[APPRECIATIONS - (16-07-2018)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (16-07-2018)]

Ramanathan Nadarajah

A loss to the banking community

It was with profound shock and grief that the banking community, his friends and relatives received the sad news of the demise of Ramanathan Nadarajah on June 24, 2018, at the age of 74.

He was born on May 9, 1944, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Kasipillai Ramanathan, a highly respected and religious family in Thirunelvely, North Jaffna. He had his primary and secondary education at Parameshwara College, one of the leading colleges in Jaffna founded by late Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. He excelled in studies and graduated from the University of Ceylon (Peradeniya) with a degree in double Mathematics and Physics with a Second Class (Upper Division).

‘Nada’, as he was fondly called by his friends, started his banking career when he was 24 by joining Bank of Ceylon as a staff officer. Since he had passed his degree with a Second Class (Upper Division) he was placed in the higher grade of Staff Assistant Grade – II. His hard work, dedication and commitment earned him respect and admiration from all and although he never craved for positions or limelight, he was able to move swiftly up the hierarchical ladder of the bank.

He obtained extensive experience in branch banking having worked as the manager of the Kurunegala and Main Street, Colombo, branches of the Bank of Ceylon for long periods. He then moved to Credit Support Department, Imports Department, Treasury Division Corporate Credit (Restructuring and Recoveries) Department and the Finance and Planning Division, making him a complete banker with the widest possible exposure.

It was when he moved into the Corporate Credit Division that he displayed his true talent. He was a master in scrutinising credit papers and added value in no uncertain manner to the bank’s credit evaluation process. He began his career as a trainer by conducting classes for young bankers in the Bank of Ceylon. Thereafter, he went on to become a much sought-after resource person for seminars, especially on bank lending.

Having served in almost all key functions of commercial banking, he also kept on moving up the bank’s hierarchy to be an Assistant General Manager and thereafter a Deputy General Manager of the Bank of Ceylon.

He was always striving to develop his knowledge and did not neglect hisprofessional education. He passed the Diploma in Banking Examination conducted by the Chartered Institute of Bankers London and was awarded its Associateship. He then went on to be elected as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, London (FCIB) in recognition of his services to the banking industry. Whilst he was in Kurunegala, he also completed his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Colombo. It is remarkable that he succeeded in his MBA as he had fallen and broken his pair of spectacles on entering the examination hall and had to answer the first paper whilst holding the only undamaged lens to his eye with his left hand, which showed his true character,

He retired from Bank of Ceylon at 55, even though he was entitled to request extensions of service until he was 60 and the bank would have more than loved to retain his services for the maximum period. He was immediately picked up by Pan Asia Bank as its Deputy Chief Executive Officer, with right of succession, and he was appointed Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Pan Asia Bank within a short period of time. After a few years of guiding that bank to a sound position, the unselfish person he was, he wanted a younger person to take over the leadership of the bank as he believed in succession planning. He did not look for alternative appointment, but was happy to leave the bank when a successor was found.

Thereafter, his services were sought by Seylan Bank to come out of the crisis they were in at that time. He was appointed an Executive Director of Seylan Bank and was placed in charge of the Bank’s Operations. He proved his worth in the next few years, by helping the bank out of the crisis situation to a more stable footing before leaving the bank. He also functioned as the Chairman of its subsidiary Seylan Developments PLC, at that time.

In spite of all this he did not shy away from service to the Sri Lankan banking community. When he was the Deputy General Manager (International and Treasury) at the Bank of Ceylon he was elected the inaugural President of the Primary Dealers’ Association in Sri Lanka. He was also elected the President of the Bank’s Hindu and Tamil Literary Association.

He was elected to the Council of Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka (APB) which he served as a member of the Council and as an Office Bearer, until he was elected its President in 2001. After a few years, he came back to serve the APB as a member of the Fund Management Committee and was its Chairman for some time, looking after the APB Development Fund. He was awarded the Honorary Life Membership of the APB in recognition of his contribution. He was thereafter appointed a member of the Council of Advisors of APB.

He was a member of the Forum of the Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka, the apex body of professional associations in Sri Lanka. He also served in the Panel of Industrial Experts, for the Annual Report Awards Competition conducted by the Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, for several years.

At the time of his demise, he was serving as a Member of the Council of Advisors and a Member of the Fund Management Committee of the Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka and a Member of the General Forum of the Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka

He was a man of undoubted integrity and a fountain of knowledge. He had a very wide circle of friends, not only in the banking industry but also in very many specialised fields, some of them being his batch mates at the university who are or were occupying high positions at various governmental and private sector institutions. They were Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others. For him race or religion of a person did not matter.

Nada was a gentleman of the highest order and a fabulous human being, He practised yoga and meditation and encouraged others also to do so as he has benefited immensely by practising them. He was soft spoken, always had a smile, and what he said came straight from the heart. He was an epitome of simplicity, humility and modesty.

He was always keen to help anyone who needed assistance. His friends, relations, colleagues, superiors, subordinates and all loved and respected him. He had no enemies, had no grudges against anyone nor did anyone have a grudge against him. He was a teetotaler and strict vegetarian, but he did not want to miss any functions that he was invited to. However, he used to get himself excused from staying on for the dinners saying that his loving wife would be waiting for him.

He was a practising and devoted Hindu who never missed any Hindu religious ceremony. ‘Nada’ was very fortunate to have Umayal, as his wife. She was always there to support him and never grumbled about his late hours in the bank. They were a happy couple, always together except when he was away on his official duties.

According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva and Parvathi were inseparable and Nadarajah (another name for Lord Shiva) and Umayal (another name for Parvathi) were no different, so much so that even when he met with the fatal accident, they were together, but by grace of God she escaped miraculously without any major injuries.

Our association with Nada goes back many years with the privilege and pleasure of having been a close friend and colleague for a number of years at the Bank of Ceylon and later working together at the Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka. His demise is not only a loss to his family, friends and fellow bankers, but also to Sri Lanka’s banking industry.

He leaves behind Umayal his devoted wife, two daughters Marthangini and Ajahini and three loving grandchildren, who along with his relatives and all his friends will miss him forever.

May his soul attain Moksha.

Parama Dharmawardene, Former Deputy General Manager, Sampath Bank

A. Kathiravelupillai, Former Deputy General Manager, Bank of Ceylon

Guy de Silva, Former Senior Deputy General Manager, Bank of Ceylon


A. Ariyadasa Silva

An honest public servant

A. Ariyadasa Silva, affectionately referred to as AA, passed away on June 23, 2010, at the age of 73 and was cremated on the following day at the Nawala cemetery before a large gathering. My first emotion at his demise was a sense of personal loss.

Born on October 6, 1937, AA had his early education at Alutgama Vidyalaya. On leaving school, he joined the Cooperative Department as an Inspector. He retired from the Cooperative Department in 1997 as an Assistant Commissioner of Cooperative Development. His career in service saw him holding the posts of Chairman of the Kolonnawa, Maharagama, Kotikawatte and Attanagalla Multi-Purpose Cooperative Societies, at different times. He was an honest public servant known for his incorruptibility.

He was a trade unionist holding the posts of Treasurer, Secretary and President of the Independent Cooperative Employees’ Union for nearly 10 years. He will be remembered for his dedication to ensure a better life for the cooperative employees.

AA served as the Coordinating Secretary to the then Minister of Mahaweli Development Maithripala Sirisena and was a Director of the National Livestock Development Board and the Cooperative Hospital, Kotahena. He was also a member of the Mediation Board, Kolonnawa, whilst being a Justice of the Peace (All Island).

AA was a member of the executive committee of JICA Alumni Association of Sri Lanka and was Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer for 19 years. He was a founder member of the Sri Lanka – Thailand Society and served in the executive committee. He also served in the executive committee of the Colombo Plan International Society. AA served a Trustee of the Sasakawa Memorial Sri Lanka – Japan Cultural Centre Trust.

A devout Buddhist, he lived a simple life. He had an enticing personality and never failed to be of assistance to anyone who sought his assistance. He was upright, honest and ethical and was dedicated to whatever work he undertook.

AA was a beloved father, devoted husband and a good friend. He lived a full life as a gentleman par excellence.

May his sojourn through Samsara be short. May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Upali S. Jayasekera


Leslie Gunawardene

He gave his today for our tomorrow

Leslie Gunawardene is no more. He died after a brief illness at the age of 70. He hails from St. Mary’s Road, Ratmalana and began his schooling at St. Rita’s Roman Catholic School, Ratmalana, from where he shifted to St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa. In 1967, at age 19, he was enlisted in the then Royal Ceylon Air Force (presently Sri Lanka Air Force).

After combat and military training at the Air Force Training Centre, Diyatalawa, he was drafted to the Air Force Regiment, Katunayake Base, for his trade training. During the JVP insurrection in the 1970s, he served in many parts of the island and later served for a long period in Ridiyagama.

He followed the advanced course in gunnery too. After the completion of 12 years, he did not seek re-engagement and joined the Security Division of Port Cargo Corporation, presently Sri Lanka Ports Authority, and retired in 2008.

During his educational stage, he was a civilian; he then served in the Air Force as a serviceman; and later he was in the Air Force as civilian, until his demise. Not only Leslie, all the service personal come under this category. He was about five years’ junior to me in service, but our hometwons were in close proximity to each other.

So I knew him earlier and at the Air Force, our friendship began to grow. Though two of us served in separate sections, we used to meet at the number two mess when dinning, and in the evenings, at the cinema. In addition, he was a Member of the Executive Committee of St. Sebastian’s College Old Boys’ Association and as Cambrians, we used to work in hand in hand at the Big Matches. On the invitation of the former Sebastianite and Past President of Ex-Servicemen’s Association Captain Patrick Jayasinghe, I joined the Media Unit of the Ex-Servicemen Association under the guidance of Brigadier J.P.A. Jayawardene. Leslie too was a member of this Media Unit. At first, I was reluctant to join the Media Unit due to pressure of work, but my college and Air Force friend K.L.S. Fernando encouraged me.

Our team presently works under President of the Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen Association, Brigadier K.A. Gnanaweera and we forward news to the Daily News and Dinamina every Monday, which is published every Friday. This column is very popular, not only among ex-servicemen, but also among the present officers of the three Armed Services.

Leslie never showed any signs of sickness. He suddenly fell ill while at home. He was rushed to Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital, where he breathed his last. With his sudden demise, we lost a sincere friend and a gentleman par excellence. He was an All Island Justice of the Peace too.

He was a true Sebastianite and during his youth, he served as an altar server at St. Rita’s Church, Ratmalana. He was a devout Catholic.

Leslie’s funeral took place with service honours from the Air Force, amidst a large and a distinguished gathering at St. Rita’s Church cemetery, Ratmalana. He leaves his wife Philomina (Dorris), son Asela (who is domiciled in England) and two daughters Dilinika and Darshika.

He gave his today for our tomorrow. There is a saying, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” May the turf lie lightly on my Air Force colleague and the media partner. May his soul rest in peace.



Deshamanya Dr. Al Haj Badi-ud-Din Mahmud

An educationist and father of Gampola Zahira College

Deshamanya Dr. Al Haj Badi-ud-din Mahmud, born on June 23, 1904, having had his primary education at St Thomas’ College, Matara, Wesley College Colombo and Zahira College, Colombo, entered Aligarh University in India for his higher education where he obtained an MA degree. He was able to have close relationships with a host of great personalities and this helped him a great deal in his later political life.

Dr. Badi-ud-din Mahmud jointed the staff of Gampola Zahira College as an assistant teacher and rose to be its principal.

His services to Gampola Zahira College and the field of education was immense.

A person who disliked imperialistic ideas, he took a leading role in the progressive movement and was a founding member of the SLFP along with S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. He was a pioneer of the SLFP when it came to power in 1956. Dr Badi-ud-din Mahmud formed the Islamic Socialist Front to promote progressive ideas amongst Muslims and the manner in which he acted to instigate the leftist ideology amongst them is praiseworthy.


Balasubramaniam Surendra

He epitomised kindness

July 16, 2018, marked the third month of the passing of Balasubramaniam Surendra – Suren, as he was known to many of us. It was with profound shock and sadness that his family, countless friends and associates learnt of the news of his passing.

Suren was born with the proverbial silver spoon and was nurtured in a privileged background. Yet, he never lost the common touch or the ability to empathise, feel and respond to another’s need. He had his education at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and following his professional studies, joined the family business, which he was heading at the time of his untimely demise.

Suren was indeed a lively, sensitive, kind and gentle human being and always saw the good in every person. Throughout his life, he epitomised the values of kindness and uprightness. He was an honest and ethical human being who was respected by all he associated with. He valued human beings over monetary gain and had a strong sense of commitment and duty towards the staff of the company he headed. I remember a staff member saying, “He would always greet us and inquire about our well-being and that of our families, each day as he came into work.”

He believed in the dignity of all human beings, especially the downtrodden. Following his death, many were the tales of his selfless generosity, charity and kindness, all done quietly. A simple incident that comes to mind that demonstrates Suren’s empathy was that whilst we were trying to park outside his home during the funeral, even the parking attendant appeared overcome with grief and commented that he would always greet him, say a few words, inquire about his well-being and see to his needs.

Suren had a tremendous zest for life and was happiest when surrounded by his family and friends. His subtle sense of humour brought laughter and the memories of those wonderful times will be cherished. He would always choose to talk of the funny side of life rather than dwell on the gloomy and dreary. He was a dutiful, caring and beloved spouse to his wife Uma, a devoted and loving father to his children Aparna and Santheep, a wonderful brother to his sisters Shyama and Vanaja and an affectionate and doting uncle to his nieces and nephews.

Being a diehard Thomian, he greatly valued the kinship and camaraderie he shared with his STC batchmates. He was a generous host and, together with his wife Uma, hosted many get-togethers which will be remembered by all.

The widow of a batch mate who passed away recently told me that Suren had been a tower of strength to her and was always there for her family in their darkest hours, offering her help and support in her time of bereavement. The countless number of relatives and friends who flew in from different parts of the world for his funeral, all in the brief time of three days, bore ample testimony to the respect and love with which he was held.

Today, we live in a society that encourages and advocates hedonism, glorifying self-interest and narcissism amidst an ethic that admires and values unbridled ambition, amassing material possessions and the abandonment of human decency with no respect for human dignity. Rarely are we privileged to encounter an individual such as Suren, whose values, ambitions, character, priorities and motivations, run counter to the worldview of our time and age.

Reflecting on the life of Suren, we realise that the world is indeed poorer for his loss. It is hard to believe that this larger-than-life personality is no more, yet, the lives of the people he touched will inspire us to serve our fellow human beings with love, compassion and kindness and remember that every human being has his own worth and dignity.

Farewell, dear friend. May you find eternal rest and peace.



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