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Educationist with a noble mission

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Remembering Dr. E. W. Adikaram

Dr. E. W. Adikaram, the eminent scholar who obtained his doctorate from the London University after his graduation, returned to Sri Lanka and rendered an immense service for the upliftment of education of our younger generation. An unassuming scholar with simple manners, he led an exemplary life until the end. He passed away on 28th December 1985 and it is with deep gratitude we commemorate his 26th death anniversary.

‘Early History of Buddhism in Ceylon’ – the thesis which Dr. Adikaram forwarded to the London University for his doctorate, is one of his monumental literary works, which even the academics and research students of today acclaim as a highly invaluable book to gain insight and knowledge of our glorious past history.

Educationist, humanist and free thinker, Dr. Adikaram was the founder of two great Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka viz. Ananda Sasthralaya, Kotte and the Anula Vidyalaya, Nugegoda. Anula Vidyalaya girls’ college was built with generous contributions of his close friend, Prof. P. B. Fernando of the Colombo Medical Faculty and Dr. Adikaram was the chairman of the Board of Management since its inception. Both these schools are now super grade, popular schools with a student population well over 12, 000 children. Dr. Adikaram was a stalwart in the free education movement of C. W. W. Kannangara.

As a principal of a school and the Manager of Buddhist Theosophical Society (B.T.S), Dr Adikaram made a noteworthy contribution to the progress of education. Ananda Sasthralaya, Kotte, which was earlier a tiny, neglected school was made a pioneering Buddhist school in the island, within a short span of 10-years by his untiring efforts.

He selected the best teachers for his staff and attended to all infrastructure facilities of the school, with donations received from philanthropists all over the island, while focusing on the development of curriculum activities benefitting the students. The popularity of the school was such that even the children from far away Badulla, Bibile and Passara sought admission to it. A hostel was built to accommodate these new students and they were only provided with vegetarian meals. He was a strict disciplinarian and every students’ code of conduct was regularly monitored by the relevant authorities.

However, in 1949 Dr. Adikaram left the school to attend a series of seminars of world-renowned philosopher J. Krishnamurthi, held in India, and his Deputy Principal Bernard Wickramasinghe succeeded him as principal, and every effort was made by him to continue the development process of the school (1949-1955). Thereafter, N.W.D. Costa assumed the principalship for a short period of two years, and next in line was a young post-graduate in the staff, Mahinda Palihawadana (now an Emeritus professor), a trusted pupil of Dr. Adikaram to ascend the vacant principal post. The new principal further fulfilled the wishes of his mentor, Dr. Adikaram, by putting up necessary buildings for a girl’s school at Pagoda road named, Ananda Sasthralaya Balika Vidyalaya, and Mrs. Siriwardene with 35 years of teaching experience, was appointed its first principal. A fully fledged playground for Ananda Sasthralaya was built and opened in 1956 at Thalawathugoda, road, Beddagana.

Dr. Adikaram led a very fruitful life until his 80th year. He compiled a monthly science magazine NAVEENA VIDYA, to provide a good knowledge in modern science for children, contributed articles to newspapers regularly, founded the Sri Lanka Vegetarian Movement, Sri Lanka Krishnamurthi Education Centre, Young Thinkers society and was also the Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura for some time. He was an expert on interpreting some of the most puzzling terms in Pali texts, and many sought his advice to get them clarified.

Though Dr. Adikaram was engaged in the socialist movement for a short period with his friends, Dr. N. M. Perera, Dr. S. A. Wickramasinghe and Philip Gunawardane, but left that movement as he disliked the theory of ‘Revolution’, because a revolution would ultimately end up in bloodshed. He enunciated that the safety of affluent class (well to do), entirely depended on the wellbeing of the lesser fortunate section in a society. This wide gap has to be narrowed with meaningful actions. Similarly, he believed that division of a country on ethnic basis was no solution for peace among people, as it would result in never ending boundary disputes in a country.

He forecasted the possible disruption of normal life of young children and adults due to harmful television programs, resulting in escalation of crime. Regarding the concept of vegetarianism, he said that if practiced in its real sense, it was a stepping stone to protecting all living beings and the environment as a whole.

Most happiest period of Dr. E. W. Adikaram’s life was spent at his devoted pupil Siri Palihawadana’s residence at No. 23/3, Mirihana Road, Nugegoda. Both Siri and his wife, Luxmi, fondly looked after him and provided all necessary comforts. It was also an ideal place for him to conduct discussions and meet monks, scholars, students, and members of various organisations, initiated by him. December 28th morning of 1985 was a sad day for the Siri Palihawadana family, as their revered teacher had passed away in his sleep, serenely, without a touch of any discomfort. A state funeral was accorded to him by the then President, in recognition of his service to the nation.

Dr. Adikaram was a living embodiment of purity, and he completed his ennoble mission for the wellbeing of our future generation through his upright thoughts and actions, and it is for us to gain something new from his far-sighted vision.

NIMAL PALIHAWADANA

Past pupil, Ananda Sasthralaya, Kotte



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Opinion

Priority need to focus on Controlling Serious Economic Crimes

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Open letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The Ministry of Defence has advertised five vacancies for the “Recruitment as Reserve Assistant Superintendents of Police to the Ministry of Defence, affiliated to the Sri Lanka Police, skilled professionals to become proud members of the Ministry of Defence, dedicated to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka as well as to public safety and to play a superior role for the nation. These recruits will function as Cyber and Forensic Analyst, Geo-Political and Strategic Analyst, Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism Analyst, Economic Analyst and Statistical Analyst (the last two covering security perspectives regarding national security)”. Any justified decision to strengthen the knowledge and skills based professional capability of existing human resource of the state is a welcome move, so long as the recruits have in addition to the specified qualifications, requisite commitments to best practice professional standards, ethics, correct attitudes and values.

The caring civil society fervently hopes, in accord with your stated commitments in the manifesto and the several public pronouncements that followed your election as the President, that you, with the support of your Cabinet colleagues and the top officials of the executive, will similarly focus on the essential priority need to focus on controlling serious economic crimes, which can easily debilitate the financial integrity, fiscal and monetary stability and solvency of Sri Lanka; and if allowed unabated will destabilise the economy and prevent the realisation of the goals of splendour and prosperity.

The optimum operational environment to assure financial integrity minimizing serious economic crimes is by having effective laws, regulations, policies, systems, procedures, practices and controls, with efficient and effective independent oversight mechanisms, enforcements, investigations and prosecutions, followed by independent justice systems with penal sanctions and recovery of proceeds of crime. The critical drivers of such a system are independence, capability and professionalism of supporting human resources in the entire chain. It is however quite evident from many case studies that the systems controlling financial integrity of Sri Lanka fails to meet required standards of effectiveness, due mainly to the lack of competent and committed professionals in the chain engaged in independent oversight mechanisms, enforcements, investigations and prosecutions. Due to this incapacity the independent oversight control, enforcement, investigation, prosecution and punishment of offenders of money laundering, transfer pricing, securities offenses, bribery, corruption, financial fraud, organised crimes, drug trafficking, smuggling, and avoidance of taxes/ excise and customs duties are ineffective; and more importantly the recovery of proceeds of these crimes eventually fail and are thus unable to restore the state revenues leaked and state assets stolen or defrauded.

Civil society looks to you as the President, to take early action to strengthen the structures, systems, laws and regulations along with the capacity of the resource persons engaged in the independent oversight control and enforcement of mechanisms; and thereby minimise serious economic crimes system wide and facilitate successful recovery of proceeds of crime. In the above context it is suggested that you pursue the undernoted strategic action steps under your direct leadership supervision:

* Seek Cabinet approval to set up an Enforcement Directorate similar to that of India under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police, reporting to an Independent Public Commission made up of three members, comprising of a high integrity competent retired Appellate Court Judge, a retired Senior Officer of the Auditor General’s Department and a retired Senior Officer of the Central Bank.

* Enforcement Directorate to be entrusted with the mission of minimizing the identified serious economic crimes systems wide; enhancing oversight mechanism and controls system wide and where suspected that any such crimes having taken place professionally investigating and prosecuting, optimizing recovery of proceeds of crime

* Seek technical support in setting up the Enforcement Directorate from the Financial Integrity Unit of the World Bank and its affiliates Financial Action Task Force, UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative with extended human resource training and development support from bi lateral supporting countries and other specialized agencies

* Recruit competent and highly professional staff for the Directorate, similar to the staff recruited to the Defence Ministry; and support them with requisite resources, knowledge, skills, systems, data bases, best practices and technical and investigation assistance linkages

* Enact essential legal and regulatory reforms, commencing with the early enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act draft sent to the previous regime for cabinet endorsement

* Enhance the capability of the prosecutors of the Directorate to successfully prosecute serious economic crimes and judges to effectively support the judicial processes connected therewith

* Make it a compulsory requirement of all state remunerated persons to adopt the ethical standard to report to the Directorate any known or suspected non compliances with laws and regulations

Trust you and your advisory team will give due consideration to this submission

Chandra Jayaratne

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Opinion

S.Thomas’ Class of 62 and O/L 70 Group celebrates 60 years Nexus

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By Rohan Mathes

Once again the old boys of the Class of 62 and O/L 70 Group fraternity of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia gathered last Saturday (22nd), under one banner to celebrate their 60 th anniversary of their association and loyalties with their prestigious Alma Mater, long way down from 1962, whence they were admitted to the school by the sea.

This rendezvous was of paramount importance to the membership near and far, inclusive of those domiciled overseas, who had turned up in their numbers to enjoy the long-awaited fellowship, with their comrades, despite the prevailing Covid pandemic restrictions. Nevertheless, those who could not make it, had been amply served by the provision of a Zoom link. Kudos to the organisers who had painstakingly and meticulously planned all the nitty-gritties of this epoch-making celebrations, however with less pomp and pageantry, compared to their fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 2012.

Following the service at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, the Thomians spend the day within the precincts of this hallowed institution which had undoubtedly imparted a unique, state-of the-art and wholesome education to them. They took this rather rare opportunity to joyfully tour around their old school, of course reminiscing their nostalgic memories of their childhood. They were simply overjoyed by viewing the latest developments and modifications done by the school authorities, utilising the charitable donations and contributions made by the old boys, parents and well-wishers of the school, in numerous ways, throughout the years gone by.

At this event, the Group also assisted the college in their project to install “Smart Boards to every class room”, by handing over a cheque to the Sub Warden Asanka Perera, to the value of Rs.400,000, collected from its membership. Esto Perpetua!

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Opinion

Why cry for Djokovic – a reply

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I strongly object to the remark Dr Upul Wijayawardhana (Dr U W) made in the first paragraph of his Opinion, in The Island of Saturday 22 January, titled  ’Why Cry for Djokovic?’ critiquing Cassandra in her Friday 21 Cassandra Cry.

Dr U W writes: “Cassandra uses her column liberally to criticise our politicians for giving special treatment to their kith and kin.” I, Cassandra, have two reasons to object to this damning statement. I have never criticised politicians for “giving special treatment to their kith and kin”. I have criticised politicians on various other issues such as what they have done, but not on this particular accusation. Hence Dr UW deliberately, or carried away by his writing eloquence, placed me in danger of reprisal. Such is not done.

Please read me in Cassandra Cry on Friday January 28, where this matter, and some others  the doctor has written regards Cassandra will be refuted,

CASSANDRA

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