A Tribute to Maamanithar Professor Alagiah Thurairajah
Prof. A Thurairajah- The Most
Without any hesitation every Hartleyite would agree with me that Professor Alagiah Thurairajah has lived according to the spirit of this 2-line Tamil script. With the passing away of Thurai, as he was affectionately called by his colleagues and students, the world has lost one of the eminent Geotechnical Engineering Scientists. Our beloved Hartley College has lost the most distinguished Hartleyite. The Tamil Society around the world has been missing the Great Human during the last 11 years. Thurai died in Colombo of cardio-vascular failure and leukaemia in the morning of 11th June 1994 surrounded by tearful friends. Born on the 10th November 1934 at Kamparmalai, a village in Vadamarachchi, he is the 3rd child of Alagiah-Sellama couple. It is interesting to note that this is the same village that made the first supreme sacrifice-Lt Shankar- in our current liberation struggle.
Thurai entered the University of Ceylon to read for B.Sc.Eng degree in July 1953. He excelled in his studies that his educational records still remain unbeaten whether in the School or in the University. Soon after obtaining his degree, he became an Instructor in the Civil Engineering Department of the same University, a position that he held for a brief period until March 1958. He then joined the Public Works Department as Junior Assistant Engineer, for a period of 4 months. Recognising Thurai’s exceptional
academic performance, Professor K K Roscoe, a giant in the field of Soil Mechanics at the University of Cambridge, picked him as his research student on a University Scholarship to carry out research on shear properties of soils.
Thurai used to recall and share some of his fond memories travelling in a ship for a period of 42 days to join the Cambridge University in 1958, as in those days flights were very expensive. His monumental research work carried out with the guidance of Prof Roscoe on shear properties of soils, between October 1958 and December 1961 not only earned him the PhD degree from the Cambridge University in June 1962, but gave him worldwide recognition to his newly invented Dissipation Function which is popularly known as Thurai Theorem among his colleagues and students. Today, the Civil Engineers around the world know the vital role played by Cam-Clay model that offers a detailed insight into the soil behaviour for any built-in structure. According to Prof Andrew Schofield of the Cambridge University, the original Cam-Clay locus was based on the Thurairajah dissipation function plus Calladine’s plastic flow curves. The invention of the simple shear apparatus based on the dissipation function by Thurai provided a springboard to many of the future researchers for undertaking advanced research on the shear properties of soils and could be regarded as a key milestone in the history of Geotechnical Engineering.
I met Prof Thurai for the first time at the annual Hartley-MHS-Vada-Hindu get- together held at the Peradeniya University in January 1979. His first question was “ Yarudaya Mahan”(whose son are you?), as we both were from the same village. I was really shocked to observe his simplicity and amazed at the way he asked me in a typical village Tamil. That meeting with Thurai was a watershed in my life and paved the way to establish a long-standing friendship, until his premature demise in June 1994. Thurai was one of my mentors who shaped my Professional career as an Engineer in many ways. I observed many of his outstanding human qualities that are difficult to find in other professionals these days. Thurai was one of the fast
disappearing breed of persons who could stand upright with scintillating grace wearing white robes of simplicity even before the proud and powerful. His friendly smile would disarm everybody. Though honours and awards came to him in plenty, they hardly touched his humility.
Dr Thurai introduced and taught Geotechnical Engineering and Soil Mechanics subjects for the first time in the history of engineering education in 1962 at the University of Ceylon. He became the Professor of Civil Engineering in December 1971. It is pertinent to point out here Thurai was initially reluctant to submit his application for the Position of Civil Engineering when the position was advertised as he did not want directly compete with his teachers who taught him at the University of Ceylon. With the persuasion of one of his teachers at the University, he finally submitted his application. Though University Senate has recommended his name for the position of Professor of Civil Engineering, the Ministry of Education has rejected the recommendations on flimsy grounds twice because he was a Tamil. However, without any other alternative, Ministry of Education, had to accept and appoint him as the Professor of Civil Engineering when the Senate made the recommendations for the third and final time.
He served as the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Peradeniya for the first time from May 1975 to September 1977 and again the second time from February 1982 to February 1985. He took visiting faculty appointments at the University of Waterloo as an Assistant Professor in 1970 and then again at the University of British Columbia in 1978 as a Professor. He also served as the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Technology of the Open University of Sri Lanka from April 1987 to August 1988 before accepting the appointment as the Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna. He also served as the President of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka in 1989/90. He was a Fellow of Institution of Civil Engineers, U.K. since May 1985.
Prof Thurai was well respected by all communities living in Sri Lanka. When he resigned from the position of Professor of Civil Engineering due to some misunderstanding with then Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Peradeniya in 1982, a Professor who was a Sinhalese went to the VC’s office in person and compelled the VC to request Thurai to withdraw his resignation. When he was contesting for the Dean’s position in the Engineering Faculty, the other candidate was canvassing publicly among the faculty staff saying that it was difficult for a Tamil to be the Dean and run the faculty. However, Thurai had won the Dean’s election handsomely and became the Dean for the second time. Prof Thurai was perfectly balanced in his views and remained very close to his colleagues and students. He always fought for what was just and right. In the 1970s when he was the President of University Teachers Association, he fought with determination for the University teachers getting their dues. On the other hand, when the University of Peradeniya had a student unrest including the taking of another Dean as a hostage by the students in June 1983, he was the only person to whom the students listened with respect and peace and returned to the University.
Prof Thurai was a teacher par excellence. It is appropriate to describe him as a superb teacher-learner. He always loved his students from the core of his heart and the students in return, adored and respected him as a role model. I can describe many incidents how Prof Thurai helped many of his students out of the way to overcome their personal difficulties. Once, a student told him that he did not have money to buy the air ticket to join an overseas University and he gave a personal cheque without any hesitation to buy the ticket in order to join the University in time. When another student told him he could not get admission to the Cambridge University in time, as his final year result was not released, Prof Thurai wrote to his contemporary Prof Schofield to admit the student pending the final year results. In fact, this student enrolled at the Cambridge University as a Postgraduate Student without his final year result. Prof Thurai had a strong memory power and he could easily remember all his students by their names. He would definitely dwell in the hearts of his numerous students forever.
When life in Jaffna had become miserable amidst war with all its bombing, shelling and shooting, Thurai chose to leave his comfortable life in Colombo and returned to Jaffna to serve as the Vice-Chancellor of the Jaffna University. In the beginning of 1990s, when the SL government imposed economic embargo and stopped fuel supply too, Thurai stayed in Jaffna while many Professors of the Jaffna University left Jaffna. He used to come to the University by riding a pushbike for about 15 miles all the way from his beloved home. The whole world knew that Thurai kept on toiling under the most trying conditions to keep the flame of learning burning at the Jaffna University whilst all the other Universities in Sri Lanka were closed for more than 2 years.
The University of Jaffna would never forget his yeomen services as the Vice Chancellor from September 1988 to March 1994. He was the one who created the VC’s welfare fund, which helps around200 needy students every year, and already hundreds of students have benefited from this fund. He was the only VC in the history of University Education in Sri Lanka who established mechanisms for helping students who lacked parental support due to the on-going ethnic conflict. The establishment of the Faculty of Agriculture and the Faculty of Fisheries in 1990 was the outcome of his far- reaching vision to develop our Tamil Nation. Though he prepared the blueprint for the Faculty of Engineering for the University of Jaffna in 1978, he finally got the approval of the Government to appoint a Professor of Civil Engineering only in the 1990s. He was the first VC who initiated the idea of bringing the University research to the industry in Jaffna. He took the initiative and established the Biotech International (Pvt) Ltd to commercialise the University research.
Prof Thurai’s contribution and achievements are too numerous to be recounted and because of his unassuming attitude some of these may perhaps never be known. “OOTRU” was his brainchild for the upliftment of villages through the
NGOs and he remained as the Chairman of this Organisation until his last breath. To promote self-sufficiency and self-reliance utilising locally available resources in the North-East of Sri Lanka, he established the Economic Consultancy House that has undertaken numerous consulting works so far with many international donor agencies.
We all very humbly saluted him and bid farewell to this noble soul and a Professional of a rare breed, almost 11 years ago. As for Thurai, there could not have been a greater achievement than to die smiling surrounded by tearful friends, colleagues and students. The Universities of Peradeniya and Jaffna honoured this unassuming character by awarding honorary D.Sc degrees in 1995. Today, there are many prizes and scholarships that are being awarded in the name of Thurai to the bright and brilliant students at the Universities of Peradeniya and Jaffna.
Professor Thurairajah has elevated Hartley College to a prestigious educational institution not only in the Island but also around the world by his monumental research work in Geotechnical Engineering. He is the most distinguished Hartleyite ever produced in the history of our school. Our School has embarked on a new building in the name of Thurai as a fitting tribute to him. All Hartleyites are confident that Professor Thurairajah would be remembered for his tireless efforts and commitment to the development of the Tamil Nation when the history of our nation is re-written. He would live forever in the hearts and minds of the people living in the Tamil Nation.
Kidnapillai Selvarajah (Selva)
A Tribute to Professor Alagiah Thurairajah
Eng. D L O Mendis- Kandy, Sri Lanka
Late Prof A Thurairajah
In responding to a request by Eng. Kidnapillai Selvarajah (Selva) from Sydney to write a tribute to the late Professor Alagiah Thurairajah, I told him I could write a small book on my personal reminiscences about Thurai, as he was known among his friends and colleagues, and asked him what if any restrictions there were. Selva replied “I would humbly request you not to include anything on politics and no controversy please.
Fair enough I thought, but it was only when I collected my thoughts about Thurai that I realised that it is not easy to leave out some politics from a Tribute, so I ask forbearance from the readers of this yearly Journal of the Hartley College Past Pupils Association of New South Wales, for what I am writing, which is a collection of my personal reminiscences about a person who was a modest and humble personality, in rough chronological order, which I hope will not be too controversial.
For various reasons, I and later my wife and children too, knew the legendary Prof E O E Pereira for a long time, outside the Faculty of Engineering itself. Prof EOE as he was known, was the first Professor of Civil Engineering and Dean of the Engineering Faculty, University of Ceylon. I knew about his instantaneous liking for the young Thurairajah, virtually from the day he entered the Engineering Faculty at Thurstan road, Colombo from far away Hartley College, Point Pedro. Thurai had a crystal clear mind, which made light of the toughest theories of soil science, or hydraulics or whatever, that made him a delight for any teacher. He consistently topped his batch and when he won the University scholarship for Post-Graduate studies, Prof Pereira dearly wanted him to go to his own old University of Cambridge, rather than Imperial College, London, the other centre of excellence for the brightest scholars from the British Commonwealth at that time.
Before he left for Cambridge, still to outward appearance a rather gawky innocent village boy from Kamparmalai, a faming village in the north, Professor and Mrs. Pereira invited Thurai to their home and tactfully and lovingly introduced him to the niceties of table manners and such like while explaining to him the formalities of high-table dinner in the Cambridge University. Some years later we heard from a South African graduate student from the Cambridge University who was visiting in Colombo, how Thurai had impressed his supervisor, Professor K K Roscoe, who was a giant in soil mechanics with his sheer academic brilliance. I immediately took this person to meet Prof Perira to whom he repeated what he had told me. I remember to this day the way a beaming Prof EOE leaned back in his chair, took the pipe out of his mouth, and said: “You know LO, we wonder sometimes whether we are doing our best for our students, but in moments like these any doubts just vanish!” Of course he did not mean that all his students were like Thurairajah, but rather that one Thurairajah made up for all the others.
When Thurai returned from the Cambridge University to take up appointment as a young Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering in Colombo, I remember a memorable occasion at a social in old King George’s Hall where there was a ballroom dancing those days. While many on the dance floor were vintage staff members like old Prof EOE himself, the majority who were tripping the light fantastic were students who were not noticeably good ballroom dancers, many of them being more at home with the traditional ‘baila’. In this motley crowd, we suddenly noticed a really striking young pair of dancers, sweeping across the floor with accomplished ease and grace. Surprise, surprise, this was the handsome Thurai who had found a dancing partner who he could lead to match his steps and keep up with the rhythm of the dance, in a manner beautiful even for us to just watch. Mrs. EOE Pereira, still fond and possessive, asked me “Who is that girl, LO?” – and I said I did not know, a mild white lie, because I knew Mrs. EOE would soon find out from others who she was anyway. Alas! no romance resulted, but Thurai’s dance floor partner did join the Engineering Faculty when she married another young lecturer, (a non-dancer), some years later.
Prof EOE Pereira was not keen on the shift of the Engineering Faculty to Peradeniya at first, I thought because he would miss his fishing at the Wellawatte canal outfall. Nevertheless he did his best to find the entire necessary laboratory and workshop equipment for the new Engineering Faculty, a vast improvement on the old labs at the Ceylon Technical College, Maradana, which Engineering Faculty students from Thurstan road, like myself, had to make do with in those days. And, the Prof EOE Pereira theatre in Peradeniya, one of his pet buildings is a really magnificent auditorium that serves the citizens of Kandy to this day. In the construction of the new faculty, Prof Pereira had the services of many of his staff and especially the Survey Technical Assistant, the late Mr. Wilfred (Willy) Dahanayake, who had a knack of making friends with staff and students alike, and Thurai and he were special friends from the first days at Peradeniya.
I also recall an incident when my young wife was visiting in the Engineering Faculty and happened to wander into Thurai’s soils mechanics lab. Having parents who were practical farmers, she had studied Geography, and married an Irrigation Engineer (myself!). Her natural interest in soils made her ask questions and Thurai gave her an informal rudimentary lecture on soil mechanics. It’s hard to say who was more thrilled by this encounter, Thurai or my wife Agnes, who was starry eyed by the experience of being taught, even so briefly, a complex subject by a genius who made it all seem so simple and understandable, as she told me.
Most of us knew even in those early days that Thurai’s succession to the Chair in Civil Engineering was just a matter of time, after the retirement of some senior staff, his own teachers. Sometime after Thurai was appointed Professor of Civil Engineering at the Peradeniya University, Professor EOE Pereira was himself elevated to the post of the Vice Chancellor. When Professor Pereira passed away in 1988, the first Professor EOE Pereira Memorial Lecture in the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka, was given by Prof Thurairajah. I had the honour of giving the second memorial lecture in 1989.
Meanwhile Thurai had married and had a small family of boys and girls, when tragedy struck in Peradeniya. He lost his first son when he was barely ten years old, as I remember. Thurai was demented for a while, and it must have taken all his mental reserves to recover from the shock of the tragedy of losing his eldest son, more so because I think he felt that he had neglected his family while serving the faculty with dedication. I recall the late Prof Sanath Ranatunga telling me of an incident during the turbulent days of campus student unrest in the late 1980s. Sanath had heard that some students had taken hostage the then Dean of the Science Faculty, and immediately rushed across to the Senate, but by the time he got there he found that Thurai was already there and talking to the students in a friendly manner to get the Science Faculty Dean released from the hostage! Students knew and loved Thurai, without any question of ethnicity or whatever.
In the mid 1960’s when I was working on construction of Uda Walawe headworks, I was able to officially consult the Engineering Faculty, where Thurai was the acknowledged authority on soil mechanics in the country. The Resident Engineer, Uda Walawe Headworks, the late NTK Munasinghe, himself a soils engineer who had done Post-Graduate studies in Stanford University, USA struck up a beautiful friendship with Thurai over this consultancy work. Thurai’s early demise was a personal loss to Munasinghe who was many years his senior and passed away last year.
When I was invited to work with Dr Joseph Needham in the Needham Research Institute in the Cambridge University in the 1980s, Thurai was very happy for me and gave me a hand-written introduction to his friend Professor Andrew Schofield, who had just been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). He took me to lunch and invited me to give a lecture on the ancient irrigation systems of Sri Lanka to a group of scholars in the University. On another occasion, I met another old friend Prof S T Ariyaratnam of Waterloo University with whom Thurai had spent a sabbatical as a Visiting Professor, and Ariyam, himself a famous scholar, introduced me to another of Thurai’s Cambridge friends Prof Archie Roth, if I remember the name correctly. All these scholars had achieved great distinctions like FRS, which would have been well within Thurai’s reach also had he so aspired.
Another highlight of Thurai’s life in the 1980’s was the post of President-elect in the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS). He was proposed for election as was customary at the time, by the incumbent SLAAS Council, but an objection was made and another engineer’s name was proposed which was submitted to the General Membership at the Annual General Meeting which followed. The general membership at the AGM rejected the new name, and there was no General President from Section C, Engineering, Architecture and Surveying, for some months, while the incumbent General President acted till the early months of the next year when another engineer was elected by the Council. Meanwhile a case was filed in the civil courts contesting the decision of the AGM, and as far as I know that case is still unresolved. Thurai could not have cared less about this type of thing, but sadly it is an indication of the depths to which our premier science institution in our country has been reduced in recent times.
From Peradeniya, Thurai moved to the Open University in Colombo where he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Technology for some time. After that he was appointed as the Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University. During his term in the Open University before he went to Jaffna, we had the occasional chance to talk together about the ethnic problem in general and in particular, problems in Jaffna. Thurai had a way of rather naively referring to “our boys” and I would equally naively respond “they are our boys also”, and Thurai would laugh in his friendly manner as much as to say “Come off it LO !”, a term of disbelief I have learned from my North American friends.
It was after his untimely death in June 1994 that I personally realised how much we had lost, when I had the opportunity to visit the Vanni in November 2005. I was a member of the Peoples Planning Commission set up by the Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), with Prof H Sriyananda as the Chairman, on account of the unsatisfactory way in which post tsunami restoration work was being done, and we visited all parts of the country.
In Killinochchi we were met in the Conference Hall of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), by Maran, Director, Humanitarian and Development Agencies, Planning and Development Secretariat of the LTTE. 0n account of the need to conserve electricity there was only one big light on at the end of the hall, but Maran switched on another light behind where I was seated and asked me to look at the picture on that wall. He asked me if I could recognize the persons in the picture and I said of course they were Prof Thurairajah and the LTTE leader Mr. V Pirabhakaran. I remembered then how the Sri Lanka army had over-run some underground bunkers in Jaffna and found a photo of the late Prof Thurairajah about which much media publicity was given at the time. 0ne of his friends, Eng Konara Wanigasekera wrote a spirited defence of Thurai at that time, ending with the phrase “let us give him the benefit of the doubt”. Thurai’s contacts with the LTTE could have and should have been used by us in the manner that international Pugwash conferences were organized in the 1950s as will be described in what follows. It is to be noted here that the purpose of the Pugwash Conferences is to bring together, from around the world, influential scholars and public figures concerned with reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems.
I had the privilege of being invited to a Pugwash symposium in 1978, after which my friend Tharumaratnam, founder of the Nigerian Construction Consortium, (NCC) offered to fund an international Pugwash conference in Sri Lanka. Joseph Rotblat the founding father figure of Pugwash visited Sri Lanka and met local scientists and reported to Pugwash Council that the 1983 Pugwash conference could be held in Sri Lanka. Thereafter I called a public meeting to set up the Sri Lanka Pugwash group, but a clique of local engineers and scientists objected to “spending such a large sum of money on foreign scientists when local science and scientists are starved for funds”. Mind you they were referring to Tharu’s money. So, the Sri Lanka Pugwash group organized a Workshop on Tropical Agriculture instead of the 1983 international conference. I have often stated what a difference it would have made to the recent tragic history of our country if the 1983 international Pugwash conference had been held in Sri Lanka. The International Pugwash and Joseph Rotblat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, and when the British Pugwash Group held a celebration at their AGM in April 1996, I gave an Invited Address on “Environment and Conflict in Sri Lanka”. Sadly, Thurai who was aware of my Pugwash activities had passed away at that time. Sir Joseph Rotblat himself
passed away in 2005 in his 97th year, and a Memorial Service for him was held in the Royal Society, London, on December 9, 2005 at which I was again invited to speak.
In my presentation I said:
“I was able to visit the so-called ‘uncleared areas’ in the Vanni, under control of the Tamil Tigers, for a few days in November. I saw similarities of course on a miniscule scale, with the global situation in the cold war years in the 1950s which led to the Russell — Einstein manifesto in which Joseph Rotblat had a big hand, and the first international conference of scientists from across the cold- war divide on neutral ground in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, which was the birth of the Pugwash conferences. I feel that a similar meeting of Sri Lanka scientists from the Vanni and the global Tamil diaspora should be arranged”.
(Mendis, D L 0. 2005. Alternative Development. Vol. I Pugwash. Part I, Remember Your Humanity, A Tribute to Sir Joseph Rotbiat. p. xiii. Vishwa Lekha, Colombo)
In this connection, I have visited Sydney in December 2006 and spoken informally to members of the Senior Tamils Association of Australia on some of these issues. I do hope to be able to make a more formal presentation at a future date, may be to the Hartley College Past Pupils Association of New South Wales. Meanwhile I send all of you my best fraternal greetings!
In conclusion, having exceeded my quota of space I must conclude at this point, leaving many more anecdotes unwritten, because Thurai was a legend in his time, and as I said I could write a small book about Thurai. He would live forever in the hearts and minds of people living in Sri Lanka.
Editor’s Note: Eng D L 0 Mendis was the President of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka in 1986/87, and has a keen interest in “Hydraulic Civilizations, Irrigation Ecosystems, and the Modern State”, the title of his Prof E 0 E Pereira Memorial Lecture in 1989.
Thurai’s research work carried out with the guidance of Prof Roscoe on shear properties of soil at the Cambridge University not only earned him PhD degree in June 1962 but gave him worldwide recognition to his newly invented Dissipation Function which is popularly known as Thurairajah Theorem among his colleagues and students. The Civil Engineers know the important role played by Cam-Clay model that offers detailed insight into the soil behaviour for any built in structure. According to Prof Andrew Schofield of the Cambridge University, the original Cam-Clay locus was based on the Thurairajah dissipation function plus Calladine’s plastic flow curves.
Arivukathir Second quarterly issue of the science and education magazine was released in May 2004 at the University of Jaffna under the patronage of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mohanadas. The cover story of Arivukathir honours the late Prof. A. Thurairajah, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna. His contribution to the field of Civil Engineering and to the education of the Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim youths is unparalleled. On his retirement in 1994, because of terminal illness, he was honoured with the title Mamanithar conferred on him by the Tamil Nation Leader Hon. V. Pirapaharan for his contribution to engineering education and research, and his commitment to education and enhancing the life of the Tamil people.
The First Issue of Arivukathir was released in September 2003. (See Arivukathir – A Science and Education Magazine from the Vanni) Arivukathir provides a forum for students and teachers to exchange ideas. A special feature of the Arivukathir is that it honours Tamil persons, in each of its issues, who had contributed to the advancement of knowledge and had brought honour to the Tamil people.
The first issue honoured Farmer Mr. K. Muthukumar. His farm yielded the highest yield of rice per hectare in the whole world during 1993/1994-cultivation season. Considering the prohibition of the transport of fertilizers and insecticides to the North since 1990, his achievement gives credence to the age-old practice of organic farming methods by Tamils. It is also a credit to Mr. Muthukumar’s ingenuity, skills and hard work.
In 1994, The Tamil Nation’s leader Honourable V. Pirapaharan presented him with a gold medal and the title ‘King of Farming’ for his achievement. Sri Lanka and later the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN honoured him in its 50th Anniversary celebrations held in Thailand in 1995.
The Chair of the Arivukathir Board, T. Gurukularajah, Zonal Director of Education, Puthukkudieruppu, said that the knowledge of all are adversely affected during the two decades of war. Under the current circumstances, accelerated knowledge building activities should be set in motion to bridge this gap. Therefore, a decision was made to print a magazine of science and education and circulate it to all parts of the Island and to Tamil children living in other countries. The Government Agents in Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu Districts are the Patrons. The executive committee members and editor volunteer their time to prepare and publish Arivukathir.
Prof. Thurairajah, after the July 1983 riots decided to leave Peredeniya and return to Jaffna University rather than go to universities overseas. He saw the need of a Faculty of Agriculture in the “Bread Basket of the North and housed it near the Iranamadhu Tank in 1990. In 1994, he appointed me to the Faculty of Agriculture at Kilinochchi. He saw the need for an institute of Fisheries and established it in Jaffna with the help of Norway. Though Tamils contributed the human resources in engineering there was no Faculty of Engineering. He planned one with the approval and Funds from the University Grants Commission and earmarked 100 acres near Murukandhi. However, after his death in 1994 none of the Vice Chancellors followed up the establishment of the Faculty of Engineering. The 12 year embargo that began in 1990 prevented materials from being brought into the North to build the Faculty of Agriculture. But he mad it function with temporary facilities built with mud bricks and thatched roofs. Such was his determination to continue the education of the Tamil youths though the government of Sri Lanka was determined to thwart the efforts of the educators, agriculturists and the general population through the total embargo of the North. Prof. Thurairajah also headed a team of planners, architects and engineers and developed a master plan for the Jaffna peninsula. He also headed the team that prduced the master plan and engineering drawings to desalinate and stop desalination of the cultivatable lands in the Jaffna Peninsula. The embargo stopped that project too. This writer had the privilege of seeing these two master plans. The best way to honour this great person is to make the conditions necessary to implement his far-reaching blueprints for the development of the Peninsula and the Vanni.
The teachers and students in the NorthEast contribute articles to Arivukathir. The editorial board would like to receive articles in science, education, information technology and general topics of interest. Articles in English are also welcomed as long as it is in English that students who are not so proficient in the English language can understand.
The publication of the first issue was with the donation from well wishers. The second issue was published by the sales of the first issue and donations. The Arivukathir Board wishes to be come self sufficient soon. As such, they would like to invite subscription from the Tamil Diaspora. It also welcomes contribution for Arivukathir to establish its own Desktop Publishing activities rather than send the drafts to outside contractors. The Board also would like constructive criticism from readers as to how Arivukathir can be improved in content, form and style.
The yearly subscription for this quarterly is: United Kingdom 5.00 Pounds, Canada $10.00 Canadian dollars, United States US$10.00. India Rs.120.00, Other countries 5.00 Pounds. The subscription includes airmail postage. Those who wish to subscribe to this unique publication from the Vanni and promote its continuous publication can send the subscription by personal cheque, Bank Draft or Money order to:
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Arivukathir, the Science and Education Magazine from the NorthEast
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Faculty of Engineering is located in the main campus of the university in Peradeniya.
It is on one side of the Mahaweli River, at a side of the main road leading to Gampola. The famous Akbar bridge links the two banks of the river. Considered as a marvel of civil engineering, it was designed by late Prof. A. Thurairajah (Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, 1975-77 & 1982-85) and built by the 1st batch of the faculty, in the year of its inception, 1950.