Susil Siriwardena, a Pioneer Development Administrator no more.
Posted on August 30th, 2021

Garvin Karunaratne, Former G.A.Matara 1971-73.

I must thank Tisuri Wanniaratchi for her note on Susil. 

Susil stood up for what is right for the masses. He contributed heavily for the Janasaviya and Gam Udawa of President Premadasa. It was unfortunate  that President Premadasa  did not live long to enable Janasaviya to flower to become a major programme.

I knew Susil when he was a graduate teacher at Anuradhapura Central where my wife Bimba too taught. That was way back in 1962. With his university qualification from Oxford and his connections with the leaders in the country he could have  easily found employment in many a development institution in Colombo in a plush job at a high salary, but he wanted to be with the people and chose the path to teach at Anuradhapura Central. With his wealth he could have easily led a luxurious life at Anuradhapura but he chose to be with the teachers and students a life in the basic staff quarters at the Central.School.

He often visited us and had dinner with us on many a day. In many discussions we had it was clear that he would someday shine, which he did when he contributed heavily for Janasaviya under President Premadasa.

What is very special about Janasaviya is that it contained  a definite  element of vocational training,

In my words”   The Janasaviya as well as the Samurdhi are both hand outs that have not served to rejuvenate the rural economy. Janasaviya had grand plans  to provide vocational training to the receipients but this did not take off the ground.”(From: How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka & Alternative Programmes of Success.(Godages, 2006) 

If I remember right the grant in Janasaviys was for only two years and the receipient had to be properly trained in the second year.   I came to know the Janasaviya, when it so happened that the Governor of the Central Province Mr Imbulana got me to draft a Poverty Alleviation Programme for the Central Province. That was in July 1993, when in my two weeks’ fact finding I came to know that Janasaviya did provide vocational training. The concept of Janasaviya stands to the credit of Susil.

It so happened that I lost touch with Susil after I left Anuradhapura in 1964, but he had ideas of serving our Motherland in a distinct manner that came out in our discussions.  It was clear that Susil will make a major contribution to our country and I am happy to note from Trisuri’s paper that Susil played a mjor role.in the development field.  I left the Administrratiuve Service in 1973.

Strangely we thought seriously of meeting Susil in December 2020 when we were in Colombo. We cherished to meet him after a gap of over five decades.  However  it so happened that I failed to locate him.

Most of us administrators become followers  and fail to contribute to the Motherland. Not so Susil. He  did contribute heavily. . Let me hope that we will meet again in this long journey  of Sansara to contribute to the  Motherland we love.

Garvin Karunaratne,

Former G.A.Matara 1971-73.

29 th  September 2021

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