His Excellency Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, founder Chairperson of the South Asla Foundation,
Mrs. Uma Coomaraswamy, Vice Chancellor of the Open University,
Members of the Committee of the South Asia Foundation Sri Lanka Chapter Distinguished Guests and Recipients of the Madanjeet Singh Scholarship,
I consider myself honoured to be present at this event which first and foremost benefits a cross-section of young persons of this country to pursue further studies giving them a much longed for opportunity to come closer to their goals. All the more so, because it takes place in the presence of the eminent person who not only envisioned this programme but also made it possible.
H.E. Madanjeet Singh, whose lifelong commitment to communal harmony and peace, is now legendary. I am also here to honour the memory of the first Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Chapter of the South Asia Foundation, the late Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar.
May I just say that Hon. Lalshman Kadirgamar would not have accepted to lead an organization had he not been in complete agreement with its vision and guiding principles.
Amidst a very busy schedule the late Minister, along with a very eminent Committee, steered the Sri Lanka Chapter of the South Asia Foundation.
Your Excellency, none of us know better than you how the late Hon. Kadirgamar shared with you the dream of a strong and united South Asia, working together helping the marginalized by opening door to the youth of the region to imbibe in them a vision for a greater south Asla unity.
Mr. Madanjeet Singh's belief that no country can develop without taking its entire people along, including the poor farmers living on less than I dollar a day, that comprise the vast majority in South Asia is also shared by our new President H.E. Mahinda Rajapakshe and his Government.
At this point may I mention the contribution by Mrs. Uma Coomaraswamy, the Vice Chancellor of the Open University, who along with her team, have spared no pain to successfully carry through the scholarship programme. As Sri Lankans we can be proud that Ambassador Madanjeet Singh placed the responsibility of coordinating the entire scholarship programme for the region in the hands of the Vice Chancellor.
Your Excellency Madanjeet Singh - you truly are a renaissance figure, a politician, diplomat, human rights activist, philanthropist artist and photographer, a rare individual whom I had the great honour of meeting for the first time only last evening. lt is indeed a great personal honour to have met a great a unique individual in this age of mass production and wholesale mediocrity.
On behalf of the Government and the people of Sri Lanka I thank you Ambassador Madanjeet Singh for this very magnanimous gesture in providing the opportunity to a group of young aspirants which would hold great promise for their future.
To the recipients of this scholarship I would advice you to make maximum use of this opportunity. It is important that you should take the trouble to broaden your outlook, be aware of the concept of the South Asia Foundation, to be conscious of the problems shared by our countries in the region and above all to commit your self to contribute in whatever way you can towards the progress of our society.
I wish you all success. Thank you.