9th September 2001
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Poignant tribute

By D.C. Ranatunge
Over a hundred singers lined the BMICH steps. Before them were a few thousands of 'rasikas', all gathered last Wednesday evening to pay tribute to Pandit Amaradeva who had just returned from Manila with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award. 

In one voice they sang a medley of Amaradeva's songs produced over the past five decades - a fine gesture honouring the greatest musician Sri Lanka has produced.

Differing from the usual felicitation ceremonies 'Amara Guru Harasara' had just two speeches, by Professor Sunil Ariyaratne, Chairman of the organizing committee and Pandit Amaradeva himself. There were no politicians as special invitees. It was an evening devoted entirely to the performing arts.

From the moment the 26-member orchestra conducted by talented musician Rohana Weerasinghe opened the evening with 'Aatha Kandukara Himaw Arane' - Mahagama Sekara's creation for Chitrasena's 'Nala Damayanthi', until the final lines of 'Ratnadipa Janmabhumi', by the band of singers, it was superlative entertainment. In between, renowned dancers and drummers performed - a troupe from Budawatte Rangayatanaya rendering the 'Sirima Bo Dakshina' based on Sri Chandraratne Manawasinghe's classic, Ravibandu Vidyapathi leading a 50-member drum orchestra and Piyasara Shilpadhipati's troupe of 75 Kandyan dancers performing a 'Seth Shanthi'.

Nanda Malini sang 'Udagu Liyan', Dalton Alwis's creation adapting a Ravindranath Tagore poem, along with a bevy of young artistes. Leading artistes - singers Sunil Edirisinghe and Nirosha Virajaini, stage actor Jayalath Manoratne and film stars Swarna Mallawaratchi and Malini Fonseka introduced the items.

When the only surviving Sri Lankan Magsaysay Award winner, Dr A.T. Ariyaratne invited Pandit Amaradeva to address the gathering, the maestro was obviously moved. "Do I deserve all this? Have I done such a great service? When did I do? Where did I do?" he pondered. "Now I realize it has been a long journey. I have completed most of it. There is only a little more left. In my own humble way, I shall finish the journey with the courage, strength and response of my fans."

He was happy that the next generation appreciates his efforts. Rohana Weerasinghe, music director had created a fine anthology of melodies, which Amaradeva hoped could be sent to the London Symphony Orchestra. He was all praise for everyone who rallied round to pay him tribute.

'Amara Guru Harasara' was a fine example of good planning and commitment. No doubt the committee, especially the joint secretaries, Bandara Eheliyagoda and Bandula Padmakumara and organizer Sunil Fonseka spent sleepless nights to get it going but it was well worth the effort. 

A message for our times

By Nilika de Silva 
These youngsters aged nine to 16 have three things in common. They are children, they are orphaned, and they have never known a motherland at peace. The poignancy of their young voices harmoniously blending in "Where have all the young men gone .....?" is thus all the more haunting. 

For those of us familiar with Haig Karunaratne and the Ballad Festival, a staple for youth in the eighties, here's another chance to see song and dance, recreating life and times, with an innocence and simplicity only a box guitar and a drumbeat could bring forth. 

I am watching the children of Angela Buddhist Girls Home rehearsing for the Inter- School Orphans Provincial Drama Competition to be held later this month. Sixty-eight homes will participate at the district level competition which will take place at the Panadura Gothami Children's Home, the Ranmuthugala Mahinda Samajaseva Institute and the Wellawatte Lankadhara Children's Home on September 15. The Commissioner of Child Care and Probation, Western Province, Mr. Ariyadasa Cooray said the provincial level competition will take place on September 22. 

The selected plays will also be staged at Sathutu Uyana on October 6 at a gathering being held to mark World Children's Day which falls on October 1. 

The Angela Buddhist Girls Home Moratuwa established in 1952, houses children who are abandoned, orphaned or destitute. As is the case with many such institutions in Sri Lanka, this home too is largely dependent on public donations for meals and other requirements, as the Government subsidy of Rs. 300 per head per month is hardly sufficient to fulfill the multiple requirements of a growing child. 

However, the Board in charge of the home has endeavoured to give the children the best of opportunities for "character building", amply mirrored in the children's infectious enthusiasm on stage. Talent in abundance was visible in these youngsters, students of Shishyadara Maha Vidyalaya, each giving of her best, even Nelum the youngest, mischief gleaming in her eyes. 

The children were championing Article 38 of the UN Convention on Child Rights 1989, that children under 15 years cannot be recruited into the armed forces. Contemporary songs both English and Sinhalese had been incorporated into the play, making it a creation the children could very easily relate to. And the sound of their voices bringing alive the futility of war, on stage, singing "Where have all the children gone .......," will echo in my heart for a very long time. 

Unravelling the mysteries of insurance

Book Review
'Insurance Industry and General Insurance in Sri Lanka' by Jeya Thangakone

From a layman's point of view, insurance is an economic device whereby an individual, by paying a small amount (premium) compared to the total value at risk, transfers some of the uncertainty leading to a financial loss (risk insured against).

This illustrates the tone of Jeya Thangakone discussing General Insurance in a well compiled, exhaustive, book titled 'Insurance Industry and General Insurance in Sri Lanka'. Having gained considerable experience in the industry, Ms. Thangakone knows exactly what a client would look for in insurance. With the industry taking a full circle from being a foreign dominated one, to a State monopoly, to the emergence of private sector companies in a competitive scenario, there is a huge interest in insurance in Sri Lanka today. More and more are taking up the subject and those who are in the industry are looking for avenues to obtain professional qualifications and become fully-fledged insurance professionals. 

Since privatization, the State Corporations are facing stiff competition from the private sector - in fact there is only one state insurance corporation remaining at present and that too, now headed by a person with wide experience in the non-insurance private sector is already showing healthy signs of becoming more dynamic. All this augurs well, for the industry and Jeya Thangakone's publication comes at a most appropriate time. 

As she says in the preface, the book could be used by a novice to learn about Insurance; for training purposes, by clients and by anyone in the insurance industry as a reference book at a basic level. In 16 chapters she covers the entire gamut of the industry, starting by explaining how insurance operates. She discusses principles of insurance, different types of insurance, claims principles and practices and professionalism and ethics. Each chapter has several sub-divisions, making it extremely easy for the reader to refer to any particular area he wishes.

In the chapter devoted to the insurance industry in Sri Lanka, she traces the history of insurance in the country and brings the reader up-to-date on the current situation. She lists the companies in operation and explains the functions of insurance intermediaries. Possibly not many know of the existence of several institutions and bodies, which are actively involved in the industry in Sri Lanka. She mentions eight of them - the Sri Lanka Insurance Institute (SLII), Insurance Association of Sri Lanka (IASL), The Sri Lanka Insurance Brokers' Association (SLIBA), Association of Loss Adjusters, Board of Management for the Govt. Fund for Strike, Riot and Civil Commotion & Terrorism, Insurance Board of Sri Lanka (IBSL), Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation (SLECIC) and Agricultural and Agrarian Insurance Board (AAIB). A short description of each body, their responsibilities and how they operate is given.

Much jargon is used in business activity today relating to insurance and the book is a ready reckoner for anyone to refer up a term he is not quite familiar with. Turning the pages of the book, one realizes the amount of documentation involved in insurance. There are the proposal forms, cover notes, certificates of insurance, insurance policies, endorsements, renewal notices, renewal certificates, claim forms - to mention some of them. These are all explained in the book.

Then there are the different types of insurance - Fire, Miscellaneous, Liability, Motor, Engineering, Marine and Aviation. Each one is described in separate chapters which provide the reader with a fine overview of each. Discussing Professionalism, Ethics and Agency, Jeya Thangakone pinpoints the responsibilities of Insurance Brokers and Insurance Agents who act as intermediaries. "An Intermediary should conduct his business in total awareness of his important role and with utmost good faith and honesty within the framework of his authority, so that he will not be held liable either to the Principal or to a third party for any unauthorized act or omission to carry out a legal obligation or for improper performance of a duty," she stresses. 

She also highlights the need for the intermediaries to exercise professionalism and good behaviour whilst selling and servicing the insurance business. She ends with some significant facts and figures which make interesting reading. She records instances where certain insurable perils affected Sri Lanka in the past and a few significant claims paid. 

For instance the highest claim paid under a Terrorism Policy so far was the payment of Rs 224 million to Ceylinco for the severe damage caused to Ceylinco House by the Central Bank bomb explosion in January 1996. The Bank of Ceylon building was also insured under a specific Terrorism Policy and a claim of Rs 130 million was paid. 

For Fire claims, several BOI companies had been paid substantial amounts - US $ 6.5 m to a garment company (1995), U

US$ 1.6 m to a company manufacturing polyester padding (June 1998) and approximately US $ 0.5m in August 1999. As for local companies, Rs 40m was paid in 1980 when an accidental fire completely destroyed a leading bank in Fort and about Rs 61m was paid to a tyre factory including stocks in May 1997. The highest Motor claim paid in Sri Lanka to date is Rs 9 m. This was on a claim due to flood damage in June 1992 when Colombo recorded the highest ever rainfall of almost 493 mm. In December 1999, a claim of Rs 5 m was paid in respect in respect of a private motor vehicle consequent to an accident under a Motor Insurance Policy.

The book, published by the Sri Lanka Insurance Institute, has been written in a simple style, and is easily assimilated. It is a valuable addition to every library and one that must be in the collection of anyone interested in insurance.


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