Samarasinghe meets Vice
President of Colombia
Minister of Disaster Management, Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe’s
meeting with Vice President, Francisco Santos Caldero, Colombia, at the
seventh session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva
Ambassador and the Permanent Representative in Geneva, Dr. Dayan
Jayatilleke were also present.
To all warm hearts
year old Samitha Samanmali, a fourth year medical undergraduate of
Faculty of Medicine Colombo, Sri Lanka faced a terrible accident on
February 15, at the BMICH premises.
Due to the accident she is now suffering from a Spinal Cord crush injury
at T5/T6 level, Compound skull fracture in the occiput and internal
The consultant neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons of National
Hospital Sri Lanka predict that this kind of damage to the spinal cord
has a high chance for drastic long term complications like complete
lower limb paralysis and loss of sensation, anal and urinary
incontinence and other various complications such as respiratory tract
She is in dire need for financial assistance. Please forwards your
donations to the Student Rehabilitation Fund: 7620252, Bank of Ceylon ,
Reagents Branch, Colombo.
For more details Please call Aravinda Kamaladasa -0773017183
A better Sri Lanka is possible!
and participating in an event like this is also about overcoming the
fear psychosis that has paralysed us since the resumption of war” --
Nimalka Fernando, International Movement Against Discrimination and
Over 1 300 people from all parts of Sri Lanka converged
on Colombo on Saturday January 26 for the global day of action as part
of the World Social Forum process (WSF).
The Call For Action addressed all those who oppose war, militarism and
racism; neo-liberal attacks on living standards and livelihoods of the
poor; and imperialism dressed up as globalisation. The all day gathering
at the Vihara Mahadevi Park’s open air auditorium, convened by Peoples
Space (Janavakasha/Jana Avakasam) in concert with a range of other
organisations, marked the end of a week of mobilisations and actions in
districts across the island.
For instance, the Movement For National Land And Agrarian Reform (MONLAR)
conducted awareness raising meetings on WSF as well as agricultural
issues in several districts. The women’s network, Savisthri, held
meetings on alternative concepts of development in several towns and
villages. The National Fisheries Solidarity Organisation (NAFSO)
organised a day long programme to inform coastal communities of threats
to livelihood from capitalist globalisation. The Plantation Sector
Social Forum had previously organised actions in Up-Country areas
highlighting the housing crisis and private management’s indifference to
tea workers basic needs.
In addition to the WSF 2008 theme of ‘Act Together For Another World’,
the organising committee selected an additional theme: “A Better Sri
Lanka Is Possible” to focus actions and mobilisations and to orient
participants on the desired goal. Three sub-themes were chosen with the
national context in mind: “No to War”, “Stop Rising Cost of Living” and
“No to Capitalist Globalisation”.
The only time he broke anyone’s heart
V.T.V. Deivanayagam Pillai
following morning after the cremation we were at Crow Island – one of
the few remaining serene and quiet beaches in Colombo. The haziness of
the day made the horizon disappear – blending the earth and the sky
together. It was as if the heaven was dissolving into the earth’s
shores. You could walk into the sea and reach the sky so easily. An apt
setting to perform the last rites of a man who made the line between the
sky and the earth blur, by living a life, that pervaded all of humanity,
irrespective of religion, caste or social class. Yes, VTV Deivanayagam
Pillai, my grandfather was a man, who transcended across all divides,
made all the lines of division dissolve and disappear; showed it was
possible for anyone to reach the skies, by taking that extra step.
During the funeral we met chairman from the Pettah Maha Bodhi
association. He conveyed his condolences and said Mr Deivanayagam Pillai
was the patron of Maha Bodhi – a fact which I did not know until then.
During the 40s when the there was just Bodhi tree with no protection
whatsoever, the bullock cart owners used to tie the bulls around the
tree. Young Deivanayagam a budding businessman at that time, could not
see desecration to place of worship. Thus,he immediately arranged to
build a fence around the sacred Bodhi tree and convinced the bullock
cart owners to respect the site. That was the beginning of the Maha
Bodhi association in Pettah, in which he has been a patron to this day.
The 5 sons - the Eswaran Brothers walked to dissolve the last remains of
the ashes of Mr VTV Deivanayagam Pillai on the shores of Colombo, the
shores he once crossed over as a migrant worker from India, at the age
of 12, the shores he loved and respected every moment of his life. At
the ripe age of 97, his ashes will continue to kiss the shores for many
There are several qualities of this great man whom I had the fortune and
blessing to be very close to, over many years. I should pick up just two
for this little tribute.
Self disciplined and organised
He was a man who founded and lead a group of businesses that turned
over several billions – he could have retired and enjoyed his life about
30 or 40 years ago. But he did his duties until the last day of his
life. The one piece of gadget he loved was the Alarm Clock. However
tired he may be, he would push and stretch himself to get up and
continue his routine as he sees fit. The self discipline does not end
just there – VTV Deivanayagam Pillai wrote and presented to the family,
a complete account of his personal expenditure every year, sent New Year
greeting cards, he replied every letter and attended every function he
was invited. He was never busy to visit every employee and friend who
was in a hospital bed.
Valuing the human heart
Deivanayagam had to build his business from the ground in a tough
environment – Pettah during some of the most trying economic times in
the history of Sri Lanka. No, he was never the quintessential business
man of today, touting in a Pajero, flaunting his political contacts,
aggressive and tough with his employees – believing in command and
control. He was quite the opposite. He loved and respected the humanity
in every person – be it the bank manager whom he needed to help him with
a business loan – or the Naattami – the manual workers in Pettah who
moved sacks of commodities between shops in hand pushed carts. He valued
the human heart and ensured that he did not forget to uplift the human
spirit in everyone around him. I can recount several incidents where
employees have made grave mistakes even defrauded the company. My
grandfather could not be persuaded to take severe action on the
How is this possible in today’s world of corruption and competition?
Surely one needs to be tough and single minded to the purpose. Yes my
Grandfather was tough and focused on the task at hand where it was
necessary to get the job done. Yes he ensured people followed his
direction and were true to their purpose every moment. But he also
ensured he did not step over and stamp on peoples hearts and feelings.
Every time he feared this may be happening due to his actions or words
he ensured that the broken heart wais assuaged.
I can recollect an incident, may be 20 years ago. It was probably school
holidays and I was accompanying my grandfather during one of his trips.
I enjoyed shadowing him with everything he did – taking care of all his
needs. On that day, one of our distant relatives were visiting us and
was talking to my grandfather about a sensitive family issue they were
facing. I was intently watching to see what advise my grandfather would
give, completely forgetting my place in the conversation. My grandfather
suddenly looked at me and said “Deivoo, can you leave the room as we are
talking something very sensitive and personal”. I was shocked and cursed
myself for being so insensitive and immediately left the room with head
hanging down. I usually pride myself in understanding every situation
and doing what was appropriate. But his one was very embarrassing. I
could not believe that my grandfather could not trust me with something
When the visitors left after about half an hour, my grandfather called
me to his side quietly and said, “ I did not mean to hurt you. I know
you can handle any sensitive matters with care. I had to send you out of
the room purely to put the visitor at ease in sharing his problems with
me”. I was truly moved. I was a small schoolboy. He did not have to
explain why he sent me out of the room. Yet he took the effort to repair
any damage that he may have caused to both parties in that situation.
Yes he was a paradoxically tough businessman with a heart that melted
when he saw the human spirit sagging in anyone around him. He made sure
every such situation was set right. I think the only time he broke
anyone’s heart was when he left this world. Yet, he left thousands of
memories of him for us to learn, relish and cherish for generations to
come. This Beacon will shine forever in our hearts.
- Ganesh Deivanayagam
Bonjour Cinéma 2008
Film Festival of the French Speaking Countries
At the BMICH cinéma hall
All films with English subtitles
4 Months, 3weeks, 2days by Cristian Mungiu (Adults Only) (Romania,
2007, 113 minutes, colour), with Anamaria Marinca, Vlad Ivanov, Laura
Vasiliuat, at 7 p.m.
Se Souvenir Des Belles Choses (Beautiful Memories) by Zabou Breitman
France (2001, 110 minutes, colour), With Isabelle Carré, Bernard Campan,
Zabou Breitman, at 4:30 p.m.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop by Eric Canuel (Canada, 2006, 116 minutes, colour),
with Colm Feore, Patrick Huard, at 4: 30 p.m.
Mon Frere Se Marie (My brother is getting married) by Jean Stephane
Bron, (Suisse, 2006, 95 minutes, colour) with Aurore Clément, Jean-Luc
Bideau, Cyril Troley, Delphine Chuillot, at 7 p.m.
Les Invasions Barbares (The barbarian invasions) by Denys Arcand
(Canada, 2003, 99 minutes, colour) with Remy Girard, Stephane Rousseau,
Marie-Josee Croze, Dorothee Berryman, at 4:30 p.m.
La Cérémonie (The ceremony) by Claude Chabrol (France, 1994, 110
minutes, colour) with Sandrine Bonnaire, Isabelle Huppert, Jacqueline
Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, at 7 p.m.
The Paper Will Be Blue by Radu Muntean (Romania, 2006, 95 minutes,
colour) with Paul Ipate, Adrian Carauleanu, Dragos Bucur, Alex Potocean,
Tudor Aron Istodor, Andi Vasluianu, Dana Dogaru, Ion Sapdaru, Mimi
Branescu, at 2 p.m.
Le Jour Se Lève (Daybreak) by Marcel Carné (France, 1939, 85
minutes, black and white) with Jean Gabin, Jacqueline Laurent, Arletty,
Jules Berry, Bernard Blier, René Génin, at 4:30 p.m.
Ultranova by Bouli Lanners (Belgique, 2005, 83 minutes, colour) with
Vincent Lécuyer, Hélène De Reymaeker, at 7 p.m.