Tribute from SLAF No. 2 Intake of Officer Cadets
Jayanath Laksen Chandri Salgado
SLAF No. 2 intake of officer cadets consisted of nine, along with few other in–service inductions. Of the nine, four were Thomians and Jayanath Laksen Chandri Salgado of ‘Preetheum’, Moratuwa, was one of them.
Sala, as he was fondly called by his friends, came in with an excellent school profile as one who had reached to represent Sri Lanka at the Indo-Sri Lanka athletic meet in his pet event, the 400 meters, through ACE Athletic Club. He was a college prefect, cadet, and a member of the Second XV Rugby team.
Sala’s father, Lloyd Salgado, who was a proprietary planter, was well known to my father, who was once a Police Superintendent of Moratuwa. Later, I also became acquainted with his brother-in-law, surgeon, Dr. Wimal Gunaratne, who, too, was a public school athlete.
Cadet intakes were a result of the post ’71 insurgency expansion, which the services underwent in its wake, with the infrastructure required not being able to keep pace. In this context, the No. 01 intake, of 30 cadets took priority in the available resources. Consequently, the ‘flyers’ of our batch had to wait till No. 01 completed their phases, which applied to all other branches as well.
We felt the salubrious climate of Diyatalawa (DLA) during morning PT in our thinnest possible vest. One might say we developed a dreadful respect for the ‘Siberian winter’, which we had only read about.
The stagnation in training facilities made Sala and the flying cadets follow the training that unfolded mainly for Regt. Cadets, under the then Commanding Officer (CO), Wg. Cdr. Bren Sosa and the Officer Commanding Training (OCT) Sqn. Ldr. Tony Direckze. A component of it (No. 1 Officers’ Regt. course) was a jungle march to a location, in the Kuda Oya area, in small batches, and the flight cadets consisted one of them. It so happened that they reached the destination a day earlier than the other groups, perhaps due to a ‘flying navigational error’ and had to take the ‘back bearing’ to the DLA camp. This all-round training had perhaps stood in good stead in later service life, when commanding stations, and for Sala, in particular, when he was the Director Operations with ground operations coming under it.
On commissioning, the three flyers were posted to the No. 03 Maritime Squadron flying Cessna 337 aircraft under Sq. Ldr. CO Christian. However, unexpectedly they were converted to Jet Provost (JPT) fighter aircraft which came into its own glory with the ’71 insurgency strike and interdiction sorties. Sala and the batchmates kept on flying this aircraft until it was phased out. It took almost another two decades for the SLAF to get back to fighter jet aircraft flying, post ‘OP Poonamalai’, where the Indian Air Force dropped relief supplies over Jaffna, better known as the ‘Parippu drop’.
Sala, later qualified as a Flying instructor and he was selected to undergo No. 313 Qualified Flying Instructors (QFI) course at Central Flying School, Royal Air Force, Leeming, UK, meeting a very demanding long overdue void in flying training. In his seven years as a QFI, culminating in the last two years as CO of the Flying Training Wing (FTW), generations of pilots had been churned out meeting the coveted RAF standards. He was the first to follow the Air Warfare Course at the Air War College, Pakistan Air Force for over a period of a year. As a pilot, on his flyingmanship, what better opinion than from his own batchmate who later became a very senior Captain with SriLankan Airlines. He opined, “Sala was an exceptional flyer who could be cool as ever for military flying.”
In his rising career he had gone through the ambit of appointments as Eastern and Western Zonal Commanders, Director Operations and finally the Chief of Staff. He was a recipient of the Ranawickrema Padakkama (RWP) very early in his career (1992), and without resting on his laurels on valour he continued with his operational contributions until the very end.
Sala leaves his wife Erandathie and children Laksith and Shalindri. We are grateful to Sala’s College friend HDK Silva for keeping us updated on his medical status, sparing us from troubling Erandathie. Religious ceremonies were held at the Holy Emmanuel Church, Rawathawatte, Moratuwa, and a service funeral under health regulations.
Old soldiers never die, they only fade away
May his soul rest in peace!
Jayantha Dhanapala, a star in a Trinity galaxy
It was about one and a half years ago that I contacted Jayantha Dhanapala to find his Kandy address in order to send him two of my books. On that day he informed me of the death of Mr SML Marikkar, his classmate at Trinity College, Kandy and my student to whom I had taught the classical languages. In an appreciation of Mr. Marikkar I had used the well known Latin dictum, “seniores priores” to indicate that in death too the older should take precedence over the younger as in matters of ordinary life.
As I commenced teaching the classical languages I was more than surprised that I had to teach another subject to the students of the University Entrance class . It so happened that the students learning this subject were an exceedingly outstanding group of Arts and Science students. Among them were Jayantha, Marikkar, Sarath Amunugama, Arjuna Aluvihare, Nihal Perera, Breckenridge and Karaliyadde.
The subject was called General English, a motley combination of general knowledge, language, precis writing and current affairs . In my school by the Beira this subject was taught by the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai, a mathematician turned a teacher of Government to senior students.
Why the Trinity Principal, Mr Norman Walter selected me, a green horn, to teach this subject was a mystery to me. Sometimes I was out of depth. Some of these outstanding students would help me by raising very appropriate questions in class before I got “drowned.” They were Jayantha Dhanapala, SML Marikkar, and Sarath Amunugama. The last two later joined the Civil Service. Sarath even became my boss when I returned to the public service, the SLAS, after premature retirement with full pension rights.
Jayantha won the open Essay prize at Trinity in his final year. The English teacher Rev. Eliott shortlisted the competing essayists selecting two Jayantha’s and JKL Pereira’s as the two best and asked me to be the final arbiter. Though my talents were elsewhere, in the logic of grammar and in figures and less in literature it was clear that Jayantha should be the winner.
JKLP, who came second, like me chose accountancy as a profession. After finishing the English Honours degree with a good second class, Jayantha had a short stint at my old school at Maradana. In the first Administrative Service examination held, after the abolition of the Civil Service, he was placed first. But he chose the diplomatic service.
I heard that he had chosen to learn Mandarin Chinese as one of the foreign languages that young diplomats were required to learn. He later progressed in his career up to the top as an Under Secretary to the Sec. General of the United Nations. I remember reading in the media how President Clinton had paid a tribute to him on his handling of the complex affairs with regard to the nuclear arms proliferation and disarmament.
I had not met Jayantha while he was serving in the UN. It was only when he attended meetings of the Peradeniya Jayatilleke Hall old boys reunions that I came face to face with him after 50 years or so. He would have been surprised to see me at these reunions ,sometimes playing the piano accordion accompanying the ageing old boys of J Hall singing old favourites. Among them were Rev Fr. Derrick Mendis and his cousin Rev Fr. Egerton Perera, both of whom had qualified as Chartered Accountants and had dedicated themselves to a life of poverty as Jesuits. Sadly they are no more.
Jayantha could have reached the top in the UN outfit had the then SL government sponsored his candidacy with greater vigour. Even in the case of his classmate, Sarath Amunugama, had the recommendation of the late Prof. Carlo Fonseka that Aumunugama be the second in command in managing the affairs of the country been realized, the world and our country would have been better places.
May Jayantha Dhanapala’s soul rest in Peace.
Dr Leo Fernando,
TImely action must be taken to preserve Buddhism in Sri Lanka
As reported on the first page of Sunday Island (June 4) it is indeed very praiseworthy for the government authorities to have taken timely action to safeguard the most venerated Bo tree in the world. It is both an object of worship and symbol of national sovereignty on the majority Buddhist island of 22 million people. It is a well established fact that a sapling of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi was brought to Ceylon by none other than Indian Emperor Ashoka’s daughter Sangamitta Maha theri, who established the Bhikkuni sasana here.
However it is sad to note that presently the Bhikkuni sasana is not given the due recognition it deserves in our country, though it is common knowledge that our Buddha sasana comprises of Bhikku, Bhikkuni, upasaka and upasika. It is very difficult to fathom why the government authorities are not issuing Bhikkuni Identity cards, while the Bhikkus even though some break the vinaya rules in public from time to time are allowed to continue with their Bhikku identity cards. Why the double standard? Therefore it is of great importance that Buddhists rise up to the occasion and demand that government issue Bhikkuni Identity cards and give them the due recognition they deserve to have in our society.
If timely action is not taken to rectify the situation to protect the Bhikkuni Sasana, it will face the same fate as the Dhamma Chakraya, which symbolizes the Eight Fold Path preached by The Buddha in his first sermon to the Pasvaga mahanunun, after attaining Buddha hood. The ancient Dhamma Chakraya is correctly depicted in all Emperor Ashoka’s pillars which were erected in Buddhist places of worship in India, under his direction and guidance. Needless to say it is in the shape of a cart wheel with eight spokes connecting to the outer circle depicting the Eight Fold Path. It was also accepted as the Buddhist symbol here after Emperor Ashoka’s son Arahat Mahinda Threra introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka.
However, presently due to unknown reasons the Dhamma Chakraya has taken the form of the helm, (the wheel connected to the rudder to steer a ship), with projections from the outer circle. Presently 90% of the Buddhist establishments, TV channels and print media use this wheel as the symbol of Buddhism which is an incorrect depiction of the original Dhamma Chakraya. Thus it is equally important to take timely action to rectify this to contribute towards stability and continuity of the Buddha Sasana for posterity.
R. W. W.
Appreciation: Nalini de Lanerolle
Peradeniya with its soaring architecture reminiscent of auspicious traditions melding the grace of the sculptured rock and incredible richness of greenery and extravagant streamers and showers of glowing flowers in the space of 1956 to 1959 merged Nalini de Lanerolle’s (then de Silva’s) stores of reading and imagination to a vision of the past in all its splendor.
She graduated from the University of Peradeniya in 1959 where she majored in Sociology. She married Asoka de Lanerolle in 1960, and became the mother of a girl and two boys. From 1960 to 1972, she was a Librarian in the Ministry of Planning; from 1973 to 1975 she was an Instructor in English at the University of Colombo.
Energetic in temperament, she had many interests. She read extensively from teen-hood: a vast variety of books ranging from the classics to murder mysteries and science fiction to movie magazines and historical novels. In Sinhala, she mentioned having enjoyed W.A. Silva’s Vijayaba Kollaya and Martin Wickramasinghe’s Rohini, at Visakha. She was appointed to the panel which judged the annual Sinhala Drama Festival. She was also a member of the panel appointed to evaluate films and performers regularly. Le Roy Robinson’s “An Interview with Nalini de Lanerolle on Aspects of Culture in Sri Lanka” reveals the scope of her reflections which enriched readers through ‘The Reign of Ten Kings – Sri Lanka – The World 500 B.C. – 1200 A.D.
Alert in judgment, she had had an active mind and capacious imagination which turned mere curiosity to tough questions with firm answers. Why do the Apollo Belvedere and the Gandhara Buddha show distinct traces of similarity? Was there a King Arthur?
Nalini de Lanerolle has not only satisfied her own musings; in her book she has deftly interwoven facts from Lanka’s chronicles and periods of European history to throw light. To quote Manik de Silva “She has done some innovative historical researching and found exciting parallels of kings and epics in the East and West during the same periods.”
According to Sir Arthur C. Clarke ‘The Reign of Ten Kings’ is an “excellent and much neededpiece of research. I hope that her book will bring to the attention of a large audience some of the most remarkable architectural and cultural achievements in history …”.
Nalini in her interview with Le Roy Robins attributes her interest in history to her father, a Government Surveyor who travelled widely in the country and who told stories of Greek Gods to his children pointing out the constellations including Orion striding across the night sky. Her mother too inspired her, reading to her in Sinhala from Milindapanha, which she later discovered was about the questions posed to an Indo-Greek ruler, a contemporary of King Dutugamunu. Parallels always interested her. As she says to Le Roy Robins “I think I was a history addict. It began with the stories of all those kings – King Arthur included.”
Her husband, Asoka de Lanerolle took a keen interest in history as well and to quote her “my husband Asoka has been interested in most of my thinking regarding history, so he has always urged me to write”. I tried out the idea of parallels in history on him and he encouraged me feeling it was “a different way of writing a history of Sri Lanka”.
Asoka having gained his high school education at Royal, graduated from the University of Peradeniya with an Honors degree in Economics and began his career as an Assistant Lecturer in Economics. He then became a Foreign Service diplomat, and later the Marketing Manager at Lever Brothers Ceylon.
In 1972 he was nominated as the Eisenhower Exchange student from Sri Lanka, giving them both the opportunity of living for seven months in the USA and travelling widely soaking in the history of a different continent. When he joined the UN International Trade Center in Geneva, and worked in Somalia, Bangladesh and Nigeria, Nalini travelled extensively enjoying glimpses of history like the sale of frankincense (one of the three gifts to baby Jesus by the kings) in Somalian market places.
She took great pleasure in all her children being avid readers despite the advent of televisions and in the fact that they all strongly supported the publication of her book, helping her by taking photographs, doing line drawings and cross-checking all the years mentioned in the book.
We have lost a historian and an intellectual, one who sought knowledge and thought, for the pleasure it gave – who has left to her country men and visitors to the island and enchanting and enlightening volume.
Dr. Lakshmi de Silva
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