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H.R.M. Awards - 2010

What about awards to union leaders

The widest publicity has been given in the print and electronic media to ‘The H.R.M. Awards 2010’, which is being organised by the Association of H.R. Professionals of Sri Lanka in partnership with Hewitt India.
The H.R. Professionals have to continuously and persistently face many challenges and have an unenviable task of maintaining a balance between the corporate objectives and the aspirations of employees which are manifested through the union leaders. The H.R. Professionals and Trade Union Leaders have reciprocal responsibilities and obligations. Human Resources Management and Development is not the sole monopoly of H.R. Professionals.

It is a fact that in Sri Lanka trade unions which were intended to protect the workers, regrettably became tools in the hands of self-seeking selfish individuals, some of whom have not hesitated to sacrifice the country and workers. However, there have been and there are today union leaders who have acted in an exemplary manner in the performance of their roles as union leaders. Some have acted with admirable restraint, adhering to a code of ethics and a code of moral rectitude. With their exemplary conduct of the union activities, they have ensured industrial peace, while effectively facilitating social integration. The P.,R. Professionals, who are to be rewarded and recognised, would not have achieved this if not for the peaceful labour environment. It is accepted without any dispute that harmonious industrial relations is vital for increased production and Human Resource Development. Some union leaders, I am aware, have in fact innovated strategies to conciliate and placate their membership and prevailed on them to act with responsibility, particularly during the period enterprises were experiencing the global economic crisis which caused untold pain of mind to employees and their families. Some union leaders have co-operated with Management during the economic recession and consequent restructuring of business operations in an admirable way.

While it is appropriate and fitting to recognise the H.R. Professionals and reward them for their efforts, there should be a way of also recognising and rewarding those union leaders who have made a significant contribution to the process of Human Resources Development and National Development. What is needed today is not so much adversarial trade unions but a sense of partnership in economic enterprises which inevitably will lead to Human Resources and National Development. The efforts of the union leaders who have contributed towards this in an exemplary and admirable way should be recognised and rewarded. Accordingly the Association of H.R. Professionals and the Sri Lanka Institute of Personnel Management should endeavour to identify the union leaders who have excelled in their roles and arrange to appropriately recognise and reward their efforts.
Sqn. Ldr. J. T. Rex Fernando, SLAF. Retd


President’s help sought

I have a few times watched on Action TV the gross negligence or don’t care attitude of some government officials despite of directives from the Presidential Secretariat instructing them for necessary action.
Since I have fallen into such a state, I am publishing this open letter for the kind attention of the President anticipating prompt action.
I published two letters in an English newspaper in April 2005 and August 2007 drawing the attention of the authorities concerned about the intense heat inside the Public Library - Kotahena, describing it to be a ‘furnace’ even around 6 p.m. The cause being the roof is concrete and all four sides of the wall are exposed to the sun and the front side windows covered with glasses. The visitors including children and the staff could be seen often mopping their sweats exuding from their faces and hands. Fans are fitted but they add more misery to that warmly enclosure.
I suggested that the glasses be removed and windows be fitted with wire mesh so that not only the heat would get dispelled but also the wind that blows from the Hettiyawatte Port area would enter making it comfortable.
As usual, ‘officers at the top’ in the CMC did not take any action to make the necessary changes. Thereafter, I have written to many officials regarding this matter.
This matter has been dragging on though I have spent my much time and money without success to get this library ventilated.
After all, if we cannot finally get anything reasonable done by the PS where else are we to go? Simultaneously, it is imperative that the President call for an explanation for this inordinate delay.

Nazly Cassim
Colombo 13


Shortfalls in labelling requirements

I understand that according to the labelling requirements of the Food Act and Consumer Protection Act in Sri Lanka, it is sufficient to declare the ‘generic’ name of an ingredient in a food item instead of the specific name.
A classic example to quote in this regard is where the term ‘emulsifier’/ ‘stabiliser’ is used instead of the specific name ‘gelatine’ by practically all the manufacturers of curd, yoghurt and some ice-creams in Sri Lanka.
Practising vegetarians the world over including those Buddhists and Hindus in Sri Lanka would not knowingly consume any product that contains ‘gelatine’ and /or ‘animal’ rennet (in contrast to vegetarian or microbial rennet) as found in most brands of cheese available in Sri Lanka.

I would like to also highlight the fact that it is unfortunate that many vegetarians are not aware of the fact that gelatine and rennet are slaughter house by-products, viz, gelatin being obtained from animal bones, connective tissue and tendons of animals that are slaughtered while the rennet used in the manufacture of cheese unless it is specified as of plant/microbial origin, is obtained from the stomach of killed calves!
In developed countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, the United States of America (USA), Singapore etc., all the popular consumable ‘dairy’ and other products detail/list all the ingredients used in those products, with particular reference to gelatine and rennet.

I, therefore, appeal/urge that our Authority of the Food Act and Consumer Protection Act insists that every ingredient used in the products manufactured in Sri Lanka, with particular reference to dairy products such as curd, yoghurt, cheese and ice cream, is listed for otherwise bona-fide/practising vegetarians would be consuming gelatine and/or animal rennet for no fault or sin of theirs!

Professor M. Sivasuriya
Colombo 8


Pronunciation and meaning of Etisalat

A dawn of a new era has arrived in Sri Lanka as the United Arab Emirate’s telecom giant launched their brand Etisalat in the local market. The launch was preceded with the logo only (minus the name and the pay-off line), which is called a teaser campaign in advertising parlance, printed in the background of the news items appearing in the newspapers. This culminated with the front pages of most of the newspapers being printed in two shades of green which are the corporate logo colours of the telecom company on the day of the launch. Many of the readers would have thought that the newspapers have changed the format/colours or could have got the impression that it was part of the forthcoming election campaign for the opposition party.

This letter is written, of course, to convey the meaning and the most appropriate pronunciation for the information of the announcers of the electronic media in particular and others who may be interested. Many of the readers will not know the correct pronunciation because the word is, of Arabic origin. The meaning of “Etisalat” is “communications” and should be pronounced as “Ith thi saa laat”. It’s currently pronounced as “Athisalaat” by all the announcers of both radio and TV. One may argue that it is a proper noun and that a variation doesn’t matter but if one is aware of the correct version why not pronounce it right.

Mohamed Zahran


Trinity/Thomian weekend

Our media has reported “but sadly only a handful of Trinitians were present in the grounds to witness the victory. Not even the school boarders were present.”
These words were stated in the context of the recently concluded Trinity/Thomian cricket match.
The present writer as a boarder remembers travelling in the old Trinity bus with Banda of Blessed Memory at the wheel to Mt. Lavinia to witness the Trinity/Thomian cricket match of that year. He can still picture Nimal Maralanda who captained that team coming to the bus and thanking us boarders for having come for the match. On the Trinity side that XI had other than Nimal Maralanda, Malsiri Kurukulasuriya, Senaka de Chickera, Canto Pieris and Jayantissa Ratwatte just to mention the five persons who were awarded the coveted Trinity Lion that year. On the Thomian side it was Michael Tissera and his boys.

That Saturday morning, on which we travelled to Mt. Lavinia, The Daily News of that day carried a banner headline on the sports page ‘Roles bowls the Thomians out.’ If Arasaratnam who had moved from Mt. Lavinia to Kandy had not dropped that vital catch the Thomians would have been all out on Friday.
In 1959, this writer as a Monitor in charge of one of the boarding houses in the Junior School had to take all the Junior School boarders to Asgiriya to watch every match.

The culture that was prevalent when this writer was in school has certainly changed. For in 2007 when the Trinitians played the Thomians at Mt. Lavinia, this writer went to watch the match. He met the then Principal Rod Gilbert of Trinity and asked him why as to only the parents of the boys playing were at the match and not the boys of Trinity?

However, several old boys like Douglas Nethasinghe, Ana Paranavitarana and Balasuriya were there.
Can today’s Trinity go back to the ways of the boys of the good old days of the school and be there to support their cricket team? Can this be done? Is today’s Trinity capable of doing that?

Sydney Knight



C. E. P. Kumarasinghe

115th Birth Anniversary of my father

I recall down memory lane ever since my happy childhood
Monumental patience sacrificial attitude perfect fatherhood.
A guiding star radiating values, a touch of rare dignity
Like a fountain quenching thirst, to me eldest of ten siblings, a celebrity.

Ninety three fruitful years, well past Biblical Span nonagenarian,
Par excellence performed seven stages indomitable spirit humanitarian.
Admirable sterling qualities adorned many grateful generations,
Yeoman service standing monuments seventy-five years, in field of Education.

Dedicated veteran teacher, strict disciplinarian, remarkable linguist.
A legend in your time versatile in Latin, French, English, Mathematics, a journalist
Old Richmondite under Rev. Small, Devout Buddhist exemplary
Gifted talents rare calibre, genius genuine integrity.

A popular name from eighteen to ninety three milestone sans lamentation
An epitome of simplicity in brilliance, personality worthy of emulation.
Symbol of commitment, polymath enriched countless illustrious, laborious, way
Without you they would have lost their way, gone astray.

Divine heart soaring Tolerance, Forgiveness, Togetherness
Imprinted in sands of time seeds of your Righteousness
Until your demise flocking together we’re birds of a feather
We’re today how you nurtured us to be loving and respecting each other.

Two days before your departure to blissful eternity peacefully
I sat beside you feeding something you relished cheerfully.
Like a minstrel angel overflowing with immense adoration
I recollect your blessings still guiding me amidst relaxation.

Pedagogue at Ananda, Nalanda, Trinity Colleges, Principal Kosgama M.V. decades ago
Devoted noble profession, vital personal matters had to forego
On your l15th birth anniversary with profound obeisance, huge debt of gratitude
I offer this humble tribute at thy sacred feet with great magnitude.

Castle of fame built by 3-D Syndrome Determination, Diligence, Dedication,
Reputed Samaritan regardless of reward, unstinted principles in devotion.
By virtue of myriad meritorious deeds performed in Sansara
May you my beloved father attain the Supreme Serenity of Nirvana!

By Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon


Dr H.N.S.Karunatilake

A forthright and fearless scholar

Dr H.N.S.Karunatilake, former Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is no more. He passed away, peacefully, at his residence in Colombo on Sunday, January 24, 2010. His funeral took place on Thursday, January 28, amidst a large and distinguished gathering of current and former Central Bank staff, professionals and his relatives.

Dr Karunatilake was Governor of the Central Bank for relatively a short period of nearly three and a half years from 1988 to 1992. However, his whole career that began in 1953 had been with the Central Bank, where he held senior positions like Director of Economic Research and Senior Deputy Governor, prior to his appointment as Governor. After relinquishing duties as Governor in July 1992, he was appointed as an Advisor on Banking and Economic Affairs to the Ministry of Finance and his long career in the public sector ended with his retirement from this post in 1994.

His tenure as Governor, though short in length of time was characterised by many a significant development in the Central Bank, mostly resulting from progressive measures taken on his own initiative. The activities of the Bank were strengthened and focussed in line with its objectives as enumerated in the statutes. Institutional and capacity building within and outside the Central Bank was given high priority. The Central Bank’s commitment to development work was intensified and regional offices were directed to play an active role in facilitating the extension of credit to agriculture, small and medium enterprises and cottage industries and for generating self- employment opportunities through banks and other financial institutions. As part of this effort, network of the then Regional Rural Development Banks were expanded to areas that were not adequately covered for delivery of credit and other banking services.

Dr Karunatilake, a graduate in Economics from the University of Peradeniya in 1952, proceeded to London School of Economics for his postgraduate studies and obtained MSc in Economics in 1955. Subsequently, at Harvard University he obtained a MA and MPA and in recognition of his academic achievements, he was also appointed as a research fellow at Harvard University. He obtained his PhD from University of London. He was an outstanding scholar and a prolific writer who contributed in no small measure to economic literature by way of several books, articles and book chapters, mainly on the economy of Sri Lanka, published over a period of nearly 50 years.

In 1960s, he was a visiting lecturer in Economics at the Universities of Peradeniya, Colombo and Sri Jayewardenepura. He was one person to whom the credit should go for pioneering the introduction of higher degree courses in Economics and Business Administration in the Universities of Colombo and Sri Jayewardenepura and teaching Economics in the Sinhala medium. He had served on the Boards of a large number of research institutions, Universities, financial institutions, commissions and other state and private sector bodies. He held the office of the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on the Gem Industry and the National Credit Coordinating and Monitoring Committee. He was also the President of the Society for International Development (Sri Lanka Chapter) and President of the Sri Lanka Economic Association (SLEA).

My memory traces back to the early 1970s when I first met Dr Karunatilake while I was a student at the University of Colombo. He was a visiting lecturer in Economics and I attended the lectures conducted by him on comparative banking systems and international finance. A few years later, I established professional contacts with him while he was the Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka where I began my career as a young Economist in 1976.

Besides my professional affiliations with him at the Central Bank, I worked very closely with him in the SLEA as General Secretary while he was President. The SLEA was formed in 1985 and its founder President was Dr Gamani Corea. Dr Karunatilake and I were both founder members. I was elected to the post of General Secretary in 1988, while Dr Corea was President. In the subsequent year, Dr Corea stepped down and Dr Karunatilake was elected as President and he continued for nearly 10 years as President of the SLEA. During his tenure as President, the SLEA was very active and its publication, The Sri Lanka Economic Journal was issued regularly on biannual basis, in addition to a special series of publications on the economy of Sri Lanka. Several seminars and public lectures were conducted on many themes of contemporary significance to the economy of Sri Lanka by the SLEA, under his leadership and guidance.

Dr Karunatilake was known for his strong personality of an exceptional nature and for being forthright and fearless. He had his own style of doing things characterised by excellent time management and remarkably high efficiency in finishing any task he undertook to do.

He was a patriot and a devout Buddhist. Even after his retirement, he dedicated his full time to the Central Bank for which he served for nearly 40 years with highest respect and regard. His own publication “Fifty Years of Central Banking” to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Central Bank provides ample evidence for his commitment. He is remembered for the great service rendered to the Central Bank and the country.
May he attain the eternal bliss of Nirvana!

K. G. D. D. Dheerasinghe
Deputy Governor




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