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

24 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 bleeding.

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 infections.

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!

“Organising 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 Racism (IMADR)

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

The 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 millennia.
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 individual.

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 like that.

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
Entrance free
All films with English subtitles

March 14
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.


March 14
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.


March 15
Bon Cop, Bad Cop by Eric Canuel (Canada, 2006, 116 minutes, colour), with Colm Feore, Patrick Huard, at 4: 30 p.m.


March 15
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.


March 16
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.


March 16
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.


March 16
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.


March 17
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.


March 17
Ultranova by Bouli Lanners (Belgique, 2005, 83 minutes, colour) with Vincent Lécuyer, Hélène De Reymaeker, at 7 p.m.