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Prof. Ravi Silva of Surrey Univ. gets highest British honour title CBE

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By Ifham Nizam

Renowned Sri Lankan scientist, Professor Ravi Silva, Director, Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey, has been awarded a CBE for his services to Science, Education and Research.

Professor Silva said: “I am amazed and humbled to receive such an honour from Her Majesty at a time when the world is in such turmoil. I thank all the wonderful researchers who have worked with me in the past, those currently working with me for their amazing contributions, and the high officers of Surrey for providing such a conducive environment for research.”

A CBE ,which stands for Commander of the British Empire, is the highest ranking Order of the British Empire award, followed by OBE and then MBE. It ranks just below a knighthood or damehood.

The CBE is awarded to individuals for having a prominent role at national level, or a leading role at regional level and also for distinguished and innovative contribution to any area. Professor Silva received the award for outstanding services to Science, Education and Research over the last three decades, with contributions that extend around the world.

Professor Silva has conducted major research activities in China, India and Sri Lanka as well as the UK, which have helped to elevate and translate research into useful national products.

He has contributed to research in the UK and abroad, utilising his specialist knowledge to support Sri Lankan industry as a founding director of the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTec) in 2008, a private- public partnership where he acts as an advisor and sits on the board of directors. Since 2005 he has worked with the National Science Foundation (NSF), Sri Lanka to establish nanotechnology as a vehicle from which to create wealth for the nation that will allow for poverty alleviation in the country.

He spent a year in 2008, acting as an Advisor to the Minister of Science and Technology in Sri Lanka, and since has been visiting the country on a regular basis. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in Sri Lanka.

He helped set up one of the largest carbon nanotechnology laboratories at the University of Surrey and is incredibly passionate about the contribution the solar energy can make to drive the world to a Carbon net zero position. He believes that by adopting a solar energy future, solar electricity could become a free energy source within the next two decades. His research into energy materials will play a key role in next generation solar cells and energy storage. The University of Surrey is setting the standard by declaring a Carbon Zero policy by 2030, and Professor Silva is incredibly proud to be playing his part.

According to Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, “Ravi is an international leading scientist in the field of material science and nanotechnology. He is a highly valued and respected academic leader at the University of Surrey and has made tremendous contribution to the University in his career over the past few decades. On behalf of the entire University community, I congratulate him on receiving this very prestigious national honour. Such an award recognises not only his contribution to his field and his impact in society globally but also brings kudos to the University of Surrey.”

Professor Ravi Silva FREng FRSA FInstP FIET CEng CPhys is a Distinguished Professor and the Director of the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and heads the interdisciplinary Nano-Electronics Centre. His research interests encompass a wide range of activities with a focus in nanotechnology and renewables.

A strong electronics background combined with materials science has enabled him and his team to produce bespoke nano-scale designer materials for specific applications. He is an expert in solar cells, carbon electronics and nanotechnology and is spearheading the Carbon Neutral challenge by 2030 for the University. The ATI is a major component of the University’s research, housing state-of-the-art equipment in solid-state electronics and large area electronics. He recently set up the 4m industry-academia Nano-Manufacturing Centre and in 2019 the 1m Marcus Lee Printable Solar Cell Facility. Prof Silva is part of the €8m EU H2020 CORNET programme, establishing an open innovation platform for large area electronics with 11 European partners.

Professor Ravi Silva is the son of the late Dr. Roland Silva, former Commissioner of Archaeology and Director-General, Central Cultural Fund, and Neela Silva. He is married to Nayanee, founder of a business consultancy and has two grown sons; Arun and Ruwan. Nayanee is the daughter of the late Gamini Iriyagolle, former Presidential Advisor and attorney-at-law; and the late Indrani Iriyagolle, renowned for her work in welfare, development and women’s rights.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and is currently conducting a study on the deployment of solar PV in the UK and India. In 2016 he received a President’s Award from The Government of Sri Lanka, for contributions to Sri Lanka Science and Society. His research has resulted in over 580 journal papers, with circa 21,000 citations and won grants of over 30m over the last two decades.



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About 232 out of 500 escapees from K’kadu Drug Rehab Centre arrested

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Two hundred and thirty two inmates out of the 500, who escaped from the Kandakadu Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre, yesterday morning, following a clash with soldiers guarding the facility, had been arrested, Maj. Gen. Darshana Hettiarachchi, Commissioner General – Rehabilitation, said.

Hettiarachchi denied allegations from certain quarters that they had allowed inmates to escape to divert public attention away from the burning economic issues, and crippling fuel shortages.

He said an impartial inquiry would be conducted into the death of an inmate.

Hettiarachchi said that they were confident that other escapees too would be arrested soon.

Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said a 36-year-old inmate had died under mysterious circumstances on Tuesday. The deceased was a resident of Mutwal. The death of the inmate had been reported to the Welikanda police, he said.

The Police Spokesman added that a team of policemen from Welikanda had visited the Rehabilitation Centre. However, a large number of inmates had surrounded the body and did not allow anyone near it and that had led to a clash between inmates and the military personnel at the centre.

At around 8 am yesterday, a large group of inmates had broken the two main gates and escaped, he added.

The Police Spokesman said that the police and Army had brought the situation under control, after several hours.

They have also launched a joint operation to arrest the inmates, who are still at large.

There are around 1,000 drug addicts being rehabilitated at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center at any given time.

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Women parliamentarians’ Caucus calls for greater accountability and transparency

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International Day of Parliamentarism

Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle says accountability and transparency in a parliamentary system have become vital issues as the country makrs the International Day of Parliamentarism today (30).

In a statement issued to the media by the Caucus, Dr Fernandopulle said: International Day of Parliamentarism, which recognises the role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels. This Day was first established by the UN General Assembly through a resolution adopted in 2018 which also marked the 129th anniversary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU, which was first established on the same day in the year 1889, is a global organization that works to promote ‘democratic governance, human representation, democratic values, and the civil aspirations of a society’.

This Day further solidifies the unique and enduring system of parliamentary democracy as the standard for political representation. Last year, in 2021, the Day focused on “Youth Empowerment” in Parliament whereas the theme for the International Day of Parliamentarism 2022 is “Public Engagement”. Conspicuously, the word ‘parliament’ originates from the French word ‘parler,’ which means ‘to talk.’ Thus, public discourse and engagement lay the very foundation of the parliamentary system of governance.

At a juncture where public engagement in the democratic process is at an all-time high, the theme for International Day of Parliamentarism aptly suits the current democratic and economic discourse taking place in society.

The Parliament is a cornerstone of any democracy as it must fulfill its fundamental role of providing a voice to the voiceless. The main responsibilities of a Parliament include the formulation, enactment and overseeing of the implementation of laws and policies that are sustainable and crucial for the progression and stability of the country. The Parliament also has a duty to hold the Executive or Government of the country accountable. Accordingly, representing the interests of the public, it must also fulfill the role of acting as a “check” to “balance” the power that the executive holds.

The Parliament must also perform “checks” and “balances” on Government expenditure as it has the responsibility of approving budgets for Government expenditure. Thus, during this economic crisis, the Parliament of Sri Lanka has a crucial role to play and effectively realize such roles and responsibilities. To do so meaningfully, public engagement is a necessity.

Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said: “I believe we should make this Day an occasion to remember the importance of accountability and transparency in a parliamentary system. The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus recognizes that it has a role to play in initiating a conversation towards realizing a process by which the Parliament can conduct self-evaluation utilising the feedback received by the public discourse. This would be vital in order to gauge the progress the Parliament has made and identify challenges and devise strategies and mechanisms to overcome such challenges to be more representative of the voices of people.”

MP Thalatha Atukorale said: “In the face of crisis, if our parliamentary system fails to realize its purpose, then we must re-evaluate the practices of our Parliament. Therefore, I believe that this Day should be used as an opportunity to formulate an effective strategy to improve transparency and accountability of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.”

MP Diana Gamage said: “On this Day, I pledge to be a voice to the people of Sri Lanka, particularly the more vulnerable, and play my role in initiating mechanisms and formulating laws that reflect the current needs of the people of Sri Lanka whom we are representing in Parliament”.

Parliament is the bedrock of a functioning democracy. In Sri Lanka, let us realise this goal for all Sri Lankans, leaving no stone unturned to ensure quality of political representation, which means gender equality and social inclusion too.

MP Manjula Dissanayake said: “To be effective and successful, the Parliamentary system must encourage public engagement and must also be based on principles of equality and inclusivity in order to better comprehend and prioritise the needs of the public”.

Vice-Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, MP Rohini Kumari Wijeratne said: “The parliamentary system is founded upon the sovereignty of people. Therefore, the success of the parliamentary system depends on public engagement in the democratic process and how well the parliamentary system responds to such public engagement.”

MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya said: “We as Parliamentarians must not be oblivious to the fact that the public has lost confidence in the Sri Lankan Parliament and by extension, the Parliamentarians. A strong contention can be and is being made that the Parliament of Sri Lanka falls short of effectively realizing one of its main purposes: to formulate and implement policies and laws that benefits ALL people, particularly the more vulnerable. To meet that end, we must harness public discourse and engagement.”

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CHOGM briefed on Lanka’s difficulties

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Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris explained the current economic-political-social crisis and immense difficulties experienced by Sri Lanka’s population when he addressed the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Ruwanda.

Prof. Peiris represented President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at CHOGM held from 23 to 25 June.

Addressing the sessions, Prof. Peiris highlighted the importance of robust institutions in recovering from the economic difficulties that the world is currently experiencing. Describing the current shortages of fuel, food and medicine, etc., as one of the most difficult situations faced by Sri Lanka since independence,

Minister Peiris thanked all the nations that have aided the country at this critical juncture. Minister Peiris stated that apart from economic reforms, Sri Lanka was resolved to undertake the necessary political reforms, particularly to incorporate the voices of youth into the governance and parliamentary process.

The next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will be hosted by Samoa in 2024. On the sidelines of the CHOGM meeting, Minister Peiris held a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from several Commonwealth nations.

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