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.