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Dr. Deraniyagala passes away



Former Director General of Archaeology, Dr. Siran Upendra Deraniyagala, a prehistorian known for his work across the world, passed away yesterday. He was 79.

 In 1968, Deraniyagala discovered ancient human burials in the Fa Hien Cave.

He was born on March 1, 1942, in Ratnapura, to parents Dr. P.E.P. Deraniyagala, former Director of National Museum, a giant in his own right, and Prini Molamure. Siran Deraniyagala completed his schooling at S. Thomas’ College Mount. Lavinia. He received his BA and MA degrees in Architecture and Sanskrit at Cambridge University and went on to do postgraduate studies in archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in London. At the Institute he qualified with distinction and was awarded the prestigious Gordon Childe Prize, as one of two best all-round students in all fields of archaeology.

In addition to the academic degrees, was awarded honoris causa degrees by many leading universities in the world. When he was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his services to the field of archaeology at the 2001 General Convocation of the University of Peradeniya, Dean of the Faculty of Arts of that university Prof W.M. Sirisena said the following in the conferral presentation speech that Dr. Deraniyagala joined the Archaeological Survey Department of Sri Lanka in 1968 as Assistant Commissioner in charge of scientific excavations. He also said: “Following this, Dr. Deraniyagala reoriented excavation and research strategies of the Department that were until then carried out on an ad hoc basis.

He introduced a research design, plans for infrastructure and human resource development in the excavation division and in 1969 undertook the epoch-breaking excavation at the Citadel of Anuradhapura.

This was the first scientific stratified excavation undertaken in this country and it set the pattern to the next generation of field archaeologists in Sri Lanka.

The excavation at the Citadel in fact revolutionized much of traditionally accepted theories on the emergence of civilization in Sri Lanka.

It conclusively pushed back the beginnings of the earliest village culture, the introduction of metals and plant and animal domestication in this Island to 1000 BC. Dr. Deraniyagala’s investigations in the past two decades at the Citadel have revealed that this is one of the largest urban archaeological sites in pre modern South Asia.

This site now functions as a promising state-of-the-art research and training centers for archaeology in South Asia.

During his tenure as Assistant Commissioner Dr. Deraniyagala commenced a systematic reinvestigation of the prehistoric technology and culture of Sri Lanka.

He pioneered a new research strategy and lunched a long-term study of this significant period in our history hitherto little understood and little known.

 Deraniyagala then proceeded to the USA for his doctoral research at Harvard University and in 1988 his magnum opus; The Prehistory of Sri Lanka: an Ecological Perspective was completed.

This monumental work on cultural palaeo-ecology totalling over 1500 pages, has been hailed by Harvard professors as a landmark in the archaeology of South Asia as a whole, which has incidentally transformed their concept of Sri Lankan prehistory.

In 1992 his thesis was published as Memoir 8 of the Archaeological Department and is acclaimed as one of the primary source books on South Asian prehistoric archaeology.

Dr. Deraniyagala’s tenure as Director General of Archaeology (1992 to 2001) has been one of the most significant epochs in modernizing Sri Lankan archaeology in the state sector.

He prepared an agenda restructuring theoretical, applied and management archaeology at the professional level by coordinating several ‘thrust’ programs for this purpose.

Dr. Deraniyagala was responsible for the introduction of a radical shift in the Antiquities Ordinance in 1998 and it vested greater power with the Director General of Archaeology and formalized Archaeological Impact Assessments.

Dr. Deraniyagala has disseminated his knowledge by publishing over 40 research articles in some of the most prestigious learned journals in the world.”

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Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves up by USD 2billion over the past year – Acting Finance Minister




Acting Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya during a press conference held today (21) at the Presidential Media Center, focusing on the theme of ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’ said that over the past year, the government successfully increased the country’s foreign reserves from 1.8 billion dollars to 3.8 billion dollars.

He added that in August 2022, the exchange rate stood at Rs. 361 per dollar, but by August 2023, one dollar could be acquired for Rs. 321. This shift is not the result of artificial control but rather a reflection of the rupee’s value adjusting in response to supply and demand for the dollar, which holds significant economic importance.

The interest rate for deposits, previously at 14% in 2022, has been lowered to 11%, while the loan interest rate, previously at 15.5%, has been reduced to 12% this year. Notably, last year, the primary account deficit was Rs. -247 billion, but this year it has turned into a surplus of Rs. 27 billion. This marks the first surplus in the primary account balance in over 40 years.

Tourist arrivals, which numbered 496,430 in 2022, have surged to 904,318 during the first two quarters of this year. Equally impressive is the growth in tourism earnings, which rose from 832.6 million US dollars in 2022 to 1,304.5 million US dollars in the first two quarters of this year, reflecting a remarkable 56.7% increase compared to the previous year.

In the past year, the amount of money remitted by Sri Lankans living abroad to Sri Lanka has surged from 2,214.8 million US dollars to 3,862.7 million US dollars this year, marking a remarkable 74.4% increase according to data from the Ministry of Finance.

On August 1, 2022, the QR code system was introduced as a measure to manage petroleum demand due to foreign exchange shortages. This led to a significant disparity between normal demand and supply, resulting in a notable increase in diesel consumption by 28% and petrol consumption by 83% in June 2023, when the QR system was partially relaxed. However, as of September 1, the QR code system, which directly impacts economic growth, has been completely lifted.

Upon assuming office, President Ranil Wickremesinghe faced a daunting challenge of addressing a 14-hour power outage, which had a direct impact on the economy. Presently, the government ensures a continuous and stable electricity supply to the population.

As of August 23, 2023, there were 1467 imported goods banned due to foreign exchange shortages. Currently, the ban applies to only 279 items. Furthermore, the import of vehicles, which had been halted in 2020, now includes buses and trucks for public transport.

In April 2022, the country faced difficulties in meeting its debt obligations. However, the government has since secured the first installment under the International Monetary Fund’s Extended Credit Scheme, contributing to stabilizing the country’s economy compared to the previous year.


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President Wickremesinghe meets US President Joe Biden in New York




President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted President Ranil Wickremesinghe and first lady Maithri Wickremesinghe for dinner on Thursday

President Joe Biden of the United States and President Ranil Wickremesinghe engaged in a cordial meeting  in New York on Thursday (20).

The high-profile meeting took place amidst a lavish dinner hosted by President Biden, for all the heads of state who had participated in the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.


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Ministerial Consultative Committee unanimously consent to canceling the nominations submitted for the Local Government Elections




The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils & Local Government chaired by  Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena as well as the Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government  unanimously consented to cancel the nominations submitted for the Local Government Elections given that those who have submitted nominations have faced great difficulties due to the postponement of the elections.


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