A Valedictory in American Academia
James Wells Gair, Ph.D. ’63, professor emeritus of linguistics who throughout a long and distinguished career produced groundbreaking work on South Asian languages and their relation to other languages, died Dec. 10 in Ithaca. He was 88.“Jim Gair was in many ways the paradigmatic Cornell linguist,” said John Whitman, chair and professor of linguistics. “He had a language passion for Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka, and he threw himself entirely into it, teaching the language, writing textbooks for its learners, and analyzing both the colloquial language and its classical texts.
Filed under cultural transmission, education, heritage, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, performance, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, unusual people, world affairs
The teaching of history at a tertiary level began with University College in Colombo in the 1920s, where students were prepared for an external degree at the University of London. Professor SA Pakeham taught medieval and modern European history to those who enrolled for such courses. Pakeham’s place in the history of history-teaching yet awaits its researcher. One contribution stands out: Pakeman seems to have discerned the talents of Garrett Champness Mendis, then a Lecturer at the Government Teacher Training College. An opening was secured for his postgraduate training under Professor Rhys-Davids at London University and GC Mendis proceeded to UK to work under that renowned Pali scholar.
This period of study encompassed extended sojourns in Munchen (?) in Germany under the tutelage of Wilhelm Geiger (1856-1943). This spell in England and Germany resulted in his command of Pali and his dissertation A Historical Criticism of the Mahavamsa (1930, unpubd). Amazing as it may seem, he could not be slotted into history teaching at University College when he returned and he was appointed initially as a Visiting Lecturer in Pali. Continue reading
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Sudharshan Seneviratne, courtesy of The Island, 22 & 23 June 2016, where the tittle is “Imaging India and strategising Indo-Lanka Symbiosis”**
Having returned from India after a premature recall as High Commissioner, I am pleased to make my first public talk at the BCIS. Yet, it is also associated with a sad memory. We had a final meeting at this very hall at a ceremony to launch the journal on International Affairs edited by Tissa Jayatilleke for BCIS published by Sage India. After most guests departed, Lakshman Kadirgamar along with Tissa, myself and Her Excellency Nirupama Rao had a pleasant chat. At that time he revealed plans for the Rajiv Gandhi Centre at the BCIS with JNU links. That night Kadirgamar was assassinated. I avoided any official functions here and this is my first visit to theCIS since then.
Professor Sudharshan Seneviratne
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ONE: James Jupp’s Sri Lanka: Third World Democracy (1978, London, Frank Cass) reviewed by Michael Roberts at http://www.ozlanka.com/reviews/3rdWorld.htm
This book eschews grand political theory and concentrates upon solid descriptive analysis. In presenting an ordered summary of the recent political history of Sri Lanka from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, the author is not forgetful of the social and economic background and is not afraid to lace the description with his own interpretations. He highlights several trends: an erosion of the influence of the Anglicised elite which did not, however, extend to their displacement; the movement “from the British notion of ‘good government’ … to a notion of popular government” catering more to mass prejudices (p.349); a rhetorical and ideological emphasis on indigenisation and cultural and economic decolonisation which obscures the fact that the opposed political persuasions have been of Western, if not British inspiration; and the gradual concentration of political opinion in the Sinhalese dominated districts around Bandaranaike’s Middle Way, which was democratic, socialist, and Sinhala Buddhist. Continue reading
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Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ices-in-sri-lanka-is-under-investigation/, where readers will find a burgeoning series of comments
In response to the exposes in the Colombo Telegraph during the latter half of January 2016(see below for titles and the web links) and a formal complaint lodged with the Counter Fraud and Whistleblowing Unit (CFWU) of the Department for International Development (DfID, United Kingdom) by this author, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada) has launched a forensic audit of the financial accounts of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES, Colombo, Sri Lanka) pertaining to the Safe and Inclusive Cities (SaIC) and Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) programmes co-funded by the Department for International Development (DfID, UK) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada) and managed by the latter. In fact, 70% of the total funding for the GrOW programme is by the DfID.
Sarvananthan Mario Gomez
An international audit firm has been hired by the IDRC to undertake a forensic audit of the accounts pertaining to the aforementioned two projects at the ICES in Colombo. Accordingly, personnel from this multinational audit firm were in Colombo during the week March 14 – 20, 2016 and met this author on March 18, 2016.Their report to the IDRC is due before the end of April 2016. The ICES is probably the only NGO in Sri Lanka that has been subjected to forensic auditing by a grantor to date. Continue reading
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