ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 46
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Birth of a great Buddhist educationist

P. de S. Kularatne was a name synonymous with Buddhist education in Sri Lanka. Patrick de Silva Kularatne was born on April 8, 1893 at Wilegoda, Ambalangoda and after having his early education at Ambalangoda, joined Richmond College, Galle and Wesley College, Colombo for his secondary education. Winning a government scholarship, he proceeded to England where he obtained his first degree in arts following up with a Master of Arts plus BSc and LL.B degrees.

After returning to Sri Lanka, he became Principal of Ananda College in 1918 and continued until 1943 recording the golden era of Ananda when the school developed into a first class institute of Buddhist education and the pride of Buddhists. In between he also functioned as principal of Dharmaraja College, Kandy in the early 1930s, for four years. As general manager of the Buddhist Theosophical Society, he was responsible for the establishment of several Buddhist schools inclduing Ananda Balika (for girls) and Nalanda Vidyalaya in Colombo, Sri Sangharajah Vidyalaya, Panadura and Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya.

He was President of the Ceylon National Congress (1942-44) and later of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress. He was elected to the Ambalangoda seat as a member of the United National Party in the March 1960 general election but left the party after voting for the bill to take over assisted schools, which was opposed by the party.

He died on November 16, 1976 and was honoured as a national hero by the release of a stamp on May 22, 1987. Ananda College paid tribute to him by erecting an auditorium and naming it the 'Kularatne Hall.'


Looking into the administration

After the British took over the whole island following the conquest of Kandy in 1815, Sri Lanka was administered as a British colony with a Governor at the helm. After a little over ten years, realising the need to revise the administration, a two-member Commission was appointed in 1829 to inquire into the running of the government and make recommendations.

One of the Commission members, Lieutenant-Colonel William Colebrooke arrived on April 29, 1929 while the second, Charles Cameron, a Scottish barrister came after about a year. Cameron was sent particularly to look into the judicial system while Colebrooke inquired into the general administrative system. The Commission turned out to be a milestone in the country's constitutional development due to its far-reaching recommendations.

Among Colebrooke's recommendations, the key ones were:

* The amalgamation of the Kandyan and Maritime provinces and their administration as a single unit of government by the Governor in Council.

* The establishment of an Executive and a Legislative Council containing both European and Ceylonese members.

* The admission of Ceylonese into the civil service.

* The abolition of 'rajakariya' – compulsory personal service.

Many of the recommendations of the Colebrooke Commission, however, were embodied in the Constitution of 1833, which was established by an Order-in-Council.


Founder of the Communist Party

There were many stalwarts in Sri Lanka's leftwing politics. Among them was Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe, who formed the Communist Party (CP) in 1943. He was then 42 years old having being born on April 13, 1901. He later had a distinguished parliamentary career until 1977 except for a brief period when he lost the election.

When he got elected to the seventh Parliament in 1970, he held the record of being the only member of the House of Representatives who was a member of the first State Council of 1931. The veteran politician he was, he represented the Akuressa seat winning it time and again as the leader of the Communist party from 1956 onwards.

A doctor by profession, Sugiswara Abeywardena Wickremasinghe was born in Aturaliya, Matara, educated at Mahinda College, Galle, passed out from Medical College and went for further studies to England. Dabbling in student politics while in London, he was elected Secretary of the Ceylon Students' Association and became President of the Ceylon Buddhist Association.

Returning in 1929, he joined the government health service but with less demand for government doctors at the time, was retrenched which made him go into private practice in Matara, his hometown.

Having got elected to the Morawaka seat in the 1931 State Council – the first to be held after the grant of universal adult suffrage, he joined other left-inclined young men like Dr. N. M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena and Dr. Colvin R. de Silva to form the Lanka Sama Samaja Party LSSP. Later he moved out to form the CP.

At the time of his death in 1981, he was the oldest leftwing politician. He too was remembered with the release of a stamp.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.