Friday, June 8, 2007

Father of Sri Lankan ICT industry Passes Away

Sri Lanka’s ICT industry suffered a great loss when its most valued member Prof. V.K. Samaranayake passed away on Tuesday in Stockholm while attending a review of the Swedish government’s ICT development assistance programme.

Prof. Samaranayake (68) was the Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka from 2004. He was also the Emeritus Professor of Computer Science of the University of Colombo. He was the founder Director, University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) of the University of Colombo.

As a past student of the University of Colombo, I am saddened by this news. He never really did a lecture for us (if I remember correctly) but UCSC and the whole Computer Science study stream at the university was his brainchild.

Over the past few months, he was attacked heavily by the media and also by the blogosphere. There was even a dedicated blog to sling mud at this great Sri Lankan, who brought ICT to Sri Lanka in a difficult era. There may be mistakes and wrong doings here and there, but the service he has done to the country is too enormous to blame him in such a bad fashion and is against basic human qualities.

He continuously served the University of Colombo for 43 years since his first appointment in 1961 following his graduation from the same University. He was the founder of the Department of Statistics and Computer Science (DSCS) and of the Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) of the University of Colombo.

The Government of Sri Lanka has honoured Prof. Samaranayake for his contribution towards IT by the award of Vidya Prasadini in 1997 and the national honour Vidya Jyothi in 1998. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has presented its President's Award for International Cooperation to Prof. Samaranayake in 1996 in recognition of his contribution. He has been recognised at international level as well, which obviously brought respect to Sri Lanka.

At its convocation held in January 2005, the University of Colombo conferred on Prof. Samaranayake the Degree of Doctor of Science for his outstanding contribution to the University. Incidentally, this was the convocation that my batch received the degree certificates.

6 comments:

Ineshka said...

He did do a lecture for us Vish, remember that module where we needed to know about the current situation of IT in Sri Lanka, and he came and spoke to us one day? That lecture was very insightful to me and I understood that day what a brain he has and he was such a great asset to the University and the whole of Sri Lanka. I dont know, but I feel a sense of great loss knowing that he has passed away and am quite saddened. May he rest in peace!

Yasas Vishuddhi Abeywickrama said...

Yes, Ineshka you are right! Thanks for reminding. Thats the subject that went on to discuss professional ethics and stuff as well I guess.

Later on, I had one more interaction with him, thats when I wanted to publish my book. He was too busy to help me in that, but directed me to someone else. A direction I never took though because I had a plan B set if he is not available.

Anonymous said...

TRIBUTES TO THE FATHER OF SL ICT


The ICT industry in Sri Lanka lost its most valued member after Professor V.K. Samaranayake passed away on Wednesday, 06th June 2007 aged 68, in Stockholm whilst attending a review of the Swedish government’s ICT development assistance programme.

Prof. Samaranayake was the Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka from 2004. He was also the Emeritus Professor of Computer Science of the University of Colombo. He was the founder Director, University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) of the University of Colombo. He served the University of Colombo for a continuous period of 43 years since his first appointment in 1961 immediately following his graduation from the same University. He was the founder of the Department of Statistics and Computer Science (DSCS) and of the Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) of the University of Colombo. These two institutions were merged as the UCSC in 2002. He was a Fellow of the Harvard Information Infrastructure Project and the National Centre for Digital Government of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In 2005 he was a Visiting Fellow of the Digital Vision Program of Stanford University, USA.

Prof. Samaranayake served the Council for Information Technology (CINTEC), the apex National agency for IT in Sri Lanka as its Chairman for a period of 12 years. In the field of IT he has pioneered work on IT Policy, Legal Infrastructure, EDI/E-Commerce, Security, Internet Technology, Computer Awareness and IT Education. He was actively involved in the formulation of the ISO 10646 standard for Sinhalese Characters and in the development of multilingual web sites. He was also instrumental in helping to apply computers in many areas of governance, including in national elections. He was also actively involved in introducing ICT to rural communities and is engaged in developing Multipurpose Community Telecentres. He was a member of the advisory panel of the Asia IT&C program of the European Commission. He chaired the National Y2K Task force that coordinated the very successful crossover to year 2000. More recently he initiated the External Degree of Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) of the University of Colombo which in its very first year of operation has attracted 5000 registrations. He is the Chairman of the Project Management Committee of the SIDA funded project to enhance internet connectivity of Sri Lankan Universities. He was the President of the National Academy of Sciences during 1998-1999 and the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science during its golden jubilee in 1994. He is also current President of Infotel Lanka Society.

The Government of Sri Lanka has honoured Prof. Samaranayake for his contribution towards IT by the award of Vidya Prasadini in 1997 and the national honour Vidya Jyothi in 1998. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has presented its President's Award for International Cooperation to Prof. Samaranayake in 1996 in recognition of his contribution. At its convocation held in January 2005, the University of Colombo conferred on Prof. Samaranayake the Degree of Doctor of Science ( Honouris Causa ) for his outstanding contribution to the University.

Reshan Dewapura, COO, ICTA said: “Everyone in the ICT industry in Sri Lanka has either met or worked with Professor Samaranayake. It was his sense of commitment towards ICT development in the country coupled with his boundless energy that set him apart and allowed him to make lasting alliances and friendships both personally and professionally around the world. There is no doubt that Prof’s tireless commitment to the ICT industry has made his contribution over the years remarkable. He will be greatly missed.”

(FROM ICTA, SL)




Vidya Jyothi Professor V.K.Samaranayake


B.Sc (Ceyl)., D.I.C., Ph.D.(Lond.), D.Sc (Honouris Causa,MBCS, MCS(SL), FNASSL, MIEEE

Prof. Samaranayake is presently the Chairman of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka. He is also the Emeritus Professor of Computer Science of the University of Colombo . He was the founder Director, University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) of the University of Colombo . He has served the University of Colombo for a continuous period of 43 years since his first appointment in 1961 immediately following his graduation from the same University. He is the founder of the Department of Statistics and Computer Science (DSCS) and of the Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) of the University of Colombo . These two institutions were merged as the UCSC in 2002. He was a Fellow of the Harvard Information Infrastructure Project and the National Center for Digital Government of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University . In 2005 he was a Visiting Fellow of the Digital Vision Program of Stanford University, USA.



He served the Council for Information Technology (CINTEC), the apex National agency for IT in Sri Lanka as its Chairman for a period of 12 years. In the field of IT he has pioneered work on IT Policy, Legal Infrastructure, EDI/E-Commerce, Security, Internet Technology, Computer Awareness and IT Education. He was actively involved in the formulation of the ISO 10646 standard for Sinhalese Characters and in the development of multilingual web sites. He has also been instrumental in helping to apply computers in many areas of governance, including in national elections. He is currently involved in introducing ICT to rural communities and is engaged in developing Multipurpose Community Tele-Centers. He was a member of the advisory panel of the Asia IT&C program of the European Commission. He chaired the National Y2K Task force that coordinated the very successful crossover to year 2000. More recently he initiated the External Degree of Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) of the University of Colombo which in its very first year of operation has attracted 5000 registrations. He is the Chairman of the Project Management Committee of the sida funded project to enhance the internet connectivity of Sri Lankan Universities. He was the President of the National Academy of Sciences during 1998-1999 and the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science during its golden jubilee in 1994. He is also current President of Infotel Lanka Society.

Yasas Vishuddhi Abeywickrama said...

This blog post reveals who Prof really was.....


http://www.bloglines.com/blog/sanjiva?id=224

Sampath said...

The Government has decided to accord a funeral for late Vidya Jyothi Professor V.K. Samaranayake with full state patronage. The funeral will now take place under full state patronage at the Independence Square, Colombo on Wednesday, 13 th June 2007. According to Professor P.W. Epasinghe, Presidential Advisor and Acting Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), H.E. the President has advised the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affaires to accord a funeral with state patronage for the late Professor.

According to the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs, the Government has taken this decision as an appreciation for the services rendered by the late Professor Samaranayake for the ICT Industry in Sri Lanka. According to the Chairman of the Funeral Committee, Dr. Ruwan Weerasinghe, the Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Hon. Karu Jayasuriya chaired a meeting this morning with the members of the funeral committee to discuss funeral arrangements of the late Professor.

The remains of late Professor V.K. Samaranayake are currently lying at his residence in Jayanthi Mawatha, Ethul Kotte. Tomorrow at 9.00 am, after religious observances, his remains will be taken to the Professor V.K. Samaranayake Auditorium at the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) for the public to pay their last respects. The late Professor’s remains will be then taken to Independence Square at 4.00 pm.

A number of local and foreign intellectuals have already issued condolences on the demise of Professor V.K. Samaranayake.

Yasas Vishuddhi Abeywickrama said...

Pls sign the e-condolence book at the following location to pay tributes to the father of SL IT industry.

http://www.danuma.lk/condolence/