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Sri Lanka India Society elects Kishore Reddy as President



Kishore Reddy will head the Sri Lanka-India Society (SLIS) following the Annual General Meeting of SLIS, which was held recently at the Hotel Taj Samudra. Kishore Reddy has been unanimously elected as the President of the society, which is held in high esteem in both countries and takes over the leadership from Rohan Tudawe, whose term ended.

Sri Lanka-India Society (SLIS) which was established in 1949, is one of the oldest and the largest friendship Societies in Sri Lanka, formed for the development and promotion of social and cultural relations between the people of Sri Lanka and India, and thereby build-up friendship between the two countries.

SLIS focuses on cordial bonds between the two countries through increased collaboration in social and cultural fields. SLIS celebrates regular annual events in particular the Republic Day of India and Independence of both India and Sri Lanka. Another annual event is the Mahatma Gandhi oration on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti apart from various other cultural events and lectures.

The Sri Lanka-India Society is committed to its mission of strengthening the relations between the two countries – this commitment is further fortified by the activities and events the Society holds that foster bi-lateral relations. The objective of SLIS is to promote cordial bonds between the two countries by organizing social and cultural gatherings among its members and other well-wishers of Sri Lanka and India. It also involves in organizing and assisting in exchange of students, artists, lecturers and literature between the two countries, in addition to co-operating with other organizations and individuals as may be appropriate to further the relationship between the two countries. SLIS celebrates many events to recognize and strengthen bonds and friendship with the long historical ties between the two countries which grow deeper than mere friendship and also share religious and cultural practices that are important to both democracies.

Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay who is also the patron of the society was present at the AGM and delivered an address that traced the roots of the Society and examined its unique role.

The High Commissioner mentioned that the activities of the society strengthened the already cordial relations between the two countries as both countries will be celebrating the 75 years of Independence close to each other. The independence is not just from colonial rule but also from suppression and ignorance.

High Commissioner Baglay also mentioned that though the present covid situation restricted activities, the period of COVID witnessed active cooperation between the two Governments in dealing with the pandemic and also engaged in knowledge sharing and exchange of good practices through video-conferencing involving the officials in both countries at the forefront of fighting the pandemic.

The two Governments supported each other and the smooth coordination between the two sides despite many odds testifies to the mutual trust and support in times of crisis.

He commended the activities undertaken by the Society under the able leadership of Rohan Tudawe and expressed his desire to see further consolidation in celebrating the warm and close ties between two neighboring countries that share such a common heritage under the leadership of Kishore Reddy.

Rohan Tudawe the outgoing president in his speech highlighted the activities done by the society and the increased interest that was seen by the increased number of members. Rohan Tudawe also mentioned how the members of the society, apart from developing the cultural and social relationship, also contributed to the welfare of the Infectious Diseases Hospital during COVID by providing essential and urgent equipment that was required at the time of need. Rohan Tudawe wished all the best to Kishore Reddy and mentioned that he would provide all the guidance and required assistance to the incoming president.

Kishore Reddy addressing the gathering in his inaugural speech he said “I am humbled and honored by the trust and confidence bestowed on me. It is indeed a moment of pride for me to be chosen as the President of one of the oldest friendship societies – Sri Lanka India Society.

“Each one of the past presidents were stalwarts in the society and did a great job in developing and continuing the high standards of the society, filling the shoes of the past presidents is not easy but I will try my best & with everyone’s support I am sure the society can develop on the existing strong foundation.

“I have been calling this beautiful Island, the pearl of the Indian ocean home for more than two and a half decades. It is my pleasure that I have been given the opportunity to promote and develop mutually beneficial relationships between my Janma Bhoomi (the country of my birth – INDIA) and my Karma Bhoomi (the land that I am destined to live in – SRI LANKA) through the Sri Lanka India Society” he said.

Kishore Reddy elaborated on the plan to form sub committees to support the objectives of the society and to involve the general membership in such committees to assist the executive committee and reiterated his commitment in further developing and enhancing the friendship bonds between the two countries.

Reddy also indicated that Today, there exists a clear consensus on both sides on tourist exchanges that would be mutually beneficial but in the current COVID situation, the health advice should be given high importance and work being conscious of this fact. Tourism and the broader economic engagement have to operate within this new framework. Members can look into developing the Shivite trail which will enhance more tourists to come to Sri Lanka. The first ever international flight into the new International Airport at Kushinagarwas from Sri Lanka and such a step served as a mark of acknowledgement of the close Buddhist heritage shared by the two countries and the Society could work on various Buddhist trails in India for the benefit of Sri Lankans travelling on pilgrimage.

SLIS has more than 800 life members, consisting of both Sri Lankan and Indian Nationals. The Society has been working closely with the Office of the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka.

The presidents of the society in the recent past include Deshabandu Tilak de Zoysa, Deshamanya Ken Balendra, Chandra schafter, Dr Uvais Ahamed, Col. Harindran, Manik Pereira, Kandaiah Neelakandan, Kumar Nadesan, T.S. Prakash, and Rohan Tudawe.

The office bearers of the society for the year 2021/22 are President Kishore Reddy, Vice presidents Renganathan, Dr. A. Kandasamy, Deshabandu Jaykumar, Secretary Kailasapillai, Asst Secretary Chaturi Ranasinghe, Treasurer Saravanan Neelakandan, Asst Treasurer S. Shameer, and Editor Sumit Law. In addition another 14 Sri Lankan and 10 Indian members serve in the executive committee.

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MPs urged to defeat move to conduct Law College exams only in English medium



Ali Sabry responds to accusations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Opposition MP Gevindu Cumaratunga yesterday (19) alleged that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was going ahead with a project launched by former Justice Minister Ali Sabry with the backing of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to conduct Law College examinations only in the English medium, much to the disadvantage of Sinhala and Tamil students.

Addressing the media at Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya at Thunmulla, the leader of civil society group Yuthukama urged all political parties, regardless of whatever differences, to vote against extraordinary gazette notification of 2020 Dec 30 No 22018/13 to be submitted to Parliament by Sabry’s successor, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, tomorrow (21).

The SLPP National List MP said that those who represented the interests of the South, the North as well as the Upcountry could reach a consensus on the issue at hand quite easily.

Responding to The Island query, lawmaker Cumaratunga said that Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya, consisting of a section of rebel SLPP MPs, backed the campaign to protect the language rights of Sinhala and Tamil communities. The first-time entrant to Parliament said that MPs with a conscience couldn’t back this move, under any circumstances, whichever the party they represented.

At the onset of the media briefing, MP Cumaratunga said that the denial of language rights of current and future students was a grave violation of the Constitution-Article 12 and Article 18. In terms of Article 12, no one should be discriminated against on the basis of language whereas Article 18 recognized Sinhala and Tamil as National Languages with English being the linking language.

Alleging that the previous Gotabaya Rajapaksa goverenment planned to implement the controversial law even without securing parliamentary approval, lawmaker Cumaratunga appreciated Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s decision to place it before parliament.

The civil society activist said that this despicable move should be examined against the backdrop of growing external interventions as the country struggled to cope up with the developing political-economic-social crisis. The passage of the new law could cause further deterioration of parliament, MP Cumaratunga said, adding that the House faced a serious credibility issue.

“How could elected MPs whichever party they represented back a move that directly affected the concerned communities,”? Lawmaker Cumaratunga asked.

Referring to a recent call by the Justice Minister to discuss the issue at hand, MP Cumaratunga said that among those present on the occasion were Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, and Dr. Athula Pathinayake, Principal of Law College. “Those who opposed this move asked Dr. Athula Pathinayake what he really intended to achieve by conducting Law College examinations in English, only. However, the Law College Principal failed to provide a plausible response,” the MP said.

Responding to strong criticism of their stand, MP Cumaratunga stressed that the importance of English as a language couldn’t be underestimated. But, ongoing efforts to promote English shouldn’t be at the expense of Sinhala and Tamil, MP Cumaratunga said, questioning lawmakers’ right to deprive Sinhala and Tamil communities of basic rights.

Ratnapura District SLPP MP Gamini Waleboda said that an influential section of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) was behind this move. In a note dated March 17, addressed to all members of parliament urged them to defeat the contemptible move.

Lawmaker Waleboda said that there was no prohibition for those who wanted to sit law examinations in English. There was absolutely no issue over that but the bid to deny the language rights of those who wanted to sit examinations in Sinhala and Tamil was not acceptable under any circumstances. According to him, the BASL hadn’t consulted its membership regarding this move.

MP Cumaratunga also questioned the failure on the part of the apex court to make available to Parliament its interpretations in Sinhala. The Supreme Court continues to provide such clarifications in English only.

Responding to MP Cumaratunga’s allegation that he with the backing of the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resorted to action to make English compulsory for those studying at the Law College, incumbent Foreign Minister Sabry said: “That’s not correct. It is the council of legal education which formulates regulations.  The council consists of CJ, two senior SC judges, AG, SG, Secretary Justice and six senior lawyers of vast knowledge and experience.

 In terms of the constitution all higher education institutions can decide the language of studies and education. That’s how medical faculty, engineering faculty, IT faculty and management faculty conduct studies in English. Already Peradeniya and Jaffna universities do legal studies in English. It is good to do it, that’s how they become competitive. Even in India all legal faculties are in English. “

The President’s Counsel alleged that the kith and kin of certain people articulating this position received their education in English. The minister questioned why politicians get involved in this issue if the council of legal education made the relevant suggestion.

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No power cuts due to N’cholai unit failure – Minister



By Ifham Nizam

The breakdown of the Unit Three of the First Coal Fired Power Plant Complex in Norochcholai 270 MW intake of the 300MW will cost an additional Rs. 20 a unit due to thermal power generation, says the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).  “It will cost the CEB Rs. 96 million extra a day while the Norochcholai machine is out of order,” a senior Electrical Engineer told The Island.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera yesterday said Unit 3 of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant had failed. He said the CEB had informed him of the breakdown, but he said there would be no power cuts.

“The Unit 3 was due to undergo major overhaul maintenance in April. To ensure an uninterrupted power supply, the CEB-owned Diesel and Fuel Oil Power plants will be used,” the minister said.

The Norochcholai Power Plant has experienced breakdowns several times on previous occasions as well.The first generator at the power plant was shut down on December 23, last year to manage the coal stocks and for maintenance purposes.

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CBSL chief expresses optimism



Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe told the media, on Sunday, that the country’s dollar crisis could be managed as the IMF was set to approve a 2.9 billion-dollar bailout package on Monday. He said that Sri Lanka now had adequate foreign reserves for imports for essential sectors.

Dr. Weerasinghe added that the IMF package would boost investor confidence and enhance the country’s access to more foreign funds and investments.

The IMF package would include budgetary support, which was a new element in IMF lending, he said. Sri Lanka started negotiations with the IMF, in 2022, following the onset of the current economic crisis.

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