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India-Sri Lanka online workshop to mark Binara Poya Day



The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), High Commission of India, organized an online workshop titled ‘Buddhist Heritage Management and Conservation: From Mountains to Oceans’ to mark Binara Full Moon Poya day on August 31.

Six internationally renowned scholars from Sri Lanka and India, working in the fields of art, architecture, archaeology, and heritage management delivered lectures at the workshop.

To coincide with the event, the Consulate General of India in Hambantota organized a photo exhibition, ‘India through Sri Lankan eyes’ at Hiththatiya Raja Maha Viharaya, Matara, on September 1. The exhibition displayed photographs of famous Buddhist temples in India (Dambadiva).

The Sri Lankan and Indian scholars participating in the online workshop, discussed the significance of Buddhist Heritage of Sri Lanka and India and emphasized on the need to conserve and manage them as a cultural legacy of the world.

The scholars stressed on the need for a holistic approach towards heritage management, involving religious institutions, such as the Sangha, the academia, and the state.

They also discussed the contemporary context of preservation of Buddhist Heritage, and used case studies to elucidate strategies that could be adopted to address the challenges in this regard.

The workshop highlighted the role of scientific studies done by archaeological bodies such as the Archaeological Survey of India, and stressed upon the need to involve the local community in heritage management and conservation, as successfully done in Ladakh.

The scholars from Sri Lanka, who participated in the workshop included Prof. Indrika Rajapaksha, Department of Architecture, University of Moratuwa, Senior Prof. Anura Manathunga, Director of the Centre for Heritage Studies, University of Kelaniya and Dr. Nilan Cooray, chartered architect and heritage conservationist with more than 30 years experience in managing and conserving cultural heritage in South Asia, particularly Sri Lanka and India, as well as in South East Asia and Africa.

The panelists from India were Dr. Sonam Wangchok, Founder, Himalaya Cultural Heritage Foundation, Ladakh, Dr. Tejas Garge, Director of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Maharashtra, and Sanjay Dhar, a well-known wall painting conservator and heritage manager from Delhi.

Dr. Rewant Vikram Singh, Director, Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, Colombo, delivered the welcome remarks and moderated the workshop which was webcast live on the Facebook page of Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, Colombo.

The event was organized as a part of the series of initiatives undertaken by the High Commission of India to strengthen the age-old cultural and spiritual ties between India and Sri Lanka.

Earlier, in June 2020, the High Commission of India marked Poson Poya by creating ‘Poson Pavura’ – an art exhibition by Sri Lankan artists on the walls of the High Commission of India premises. In July, 2020, the High Commission of India commemorated Esala Poya by organizing an online interaction between Buddhist scholars from Sri Lanka and India. The topic of the interaction was “Dhamma for Global Well-Being” with special reference to Lord Buddha’s message of “Sabbe Satta Bhavantu Sukhitatta” – may all beings be happy, may all beings be free from suffering.

On August 2, 2020, the High Commission of India marked Nikini Poya by organizing a workshop for children on ‘Mindfulness in Everyday Life’.

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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign



… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds



Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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