21 November, 2019

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Indrajit Coomaraswamy: The Boy From Cambridge Who Rose To The Pinnacle Of The Central Bank

By W. A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Conversations with Sri Lanka’s Top Economists -III

The boy from Cambridge

It was the year 1974. The Central Bank had recruited a new batch of staff officers. News soon came that, among them, there was a boy from Cambridge University who spoke English with a foreign accent. By that time the bank’s lower rank inhabitants, including this writer, were all local graduates.

Driven by the protection mentality that displayed itself in a camouflaged veil of extreme local sentiments, they had felt the need for projecting the bank as their exclusive preserve. Any attempt by the bank’s management to penetrate that preserve by adding foreign graduates to its rank was considered as a conspiracy against local brains. Hence, when this Cambridge boy was taken in, he was considered an outsider and a threat. We, therefore, looked at him with suspicion.

That boy was Indrajit Coomaraswamy.

Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy – Governor CBSL

An extremely friendly young man

Therefore, our initial dealings with him were cautious. We watched him from a distance to see any sign that would betray his exclusive elitist upbringing. But the reports that came from his colleagues in the Bank Supervision Department to which he had been attached presented a different story. Like any other cub-examiner, he had walked, sometimes soaked in rain and sometimes under scorching sun, with his team to examining banks and behaved in every way as one of them. There was nothing elitist about this Cambridge boy.

After our initial fears had somewhat dissipated, I approached him personally one day at the lunch room to get acquainted with him. To my surprise, he was extremely polite, friendly, easy-going, humour-filled and social-spirited. He was a professional to a fault. I found him to be one of us and not an outsider. Even after 45 years, I still have the same feeling about him.

An unbowed critic of economic policy

Coomaraswamy is known to his friends as Indrajit. I had a very close relationship with him throughout his professional career in the bank as well as outside. We appeared together on public platforms as panellists, wrote on contentious economic issues and served in official committees and private think-tanks. One remarkable feature I had noticed in him was his independent thinking. He was daring enough to express his reasoned views on economic policies even when they were not to the liking of those who were responsible for them.

At one such public forum held in February 2012 in which I too appeared with him, Indrajit was critical of the misalignment of the fiscal policy, exchange rate policy and the monetary policy pursued by the previous administration. He fearlessly opined that ‘the exchange rate was out of alignment with an overvaluation of 25%. When the monetary policy was eased in this background, it is inevitable that credit should expand and imports should surge’. He was in fact driving home the need for having discipline in both economic policy making and handling the government budget.

A one-on-one conversation

In order to have a one-on-one conversation with him, I met him on a Sunday morning at the Bank House, the official residence of the Governor of the Central Bank. It was raining heavily and the atmosphere outside was gloomy. Yet, he was up and ready to welcome me. After the exchange of polite greetings, he escorted me to the special section in the Bank House where he met visitors. Locked inside, we were able to carry on the conversation without being disturbed, except on occasions by his housemaid who served us with steaming cups of finely brewed Ceylon tea.

Schooling in numerous countries 

I asked Indrajit about his school career. “I studied up to Grade 4 at Royal College in Colombo,” he started his story. “Then my father, Raju Coomaraswamy who was a civil servant got a UN post and we all had to move to New York. There, I joined the UN International School and completed Grade 9. The last lap of my post-secondary education I had to do in a boarding school in UK, Harrow School for Boys. I completed up to Grade 13 there.”

The young sportsman

Indrajit’s school career had been illustrious with both high academic performance and active engagement in sports. He captained Royal College’s primary cricket team as well as Harrow’s school team. He also played Rugby for Harrow School for three years. It did not stop at that. When he joined Cambridge University later, he played first class cricket for the University’s Cricket Club. In the world of cricket, first-class cricket is the official classification of the highest standard of international or domestic matches in which the two teams would play the game for three days. One needs to be a real cricketer to get into this exclusive cricket club.

From Harrow to Cambridge

“From Harrow School, I joined Emmanuel College of the University of Cambridge to do Economics Tripos for my Bachelor’s degree,” Indrajit continued. Economics Tripos is a three-year special degree in economics offered by Cambridge University in which students are assessed at the end of each year. Indrajit got his BA as well as MA from Cambridge.

“After completing the degree, I returned to Sri Lanka in 1972 and joined the Hatton National Bank as an executive officer. I joined the Central Bank as a staff officer from HNB after serving that bank for nearly one and a half years. Because of my banking background, I was posted to the Bank Supervision Department where I functioned as an examiner along with such giants in bank supervision like Mr. Balasingham who later became its head. That hands-on experience was invaluable.”

Doctoral research at Sussex

It is from Bank Supervision that Indrajit secured a scholarship to do his doctorate in economics at UK’s Sussex University. “I was there from 1977 to 1981,” said Indrajit.

What was his research at Sussex for its DPhil Degree, I asked him. “I did my research in unemployment and growth area specifically concentrating on rural poverty in Sri Lanka. The findings of my research were contrary to what many believe that rural poverty is caused by rural unemployment. There is heavy underemployment in rural areas but poverty is not due to unemployment but due to low productivity and low income. What it means is that rural poverty cannot be eliminated by offering jobs to rural people. It can be eliminated by helping them to improve productivity and through it, incomes.”

A short stint at Statistics Department

After completing his DPhil at Sussex, Indrajit returned to the bank in 1981 and was posted to its Statistics Department. “I’d a special job there,” he said. “That was to finalise the report on the Consumer Finances and Socio-Economic Survey which had been done by the Central Bank in 1976. Data had been finalised and the report had to be edited. I was on the job and had almost finished it. But before I could do the finishing touches, I was called to Ministry of Finance to work in its Economic Affairs Division. Then, I moved from the bank to Ministry in August 1982.”

Working under Ronnie

At the Ministry, Indrajit had worked directly under the then Minister of Finance, Ronnie de Mel. To work with such a veteran civil servant cum master politician was another experience for him. “He was a methodical man,” he commended Ronnie.

“To satisfy him was not easy. But, he was a good listener and if you explained something clearly to him, he agreed and the work was easy. He was much ahead of the time and ahead of many of us. So, we had to do better than him if we were to survive under him.”

The Finance Ministry was a different kind of a learning platform for Indrajit. He had exposure not only to the local bureaucracy and politicians but also to international organisations like IMF, World Bank, ADB and so on.

Long career at the Commonwealth Secretariat

From the Ministry, Indrajit did not return to the bank but proceeded to the Commonwealth Secretariat to accept a new position. That was to function as its Director of Economic Affairs, the unit entrusted to design its economic policy toward member Commonwealth nations. That position enabled him to travel in all the 54 member countries of the Commonwealth.

“I was able to gain firsthand experience about the diverse economic issues faced by them. When you moved from one country to another, economic challenges faced by them were different. But the Commonwealth provided an umbrella for all of them to rise together as a single unit,” he opined. This is where he worked from 1988 till he retired in 2009.

A freelance policy analyst

Indrajit returned to Sri Lanka to spend his retirement. He was a freelance researcher and policy analyst. His long experience at the Central Bank, Ministry of Finance and the Commonwealth Secretariat had solidified his economic thinking. In any given economic policy, he could see not only what is being seen at the moment, but also what should be seen in details.

Hence, this seasoned economist could not be deceived by camouflaged numbers. One example was his disaggregated analysis of Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserve numbers in the public forum held in February 2012 and referred to above. It had been customary for the Central Bank to highlight the gross foreign exchange reserve numbers to prove that the country had a sufficient cushion to meet its foreign exchange liabilities. But, when one looked at the detailed break-down, one could hardly be happy about them.

In the above mentioned public forum, he disaggregated the country’s foreign exchange reserve of $ 7.5 billion and found that it was all made up of borrowed funds. Of this, $ 3 billion had been raised by issuing sovereign bonds, $ 2.5 billion by selling Sri Lanka government Treasury bills and bonds to foreigners and another $ 1.8 billion by borrowing from the IMF. When all these had been taken out, Sri Lanka had only $ 300 million as free reserves. With this type of critical policy analysis, he was a much sought after resource person in public economic policy forums.

Pinnacle in career

In July, 2016, Indrajit reached the pinnacle of his career. He says it came as a surprise to him. And in a manner that he could not say no. Therefore, when the job of the Governor of the Central Bank was offered to him, he had to accept it. That was how Indrajit became the 14th Governor of the Bank.

Upholding credibility and reputation of the bank

In his first address to the staff of the bank, Indrajit reiterated that the primary responsibility of the Governor was to “uphold the reputation and the credibility of the bank”. The first step of doing so, he assured the staff, was to establish strong macroeconomic fundamentals in the country.

What he meant by strong macroeconomic fundamentals was to have a proper balance among numerous macroeconomic influencers of prosperity  – inflation, exchange rate, balance of payments, budget and credit levels. He wanted to mobilise the enormous talent pool within the bank to work as a single unit to achieve that goal.

The required three attributes 

According to him, the bank should have three attributes within it to do the job properly. The first was integrity. The second was technical expertise. The third was professionalism. When these three have been firmly imbedded in the culture of the bank, he said that it would be in a better position to deliver its promises.

He wanted to create an open society within the bank in which all ideas are openly discussed and debated. He offered himself for criticism by bank’s staff and invited them to bring to his notice whatever the failures on his part without fear. With respect to political pressure that would be exerted on the bank, he said that it was the responsibility to the bank’s staff to convince the political masters.

Addressing the bank’s critical issues as a team

Indrajit started his work in the bank with a clear mind and a focussed objective. But all the odds were against him. The country’s growth had been slowing down, public debt mounting, debt repayment challenging, external sector crashing, the rupee falling and so on.

I asked him how he would rate the bank’s achievements against these odds. He took me through a range of such achievements. “Of course, they were not my personal achievements. It was a team work fully supported by the Monetary Board. I’ve to give credit to all officers of the bank from the highest to the lowest for what we have achieved,” he said. “There were a number of legacy issues which we had to tackle. They in fact took a substantial amount of our time and financial resources. One by one, we were able to tackle them.”

By legacy issues, what he meant was the fallout of the much publicised Treasury bond scam denting the bank’s reputation. After reacquiring the lost reputation, Indrajit and his team was able to introduce a number of other reforms that would certainly take the bank forward.

Flexible inflation targeting 

“We’re now on track to go for a flexible inflation targeting regime as our monetary policy framework,” he said. “The previous monetary policy framework was based on controlling money supply or base money to control inflation. It was not a satisfactory system since base money and money supply became uncontrollable by a Central Bank. Now, we directly target inflation. The flexible feature gives us space to deviate from rigid targeting whenever the economy needed more liquidity to sustain its growth. The necessary legal power to go for flexible inflation targeting is being given to the bank by way of enacting a new Monetary Law Act. It is almost ready now.”

Bank supervision on par with global practices

What about the other objective of the bank, the financial system stability? I asked him. “Our banks are in a sound position despite the slowdown in the economy. We’ve introduced IFRS 9 and Basel III to our banking system so that they are now on par with global banking standards. In this respect, we are pretty much ahead of our peers,” Indrajit put me in the picture.

IFRS 9 refers to the International Financial Reporting Standard 9 introduced by the International Accounting Standards Board to cover accounting for financial instruments. It has succeeded the previous standard on the subject – International Accounting Standard 39. Basel III is a set of banking regulations developed by the bank for International Settlements for adoption by member countries. It is designed to reduce the damage to the economy when banks take excessive risks. Sri Lanka’s migration to Basel III is indeed a positive development.

Central banks should embrace technology

I asked him his view of the future of central banking. “The future central banking will be technology driven. Instead of the rupee notes and coins which are in physical form, central banks may have to dematerialise the notes and coins and go for something like an e-Fiat currency. On top of this, banks have also been embracing modern technology and we at the central bank should be ready to meet the challenge. This will require us to introduce technology based bank regulation which is code-named RegTech. Right now, the Central Bank is getting ready for this transmission. We’re training our present staff in these lines. We’ll have to acquire new talents, especially in technology based disciplines, to supplement our present talent pool,” he said.

A family man 

Overall, Indrajit has been happy about the bank’s achievements. He is also happy about his own professional achievements over the past five decades. I asked him who was behind his success. “My wife Tara has been the shadow behind me. I’m grateful to her for what she has done,” he admitted. His two sons, Imran and Arjun, have been well placed in their respective professions. None of them have chosen to become an economist. Perhaps, they might have seen enough of their father languishing in economic issues to keep themselves away from this dismal science.

*The writer, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at waw1949@gmail.com

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

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      What is the purpose of this article Dr Wije?
      .
      I have the feeling Dr Kumaraswamy could expose lot more about the bond scam between 2008- 2015.
      Instead he stayed behind most abusive President Sirisena, though not very like that Ajith Kabral the asskisser of Rajaakshes for his selfish gains.
      :
      President himself made a public statement that the sums lost through BOND scam since 2008 are beyond 1000 billions according to his experts ( So these should be truths right?).
      This statement was not taken serious by local tabloid so as the accusations made by New york times about the sercret funds grabed Mahinda Rajakashes for some reasons.
      :
      All in all, the public opinion, by date became that there was no SUCH bond scams occured under Mr Medamulana, but under Mr PM RW. . how come ?
      :
      Dr Wije and his men only played the Housanna to outerach masses, getting paid by SIRASA TV on and on, until that October crisis became a reality.
      Remember ?
      That Thennakoon and the governer who got appointed by President Sirisena way before the October Crisis, were all hired by SIRASA TV under the guidance of SIirsena IN ORDER To destroy UNP.
      .
      Even today, SIirsena is very after Sajith premadasa calling him uncorrupted to paint the picture in favour of his rise.

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      When reading this …….. what struck me is the glaring gap between the education and knowledge in Economics of Indrajith and Sajith (who claims to have passed out from LSE.)

      It’s a curse for the country …… that not the genuinely educated with real skills and abilities ….. but imposters and charlatans whose only skill is deception can aspire to be elected to high office.


      Simply put, Indrajit Coomaraswamy is from old-fashioned good-stock. ….. people who are capable of understanding what it means will get it ……….. others never will ……..

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        Nimal,
        Why did you bring Sajith ‘s name to this conversation? He is one of the few honest politicians & therefore deserves a chance to show his colors. Compared to GoRa & NKD, he is the least risky candidate in the field b’cos he surrounded by several able brains.

        However, I do agree with you on the point that SL intelligentsia is full of imposters & charlatans. But, I’m not sure whether Indrajith belongs in there!

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          D P
          Nimal was not questioning Sajith’s honesty he was pointing out the fact about education achievements and understanding about economics. Is the new criteria for leading a country is whittle down to honesty can you guarantee Sajith’s honesty? .If and when Sajith be elected as the president no doubt he will show his colors and may I warn you ready to be underwhelmed just as his so called education achievements after all his late father more than few occasion associated his name with big name school as a old boy that he did not attended.

      • 3
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        I have never taken a single class in economics but my father is a graduate of LSE ….. he did not work in the sphere of economics; he had qualifications from few other places and worked in a field that interested him more …. so I know the intellectual vigour required of graduates of LSE ….. and sadly Sajith does not make the grade ….. for the sake of the country I wish he had made a real attempt to gain knowledge without – in true Lankan style – resorting to deception.


        “There is heavy underemployment in rural areas but poverty is not due to unemployment but due to low productivity and low income. What it means is that rural poverty cannot be eliminated by offering jobs to rural people. It can be eliminated by helping them to improve productivity and through it, incomes.”

        I was thinking of this after my last “discussion” with Ramona and Native.

        At the very macro level there is a classic example ……… the colonization of America ……… the countries that were colonised by the lesser-socially-developed and less-socially-adventurous colonial powers ( Spain, Portugal ……) are still mired in subsistence farming with poor farmers ………. and the countries colonised by the more advanced and socially-adventurous colonial powers (England, France …..) have progressed to advanced scientific and mechanised methods of farming to achieve high productivity and much more prosperous farmers.

        Although all started as subsistence farmers at the inception of the colonies.

        The productivity achieved in farming freed most of their population for other forms of employment/industry/tasks.

        • 0
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          Nimal,
          I do agree with your last point. According to WAW’s last essay on bankers, the conclusion of Indrajith’s PhD research has been the same (pls read my comment to that essay). However, there is a catch! Increasing productivity in agri section can reach same current problem of diminishing returns very quickly (in one generation) with population increase. That was the fate of dry-zone colonies.

          Therefore, to maintain the productivity in the agri sector, there must be a system to absorb the excess labor somewhere else. The easiest way to plan for an urban rural balance. Changing technologies may help to solve the problem to some extent but they first come to industries & migrate towards agriculture only slowly.

          I do believe that modernization can do some good but it itself won’t solve the problem completely without a prosperous urban population that depend on industries and/or services connected to a regional trade.

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            D.P.
            *
            Fate of dry-Zone was due to invasion by militant TN forces who in the end did not know how to till the ancient lands. Sinhala people then moved to the hill-country for terraced farming or to the coast for fishing. Increased productivity in in agri-sector at that time did not have the same meaning as the global commercialized structure for food nowadays. It was all about self-sufficiency and not about forcing the land to industrialize so the West can experiment with robots and things.
            *
            Maintaining productivity in the agri. sector should therefore be for Lankan farmers to be self-sufficient. Their produce cannot be used to make up for the Urban foreign imports. Their land cannot be taken Unrbanites to live the first-world lifestyle at the expense of the traditional land.

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              Ramona Fernando,

              Sri Lanka was self-sufficient in rice production for a long time. Due to global warming, this changed in 2017 after extreme flooding. But what is fascinating is that ancient Sinhalese were cultivating rice even in the dry zone, using advanced methods of hydrology. Another reason for this is that the resources were carefully managed. Farmers did not compete with each other, the way we see today in the West. You also have the big corporations like Monsanto who are using artificial strains to mass produce without any regard for the environment.

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                Lester,…..for SL it’s not global warming, but consumptive and destructive land usage that caused flooding.

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                  Ramona Fernando,

                  It is most likely soil erosion due to deforestation. The roots from the trees absorb the water. When the trees are removed, there are fewer roots left to absorb the water. What global warming does is increase the level of the water in the sea. The water becomes more energetic, so when it touches the land the force will be more powerful.

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            D.P., Ramona, and ………..,

            It’s a very interesting discussion …….. unfortunately I don’t have the time to construct a lengthy response ……. but shall do later perhaps in another thread.

            From all what is said I gather there are two distinctly separate components to this ……… i.e. social impact/consequences of farming …… and achieving (pure) greater productivity in farming.

            How do you combine/marry the two and achieve a satisfactory balance?

            I have no training in social sciences nor in economics and farming ……. so can only give a sorta semi-intelligent layman’s view of the thing ……… which I shall do for the sake of discussion/argument.

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          Nimal…..try Vietnam with their time-honored ancient grains that the Vietnamese protected with the blood sweat and tears. Try the whole of Indo-China.
          *
          Let’s consider the Koreas shall we? Now they would have been like Vietnam, if the Ams. didn’t split them up into two, with the fertile southern part made into an Am. conglomerate with industries and skyscrapers and things. Now the Northern part is suffering without their ancient fertile lands to the south. But they won’t give up their honor.

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        Good stco/ yes if being related to the old C who married a Jewess from Kent.
        /
        Raju and Radhika and Indrajit were all secured international jobs by the Kent Jews, There is another C a famous announcer at the BBC. The name brings rewards.
        /
        IC has the ‘nose’ for it too!

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        Nimal Fernando,

        ” what struck me is the glaring gap between the education and knowledge in Economics of Indrajith and Sajith (who claims to have passed out from LSE.)”

        I am no supporter of Sajith, but let me tell you that educated politicians are not essential for economic development. The big reason for development in the West is the Industrial Revolution, which was accomplished with child labor and even women working 10-12 hour days in factories. At this time (1760-1840), there was no minimum wage, unions, or other regulations. You can see a similar effect in China around 1980, after Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. China has very few labor regulations, even today. The Chinese economy experienced double-digit economic growth for decades, leading to the creation of a strong middle class. Another odd example is Adolf Hitler, who managed to bring Germany to 0% unemployment by enacting his own labor and banking reforms, surpassing even Roosevelt and his New Deal.
        —-
        The purpose of the Central Bank is to control the money supply and rate of inflation, both of which are connected to the unemployment rate. However, the whole process is artificial and inaccurate, because the bankers are guessing. When they guess right, you have economic “boom” and when they’re wrong, economic “recession.” The theories they use to guess are built on many faulty assumptions.

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          Lester,

          You have raised some very valid/interesting points.

          Let us examine the validity of them …… few at a time.

          “educated politicians are not essential for economic development.”

          In my criticism of Sajith, I also included the term “knowledge” (not just education) ……… so, who, in your opinion/estimation, is a Lankan uneducated politician that is cable of economic development? I think, if we stay away from generalities and horn in on specifics we will be able to get a clearer picture of our dilemma.

          If you are unable to name a person then we have to accept that we should at least have a person with knowledge …….. if not education.

          “there was no minimum wage, unions, or other regulations” …….” has very few labor regulations”

          If that’s the only criteria then why is double-digit economic growth not happening in Africa and some parts of South America?

          If we leave aside the social consequences ……….. why was that tremendously productive farms in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia became totally non-productive when handed over to less knowledgeable/uneducated farmers/managers?

        • 0
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          Lester

          “The purpose of the Central Bank is to control the money supply and rate of inflation, both of which are connected to the unemployment rate. However, the whole process is artificial and inaccurate, because the bankers are guessing.”

          Then why don’t they do away with Central Banks altogether? Your reasons please.

          “When they guess right, you have economic “boom” and when they’re wrong, economic “recession.” “

          That’s too simplistic

          Can you please name a specific boom or a recession caused ONLY by the actions of a Central Bank?

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            Nimal Fernando,

            “Then why don’t they do away with Central Banks altogether?”

            The Central Banks owns a massive amount of government debt in the form of bonds. For example, the US Central Bank owns 11.2% of the $21.21 trillion USD national debt. At this point, countries like the US can’t get rid of the central bank even if they wanted to; the credit rating of the government would plummet.
            —-
            The purpose of a central bank is mainly to manage other (smaller banks) and control the money supply. By setting the interest rate, the central bank decides if a business can borrow at a higher or lower rate. At a lower rate, the business borrows more. In theory, this leads to higher GDP. At a higher rate, you start seeing contractions in the economy. The problem now for central banks is that rates have been kept artificially low for more than a decade. In fact, in Europe and Japan, you now have negative rates. These low rates have created various “asset bubbles.” For example, in China the housing market is waiting to crash. Meaning people have bought houses they can’t afford, putting them at risk of default, leading to a collapse of various banks. This was the situation in 2008 as well. S. Lanka, of course, has very high inflation. This is because the central bank chose to devalue the currency, making exports cheaper and imports more expensive. S. Lanka also has a high debt-to-GDP ratio, meaning the government may have a hard time borrowing money for economic development.

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              Lester,

              Thanks.

              You have given a lot of information about the functions/responsibilities of Central Banks that anyone can Google and find out. No offence.

              Central Banks are not perfect. Nothing is!

              But you have not answered the most important specific question.

              “Can you please name a specific boom or a recession caused ONLY by the actions of a Central Bank?”

              Please also take into account that the Federal Reserve was only established in 1913 and there were booms and busts before that. Who or what caused them?

              To be upfront, let me say ……… I’m coming from the angle of Steven Levitt (who is not infallible; no one is! …. but…)……. refusing to accept “conventional-wisdom” without proper examination/inquiry.

              So, for the sake of the readership let us argue/discuss every specific point, point by point. ……… We all might learn something.

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                Nimal Fernando,

                Read carefully, I said the recession of 2008 was caused by central banks. Negative rates/low rates are creating a credit crisis that will cause the next one.

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                  Lester,

                  “recession of 2008 was caused by central banks.”

                  For the sake of simplicity ……… let’s consider the GFC …… how exactly did the Fed cause it?

                  How exactly did the Fed cause the recession of 2008? Can you please elaborate?

                  Can you please give specific events and a time-frame; if you can?

                  Are you saying the sub-prime debacle had no role in it?

                  If you are going to say that the Fed caused the subprime debacle …….. can you fit in the Fed’s role into the subprime debacle? How could have the Fed prevented it? Specifics please.

                  Historically booms and busts (business cycles) are cyclical ……. before even countries established their Central Banks. How did that happen?

                  Are central Banks solely responsible for the business-cycles? And the other components of a country’s economy (Industry etc) have nothing to do with it?

                  After more than a decade the Fed cut interest rates last July ……. Is their action right/wrong/neutral? ……. If you were Jerome Powell what would have you done differently to manage the economy better?

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                    Nimal Fernando,

                    “How exactly did the Fed cause the recession of 2008?”

                    Even the Fed admits they caused the 2008 recession. Ask your friend Google, he/she has a long detailed confession.

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                      Lester,
                      _
                      So you are only good at mouthing generalities? Can’t give specifics!

                      You obviously have some training in economics …… and you have a very good opportunity to display to the non-economic readership how you would handle a crisis.

                      So please please please …… without beating about the bush ….. as an economic expert can you tell how you would have handle this specific situation.

                      “After more than a decade the Fed cut interest rates last July ……. Is their action right/wrong/neutral? ……. If you were Jerome Powell what would have you done differently to manage the economy better?”

                      Please please no generalities ….. specifics please. …. if you know your stuff it should be just a walk in the park.

    • 6
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      Dr. W. A. Wijewardena,

      Thanks for the article giving the schooling, education and the varied economic experiences of Dr. Indrajit Coomarasamy. Sri Lanka is indeed fortunate to have such an experienced economist, serving Sri Lanka, at this time, when the country is headed by an imbecile president and a pig-headed prime minister, and multiple idiots, in parliament.

      Philosopher Bertrand Russel said that, “Identifying the problem is 95 percent of the solution”. Dr. Coomarasamy had identified correctly the core problem of village poverty is productivity. ( The same for socialism as well).

      It took Dr. Coomarasamy to explain that of the $7.5 billion, foreign reserves, only $300 million was ours, and the rest foreign borrowed funds.

      One wonders the extent of talent lost by Sri Lanka since 1956, when Para-Sinhala was made the official language from Para-English, and Para-Sinhala Para-Buddhism was given a special place so that the populace can become better idiots and imbeciles?

      Is the IQ distribution of the populace ( mean IQ 79) going bimodal, with all the idiots and imbeciles at the lower mode, and those with intelligence and common sense at the high mode?

      Poverty at the rural level is due to low productivity, and this will also extend to the national level.
      The only area where productivity has gone up is in bribery and corruption.

      Sri Lanka, a Land like no other, critically needs talents like Dr. Coomarasamy.

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        Bro Amarasiri,

        what is the point of talking the qualification about the Dr, if we know he has not done much in revealing lot more about bond bank scam from 2008 to 2015?
        His passiveness let Rajapakshes to mobilise and put the entire blame only on Ranil Govt right ?
        Today even those foote note clans stand against Ranil even if we are the supporters to NK not to any traditional pingonnus.

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          Babalathaaplu,

          Dr. Commarasamy was working elsewhere and retired in 2009, and was not recruited until mid 2016, after Mahendran.

          From 2008 to 2015, the Bond Scans were going on continually, under the watch of Cabral, then Governor , with the concurrence of Rajapaksas, who also most likely skimmed off the top, just like the current bond scam, in addition to the many commissions they earned.

          For them , the country is a gravy train. Borrow by issuing bonds to foreigners, skim off the top some of the proceeds, and add to the external debt.

          The Rajapaksas added about $ 20 billion to the external debt during that period. The Yahspalanaya most probably added another $20 billion.The economic growth and productivity growth cannot keep with this level of external burrowing.

          What about the Bond scam of 2015? Continuation of the scam.

          Dr. Coomarasamy must look into the future, while exposing the errors of the past, as they are politically driven.

  • 12
    5

    I do hope the Doctor IC will continue his job for few more years and get the country on the roght path. The country benefits hugely by his services

  • 4
    4

    It is surprising that a Tamil was recruited as a staff officer in the Central Bank in mid 1970s, when non-Sinhalese were mostly and openly discriminated for appointments in Government Service.

  • 8
    7

    What about the boy from Royal, who ran away with the Pinnacle of the Central Bank which is worth 11 Billion..

    • 1
      1

      Sumanaya, nothing good comes from that filthy brain of yours. Oh sorry, you do not have one. So excused.

      Oh by the way, what happened to your hero Goat Gorapaksa who ran away from the army and worked as a petrol station cashier at the height of the war? Would you care to answer that?

      • 0
        1

        Tamil from Scarborough,

        Good to hear that your are trying to be up to speed with the Election.
        Your one time buddy My3’s last address to his Madam’s dear old party does not sound good for your Vellala mate, Mahendran who ran away with the Pinnacle.

        Sira told the crowd the Paper Work is ready not only to to bring the ex Royal Boy back his old Motherland and put him in the Kooduwa, but Sira also promised to surprise the Nation by putting the Master Mind of the CB Heist also in the same Kooduwa .

        Wonder who the Master Mind is ?.
        Will your Vellala mate Abraham do Probno for Both Ex Royals together?.
        It will be a beauty if it is before the Election?.

        I also heard that Dalit Doughie is going great guns in your Old Turf.
        I think your Velalla mates will be pushing to get those 14 seats this time , let alone even a Partial Homeland in the North…

  • 6
    4

    A well written tribute to IC. He deserves the praises. He should serve CB many more years.

    • 9
      3

      Thank you, Dr Wijewardena, for this fascinating account of the present Governor of the Central Bank. I, too, hope he will be able to serve for many more years.

  • 13
    1

    The last bastion of Tamil intelligent and intellectual left in Sri Lanka. The brain drain started in early 60’s through to early 80’s. Sri Lanka has lost immense talent in the when Tamil left the shores for good. The Sinhala are equally talented (Sherma Wikramanayake, CEO of Macquarie Bank, and fifth most powerful women in the world and many others living overseas) but for some reasons unable to bring the talent to the open. May be the political atmosphere in Sri Lanka has supressed their intellectuality.
    In a hypothetical case, imagine if these talents were all in Sri Lanka!!!

    • 6
      0

      Dear Jey,
      .
      She’s Shemara, not “Sherma”. But thanks for reminding me of her continued existence.
      .
      https://www.smartcompany.com.au/people-human-resources/leadership/macquarie-boss-shemara-wikramanayake-fifth-most-powerful-woman-world/
      .
      I’ve not met her. I have met her grandfather, E.G. Wikramanayake Q.C., who was my mother’s first cousin. Also, when I was a toddler, her Great Grandfather, Edward Beauchamp Wikramanayake, spent a week’s holiday in our Bandarawela home. Beauchamp (pronounced the same as Sir Thomas Beecham’s surname) started life as a clerk. Retired at 55. Entered Law College, was lectured by two of his sons – E.B. W. & E.G. W. (both Queen’s Counsel).
      .
      Another way of putting it is to say that Shemara’s Great Great Grandfather was my my maternal Great Grandfather – Charles Edward Wikramanayake – who taught 49 years in one school – Richmond College, Galle.
      .
      Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be as talented as my “niece”!

      • 2
        0

        Mr SM,

        I am bit worried of you guys, who were unable to join hand in that recently held meeting with Mr Naganand K.
        We are very curious to know what happened there on that day ?
        Now Mr Nagananda K is very upset about the way that man, a MP, a laughing stock to have given an interview that NK s plan are just mere jokes.
        Could you kindly explain us about the latest please, even if the topic should be discussed somewhere else ?
        I am a hearted Supporter to NK for his genuine efforts. But I would not support anyone else if they would turn out to be no second ot the ones of pohottuwa or blue flies being found on the SIRISENA heaps ?
        Thank you

        • 0
          0

          Dear “desperateasnoother”,
          .
          I am as keen as I ever was on Nagananda’s campaign, and I’m now taking a more active interest in his campaign than earlier. Three days ago I saw a mobile phone number displayed for the use of the public, and spoke to the youngsters who were manning it. Volunteers.
          .
          Yes, I think that they are genuine fellows, but there is a limit to what one can expect from such people. However, from the campaign itself, I expect much – starting from the time that nominations are called for.
          .
          You’re right. I’ve got to give nimal fernando a dressing down!

      • 0
        1

        “shemara-wikramanayake”

        SM,

        It’s no mean feat for a woman -especially a woman of color – to rise to the top of a global outfit like MQG. ……. and you should be very proud of your relative.

        But to put things in perspective of the greater-world “out here”…… she will last as long as she can make money for the “male white-establishment” ….. the moment she falters (even due to no fault of her’s) in the coming economic headwinds/troubles she will be made a scapegoat. I hope she has enough smarts/nous to guide the ship through trouble waters cum the male-bastion of the corporate world. :))

        No multinational corporation is “clean.” MQG is not a squeaky clean outfit; never was …… Shemara and some others are involved in helping a tax-avoidance scheme is Denmark, Belgium and Germany ( I think ….. read it sometime ago, now I’ve forgotten.)

        There is a guy, Jim Chanos, who guessed correctly and shorted Enron ……. he was shorting MQG just before the GFC ……. MQG share price hit bottom in March of 2009 but did not go under.

        If no one is brave enough to hold Donald back …… very soon there will be a crisis similar – or worse – to the GFC …… then invest in your niece’s MQG …… Aus$ would have hit near bottom …… so you would have the double whammy of the share price appreciation and the appreciation of the Aus$ when things recover and China and India starts buying again what Aus digs up from the ground.

        What are relatives for …… if you can’t profit from them ? :))

        • 4
          0

          Dear nimal,
          .
          I first heard of Shemara from you, and yes, I’ve done some following up, but I haven’t had direct contact with her. The web gave some help, and I ended up writing to a white man who had written a biographical sketch of her. We exchanged a few letters and he had shared them with Shemara’s lawyer-uncle who also lives in Sydney. As does one of my sisters.
          .
          Your bottom line was said tongue-in-cheek, no doubt. Please study this:
          .
          https://maldivesindependent.com/politics/nasheed-apologises-for-no-jobs-for-pepper-spray-comments-147692
          .
          Nasheed’s initial response was the correct one. Despite his being one of the most respected Asians, he’s had to apologise, politics being what it is.
          .
          I can be proud of one of my relatives, but I would be worth little as a human being if I went sponging on them, would I? I think you knew that to be true when you mischievously broached the subject.

  • 3
    0

    WAW,
    As I said before as well, I love your effortless style of writing. However, this time, I have a question for you. If Indrajith did his PhD on rural poverty and came to the conclusion the rural poverty is caused by low productivity -a point I agree 100 % – why didn’t you bother to ask him whether he pursued an aggressive plan to convince the Gvt implement necessary reforms other than investing heavily on more subsidies & new large scale irrigation projects? This is an important question b’cos without any plan to improve productivity in the rural agri sector, any new pouring of money into the system would be evaporated without producing any long term gains & thereby keeping vicious cycle of poverty ever running.

    Indrajith was appointed by MY 3 who seems to be still holding on to old practice of more & more capital investment than to improve knowledge & new skills. On this issue, it is the PM who seems to agree with the need to increase productivity as the must strategy to eliminate poverty but not MY 3. If Indrajith believe in what the PM is trying, what did he do to bring them together? This is a serious omission.

    • 0
      0

      D. P. – “If Indrajith believe in what the PM is trying, what did he do to bring them together?” – Indrajit is the CB governor, not a political mediator. Pouring of money into these villagers or you call it, “rural agri sector” while not improve their skills is to make sure they remain as it is, so the politicians can use them anytime there is an election, just like Lasantha, Thajudeen or Ekanali.. case

      • 0
        0

        Amila,
        Wrong answer!

  • 2
    8

    Coomaraswamy deduced during his DPhil that “Rural poverty can be eliminated by helping them to improve productivity and through it, incomes.”
    *
    But due to commercialization, the rural farming sector is ever diminishing, and the remaining ones are/were forced to produce more for the urban sector. Our urban sector is a continuation of the former colonial financial system, and our rural sector is being forced to keep up with the ever increasing urban and international food need or go kaput for more lucrative global system upkeep.
    *
    IMF, World Bank, ADB and so on, gave us only a little money to be self-sufficient in our farm produce. Most was used to commercialize our land to buy Western imports. The Commonwealth the governor worked for, was about commonwealth countries upholding the colonial wealth with the every-increasing Western control of that wealth.

    • 2
      8

      It’s good that he disaggregated the foreign exchange reserve. But at this point of time, I wonder how the foreign exchange reserves would look like disaggregated under the TN-S’pore-SL triangle ….lots of foreigners from TN and S’pore holding our treasury bills and bonds, and at ransom.
      *
      The 2012 finances would have eventually come to fruition very well. Only reason it all went down was because a new system of UNP banking had started taking place. Is the New Monetary Act working in tandem with the US MCC deal now, to infuse more liquidity to sustain its growth? And then there’s the forcing of the e-Fiat currency . The pie-in-the-sky system. Pretty soon we’d have to merge with the sub-continent to force the system to work and sustain losses. Dismal science indeed.
      *
      But, since he shows good work ethic, he might be able to be trusted with the change of regime and implementation of any alternative banking policies. But we will need a PHD from a greater socialist country for that.

    • 2
      0

      Ramona therese fernando grandma, aren’t you the one sometime back could not tell the difference between 21 million and 21 billion? Do you still remember that? If yes, why would you comment on a string that is far beyond your intellect?

  • 6
    0

    Tribute should go to Dr. W.A Wijewardena for updating valuable information of varied topics for the readers. Dr.Indrajith Coomaraswamy is a veteran and a professional. But we still wonder why couldn’t they appoint Dr. W.A Wijewardena as the Central Bank Governor. during his tenure. Even after retirement he continue his good work to the public. Good luck! Sir.

    • 0
      0

      Paramanathan K – Are you sure, later you wouldn’t say that Sinhala govt appointed a Sinhalese to the post when Dr. IC’s appointment could have turned SL into modern Singapore in months?

  • 1
    7

    Self boasting is ethics of this newspapers ..
    So sorry to see .
    All corrupt people come to power with politics…

  • 3
    2

    A very good paper by one who knew his subject very well. Bensen

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 3
    0

    Indrajith Coomaraswamy played as a wing forward for CR & FC with distinction. He went on to captain both CR and Sri Lanka , and is a rugby legend , and an absolute gentleman on and off the field .
    Soon after his appointment as Governor CB , I met one of his former teammates and asked how he’d cope with such a high pressure job . “Don’t worry “‘ he said , “ Indrajith’s made of steel “ .

  • 4
    0

    Appointing Dr Coomaraswamy was a good move by the President.
    Hope whatever government that comes to power will listen to his expert advise
    and allow him to streamline the central bank to be an efficient, trustworthy and respectable Institution.

  • 4
    0

    It is a very well written piece, but I could not get the relevance of writing about I.C. at this point. Is it to create a comparison with Nivard Cabral the Rajapakse sycophant?

  • 3
    3

    Not taking anything from Dr. Coomaraswamy…
    but Dr. W.A did not mention anything about the time Dr. C worked under fraudster Raj Rajarathnam of Gallieon Fund., who is in jail for insider training.

    He many not have dirt in his hand.. but for a impartial piece, we expect Dr. WA do the right thing.

  • 4
    3

    Isnt it strange that no mention is made of kumarasamy working for raj rajatatnams galleon group? Rajatatnams is still in jail and under normal circumstances his employees would have been blacklisted from working in senior financial positions. Article ignores that the chairman of its biggest company was featured in the Panama papers scandal. Kumarasamy was on his board. No mention of that either? What sort of journalism is this?

  • 1
    0

    In these racially divided times, the reality of a Sinhalese writing in praise of a
    Tamil is surreal. The toxic mixture of religion into politics, lead by yellow mullahs
    of unbelievable prejudice, has divided us to a point of no return. The country, which was built during the British times (yes – give them credit for that) through the work, talent and dedication of Sinhalese, Tamils, Burghers and others – remains divided in many fronts – almost never to recover. Credit to our low level politikkas for that. Mr. Wijewardena did not mention IC is happily married to a Sinhalese – not that it matters to me. That was a plus point in our society of yore. I know members of the Coomaraswamy family from close quarters. They were and are fiercely patriotic. But that was a Ceylon/SL that was destroyed by pettiness. Will we see a restoration of the Status Quo? Roving Raju did his Motherland proud. So his children Indrajit and Radhika but 7/83 did not spare many of their close relatives.

    Kettikaran

    • 1
      1

      “In these racially divided times, the reality of a Sinhalese writing in praise of a
      Tamil is surreal.”

      There were plenty of accomplished Tamils, even in the late 20th century, but most of them were assassinated by the LTTE. The blame goes squarely to the TULF, which tried to use Tamil nationalism to outmaneuver the Sinhalese nationalists. Once the LTTE hijacked the Tamil nationalist cause from the TULF (by assassinating the TULF leadership like Amirthalingam), Tamils did not have a coherent democratic voice to represent them.

      • 3
        0

        Lester, You seem an educated person. Your views, sadly though, defeat your learning.
        .
        Thanks to your prejudices, the accomplished Tamils had started slowly trickling out of the country even before the arrival of LTTE .
        .
        It is narcissism to blame the others for a situation when the blame falls squarely on you.

        • 4
          0

          I agree with Thappu

          Competent people should be respected and held in High Esteem.
          Irrespective of Cast, Creed or Race plus Gender, Physicality, mother tong, family connections so on and so fourth.

          Hope our Sri Lankan Dick Heads could get it through their thick skulls at least in this late stage.

          First of all the dummy’s in Parliament should understand and act on these lines.

      • 1
        0

        Lester

        When wisdom and rationale are high-jacked by ego and suspect pride the result is mayhem. Both Sinhala and Tamil sides in the 1970s made terrible mistakes and in consequence both sides – and, more the country – suffered enormously. Sri Lanka’s debacle is that religion has kidnapped politics. In the 18th century or thereabout the wise West Europeans saw the harm in this unholy marriage between religion and the State. They quickly moved to separate the two. Europe flourished and democracy thrived in consequence – although it took a while for Republicanism to come in. The pattern in Thailand and Myanmar remains as bad as it is in Sri Lanka.

        Only if a Lee Kwan Yew emerges in the Lankan landscape will there be hope for some semblance to Sri Lanka’s present and future – inter alia.

        Kettikaran

  • 0
    0

    Raj Rajaratnam showed a great liking for Sri Lanka as he peeked in the US financial market. He invested heavily to help Sri Lanka grow economically. Our blue-chip companies benefited for decades because of his intervention. Insider Trading is an aberration most players in the US Stock Exchange indulge in. Some get caught while many don’t. I am not trying to justify what is sometimes patently unethical – depends on how you look at it. In New York high financial circles the WASP factor rules strong. Remember Ivan Boesky, who was thrown out of the financial markets as he began to threaten the “Insiders” as he proceeded to the Big League there. He was of Russian origin and very much out of the loop.

    Rajaratnam’s engineered fate is no different. There is no place in the Big Leagues in the New York financial hub for “outsiders” Don’t ever compare Raj R to the pump and dump mobsters in this part of the world – operating because they oil the right sources – civil and cleric. The latter rule the roost in Colombo’s delicate financial world – often by dubious means.

    Raj R will return to the global financial world is the view of many.

    R. Varathan

  • 0
    0

    I see, this morning, that Amrit Muttukumaru has posted an article on Indrajit Coomaraswamy. What is contained in it is beyond my ken, and I’m not getting into all that.
    .
    Even on this article, I didn’t want to start making comments central to the subject, but I had always wanted to say these few things (a little later) after allowing everybody else had commented.
    .
    After Indrajit’s father-in-law, Chandra de Fonseka, had retired from work for the FAO, last in Bangkok, but before that in Rome etc, he repurchased a large house standing on about 2 acres of land, about 400 yards from my own home in Bandarawela. That’s right, he had owned the house, built initially by his cousin, Padma de Fonseka and named “Padmalya”, sold it, and re-purchased the house on his retirement. They brought back with them a 19-year-old Thai girl who knew no English or Sinhala. As Chandra told me, had he left her behind in Thailand, her future would have been bleak.
    .
    I can’t now remember what the first name of Chandra’s wife was, but she was very fond of Ampai Anand (universally called “Dum” even now), and used to speak to her in Thai.
    .
    Chandra was a wonderful man, with a wide range of interests. He had got a First Class in Classics, and followed up with a degree in Economics. Having got into the CCS, he had been Government Agent, Puttalam, before he was thirty, and rose to be Head of the Land Development Department. Thereafter, he had joined the United Nations, and was with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
    .
    tbc

  • 0
    0

    Continued:
    .
    I got to know Chandra within weeks, I think, of his arrival in Bandarawela, and got to know him very well. His only child was Tara, who used to come up regularly, when in Sri Lanka. Indrajit, a little less often, but I got to know them well.
    .
    Chandra was in excellent health and got involved in the organisation of local-level development. He inspired the creation of what I will take the risk of calling it an NGO, the Uva Gram Foundation. He told me that working at this micro-level was far more difficult than dreaming up Macro Planning for the UN. He used to talk about the work done in Bangladesh by Yunus:
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Yunus
    .
    Chandra used to talk about “anarchism” in the 19th Century sense of the word – of people managing their own affairs, and not allowing Big Government to interfere. Where they saw a need, Uvagram used to assist. One of the main efforts was with uniting the vegetable growers, and helping them market their produce. Another was milk production. Dum had to be helped to learn English (the household operated largely in Thai), and Chandra had his own ideas drawn largely from I.A. Richards’Basic English:
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_English
    .
    I found it all stimulating and fascinating, but Chandra readily accepted that there was new methodology that could be applied. So, I helped Dum with her English, and we went into the teaching of English at village level.
    .
    All these schemes were reasonably successful, and many of the gains are still to be seen. However, . . . there’s always a “however” isn’t there?
    .
    tbc

    • 0
      0

      PART ? – being an Afterthought:
      .
      Chandra’s Philosophy of Life was consistent throughout.
      .
      During those terrible days for us, Sinhalese, in 1989 and 1990, Chandra lived his normal life, ignoring political directives from both government and JVP. You may remember that the JVP ordered lights and T.Vs off. Chandra kept what he normally would keep on, working. Nobody, he used to say, had the right to interfere with his way of life.
      .
      If some readers had wondered what I had meant earlier by talking about “anarchism” this was an example of it:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism
      .
      The JVP did not harm him then, and he may even appreciate what he now sees of them. He may even approve of the “Law and Order Man”, Nagananda Kodituwakku, who will not dabble with the personal liberties of individuals, but will go after “Social Evils”.
      .
      All this is a bit beyond me! I’m writing this after making my comment on the Muttukumaru article.

  • 0
    0

    PART THREE
    .
    However,
    the local adventurers had got involved, and Chandra had kept no positions in the set-up for himself. So, anarchy in the sense that we know took over. Those who grabbed, ran the Foundation to the ground, but some of the organisations that grew under this umbrella, like the Kinigama Vegetable Farmers Association still continue. I frequently meet a dedicated grass-roots man, who keeps meticulous records. Always carrying a file under his arm, he is known as “File Chandrasekera” and does some election monitoring for PAFFEREL, at local level, as well. He is total villager, with no knowledge of English, but dedicated to the upliftment of the village.
    .
    I see, from what I have posted above, that I have given no dates at all. Chandra’s second arrival in Bandarawela may have been about 1978. His first NGO effort folded up about 1984. Undaunted, he started the Uva Govijana Kendraya. That must have run for all of ten years, and it may still be functioning. Chandra’s health gave way about the year 2,000.
    .
    I fear that I’m being far too vague, and on a digression, and so, at this point, I decided to google, and found that I had said many of these things before:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-old-school-tie/
    .
    and here there is something that I hadn’t seen before but confirms the interests of Chandra:
    .
    https://books.google.lk/books/about/Challenges_and_future_directions_of_NGOs.html?id=y3faAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y
    .
    So, these, I would say are the influences upon Indrajit as a young man.
    .
    They’re not the people to hold on to belongings. That valuable property, the only thing they owned, really, it was agreed by the entire family, was to go to Dum. But this is where the gremlin came in – you may notice that I had refused earlier to talk about it.

  • 0
    0

    PART FOUR
    .
    Dum had fallen in love with the gardener, and Chandra accepted that. The gardener was known as “Gal Chandare”, now dead. This was long before Chandra suffered a stroke and both he and his wife, Leila (the web gave me the name) were confined to two beds, placed side by side. This was a sad period for us all. “Gal Chandare” wouldn’t take the family at their word, and pestered this old couple to show the will. When Tara heard this she was furious, but complied. All this I learnt later, and not from the Coomaraswamys. In fact, if they read this, they will be surprised that I know this.
    .
    All this just goes to show how we may have the noblest of intentions, but have little control over the limitations of other minds.
    .
    Well, Leila passed away, and was buried in the garden. Some months later, so did Chandra, much to my relief, almost. He was cremated at the Dehiwela cemetery after a non-religious service, where Susil Sirivardena and Chandra de Alwis spoke, and I read a poem selected by Tara. The ashes are interred in the Bandarawela garden next to his wife’s grave.
    .
    In this sort of situation, some of the things done may appear to make no sense! The two vehicles were sold to the first comer, the piano was shipped back to England for the grandsons, Imran and Arjuna. I haven’t met the Coomaraswamys for years. I do know that he had sold even his parent’s house at Pedris Road, near Royal College. He now lives very simply in a comfortable condominium in Havelock Road.

  • 0
    0

    PART FIVE
    .
    All this was triggered by Amrit Muttukumaru’s article – but obviously has little to do with it.
    Certainly, whatever Amrit has said has to be examined and commented on, but I know nothing of Finance at that level and will not attempt to comment.
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/gaping-omissions-in-article-on-cbsl-governor-coomaraswamy/
    .

    .
    All that I can say is that the nobility of some people can be difficult for others to comprehend.
    .
    Dr W.A. Wijewardena himself is a person who tries to bring out the best in people. I have met him – once.
    He had decided that I was a man who made honest comments, and visited me in this house in Maharagama where I now am – travelled down from Bandarawela last night – in a CTB bus which charged me all of 288 rupees. He gifted me a number of books that he had written. He’s been encouraging lots of people like this, I understand, expecting nothing in return. Of course, money is important, but he’s not obsessed with it.
    .
    Since many are concerned with Indrajith’s privileged background, let me tell you that Dr Wijewardena’s background is very different. He had studied in a village school near Horana. He told me that he had failed in Syllabus B English about the same time as I obtained Credits in Syllabus A, and English Literature – yet he has now written novels in English, apart from his books on Economics – both impressive treatises and guides for “Dummies”. He sees what is good in all people.

  • 1
    0

    PART SIX

    Would Dr Wijewardena, himself, have been a good Governor of the Central Bank? Undoubtedly, but it was not to be. There surely is more to life than “positions”. Our country is a mess because of corruption. We cannot easily get out of this, and it’s not going to be easy to defeat the rogues. It is good that Amrit Muttukumaru ( a man whom I have never met, nor know anything about) has written his article. Yes, questions must be asked. Honest answers must be given. However, I’d like to see a few people asking questions of the people who committed the worst sins.
    .
    We have lots of elections coming, starting with the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha (sounds strange at this time), to be followed by the Presidential Election, which is going to determine much. I know that the new President will have very little power, but it is that election that will decide how the various political powers group themselves in the future. We must know the Present System and how it works.
    .
    Please indulge me in one of my maddening digressions. There is little purpose in analysing how and why we got landed with this “Bahubutha” Constitution. Please study it and understand the possibility, for the first time in nine elections, of using those Three Preference votes that we are all given, to send a more complex and authentic message than ever before. If we want to pull this country round we will have to speak clearly and courageously at the elections – and we must get that message across to all the citizens.

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