Association of Sri Lankan Graduates from Socialist Countries
Established in 1966 Vol. 1: No. 1 July - September 2002
"Would you be perfect? Then spend everyday of your life as though it were your last"
Benefit of Development for the people
- Contribution of Professionals
What one hears from professionals often is that they are not allowed to make a contribution to the government's development projects, which are implemented on the wishes of the politicians. Is this the complete truth? Are we as professionals committed enough to play our role in the development process so that the benefits totally go to the society at large? As examples let us look at the following situations:
Engineers do not consider certain essential factors, during feasibility stage or design stage of some infrastructure projects, which later on during the project implementation, would adversely affect the economic completion of the project. Sometimes such lack of consideration would not give maximum benefits to the end users during the operation of the projects and also it would lead to not getting the full capacity for which it was designed, thus the full benefit of the investment not being reaped. If we look at the infrastructure services in Sri Lanka, most of them are in a pathetic condition. Had we professionals been more committed, attentive and conscientious, the condition of these would have been very much better. Professionals involved in development activities do talk about flood mitigation. But when implementing projects within their purview can they sincerely say that they take this aspect into consideration seriously. Planners often prepare land use plans without giving due consideration to the topography, landslide and flood prone areas, and low lying and marshy areas. Development plans are based on such zoning plans and the result would be increased landslides, floods etc. causing disasters and wasteful investment on development. In the field of agriculture, countries such as Malaysia, India and Thailand, have developed to such an extent that they export agricultural products to other countries. In Sri Lanka the farmers at the grass root level do not appear to get the benefits of latest technical developments and the know how, which apparently are limited to experiments, research and papers presented at Seminars.
Services only for the rich
(What can WE do for the benefit of such underprivileged communities?)
Annual General Meeting & the Dinner
The 36 AGM will be held at the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka, 120/15, Wijerama Mawatha, rd Colombo 7 at 9.00 am on Sunday the 3 November 2002. The Annual Dinner will be on the same day and the venue will be informed in due course.
Our Congratulations to the new Mayor of Colombo
Our sincere congratulations to Architect/Town Planner Prasanna Gunawardena, who was elected the Mayor of Colombo at the local government elections in May 2002. Our best wishes to him for success in discharging his duties in serving the City in this extremely responsible capacity. Mr. Gunawardena is a graduate of Zagreb University, Yugoslavia and a life member of ASLGSC.
Our heartiest congratulations to the ASLGSC Secretary, Malal Athauda and Assistant Treasurer, Tilak Alahakoon, who entered in to wedlock after being most eligible bachelors for a long time. We wish Malal & Mithila and Tilak & Ranjani a very happy wedded life.
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Scholarships to Russian Universities
Association of Sri Lankan Graduates from Socialist Countries
We are grateful to the Russian Government for offering scholarships to the Association availing the opportunity for students sponsored by our membership to study in Russian educational institutions. Generally scholarships are offered in the subject areas of Architecture, Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Economics and Management, Chemical Engineering, Law and International Relations, Agricultural Engineering and Biology. Once again ASLGSC wishes to express its utmost gratitude to the Russian Government for this generosity.
Professionals and Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is one of the most discussed topics over a decade. In the past few years we have heard a great deal on this topic, especially in debates on providing ever increasing infrastructure needs of the population, as well as increasing standards of living. It is not long ago that people went through the agony of spending hours and hours of darkness during power cuts in the nights, the inability to use the domestic electric appliances and the immobility in the offices without being able to switch on the computers, e-mail and internet. Can we the professionals keep silent blaming somebody else? Whose fault is this? On the same footing, what about the other life line facilities – drinking water supply, telecommunication, roads, transport etc.? Are the people content with the quality of the services they get? Most of us professionals are employed in organizations providing these basic infrastructure services. It is high time that we, the professionals give serious thought to whether we can sincerely say that we are doing our best in discharging our duties wherever we are employed. It should be remembered that most of us had the benefit of free education and hence we have an obligation to serve the people to the best of our ability. The following may be some points for us to ponder on Providing sustainable electricity (or green electricity) Sustainable water supply Sustainable Road Systems Providing appropriate housing to the poor Environmentally friendly and planned use of our land Sustainable transport systems Planning ahead for private participation in infrastructure and decisions on best financing methods most beneficial to the country Have the universities played a relevant role in producing quality professionals to meet the present (21st Century) needs? Innovation: breakthrough services, new strategies, new processes Proactive management vs. day to day management reacting to the situations as they arise
ASLGSC launches its Website
ASLGSC has launched its Website for more effective and closer interaction amongst its membership. We hope that this would shorten the distance among its members within the global village. In our website we are planning to share all current events and activities, news etc. for the benefit of the membership, especially those who are in far away places locally and abroad, and who would find it inconvenient to visit the Centre frequently. A separate web page has been set up for members’ personal, professional and other details. The executive committee wishes to update this information database of the membership. To start with, we have developed the database with available information of the members, which as you would appreciate may be outdated. Please visit our website and send in your updated information and also correct any details which you find are incorrect. You have the freedom to update your information as and when required. When updating your information please use only your personal e-mail address to ensure the authenticity of the information. The Association is grateful to Dr. Senaka Gamage (Kelum) and Mr. Jaliya Dharmasena for their effort and the hard work that went into the Website.
We need a new kind of engineer, one who can build bridges to society as well as bridges across rivers.
- Robert L. Bailey – Disciplined Creativity for Engineers, 1978
Office Bearers 2001/2002
President: Imm. Past President: Vice President: Vice President: Secretary: Asst. Secretary: Treasurer: Asst. Treasurer: Committee members: Mr. R.D. Gunapala Dr. G. Weerasinghe Dr. D.D. Ranasinghe Mr. S. Nettasinghe Mr. Thilak Alahakoon Mr. H.K. Ruban Admin. Secretary Mr. W.A. Karunaratne Mr. K.G.J. Bandara Mr. Jaliya Dharmasena Mr. U.D. Perera Dr. Malal Athauda Mr. Newton Karunarathne Dr. Senaka Gamage (Kelum) Mr. Bandula Samarasekara Dr. Hector Weerasinghe Dr. Gamini Soyza Mr. Winston Rupasinghe Mrs. Geethi Karunarathe Mr. Dilantha Vithanage Dr. Nimal Wijerathne Mr. U. Ranaweerasinghe Mr. D.P.A.L. Rupasiri
interesting episodes from his life in Prague, Scotland and his own home town in Dehiowita. His experience as the assistant to a local G.P. where he was in charge of giving aneamas to patients was quite amusing. Bandula opened the singing session with his favourite song 'Panamure'. K.G.J. (Cigar) Bandara took over as the tour guide as we were nearing his native area of Kegalle. Bandara and Jaliya Dharmasena both Alumni of Kegalu Vidyalaya shared their nostalgic memories of Kegalle Town and its environs and specially the jungle areas where they took schoolboys on conducted tours! Passing Kegalle Town, the coach stopped at the Meepitiya Walawwa of Neville Pitawala. It was a 'biological break' for everybody. The next stop was at Mawanella Town where lunch packets organized by Newton Karunaratne were picked up. There was also a delay as some younger members went in search of a shop with the 'Lion' symbol. Finally we were on the Aranayaka road with Maha Oya on one side and the range of Batalegala Hills on the other. Our next stop was Dr. Mithradasa's abode at Dippitiya, Aranayaka. Dr. Mithradasa had retired from government service and has a general practice at Dippitiya. He is well known in the area as a kind doctor who is very soft on the purse of the patients. It was about 12.30 at that time and as the climb to the top of Batalegala would have taken one and a half hours it was decided instead to have a bath in a stream at the foothills of Batalegala. First to get in to the water was Janaki and President Karu soon followed her to a shallow pond away from the tipplers who had settled on a flat rock. Dr. Hector, Dr. Gamini Zoysa, Dr. Kelum, Mr. Rupasiri, Lal Ranasinghe, Wasantha Wickremaratne, Sena Abeyratne were the others who enjoyed themselves on the rock. Some got in to water before it started rocking too much. Dr. Malal Athauda's new bride Mithila and Dr. Upul Thennakoon's wife were the other ladies who adorned the jungle stream. Gina Dharmasena, Padma Karunaratne and Mala Zoysa looked after the lads as they had forgotten to bring their bikinis. President Karu did a reverse summersault in to the water to entertain the ladies! The hungry mob returned to Dr. Mithradasa's house to have lunch. While the crowd was having their lunch Bandara appeared hand in hand with a longhaired lady. Even though some lost their appetite seeing the white hair on the longhaired lady's arms, the prank brought some laughter to the picnickers and bemusement to Dr. Mithradasa's wife Roma. After several speeches including a long oration from Neville Pitawala everybody thanked Dr. Mithradasa for his hospitality. On the way back there was a tea break at Ambepussa. Throughout the journey young Milinda Dharmasena provided the drum beat for the singing. Mala with her nightingale voice together with Gina and Rupasinghe Master sang golden oldies while Bandara with his theme song of 'Me Rate Minissu', together with old and new melodies entertained the crowd. It was about 7.00 pm when the coach returned to Akuregoda. All in all it was a very interesting trip and sincere thanks are due to Bandula and the rest of the organizers for the excellent 'Day Out'.
ASLGSC Members in the forefront at the National Hospital, Colombo
Dr. Anil Jasinghe, a medical graduate from Lvov Medical Institute succeeded Dr. Hector Weerasinghe as the Deputy Director Accident Service, Colombo National Hospital. Dr. Hector Weerasinghe has been the Director of National Hospital for several years and acting in the post of Deputy Director Accident Service until Dr. Jasinghe was appointed to that post.
Day trip to Batalegala (Bible Rock), Aranayaka
The Social and Cultural Committee organized a day trip to Batalegala on 7th July where about 25 members and their spouses and children participated. Bandula Samarasekera, the Convener, of the Social and Cultural Committee arranged a super luxury tourist coach where each participant had a whole seat to himself to be very comfortable throughout the journey. Bandula had also arranged for the participants to park their vehicles in the secure premises of the Airport and Aviation Authority opposite ASLGSC Headquarters. One participant had come just after the garbage collection round at the CMC wearing his dark orange shirt! The coach left Akuregoda at about 8.30 am and by 8.45 am all were served with a small glass of 'Arishta' from a bottle brought by the President. The ‘Arishta’ was from the House of Mendis of Beruwala. Thanks to Newton Karunaratne there were enough ice blocks to go around. Some kind ladies had thought about the boys and had brought boiled Kadala. Bandula, a qualified tour guide in addition to his academic qualifications from Prague, gave an overview of the proposed activities planned for the day and related some
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Transport sector too is very vital to the people and we can see what hardships people undergo, and the contribution of professionals in this sector too cannot be overstressed. Another important area is the provision of housing to the homeless, especially in the urban areas. Apart from the location, the site layout and the structural stability, two vital aspects of utmost importance to the occupants are the internal layout of the housing unit and the services provided. In the public sector housing, one often hears that these designs do not take into consideration the living styles of the prospective occupants.
Award Winners – 35 Anniversary Souvenir
The Executive Committee wishes to express its sincere gratitude to Mr. Kapila Gallage and Mr. Percy Samarasinghe, who collected the highest revenue and the highest number of advertisements respectively for the Souvenir published last year in connection with the AGM and Dinner.
These are some of the issues we should address seriously, wherever or in whatever the capacity we are working. As professionals we must ensure that the development projects are designed and implemented so that the community, especially the underprivileged, poor and disadvantaged, can enjoy the maximum benefits. Further, with the present trend of private sector participation, we professionals should be ready for such participation. To prevent the private sector participation in infrastructure taking place haphazardly, respective service providing agencies should prepare a long-term plan (say 10 year plan) so that investment information can be provided to the interested parties and politicians when the situation arises. By having the priority projects listed after consideration of important principles or criteria such as economically feasible projects, environmentally friendly projects, demand for the particular facility, effective operation with quality service etc. haphazard investments through private participation can be reduced at least to some extent. Financing methods most beneficial to the country should be accepted. The lethargy of some professionals in the public sector may be attributed to some extent, to promotions in the organizations being given on seniority basis. Whether one contributes to the organization creatively with innovative ideas producing end results or not, this is a fact in many organizations. Professionals could play a vital role in changing such promotional criteria. For producing outputs effectively in whatever we are doing, good basic management catchwords to be followed would be –
Use your humour to please, never to hurt.
- Robert L. Bailey – Disciplined Creativity for Engineers, 1978
Get-together of Czech Graduates
On 27th July some veteran Czech Graduates met at ASLGSC premises, especially to welcome Dayananda Eparachchi (Cheena), a Mechanical Engineer who graduated from Prague Technical University in 1966 and has spent many years working in Canada. Tissa Wijewickrema (ex NAITA Chairman), Dr. V.U. Ratnayake (ex Director General of CEA), Lal Ranasinghe (ex Chief Engineer of Mahaweli Marine Cement Co.) and Bandula Samarasekera were the other Czech Alumni who participated in this get-together. As 27th July was the last Saturday of the month and the date of the monthly dinner, Mr. Eparachchi was able to meet many of his old friends who were contemporaries at Russian Universities. It was remembered that the 1st Conference of Sri Lankan Students studying in Socialist Countries was held in Prague in 1963.
Best Wishes to new Chairperson
Executive Committee congratulates and extends its best wishes to Ms. Janaki Abeywardena, who has been appointed as the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka National Freedom from Hunger Campaign Board. Ms. Abeywardena has a Masters Degree in Economics from the Peoples Friendship University, Moscow and her specialised field of work is Poverty Alleviation and Gender and Development.
Be proactive rather than reactive in conducting your activities
Published by the Association of Sri Lankan Graduates from Socialist Countries 139, D.P. Wijesinghe Mawatha, Pelawatta, Battaramulla