The quintessential public servant who was affable and helpful Dunstan Perera Dunstan (BBDM) Perera who was one of the earliest recruits to the Central Bank in 1950 passed away peacefully at the ripe old age of 92. Dunstan Perera did pioneering work on Sri Lanka’s National Accounts. In the early 1950’s the Central Bank commenced [...]




The quintessential public servant who was affable and helpful

Dunstan Perera

Dunstan (BBDM) Perera who was one of the earliest recruits to the Central Bank in 1950 passed away peacefully at the ripe old age of 92. Dunstan Perera did pioneering work on Sri Lanka’s National Accounts.

In the early 1950’s the Central Bank commenced its own series of National Accounts as it was found impractical to rely solely on the Department of Census and Statistics which was the statutory authority for the preparation and publishing of statistics relating to Sri Lanka. The need for the Central Bank to publish its Annual Report by April 1, each year (extended later to May 1) made it imperative for the Bank to have the necessary statistical information by March to be used in the analysis in the Bank’s Annual Report. The responsibility fell on two divisions in its Economic Research Department viz. the Social Accounts Division and the Prices and Wages Division.

The early work  in preparing the Central  Bank’s National Accounts estimates were made by Dr. Ranji Salgado  whose comprehensive thesis on  Sri Lanka’s National Accounts (The Ceylon Economy – A National Accounts Study ) was awarded the Ph.D by the University of Cambridge. When Dr. Salgado left to take up an assignment with the International Monetary Fund in Washington Dunstan Perera was appointed head of the Social Accounts Division succeeding Dr. Salgado. Dunstan Perera and M.Swaminathan had been sent on post graduate training to Manchester University.  They both made very valuable contributions to the development of social statistics in Sri Lanka.

Dunstan Perera reformulated the national accounts estimates basing himself mainly on a World Bank document- A System of National Accounts and Supporting Tables. He published the first set of input –output tables for Sri Lanka (A Preliminary Input –Output Table for Ceylon, 1969) which was presented to a UN conference on Statistics which was held in Sri Lanka. He  was engaged in working towards a new series of National Accounts in line with ‘A  System of National Accounts 1968’ published by the UN Statistical Office when he decided to take up an appointment  as United Nations Advisor on National Accounts in Saudi Arabia.

Dunstan Perera used to state that when he commenced work in Saudi Arabia the available statistics were in a very rudimentary  state and he had to do a lot of spadework before getting down to the nitty-gritty of his job. Perhaps the present highly developed state of statistics in Saudi Arabia owes something to the early statistical work pioneered by him. The format of the series of National Accounts in the Central Bank’s Annual Report introduced by Dunstan Perera  remained unchanged until 1977 when a revised series taking into account the effects of the economic reforms of 1976/77 was published in the Annual Report of 1978 by his successor as head of the Social Accounts division. It may be noted here that an article written by Mr. Perera for the Central Bank’s Staff Studies – (Interest rates in Ceylon) was influential in the formulation of policies when the economic reforms of 1976/77 were under study.

Dunstan Perera was the quintessential public servant. He was an affable and helpful person who moved with equal ease with the higher echelons as well as with the junior officers. Dunstan was a devoted family man and a good Catholic. His wife Elaine predeceased him about five years ago and he donated a library to his parish church in her memory. He leaves behind three sons and a daughter who are all professionals working abroad 

Terrence Savundranayagam


Wishing to meet again in Sansara

Tom Wijesundera

The pillar of my strength, dear brother you are no more
Last of the four pillars as brothers you all stood so
The sister I am, the little girl who followed you so far
The younger sister too left leaving me alone thus far

Great you are who cared so immensely
Always there to help us so generously
Cared not the burdens you bore so heavily
Enough to say how you looked after us all so lovingly

Holding your finger a kid, strolled the paths effortlessness
Ran did I, hearing your voice in remoteness
No more will I hear such calmness
My dear brother you will always be priceless

Stood by you loyal till the end dear brother whom I wish
Cannot be selfish to hold you from this miss
Reaching the end of the poem that I recite like this
With tears in my eyes, I bid you well to that Supreme Bliss  

Anula Gunaseela


PESTAA has lost a good friend


Some months ago, we heard the sad news of H.S.De Silva’s demise.

All those who were fortunate to enter Peradeniya English Teachers’ College in 1967 will remember H.S.De Silva. We first came to know him on the first day of our arrival at the Teachers’ College. He was there in the forefront helping in the registration of the new trainees, although he was a fresher himself. He soon became popular and was elected unanimously as the President of the student council of the 1967 batch of English specialist trainee teachers of Peradeniya Teachers College.

We, the 1967 batch mates, fondly called him Susie. Susie was a leader who possessed remarkable qualities. He extended a helping hand to everyone who needed assistance or advice on any matter. He was adept at organising religious festivals, shramadana campaigns in elders’ homes, hospitals and other social welfare activities. Many were the students who willingly supported him in such good deeds. They also loved to join in his lighthearted banter. As president representing the student body, he was a favourite among the lecturers as well.

Two years in the training college meant hard work. Studies, teaching practice, sports and games, educational tours, drama competitions and other co-curricular activities kept everyone busy. Susie played a prominent role in many of these events and his name was echoed everywhere.

In 1969, after completing the two year teacher training period, we went our different directions in our professions. We were EL teachers who became I.S.As, Principals, Directors and Lecturers. Susie worked as an in-service advisor of English in the Kalutara district. Later he served as a Teacher Educator helping the N.I.E where he was known as H.S. He retired from service as a Lecturer of English in the Maharagama Teachers’ College.

During this busy working period, we had no time for batch re-unions. But after retirement and in 2003, the Peradeniya English Specialist Teachers’ Alumni Association (PESTAA) was initiated. It was the brainchild of Saliya Weragama, Susie’s best friend. Susie was a pillar of strength in forming this new association, with the collaboration of pioneer trainees. ‘’PESTAA” welcomes any English teacher who passed through the portals of Peradeniya English Specialist Teachers College from 1965 onwards. PESTAA had Ralph Almeida as its first President, succeeded by H.S.De Silva as the second President.

We have lost a good friend. PESTAA shares its sentiments with Chandra, H.S. De Silva’s wife and only son Darsha Hendehewa, daughter-in-law Inoka, granddaughter Dasni and grandson Rasindu.

May H.S.De Silva’s sojourn in samsara  be short and serene and may he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

Upendra Bandaranayake


She’s gone away but the happy  memories will never fade

Ramani Balachandran

It is hard to believe that I am standing here trying to find the right words to say goodbye to our dear friend Ramani.

Most of her friends here go back to our childhood days so we collectively seem to have many a lifetime of memories.

We were just 14 when we first met in early 1960.

We met outside of school and were part of a lovely group of friends.

When I left Ceylon in 1970 and then married, our lives took different paths for some years but we just picked up from where we left off when we met in Australia many years later.

Ramani married Bala in 1974 in Sri Lanka where they then had their much loved daughter Amritha.

They moved to Zambia in 1977 where they lived for 10 years. I remember when we reconnected in 1987 in Sydney, she was so excited that I had married Jack who was a classmate and good friend of her much loved brother Ranjan.

She got a job that same year at American Express where she worked for 20 years!

Ramani was one of the gentlest, kindest, caring and loving people I have ever known.

When talking to her close group of friends who visited her often, especially in the last few years of her illness it was those traits that they all spoke of first.

Gail says, “she was a gentle soul, kind, caring and generous”.

Saadie says of her close friend.,  “she was gentle, caring and always in touch during the week”.

Niri, “ I cannot believe that I will never hear your sweet, gentle voice again”.

Pauline, “she was gentle, kind and loving”.

Shiv, “she was softly spoken, gentle, caring and very concerned about family unity”.

Hortenze remembers a childhood friend who had the most beautiful smile.

She epitomized the saying… ln the end, only three things matter–“How much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you”.

Ramani always seemed to find the best in others and delighted in hearing news about OUR family and friends!

She loved to talk about and remember the times when we were just teenagers, growing up in what seemed a carefree, fun time. In the last few months she was especially nostalgic, and we spent most of our time laughing and remembering, her memory of events and even conversations was incredible, and as Gail remembers she had what she called her irrepressible “naughty side!”.

It doesn’t seem that long ago in the early months of her illness that we would visit her and say we were coming for a cup of tea and she would greet us with her lovely smile and have nibbles, lunch and dessert… all ready for us.

She never complained about her pain or her illness… We tried to time it so that it was in between mealtimes, so as not to worry her but we would then end up having lunch at 11!!

Niri remembers her insisting on making a meal when she visited even when she could hardly walk!

Ramani never forgot our birthdays! She was almost always one of the first to call! It was such a pleasure to hear her soft spoken voice wishing you all life’s happiness!

We will all treasure the friendship we shared with our dear friend Ramani. We have wonderful memories of such happy times spent with a very dear friend.

It is always painful to say goodbye to someone special, but we all have those happy moments… shared… to help take away our pain. There is an Eskimo legend that says very aptly…

“Say not in grief that she is no more but live in thankfulness that she was”.

It was not the length of her life because we all wish she could have lived longer, but the depth of her life.

She touched us all…. each one in a special way.

While we remember her with sadness because she’s gone, we will remember her with much love for all that she shared with us, and cherish her memory.

Bala and Amritha and Thanga and Prathalingham… there is going to be a huge void in your life.

You have lost a loving wife, a very special devoted mother and a much loved sister.

She loved you all so very much.

They say….. “grief is the price we pay for loving.”

Helen Keller said…  “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply, becomes part of us.”

To all her family and friends that must surely be true.

Life has changed but not ended.

Farewell dearest Ramani. Rest in Peace  Tamara Koch


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