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SRI LANKAN FULBRIGHTER – Volume 8- Issue 1- 2011


· Fulbright Alum Ruwan Illeperuma wins a Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) Award for 2011

· Cultural Diplomacy and Soft Power – Speech Delivered by

Jayantha Dhanapala at the 2011 SCA Regional Workshop in Colombo

· The Sri Lanka Reader History, Culture and Politics

Edited by John Clifford Holt, Reviewed by Tissa Jayatilaka

­ News from the US-SLFC

­ The US-SLFC Board of Directors

Fulbright Alum Ruwan Illeperuma wins a Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) Award for 2011.


TOYP awards are given annually by the Junior Chamber International (JCI)to ten young persons from Sri Lanka who have made outstanding contributions to society. Dr. Ruwan Illeperuma received his award  for Scientific Development. He won a Fulbright  Award in 2009 to  research molecular forensics and population genetics at the University of Washington.

Cultural Diplomacy and Soft Power – Speech Delivered by

Mr Jayantha Dhanapala

at the 2011 SCA Regional Workshop in Colombo

Thank you Tissa for that warm introduction. Perhaps your recommendation to the State Department was not registered a few years ago so that I would be elected Secretary-General of the United Nations.

I want to thank the Fulbright Office in Colombo for the very kind invitation to meet you, address all of you this morning as you inaugurate your workshop. I value very much the United States component of my career both as a diplomat and as an international civil servant. My association with the United States goes back to 1957 when I was selected to represent the students of Sri Lanka or Ceylon as it was then, at the World Youth Forum of the New York Herald Tribune. And ever since then I have been fortunate to repeat my visits, first as a First Secretary of the Sri Lanka Embassy and then as Ambassador and of course to visit the United States many many times.

This meeting, this workshop is being conducted also in the framework of Sri Lanka –U.S. relations and although the pre-publicity for this workshop stated that I was going to speak on Sri Lanka-U.S. relations, the present situation is so heavily mined that I thought it best to choose some other subject. I am not exactly an angel but I am not a fool to rush in also to a subject where there would be very controversial remarks and I am sorry to disappoint members of ……………. who may be here to cover me. But using the latitude that Tissa gave me to select a topic of my own and understanding that the Fulbright programme is very much an important component of the soft power thanks to Senator Fulbright’s vision, I thought I would speak on cultural diplomacy and soft power, sustainable smart power.

I think it is necessary for us to look beyond the current headlines particularly with controversial Wikileaks and all the issues that they raise in order to identify the trends that are taking place in international relations and to try to forecast how those trends will develop. And I see a confluence of three trends at the moment. The first is the end of American empire. The end of the uni-polar world and the move towards the multi-polar world which coincides with an eclipse of hard military. Secondly, in terms of the world economy, I see the end of hard economic power, the end of the Washington consensus. If it needed the final nail in its coffin it was the international financial crisis that has engulfed the world and as Bun Ki-moon has said it began in Wall Street, and then it moved to Mail Street and now it has gone to countries with No Streets. So it’s been replaced, of course, perhaps, by what the G-20 call the Seoul Development Goals but we have still to see how things move. But certainly what we are seeing again is the move to move multi-polar system. Thirdly, of course, is the impact of climate change in exorable, irrefutable, the four reports of the IPCC all of them convey the vital important of the world corporative in order to find a response to this huge challenge to the survival of the planet.

Now in talking about soft power, I of course owe a great debt of gratitude to Joe Nye who I have had to privilege of knowing both in his academic capacity but also in his Pentagon avatar and his two books, I think, has contributed enormously to the theory of international relations. And again, we owe a tribute to Senator Fulbright, whom I have also had the pleasure of meeting when I was First Secretary in the Embassy of Sri Lanka whose great vision, as I said, has made the Fulbright programme inaugurated in 1946 into a very important element of the soft power of the United States.

So the plan of my presentation is to talk about the eclipse of hard power. I ought to then talk about a few of the declinist theories and the Techtronic shifts of global power. I like then to move on to identifying some of the elements of what I think is the soft power of the United States which can be converted into smart power. And he existing programmes which are being used and which can be developed in the future. And finally to bring the different skeins of my argument together in some, hopefully, coherent conclusions.

The eclipse of hard power is not going to be a smooth one. It s going to be a rocky road. Nobody likes to be displaced. We know that there is also behind hard military power, the military industrial complex, not only of the United States but of all the countries around the world. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute which has an annual year book, its flagship publication, has estimated that in 2009 the total military expenditure of the world was 1,531 billion US dollars, a staggering figure far in excess of the world spent during the height of the cold war. And of that figure 43% is spent by the United States. The next 20 countries on the list do not add up to that 43%. And so we have, therefore, this enormity of a misallocation of expenditure despite the deficit, despite the international final financial crisis and despite the enormous problems that we have internationally with over one billion people living on less than 2$ a day while a cow in Europe is paid 3$ a day to continue with the subsidies that are there for the European Union. And, so we have also huge armed sales with the U.S., Russia, Germany, France and U.K. accounting for the 76% of the arms sales. Now, it is a very perceptive comment on the part 50 years ago of General Eisenhower, who said in his farewell address, and he was a military man who completed 8 years as the U.S. president who said in his famous farewell address, “in the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper machine of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Fifty years later, the message of President Eisenhower is still valid. But by the yard stick of hard military power the U.S., of course, rank supreme. And yet, we find the United States embroiled in two unwinnable wars, extricating itself with difficulty from Iraq leaving that country in shambles, also trying very hard to extricate itself from the war in Afghanistan. So hard power clearly has limitations and we also see the same limitations with regard to hard economic power which as I said is represented by the Washington consensus. Now Paul Kennedy, the British historian at Yale, published the book in 1987 about the Rise and Fall of Great Powers and talked about the importance of economic under pinning for hard military power. Vietnam and Afghanistan for two major powers was a lesson that we have still not learnt to lesson of imperial overstretch.

Now, we also got to learn lesson obviously from the international financial crisis. Perhaps, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the last of the exercises in gun boat to diplomacy. But it is still not clear that we have learnt what is in fact the holistic definition of security today. That came about during the time when Kofi Annan was Secretary General when he said very clearly that there can be no security without development, no development with security and there can be neither without human rights. There was also a distinction made during that period between national security which is the defense of territorial integrity and sovereignty and human security which is the ensuring of the security of the individual and it is not always that we have the coincidence of both national security and human security which would be the ideal. So as I said, Joe Nye’s concept which he first announced in his book Bound to Lead and followed it later up with identification of what Fulbright said in many ways which was that in the long course of history having people who understand your thought is much greater security than another submarine.

So I want to move from there to talk about the decline of empires and the rise and fall of empires. A long time ago, in 1918 we had Oswald Spengler talking about the decline of the west and it was very fashionable then to discuss the decline of the west between the two world wars and what we saw unfortunately is the rise of fascism instead and then thereafter we had the cold war. But perhaps more accurate than Spengler is the vision of Arnold Twinby who talks about challenge and response in his masterly monumental volume of the history of the world. Or even more recently, the American geographer, Jared Diamond who talks about collapse where he sees the way in which in the past in the various civilizations had responded to the environmental challenges of their times and some went under because they didn’t have an answer but some were able to survive. And all these examples are there for us as we face the current challenges we have. But I think what is happening particularly in the evolution of the world economic is a important pointer for us. There is an emergence of the global south as Deepak Nair, Emeritus Professor of the Delhi School of Economics has pointed out in 1000 AD Asia, Africa and Latin America together accounted for 82% of the world population and 83% of global income. This continued for eight centuries. In 1820, the three continents still claimed three fourths of the world population and two thirds of its income. Then, came the industrial revolution and colonialism. A revolution in transport and communication and the rise of Western Europe and the decline of Asia. Between 1870 and 1950 per capita incomes in Asia fell to one tenths of Western Europe. So also did the incomes in Africa and Latin America. But from 1950 he identifies a resurgence of developing countries and with it, of course, came the colonization. From 1951 to 1980 there was rapid economic developing growth in the developing world. And in 2005 we were back to the same statistics as in 1870. So this catch up which of course is been limited to a few countries in the global south, particularly, India, Brazil, China and of course, the south east asian countries but the 21st century is going to be the turning point. Its going to be a turning point where we are going to see an economic and political impact in the rise of the global south. There are, of course, very clearly demographic factors at work and I like to quote Deepak Nair in some detail. He writes, “History does not repeat itself but it would be wise to learn from history. The early 19th century was a turning point in the world economy. It was the beginning of the end of Asia’s dominance in the world. And it was the beginning of the rise of Europe, in particular to Britain to dominance in the world. The early 20th century was the next turning point. It was the beginning of the end of Britain’s dominance in the world and it was the beginning of the rise of the U.S.A. to dominance in the world. The catch up and the transformation span of a century. The early 21st century, perhaps, represents a similar turning point. It could be the beginning of the end of the dominance status of the U.S.A. in the world. The emergence of countries outside North America and Western Europe, particularly, the power house economies in Asia which began with the East Asian success stories is now manifest in the rise of China and India, represents a striking transformation. In addition there are emerging economies in other continents of the developing world among which Brazil and South Africa deserve mention. Of course, in the decades to come the continued rise of these countries of the developing world as a whole is not quite predictable and by no means certain. It would be depend in large part on whether developing countries can transform themselves in to inclusive societies where economic growth, human development and social progress move in tandem. This catch up and transformation, if it materializes, could also span a half century or longer. Yet the beginnings of a shift in the balance of power are discernible and the past could be a pointer to the future. That in many ways echoes what T.S. Elliot said in Four Quarters – Time present and time past, are both perhaps present in time future.

And so we had to move from this situation of a Techtronic shift in global power in the locus of power both political and economic but more in soft power terms to the global south. And if we are going to have the United States still wielding an importance influence as it should with the enormous soft power at its hand, we must see that the programme such as the one we have here, the Fulbright programme, that it should be nurtured and developed. I think, absent the use of soft power, you are going to see a hastening of the transfer of power to other centres. So my message is that the elements of U.S. smart power have got to be valued. And these elements begin, of course, with the constitution of the United States. 1776 achievement, the democracy separation of powers, the civil liberties and the rule of law which used 1776 as a foundation and built on it with the achievement of successive presidents, with the achievement of Martin Luther King and several others, generosity of the foundation such as the McGarthy Foundation which identifies for example individuals both in the United States and elsewhere for genius awards which identifies effective institutions for support. There are also the great educational institutions of the United States. In a recent survey of world university rankings by the London Times, the first five universities are U.S. universities and in the first 200 universities, over 75 are from the United States. And they attract like magnet students of high caliber from all over the world and not only the United States. And if you retain this element of soft power you will retain the influence that will be a beneficial influence both, globally and domestically. There is also the arts, the music, the theatre, the ballet, the literature which has been an important vehicle transmitting U.S. culture abroad. There is the enormous innovation that has taken place in environment and energy, the technologies that are being invented all the time. And here again, the issue of the edge that the United States has in Science and Technology. The money that has been spent for research and development still is very high in the United States but it is falling. It fell from 40 % of the global expenditure in 1996 to 35% in 2007. Whereas Asia’s component of global expenditure on research and development …….. is rising and it is today 31%. So, of the 1.1 trillion that is being spent most, recently you will find that the United States is not spending as much as what it should be spending in order to retain its position of supremacy in this field. Likewise, with ……………. applications which is a very useful guide to how innovative your industry is, how innovative your R&D is, here again, you have a patch up on the part of Asia, with China, The Republic of Korea and Japan leading the way.

But finally, of course, your wealth lies in the American people. The enormous diversity of the American population and the way which America continues to attract immigrants from a wide variety of countries. I think this must remain one of the important elements of the soft power of the United States which has to be used wisely and well. And the existing programmes, of course, include the Fulbright programme in many ways you participating in the administration of the Fulbright programme are the harbingers of a shift to smart power. The exchange programmes also include the international visitors programme, the Eisenhower Fellowship Programme and so many others. There are, of course, American Colleges setting up campuses in different parts of the world and this is in many ways a way in which the more pessimistic concept of a clash among civilization which Samuel Hungtinton talked is being converted specially with the UN programme for an alliance among civilizations. And one of the earliest alliances among civilization is the Fulbright Programme. Because it was conceived as a Bi-national programme in all humility accepting the fact that the United States can also learn from other cultures and from other civilizations. So we have, therefore, in this new global context where inter- dependence is so important. We have the concept of the United States as a great power leading the world from the transition, in the transition from hard power to soft power rather than dominating the world, we have a effort to make the entire global system more transparent but more equitable as well. So let me conclude by talking about also the importance of the human development concept because in the latest human development report of the UNDP about two decades after the concept was first introduced by the Mahbub Ul Haq, we have the United Stated still being ranked as number four. And I think that it is a very important aspect. China ranks 89, Russia ranks 65, France 14, U.K. 26, Sri Lanka, of course 91, but nevertheless a very respectable ranking for a developing country. But what is important is that the developed countries also bear in mind the importance of human development. And if I may quote from the Human Development Report giving a definition of what human development is and what we should be aiming at in the exercise of our soft power. Human development is the expansion of people’s freedoms to live long, healthy and creative lives to advance other goals they have reason to value and to engage activity in shaping development equitably and sustainably on a shared planet. People are both the beneficiaries and the drivers of human development as groups, as in individuals and in groups. Fulbright warned us a long time ago about the arrogance of power. All nations, of course, are liable to the hubris of power and I think the propensity for arrogance will be much less if we exercise soft power and not hard power. And here again, we have heard many quotations from Senator Fulbright but if I may leave one more quotation with you. He said once “there are two Americas. One is the America of Lincoln and Hadley Stevenson, the other is the America of Teddy Roosevelt and Modern Super Patriots. One is generous and humane and the other narrowly egotistical. One is self-critical and the other self-righteous. One is sensible and the other romantic. One is good humoured, the other solemn. One is inquiring, the other quantificating. One is moderate and the other filled with passionate intensity. One is judicious and the other arrogant in the use of great power. What Fulbright said of his own country, of course, is applicable to other countries as well including to my own country. So we have to acknowledge as Churchill once said “United States invariably does the right thing after having exhausted every the other alternative”. And so after having exhausted hard power, my hope and my plea is that the United States will now make the transition to soft ower because that is the smart thing to do in order to continue to wield its very beneficial influence on the world as we now know it and as we face so many challenges together.

Thank you.

The Sri Lanka Reader History, Culture and Politics

Edited by John Clifford Holt, Reviewed by Tissa Jayatilaka 792 pages, 54 illustrations ISBN: 978-0-8223-4967-9 Publication: June 2011

Duke University Press( Durham and London) has published this superb anthology edited by that most perceptive and shrewd observer of Sri Lanka and its complex social, economic and political history, John Clifford Holt who is William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Humanities in Religion and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in the United States. He has written several books and, of those, the ones I am familiar with and profited from reading are The Buddhist Visnu: Religious Transformation, Politics and Culture(2004), The Religious World of Kirti Sri: Buddhism, Art and Politics in Late Medieval Sri Lanka(1996), Discipline: the Canonical Buddhism of the Vinayapitaka(1981), and Buddha in the Crown: Avalokiteswara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka(1991), for which he received an American Academy of Religion Book Award for Excellence. Prof. Holt is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Peradeniya and he was selected by the University of Chicago Divinity School as its Alumnus of the Year in 2007.

John Holt and I have been friends for over two decades now. During this period I have watched with great admiration and pride his invaluable contribution to the promotion of mutual understanding between his country and mine. This task, that of the promotion of mutual understanding is also the mandate of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission with which institution I have now been associated for as long a period of time as the length of Prof. Holt’s and my friendship. As founder – director of the Inter-Collegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) programme, Prof. Holt, and several of his colleagues from the U.S. academic world, have brought over 400 American undergraduates from some of the leading Liberal Arts colleges in the U.S. for a Semester Abroad in Sri Lanka from 1982-to-date. ISLE is formally associated with the University of Peradeniya and Sree Padma Holt is now its capable executive director. As noted above, Holt has written four solidly researched books on aspects of Sri Lanka’s religious culture, three of which have been translated into Sinhala and published locally. I consider John Holt to be a direct descendant of that excellent American scholarly line that stretches from the late Howard Wriggins of Columbia University of revered memory to the present. Besides Wriggins and Holt, it is a line that includes but is not necessarily limited to, Robert Kearney, Marshall Singer, Myron Weiner, Bardwell Smith, John Ross Carter, Donald Smith, Dennis McGilvray, Steven Kemper, John Richardson, Patrick Peebles, James Manor, Anne Blackburn, Susan Reed, Charlie Hallisey, John Rogers, Jon Walters, Susan Mrozik and Michele Ruth Gamburd, a number of whom have also been connected to ISLE as students or faculty directors. Some also have been Fulbright award recipients over the years. Neither my friendship with John Holt nor my obvious admiration for his scholarship has got in the way of what I say in my comments on The Sri Lanka Reader.

We are told not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes a book cover does justice to the contents of a book. In the case of The Sri Lanka Reader, the cover of the book and its contents complement each other beautifully. Adele Barker’s ( she is a former Fulbright scholar and author of Not Quite Paradise An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka published in 2010) photograph that adorns the cover of The Sri Lanka Reader and the cover design are both extremely pleasant. The tastefully designed book cover is an apt forerunner to the handsome and insightful ‘documents, analytical accounts, photographs and poetic works’ that Holt has woven together in spellbinding fashion in producing this volume. The Sri Lanka Reader is indeed, as its publisher and editor claim, ‘a sweeping introduction to the epic history of the island nation located just off the southern tip of India’. It is an anthology that includes ‘more than ninety classic and contemporary texts written by Sri Lankans and foreigners’.

Holt dedicates The Reader most appropriately to ‘all Sri Lankans who have died as a consequence of political violence and those who work for peace’. I wish to draw attention to a couple of crucial points the editor of the publication makes in his introduction as they are the same that I have been making during numerous orientation programmes to countless American diplomats, other American public servants and academics for nearly three and a half decades now, namely, that despite its small size (approximately that of the U.S. State of West Virginia) Sri Lanka is an enormously complex and complicated country; one that, despite its cultural similarities, is markedly different from its giant neighbour across the Palk Straits and, an entity, no matter how strong the temptation may be to do so, not to be imagined as ‘a manageable version of India’.

John Holt’s Reader is a stellar collection of wide-ranging essays both scholarly and popular, folklore, poetry and reportage that run into a mammoth 700 plus pages. Nor is this all. The Reader contains 54 images of paintings, sculptures and architecture together with its editor’s suggestions for further reading and, a comprehensive index. This anthology is an extreme labour of love on the part of John Holt, a sincere admirer of all that is best of Sri Lanka and an equally sincere critic of the seamier side of this complex Indian Ocean Island. C.R. de Silva, a former Professor of History at Peradeniya now at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, is absolutely right in his observation that The Sri Lanka Reader “… is a book that you will return to time and time again. It will undoubtedly become the standard collection of documents on Sri Lanka and its history.”

It is impossible in a brief essay such as this to do justice to as varied and broad ranging an anthology of the kind John Holt has put together. The most one can do is to seek to offer a flavour of the publication in an effort to entice the discerning reader to search for more. It is the latter task that I have attempted in this brief essay.

The Reader is divided into five sections and these are: (i) From Ancient to Early Modern; (ii) The Colonial Encounter; (iii) Emerging Identities; (iv) Independence, Insurrections, and Social Change; and (v) Political Epilogue. The editor has sought to present his sources in a ‘fundamentally historical’ way and he has also, to his eternal credit, attempted to be inclusive, representative and fair to all things ‘Sri Lankan’ without pandering to petty and narrow sectarianism. Furthermore not only has John Holt included in his anthology those ‘classic’ pieces that should find their way into any serious collection of writings on Sri Lanka, but also found the space for writers and artistes whose works are yet to receive the exposure and acclaim that they deserve. Thus the contributions of Robert Knox, Anagarika Dharmapala, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Martin Wickramasinghe, R.L. Spittel, Walpola Rahula, K.M. de Silva, K.W. Goonewardena, Howard Wriggins, S.J. Tambiah, Robert Kearney, Paul Caspersz, Dennis McGilvray, A.J. Wilson, A.T. Ariyaratne, Ismeth Raheem, C.R. de Silva, K. Indrapala, Michael Roberts, Jean Arasanayagam, and John Holt himself are interspersed with the writings of such younger Sri Lankans and Americans as Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe , Mirak Raheem, Antoinette Ferdinand, Lilani Jayatilaka, Michele Ruth Gamburd and Ben Schonthal. In addition, English translations of notable works of those Sri Lankans who write in Sinhala and Tamil are included.

Of the essays included in The Reader, my personal favourites are found in Sections IV and V. These are K.M. de Silva’s Sri Lanka in 1948; James Manor’s The Bandaranaike Legend; Howard Wriggins’s After Forty – Five Years; Lasantha Wickrematunga’s And Then They Came for Me; and Lilani Jayatilaka’s Moderation the Only Way.

De Silva’s is a superb account of the socio-political dynamics of Ceylon in 1948 when the island made the transition from a British colony to a newly independent state. As de Silva notes, at the dawn of independence the country was an “an oasis of peace, stability and order.” But “beneath the surface…, religious cultural and linguistic issues were gathering momentum and developing into a force too powerful for the existing social and political set-up to accommodate or absorb. They were to tear the country apart within a decade.” De Silva’s essay gives us a persuasive and convincing assessment of D.S. Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister. It is a pity that no scholarly biography has yet been written of this towering national political personality, arguably the best prime minister Sri Lanka has had to-date. The editor has very deftly placed The Bandaranaike Legend, the conclusion to James Manor’s (1990) notable study of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (The Expedient Utopian : Bandaranaike and Ceylon) between de Silva’s essay and Howard Wriggins’s swan – song of Sri Lanka titled After Forty – Five Years . Each essay complements and reinforces the other. Manor’s substantial work on Bandaranaike is too well known to need recapitulation here. I should like, however, to quote anon an extremely significant paragraph from Manor’s The Bandaranaike Legend that Holt has included in The Reader as the key points that Manor makes in it mesh with my personal assessment of Bandaranaike the man as well as of the government he headed as prime minister in 1956.

My long held view is that although he played to the Sinhala gallery to gain transient political power, Bandaranaike himself was no Sinhala zealot. He was too educated and possessed of a universal worldview for such zealotry as evidenced by his early (1926) advocacy of federalism as a possible solution to the then not yet-deadly competition between the Sinhalese and Tamils and later by his decision to enter into a pact with the then leader of the Federal Party in 1957. We should also not forget his substantial, and for the time, pioneering work done in relation to constitutional reform and devolution as Minister of Local Administration in the State Council (1936- 1946) and later (1947- 1951) as Minister of Health and Local Administration in the House of Representatives when the State Council was replaced by the former. Having exploited the resurgent Sinhala nationalism that was on the rise in post – independent Sri Lanka to ensure his electoral success, Bandaranaike the non – chauvinist attempted subsequently to put that genie back in the bottle. But the passions he had unleashed proved far too strong for Bandaranaike to contain them. His vacillating and indecisive attempts at containment led to destructive factionalism within his own Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) coalition that formed the government of the day. Eventually the politically fragile Bandaranaike was destroyed by the very forces that propelled him into power (in sharp contrast to his notable predecessor D.S. Senanayake and his successors Sirimavo Bandaranaike, J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga who were all surer-footed and hence exercised more authoritarian control over their subordinates, as does the current incumbent). Here, as promised above, is how Manor captures effectively the rise and fall of Bandaranaike:

He [Bandaranaike] had hoped to use chauvinism as a means to achieve power, believing that he could disarm it by making modest, long – overdue concessions to Sinhalese Buddhist interests, and then by concentrating on reform to remove social injustice and soothe the anxieties of would be communalists. He did not succeed partly because the problems he inherited were so severe, partly because his ruling coalition contained too many contradictions, partly because his government functioned so sluggishly, but very substantially because of the way Bandaranaike himself thought and acted.

Howard Wriggins in his After Forty – Five Years confirms our views. In the latter essay he records his 1955 encounter with Bandaranaike the then leader of the opposition and aspirant for the post of the prime minister of Ceylon. Whilst discussing the rising swabasha movement demanding a change in official language policy, Bandaranaike had startled Wriggins by saying: “you know, Professor Wriggins, I have never found an issue as good as the language issue for exciting the people! Bandaranaike had said so in a way that had suggested he was confident the excitement could be managed” (that the genie could be put back in the bottle). Here is how Wriggins puts it:

It would be wrong to assign all the blame (or credit) for this [ the Ceylonese Jacksonian revolution Bandaranaike ushered in 1956] to Bandaranaike alone. Others, far more passionately committed to Sinhalization of Sri Lanka than he, seized the opportunity and pushed all the harder. They found ready acolytes, and no leaders of principal parties dared stand against the tide.

Lasantha Wickrematunga was brutally assassinated in broad daylight as he drove to his office on the morning of 8 January, 2009. Like most independent-minded journalists, Wickrematunga lived in the shadow of death by assassination for a considerable period of his professional life. He had left behind an editorial to be published consequent to his death which the Sunday Leader duly carried on 11 January, 2009 titled And Then They Came for Me. It is a powerful indictment of the culture of impunity that has prevailed in Sri Lanka from 1970 onwards but has become particularly virulent since 2005. Towards the end of this hard-hitting editorial Wickrematunga expresses the hope that “my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration…” And he goes on to hope against hope and say:

I hope it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.

After Wickrematunga’s murder, Sri Lanka witnessed further death and destruction during the last stages of the war against the LTTE and in May 2009, a mere four months later, we witnessed the spectacular demise of the brutal and intransigent Tigers. Most of us hoped that the bloody events ‘on the sands of Mullativu’ which brought the internecine war to a close would pave the way for healing and national reconciliation. Post – war developments, tragically, have instead taken us on a disappointingly different direction where Sinhala triumphalism coupled with increased authoritarian governance have placed reconciliation on the back burner. The warning contained in Our Holocaust, the editorial of The Tamil Guardian, a Tamil diaspora newspaper published in the UK on 16 May, 2009 that The Reader carries makes a tragic and ominous prediction to the effect that as long as the Tamils are oppressed, “Sri Lanka will never be able to live in peace.”

Neither Sinhala triumphalism nor the continuing violent defiance of the Tamil diaspora will help the Sinhalese and Tamils of Sri Lanka to learn to respect each other and share constitutionally guaranteed equal rights as citizens of the country. It is only the moderate middle made up of the non-sectarian segment of the Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese living in Sri Lanka that can and will usher in ethnic peace and social stability in our island home. And it is such a consummation that Lilani Jayatilaka devoutly wishes for in her essay of 17 May, 2009 titled Moderation the Only Way that is the penultimate item included in The Reader. Before I proceed further I wish to state that, unlike the disclaimer made with regard to my comments on John Holt, nothing I say about Moderation the Only Way or its author is dispassionate: they are entirely passionate for both professional and profoundly personal reasons! Lilani Jayatilaka’s essay, as editor John Holt notes, offered “a more moderate humane, and nuanced perspective” than the predictably slanted editorials and other contributions that appeared in most Sinhala, Tamil and English newspapers published in Sri Lanka and overseas at that time. It is an essay, John Holt goes on to note, that is “noteworthy not only for its expose’ of the internment camps containing Tamil refugees but also for its insistence on the need for Sri Lankans not to be held hostage by Sinhala ultranationalists, on the one hand, and by Tamil separatists, on the other.” I wish to end my comments on The Reader quoting the concluding lines of Moderation the Only Way as I identify totally with the sentiments expressed therein:

[T]hen there are the Tamil Tigers who manipulate the emotions of the vulnerable with information and misinformation.

But then there is information and misinformation disseminated by the government of Sri Lanka as well. The Sinhala supremacists and the radicalized Tamils make an emotional choice as to whom and what they will believe, fuelled by their ethnic loyalties. Each has access only to partial truths, which they believe are whole truths. In this lies their blindness. I write in favour of moderation — to see these partial truths for what they are and to recognize the fact that the whole truth will continue to elude us; to beware of the rhetoric of hate and to refuse to become a pawn in the diabolical vision of either the nationalists or the separatists. For while the ultranationalists and the separatists pursue their own ends, the people of this land of whatever ethnicity are being required to pay with their lives for the intolerance and intransigence of the bigoted few.

Tissa Jayatilaka, Executive Director, US-SLFC

10 November, 2011

News from the US-SLFC

  • FAASL Lectures:

The FAASL lecture series was inaugurated in May 2006 and the Commission has hosted over 50 lectures by scholars, artists and public figures.

· Terrorism as a Political Weapon – Sri Lanka, South Asia and South America: – The speaker, a former SL Fulbright Scholar and historian, focused on the use of terrorism as a political weapon in Sri Lanka in comparison to South Asia and South America – By Dr SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda.

· A Reassessment of the Classical South Asian Ethics of War and Post-War Reconciliation:

The South Asian ethics of violence has been subjected to strong distortion by Western scholarship that undermines the ability of indigenous cultures to critically assess their traditional values and history. Although this paper strongly criticized Western fantasies of Buddhist pacifism, it was not a critique of Buddhist values. The speaker found value in a more nuanced, complex and pragmatic conception of Ahimsa. By Dr Stephen Jenkins of Humboldt State University, California and Director, ISLE Programme 2010-11.

· The Majesty of the Sir Lankan Elephant: The lecture was a slide presentation and a preview of Vajira Wijegunawardena’s book that was launched later the same week. The slideshow portrayed elephants as never seen before, in interesting and spectacular lighting conditions, elephants sparring and fighting for supremacy, calves just being calves and rare tuskers in all their grandeur. It also highlighted moments that depict the beauty of elephants in the wild and showcased the many stunning locations that the elephants are to be found in Sri Lanka.

Shooting Revolutions and Photo Journalism by Sanjana Hattotuwa and Devaka Seneviratne: This presentation looked at the power of imagery in storytelling and discussed the impact of documentary photography and photojournalism in the areas of environmental preservation, social change and social documentation in Sri Lanka and overseas.

South Asia and the Global Economy: What Role for the G-20?

by Fulbright Scholar Dr. Jens Christi moderated by Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy

A panel discussion with Dr Christi, a Fulbright Regional Travel Grantee from India, discussed the

Re-visioning the Study of the Mind: The Intersection of Science, Buddhism and Art by Kelly Anne Graves: This presentation discussed the work of Fulbright student researcher, Kelly Anne Graves and was a followed by a photo exhibition of photography on images of compassion.

Beyond Conventional Wisdom on Coconut Oil: New Aspects of Nutritional and Chemical Aspects of Coconut oil by Fulbright alumnus Kapila Seneviratne:

The lecture discussed, that even though the composition of the lipid fraction of coconut oil is well known, that there is not much information available about the non-lipid fraction. Recent findings indicate that the non-lipid compounds present in coconut oil confer several beneficial health effects including the reduction of the risk of coronary heart disease. The lecture focused on modern findings about both lipid and non-lipid components of coconut oil and their health aspects.

Sri Lankan Reform Buddhism in the Himalayas: Chittadhar Hridaya’s Sugata Saurabha by Regional Fulbright Scholar Todd Lewis

This lecture will explored the poetic masterpiece recounting the Buddha’s life written by Chittadhar Hridaya (1906-1982) of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Examining it as a case study of Buddhist modernity, it showed that not only does this text reflect the author’s awareness of indigenous Sanskrit sources, but it also demonstrates how Hindi translations from the Pali Canon, and Mahabodhi Society publications – both influences originating in Sri Lanka – shaped Sugata Saurabha, one of the great literary accomplishments of modern Buddhist literature.

Documentary filmmaking as legal advocacy, evidence, and argument:

The Yale Visual Law (YVL) project by Rebecca Wexler

As an independent documentary filmmaker and Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School, Rebecca Wexler co-founded and served as lead instructor for the Yale Visual Law Project (VLP), an initiative designed to enhance legal knowledge through documentary film methodology. In this talk Wexler will related some of the VLP’s proposals concerning use of documentaries within legal arguments in the courtroom; standards for the evaluation of video evidence; and methodological options for analytic knowledge-production in legal scholarship.

Workshops and other events:

· Workshop on Creativity by Regional Travel Grantee Kathryn Hagy:

This workshop was open to anyone interested in increasing the creativity they bring to their daily life. Visual and performing artists also benefited from experiencing creativity in a new way. The course consisted of inspirational examples from the lives of creative people and exercises to help experience creative potential.

About the workshop coordinator: Kathryn Hagy received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting/printmaking from the University of Washington in Seattle USA, and a Master of Fine Arts in painting/printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence USA. She was selected as a 2010 Fulbright Senior Scholar to Nepal, and has been awarded fellowships to such residency programs as the MacDowell Colony and Frans Masereel Centrum. She has shown her work both nationally and internationally in such venues as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp Belgium and the International Print Center New York. Currently, she is Associate Professor of Art and Chair of the Department of Communication, Literature and Arts at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa USA.

· Reception to welcome US Fulbrighters and launch There’s an Island in the Bone by Ramya

A reception was held at the Cinnamon Lakeside on the 3rd of December to introduce the US-Fulbrighters to Sri Lanka (2010-11) to the academic community of Sri Lanka and to launch There’s an Island in the Bone by Ramya Jirasinghe, the US-SLFC, Programme Officer. The book was introduced by Fulbright Alumna, Madhubhashini Ratnayake and the music for the readings from the book was composed originally and performed by another alumna, Sureka Amerasinghe.

· The US-SLFC assisted several scholars who travelled to Sri Lanka on the South Asia Regional Travel grant with logistics such as travel arrangements, accommodation etc etc:

o Kathryn Hagy – US Fulbright Scholar from Nepal

o Margaret Solomon – US Fulbright scholar from India

o Prof. Jens Christi- US Fulbright Scholar from Nepal

o Mr. Pawel Wojtasik – US Fulbright scholar from India

o Dr Hema Ramanathan – US Fulbright scholar from India

Expand your vision: a workshop in documentary filmmaking by Pawel Wojtasik,

Polish-born US Fulbright filmmaker on a Fulbright Regional Travel Grant conducted a two-day workshop for professional and amateur videomakers. With the help of the camera and specific exercises, participants were able to see familiar surroundings in a new light, and discovered treasures that are to be found in their own environment. Dates: 12th – 13th of May 2012 Time: 9.00 am – 6.00 pm

A workshop on composing & arranging techniques: the art and the business

by U. S. composer Evan Solot

This workshop included an in-depth look at the process of writing music in all styles.  It examined the challenge of creating music that succeeds artistically as well as commercially.  Using his own music as examples, Evan Solot took everyone behind the scenes of preparing, getting the gig, and following through to meet personal aesthetic goals within the realities of the music business.

Nomination and selection of a Sri Lankan scholar for the Study of the US Institute on National Security policy Making – 2011 award:

· The US-SLFC nominated Mr Dinesh Dodamgoda, for this institute. Mr. Dodamgoda was selected for this award and has accepted it. He will travel to the University of Delaware in January 2011. Mr Dodamgoda is an attorney at Law and a PhD Student at the Centre for Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), University of St Andrews, Scotland. He was the youngest member of Parliament (at 21 years) when he was appointed an MP in 1995.

· Orientation for US Fulbrighters

A two-day seminar for the 2011 – 12 U.S. scholars was held at the Commission in October 2011. The speakers included, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka (Sri Lanka An Overview) Dr. Senaka Rajapaksha (Health Briefing), Dr. Hemanthi Ranasinghe (Environment of Sri Lanka), Rukshan Jayewardene (conservationist and wildlife photographer), Mrs. Shyamala Gomez (Women, the Law and Gender in Sri Lanka), Dr. Anila Dias Bandaranayake (Development in Sri Lanka) and US and Sri Lankan Fulbright Alumni. There was also a session on the Food of Sri Lanka at Nugagama, Cinnamon Grand.

The SCA Regional Fulbright ETA Seminar:

Sri Lanka hosted the seminar from the 12th to the 17th of December at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel.

Activities of the EducationUSA Advising Center of the US-SLFC:

· The EducationUSA Membership drive started in May 2010. This was started with the aim of adding value to the advising services offered to the advisees. While the reference library, general orientations and visa seminars continued to be free, members were able to participate in special advising sessions. These have proved to be very useful as I see that this year’s applicants are more focused and therefore are doing stonger applications.

· Regular outreach programs in Kandy and Galle continued. It is noteworthy to mention that of students using the facilities Galle, 29 left to begin their studies in the US between January to July 2010.

· Due to the 3-decade civil unrest in the country, the Northern and the Eastern areas were underserved in many aspects. The student advisor (SA), Mrs. Nelum Senadira, was able to make many connections in these two areas during the past 4 months. During August she joined the team from the US Embassy Consular Office in Jaffna. She took this opportunity to arrange several programs to promote higher education in the US so that she could use her time in Jaffna to the maximum.

· In November the SA again joined the same team, this time in Oluvil, at the South Eastern University. Her itinerary included visiting the Faculty of Physical Sciences in Samanthurai as well as the main campus in Oluvil, meeting student leaders, faculty and the general student population and making them aware of the opportunities for higher education in the USA. SA also held two programs at the American Corner in Oluvil.

· The officers from the Consular Section of the US Embassy continued to attend the monthly F1 visa seminars as guest speakers.

· On July 9th 2010 The US-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission’s EducationUSA Advising Center hosted its annual pre-departure orientation programme for those students who were leaving to start their studies in America this year. Over a hundred students joined this programme to learn about all aspects of studying in the US with topics ranging from how to maintain the student (F1) visa to the employment opportunities available when they return to Sri Lanka.

· In September, the Linden Fair held its university fair in Colombo and visited several schools in and around the city. They came after a lapse of several years, due to the travel warnings issued for American travelers. This college fair brought in 23 American universities and the turn-out was impressive.

· In October the advising center hosted secondary school principals and student leaders to a half-day awareness program on how they can help the student applicants with their various requirements during the application process.

· The Regional Education Advising Coordinator (REAC), Ms. Kathleen Alam made a site-visit to the Center on her supervisory role.

· Several US university personnel visited the advising center this year. Most of them joined the adviser at her regular orientations.

The US-SLFC Board of Directors

Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis