decisions.  Moreover, according to research done by the Corporation for National and Community Service of the USA, potential employees who volunteer have a 27 percent better chance of being recruited than people who don’t volunteer. 92 percent of human resource executives agree that contributing to a nonprofit can improve an employee’s leadership skills thus increasing your chance of being recruited.

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Sri Lanka’s Mangrove Forests Can Save Lives

Sri Lanka is an island which is enriched with a wide range of biological species, fauna and flora, in a variety of habitats. Therefore, Sri Lanka is considered as one of the world’s most prominent bio diversity hot-spots. This diversity is mainly determined by factors such as the wide variation in rainfall, altitude and soil within the country. Moreover, the unique geographical formation of the island varying from marine and coastal habitats to evergreen rain forests, grasslands and wetlands contribute in enhancing its bio-diversity.

Mangroves are among the most productive ecological and economic resources in Sri Lanka. According to the Department of Forest Conservation, Sri Lanka is home to more than 20 mangrove species flourishing mainly along the sheltered inertial coastlines associated with estuaries and lagoons. These mangroves extend over an area of 15,670 hectares even though it represents only 0.2% of the total forest cover of the island. The areas of Kala Oya basin, Puttlam Lagoon and Trincomalee are identified as having the largest tract of mangrove habitats in Sri Lanka. In addition, mangroves thrive in areas such as Kalpitiya, Negambo, Kalutara and Bentota.

The green belts of mangrove plants grow in harsh environments with high salinity, low oxygen, high light intensity, strong winds and periodic inundation. Fourteen mangrove species and twelve associated species have been recorded in Sri Lanka. Mangrove forests usually consist of mangrove trees and shrubs and they depend heavily on their roots which appear from the water to absorb air to breath. In addition, some mangrove trees exhibit viviparity or the capacity to germinate their seeds while been attached to the mother plant which ensures eventually the survival of that particular specie.

One of the Most Productive Ecosystems

Mangrove ecosystem provides a habitat for many wildlife species. It acts as a nursery ground for fish and prawns as a result of the micro-climate provided by the mangrove trees and the enhancement of nutrients derived from the decomposing leaves. This unique ecosystem is also important as a resting and feeding ground for a number of wetland and migratory birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. In fact, it provides a protective breeding habitat for fauna. Furthermore, mangroves facilitate the growth of corals while providing shelter for a variety of coral species.

Combats the Impacts of Climate Change

Mangroves play a major role in weathering the adverse effects of climate change. Mangrove plants are equipped with the ability of mitigating and reducing the impacts of coastal erosion, storms, hurricanes and tsunamis. It is a well-known fact that mangroves played a major role as a protective barrier in some of the coastal areas to mitigate the effects of the tidal waves when Sri Lanka was affected drastically by tsunami in 2004. In addition, mangrove forests absorb up to four times more carbon per hectare than an average tropical forest. Mangroves decrease pollution of near-shore coastal waters by trapping pollutants.

Provides Economic Benefits

Some of the mangrove plants are used as vegetables and fruits whereas the others are used as medicinal plants in Ayurveda. Therefore, it is a rich source of food. Also, the livelihood of people residing near the coastlines depend largely on these mangrove forests. Coastal community can also benefit from the growing eco-tourism industry. Eco-tourism allows local and foreign tourists to feel the wonders of the vibrant and magnificent mangrove vegetation. For example, Madu riverboat trip at Balapitiya, Boat tour at Muthurajawela, Koggala river safari in Galle and Negambo lagoon are the most popular mangrove forest attractions among the tourists.

Mangrove Destruction

Although many awareness programs are conducted each year on the importance of mangrove conservation, the mangroves are destructed at an alarming rate. Illegal clearing for settlements and fuel wood, agricultural expansion, expansion of the export-oriented prawn farming, unregulated discharge of pollutants and mass tourism are principle reasons behind mangrove destruction. Since 1990, 1/3 of the mangrove plants had been uprooted in Sri Lanka to make way for expanding cities, coastal development and shrimp farms. Furthermore, the roots, fruits and flowers of some particular mangrove species are being used to create ornaments and bottle caps at an unsustainable level.

Mangrove Protection

In 2015, Sri Lanka announced that it would protect all of its mangroves, becoming the first country in the world to make that declaration. Therefore, the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Forest Department, Central Environmental Authority and Coast Conservation Department in Sri Lanka have taken solid initiatives to preserve the valuable mangrove vegetation of the country. The establishment of the Nature Resource Center at Pambala and Mangrove Education Center at Maduganga, establishment of mangrove nurseries, restoration of mangrove forests in lagoons and estuaries and training community leaders while educating, developing and improving skills and attitudes of the coastal population on the benefits of preserving the mangrove forests are some of the initial actions taken by the above mentioned authorities to prevent mangrove destruction. The National Adaptation Plan of Sri Lanka also focuses on mangroves under Sri Lanka’s climate actions.

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