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|Indian company to lay North railway line
It was reported that the government has signed an agreement with an
Indian company to relay or reconstruct the Northern railway line.
As one who has worked in the Way and Works Department of the Railway
for a short period, I have witnessed how efficiently our workmen
from platelayers to engineers worked to restore the track during the
floods and wash ways in the hill country under trying conditions,
sun and rain and how expeditiously they completed the work. Had this
being given to contractors, it would have taken a longer period and
the quality of work may not have been up to expectation, as the main
concern of the contractor is profits.
Why go further, the restoration of the track in double quick time
by our expert, experienced men when the track was washed off during
the Tsunami disaster, weren’t they equal to the task?
Coming back to relaying the Northern railway lines by an Indian
company, one should not forget that these lines were in existence
for over a century, laid during the colonial regime, before the LTTE
removed the rails and sleepers to build bunkers. The ‘Rail Bed’, by
the constant ‘pounding’, ‘stamping’ by heavy rail traffic for a long
period, I believe, is well compacted, stabilised and consolidated.
What remains to be done is to lay the rails and sleepers – wooden or
concrete, and pack metal under and ballast. Also the existing
bridges and culverts should be tested and strengthened. This, I am
sure, our own experienced men could do much faster and with lesser
expenditure. Whatever it may be, the Railway Department or the
Government may have their own reasons or views in estimating skills
of our workmen, officials and engineers. If done departmentally, the
abandoned line rooms could have been renovated and repaired to house
the employees who would maintain the track after restoration.
However, it is hoped that our officials who supervise the
construction by the Indian company should ensure the use of quality
materials specially rails, dog spikes, fishplates etc. are according
to British standard specifications (BSS) though of Indian origin.
In ending, I pose the question, is this the legacy left behind by
illustrious administrations of the like of B. D. Rampala and the
dedicated engineers of the Way and Works Department N. A.
Vaitialingam, L. S. de Silva, Paul Senaratne, Kalidasan to name a
G. A. D. Sirimal
|Pronunciation of expertise, cognitive…
I was listening last Wednesday evening to the news broadcast over
the SLBC, now re-branded as “Radio Sri Lanka”, the announcer on
board was a female who pronounced “expertise” as “experties”. No
sooner the newscast was over, I called the newsroom to point out
that the word was mispronounced. Another announcer who was to take
over and present the “Family Choice Programme” confirmed that it was
wrong and agreed that the correct pronunciation is “experteez”.
And in last Sunday’s night newscast, the announcer, another lady,
pronounced the word “cognitive” as per the spelling. Here again, I
contacted the announcer to inform her that, the correct
pronunciation is “conytive” to which her response was that both were
I was now a bit confused with the pronunciation of these two words
and did some ‘homework’ on these two words. What I found will be a
surprise not only to the announcers but also the readers of your
As for the word “expertise”, if it is a noun, the correct
pronunciation is “experteez”.
When “expertise” is a verb, it should be pronounced as “experties”.
The word “cognitive’ has to be pronounced “as is”, and I couldn’t
find the alternative pronunciation as “conytive” which pronunciation
I have heard from erudite speakers at seminars, lectures etc. and
also at a lecture in Psychology.
I do really enjoy listening to Radio Sri Lanka, the announcers –
Fathima Razick Cader, Soundi Thawam (who is my favourite announcer),
Nihal Bharethi, Shareefa Thahir, Steve Morrel, Fathima Razick, Caryl
Sela, to name a few - are doing an excellent job. This is not to
find fault with any of the announcers but to kindle some interest
regarding pronunciation. I also would like to read, other readers’
views on this subject for me to further enlighten myself.
As a regular listener of the Radio Station’s Family Choice
Programme, I would like to request Yoosuf Noordeen, Director, SLBC
to intersperse Islamic Nasheeds (songs) to the above programme in
keeping with their “slogan” new programmes, less clutter and new
presenters. This will not only make SLBC outshine but also will
definitely attract more listeners to Radio Sri Lanka – The Station
to the Nation.
|“Vaithulyawadeen” Who are they?
|UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was criticised for referring to
an ex-Bhikkhu Parliamentarian as a ‘Pavidda’ and a ‘Vaithulyawadee’.
Those who level such criticism do not seem to have understood the
correct meaning of the two words or appear to have purposely
misunderstood the words for obvious reasons.
‘Pavidda’ is a term used when referring to someone who has been
ordained as a Bhikkhu and is not derogatory unless used to
personally address a Bhikkhu. It is the same as the word ‘sathwaya’
in referring to all beings including human beings. Then again a
‘Vaithulyawadee’ is a lay Buddhist or member of the Maha Sangha who
follow the rituals and practices in Vaithulyawadism as against the
tenets of Therawada Buddhism.
The Buddha recommended Bhikkhus not to give themselves airs of
superiority over the laity. There is no distinction between a person
who enters the Pavidibahavaya and lives in a temple or a monastery
or a person who gets married and lives with his family. It is the
bahaviour that makes the difference. The Buddhists respect the Maha
Sangha and the Sangha is one of three-fold refuge in the lives of
the Buddhists - The Buddha, the Buddha Dhamma and the Sangha. I, as
a child, saw my grandmother getting up from her seat in the veranda
of our home on seeing a member of the Sangha on the road, walking
past our house. Others did the same. That is the respect with which
the Sangha was held then.
However, when a Bhikku behaves in a manner that brings disgrace
to the Cheevaraya he wears, does not uphold the tenets in Buddhism
or breaks the Vinaya Rules, such Bhikkhu does not deserve respect or
reverence as a member of the Sangha and such Bhikkhu cannot expect
the lay Buddhists to respect him. Such Bhikkhus should be exposed
and criticised so that unethical behaviour will not take root or
spread to others, and to protect Theravada Buddhism in it’s purity.
Criticism of such Bhikkhus is not sacrilege.
Vaithulyawadaya is a sect of Mahayanism (Mahayana Buddhism) that was
introduced from India by Dhamma Ruchi Thera. Vaithulyawadee sect
embraced certain Hindu rituals and practices distorting Therawada
Buddhism. Certain Theravada Buddhists turned out to be
Vaithulyawadeens, praying to gods and deities to obtain favours for
themselves or to punish others, offering sacrifices, following
un-Buddhistic practices such as getting married and being engaged in
That was supported by some Bhikkhus for material benefit and
income earning. The Vaithulyawadeens razed the Maha Viharaya, the
headquarters of Theravada Buddhism and destroyed books and
documents. It was worst during the reign of Mahasen who even
destroyed Theravada Buddhist Temples and converted the premises to
paddy fields. With the death of Mahasen, Vaithulyawadee sect came to
an end through hangovers continued as certain Buddhist Temples still
promote God and Deity worship and practices alien to Buddhism for
income generation. This distortion of Buddhism has paved the way for
indiscipline among the Bbikkhus and has led to the emergence of a
political Bhikkhu sect side stepping the precepts of Theravada
Buddhism and bent on material gain and political power. Recently I
saw a photograph on the front page of a newspaper where a lay
politico was seen speaking to a Cheevaraya clad politico, keeping
the hand of the former on the shoulder of the latter - what
disrespect for the Cheevaraya, what indignity? That is the result of
politicisation of Buddhism or at least the Sangha taking to
Certain Bhikkhus have been corrupt in the past and even as of
today it is so. Bhikkhus have taken to business and politics in a
big way. By being seated alongside laymen, addressing political
meetings, and participating in demonstrations Bhikkhus have lost the
respect they were held in, before. The manner in which they address
meetings, press conferences and go in demonstrations is unworthy of
Bhikkhus. The Sangha have taken to politics, sadly so, and it is
apparent that the Maha Sangha is in the process of being
politicised. The tragedy that is in the offing should be averted.
I as a Buddhist, firmly believe that Bhikkhus who have taken to
politics, who are doing business, who have thrown open their temples
for God and Deity worship are Vaithulyawadeens who have gone against
Buddhist Philosophy for material gain.
Upali S. Jayasekera
|Drama on our streets
From time to
time while peacefully driving on our roads in Colombo we have to
encounter the phenomenon of police vehicles asking us to move to a
side to make way for a VVIP in a car which is perhaps bullet proof.
This continues although the war was over in May 2009. Who are these
VVIPs scared of?
We need to go back to the December 2001 ethos where the security on
the roads was handled well.
My memory of the 1978 Constitution is that sovereignty is with the
people of Sri Lanka. Then how come that these people are treated
thus by the Police? Over to those responsible for the security of
|Adieu to Colombo life
preliminary to my departure from this world, I will be going to my
birthplace, Jaffna, by the end of this month from Colombo, where I
have been living for a little over 60 years out of my 80 odd years
of life span up to now, necessitated by the universal needs of old
age to get personal attention from my relations in times of sickness
and inability to attend to my own needs alone, as I have been doing
all these 60 odd years in Colombo as a bachelor.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank, among others, all
the news papers and other media, especially from Colombo, for
accommodating my small contributions readily for over half a century
and those readers who appreciated as well as those who contradicted
my contributions and made me to carry on the contributions, though a
tiny drop in the ocean of writing in the country.
|A nation’s vote
Adorn the wrists
Of statesmen and political bandits
Preying...on forget or forgive!
Irene de Silva
A life full of grace, empathy and compassion
My friend and former colleague from the World Bank, Ranjith
Wiratunga, passed away last week in Maryland. He has left behind a
wonderful family to whom he was a devoted husband and father, a
large group of devoted friends from Maryland, Sri Lanka and many
parts of the world and his former colleagues who respected and
appreciated his contribution to the Bank’s work and many there who
counted him as a good friend.
I first met Ranjith in 1975 when my wife and I and our three
young children were met at the Dulles Airport by Ranjith. I had
corresponded with him through a mutual friend that we needed a place
to stay for a short while until we found a house for ourselves.
Ranjith’s wife Christine and his son were going to London to be with
her parents to have their second child and we stayed with him. From
that day Ranjith was a wonderful friend to our family. We became so
close that I felt he was an elder brother that I never had and he
made me feel like a younger brother that he never had. My wife calls
Christine, her sister-friend.
In the thirty-five years I have known Ranjith, I never heard him
say anything disparaging or hurtful of anyone He was a gentleman to
the very core of his being and deeply forgiving and religious in his
own private way. You could depend on him for anything. He was very
much trusted, appreciated and loved by all who came to know him. He
loved people and the feelings were mutual.
As a professional, his work was exceptional. This was much
appreciated. He spent four years in Rome as the head of the
Financial Control and Disbursements division at the International
Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The World Bank was doing
IFAD a favour by giving Ranjith a leave of absence to get things
started in IFAD, at that stage, a young institution. He was missed
in Maryland then. But many of us visited the Wiratunga family in
Rome on our trips on home-leave or in rest stops in our official
travels. Ranjith brought to his work sound banking experience from
the Bank of Ceylon both in Sri Lanka and in the London branch and
from National Westminster Bank, a leading merchant bank in London.
His work at the World Bank and IFAD took him to many corners of the
world, from Latin America to Asia and to Sub-Saharan Africa. He had
a great empathy for the poor of the world and he always felt that
his work was to help them.
Ranjith liked to be with people and he would gather a wonderful
group of friends for dinner or a party in the evening. He loved to
sing. And, he sang well as a natural tenor. We used to kid him about
it, that he could have been a night club singer. He had won an
amateur singing competition on board a P&O liner that took him to
London in the mid-sixties. He had a keen sense of humour. He
compared one’s old age and impending departure from this world as a
journey, in which all of us are in the departure lounge until the
flight was announced. There was no flight schedule but we had to
leave gracefully when it was announced. And, he did leave us with
great grace, in the arms of his beloved wife, Christine and
surrounded by his loving three children and his only sibling who was
in Maryland to be with her brother, in his last days.
Ranjith fought hard in the last five years, battling a dreaded
cancer. But he faced it with much grace. I called him our hero when
we met with a group of friends to thank God for giving him a lease
of life after three complicated surgeries. I reminded those who
gathered on that occasion, that each hero has a heroine. In his
story it was Christine who looked after him with so much dedication
and highly intelligent management of his health with sharp and
pointed discussions with his doctors, scouring the Internet to read
about the latest advances in cancer research and appropriate
therapies for his condition. It was a hard and heroic fight that our
friend and his family fought.
We are all very lucky and blessed to have known and associated with
Ranjith as friends and many as his extended family. On his departure
from this world, we celebrate his life, so full of grace, empathy
and compassion. We shall miss him to our dying days.
A legendary banker with a mission
March 8, 2010 marks the eighth death anniversary of legendary
banker Kurunathapillai Sivagananathan who contributed immensely to
uplift, upgrade and grow to unprecedented heights the Sri Lanka’s
foremost state bank, Bank of Ceylon through many innovations, which
is now over seven decades in existence. He joined the bank in 1953
at the age of 18 years, completed his Diploma in Banking in 1961 and
became as Associate Member of the Institute of Bankers London and
later a Fellow Member. He was instrumental in pioneering and
changing the colonial system of banking at Bank of Ceylon. He
simplified documentary procedures which became very useful in the
era when the open economy was first introduced in1977. Training
units were set up not only in Colombo, but in several districts to
get employees adapted to these procedures. His demise was a rude
shock to all bankers as he had made many invaluable contributions
even after his tenure of service. He developed new innovative
methods which helped immensely to our expanding competitive banking
industry. He was lately a Consultant at Central Bank of Sri Lanka on
He was a native of Manipay and was born to parents, who were both
teachers. After his father’s death, as the eldest child he opted to
join the Bank of Ceylon instead of pursuing a career in the
University purely to look after the younger sisters and brothers. He
not only educated them but also found partners and gave them in
marriage, at the same time closely looking after his own family. His
first appointment as a Manager was at the Matale branch. Later he
served as the Regional Manager in the North Western Province In the
early ‘80s, he was selected to work in the bank’s first overseas
branch in London as the Chief Manager during which period he was
instrumental in obtaining ‘Recognised Bank’ status for the bank’s
London office from the Bank of England. He also established cordial
links with the top banks and bankers in London developing a close
rapport facilitating to enhance easy overseas banking transactions.
In keeping with his ambitions for himself he had given his two sons
and two daughters ample opportunities to pursue their education in
their chosen careers. During his tenure of service he was
automatically promoted to higher grades to hold positions of Deputy
General Manager, Senior Deputy General Manager and on several
occasions acted for the General Manager as well. His vast knowledge
in banking, hard work, and commitment with total dedication to duty
was the path to his rapid stride to stardom.
He was instrumental under the guidance and initiative of Rienzie
T. Wijetilleke, the present Chairman of Hatton National Bank, in the
formation of the Association of Professional Bankers (APB) in the
late eighties. Initially a few senior bankers informally discussed
the possibility of forming the APB. The founder member Reinzie T.
Wijetillake held the post of President for two years before the late
Sivagananathan, who did a lot of spade work, was elected President.
After he took up the presidency he was heavily involved in its
activities until his retirement in 1995 having served an unblemished
career spanning 42 years. The very first high level annual
Convention was held with the participation of the Chairman of
Barclays Bank as the keynote speaker, the Chairman of Lloyds Bank
and the Governor of Bank of England. It was Reinzie T. Wijetillake
who helped to sponsor this event financially by donating half a
million rupees from Hatton National Bank. The late Sivagananathan
was responsible for inviting these very distinguished guests. He was
a practical banker in the true sense of the word. Whatever
assignment he took over was accomplished with great success. The
contribution he made towards the development of the Colombo Centre
of the Chartered Institute of Bankers-UK is well known to all
bankers. He was mainly instrumental in establishing the Colombo
Centre which was selected as one of the best centres by the
Institute of Bankers-UK on a number of occasions.
In recognition of the service rendered by him to the banking
industry in general and to the Association of Professional Bankers
and the Chartered Institute of Bankers-UK, the Colombo Centre in
particular, he was conferred the “The Honorary Life Membership” by
the APB and the lifetime award “CIB London-Colombo Centre”. The
prestigious banking journal published monthly by the CIB London ‘The
Banking World’ which is circulated around the world among the
banking and the financial community in its issue of the June 1988
edition featured late Sivagananathan as the ‘Personality of the
Month’ in recognition of the services rendered, profound and vast
banking knowledge, expertise and leadership qualities. He was a
doyen of banking industry. He held, in addition, a number of
positions in the financial sector. Some of them were Director,
Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka Ltd; Chairman, MB Financial Service Ltd;
Director, Lanka Securities (Pvt) Ltd, Founder Director and Advisor
until his death; Unit Trust Managing Director and CEO of Janashakthi
General Insurance Company Ltd; Chairman, Steering Committee on Sri
Lanka Inter Bank Payment System; Chairman, Steering Committee-SWIFT;
Chairman of Promotion, founder member, Council Member and President
of the Chartered Institute of Bankers London (CIB)-Colombo Centre,
Founder member, Council member until his death and President of the
Association of Professional Bankers-Sri Lanka.
He did not confine his contributions to the banking and the
financial sector. He was actively involved in social and
humanitarian services including sports activities. In 1989, during
the banks Golden Jubilee celebrations he headed a steering committee
to construct a ward at the cancer hospital. He was actively
associated with the Rotary Movement for over 25 years. At the time
of his demise he held office of the Assistant Governor, Western Zone
1 of Rotary District 3220. He also held the office of the Charter
President of the Colombo Central Club. He was instrumental in the
formation of many Rotary clubs. He developed many Tamil schools
which were without many facilities. In the field of sports, he held
the post of the President of the Sri Lanka National Services
The memories and services rendered by the late Sivagananathan,
the highly respected and outstanding banker par excellence, a doyen
of the banking industry could not be erased from the memories of
many for decades. After his demise, K. Sivagananathan Memorial Trust
was inaugurated on August 7, 2002 in the presence of a distinguished
gathering of eminent bankers, friends, and members of his family at
the Grand Oriental Hotel. The main objectives of this KS Trust are
to conduct classes, lectures, seminars, study tours, and to offer
scholarships to needy students. Every year Memorial Orations were
held to coincide with his death anniversary.
May he attain Moksha!