Posted on July 18th, 2017


Dr Buddhadasa Hewavithrana was my lecturer at the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya and later I looked up to him as my guru and guide in the fields of social and economic development of Sri Lanka. I admired his wealth of knowledge and his sharp ability to stand proud by the ordinary people of Sri Lanka.

After completing his secondary education at Ananda College from which he imbibed the vision to server the Mother Lanka he entered the University of Ceylon in 1951 and he was among the first set of students when the University was shifted to Peradeniya. In 1955 he joined the staff as an assistant lecturer while proceeding to LSE for his post graduate studies, He was appointed to the Chair of the Department of Economics and Statistics and served the university till 1998.He also served the Institute of Policy Studies as its Chairman from 2006-2010.

While as an erudite academic he was able to train a good number of economists who were functioning in the key positions in the management of economy, it was in the area of applied economics that he walked the talk.

He dealt on the rural economy, income disparity and adjustment policies. Professor Hewavithrarana, during his sabbatical leave as a Visiting Fellow to Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University delivered an important lecture on the subject of Poverty and Equity in the Context of adjustment and Meso Police interventions: Sri Lanka”. He was the Economic Adviser to Dr N.M .Perera in an era when the country was aiming for self-sufficiency in the food produce. He authored a number of books such as Rural no-farm Employment, Problems, Issues and Strategies, Economic Consequences of the Devolution and Dangers of Decentralization, The Role of Morality in Economics and Framework for Operationalizing the Buddhist Concept of Gross National Happiness. In his book on the threats paused by the devolution of power to the provinces ,he masterly tackled the subject saying once the devolution of power is completed, no one can put it back together the unit again even in the event of a failure of such an experiment.  In his booklet on the Buddhist Concept of Gross National Happiness he proposes following for the individuals

Action on Work Ethic – Guidelines for Self Operationalization One should practice diligently the pro-happiness Buddhist work ethic such as: cultivate industriousness; make honest effort to earn living through occupations by being energetic, tireless, not lazy; develop an enquiring turn of mind (in modern terms, be innovative, carry out R and D); develop capacity for organizing and carrying out one’s work efficiently and systematically (modern equivalents– project planning, programming and time management). (Gr Sayings, Sn III). These are eminently productivity increasing work ethics and management methods that would naturally lead to material happiness to expand GNH”

Dr Hewavitharane ‘s dexterity in traversing a wide spectrum from Economics to the Politics and to the Buddhist Studies is indeed commendable.

May his journey through Samsara be short.

Examination is the distinguishing mark of attention and cutting off is the distinguished mark of wisdom” – Milindapanna————————–RANJITH SOYSA

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