HomeBreakingState honors to late Sarvodaya founder AT Ariyaratne

    State honors to late Sarvodaya founder AT Ariyaratne

    Dr. AT Aryaratne, founder of Sarvodaya, passed away yesterday (16) at a private hospital in Colombo.

    Mr. AT Ariyaratne, who was 92 years old, died while receiving treatment at a private hospital in Colombo.

    Founded in 1958, Sarvodaya is the largest non-governmental organization in Sri Lanka.

    Born in Unawatuna, Galle in 1931, Dr. AT Ariyaratne received his primary education from Bonavista College, Unawatuna, his secondary education from Galle Mahinda College, and his higher education from Vidyodaya University.

    He started his teaching career at Nalanda College, Colombo, where he took forty high school students and twelve teachers on an educational trip to a village considered to be underprivileged.

    During this memorable visit, Dr. AT Ariyaratneyan guided his students and teachers to share their labour, thought and energy with the villagers and help develop their village. The first Shramadana Camp marked the beginning of the Sarvodaya Shramadana campaign.

    Dr. Ariyaratneyan has received many national and international awards for his dedication to the nation and its people. He received the highest national award, the Srilankabhimanya Award from the President of Sri Lanka in 2007, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1969 (Philippines), the Bowdoin State Award in 1982 (Belgium) for his contribution to peace and human well-being, the Niwano Peace Prize in 1992 ( Japan) and many international awards like Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize (India) in 1996.

    Dr. AT Ariyaratne was awarded Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) degree from University of Sri Jayawardenepura and Doctor of Humanities (D.H.) honorary degrees from Amelio Aguinaldo College of Medicine, Philippines.

    Below is a comment made by Dr. AT Ariyaratne regarding the 75th Independence last year.

    I remember coming to Independence Square as a student of Mahinda College on the day of Independence and waiting for that meeting. But I was not happy about the freedom I got that day. Even though 56 was thought to change, it also changed with the assassination of Mr. Bandaranaike. From then till now (75th Independence Day), I have been invited to the Independence Day only once. That freedom is not a freedom I can accept. If we are in debt to the whole world, if we don’t have food and fuel, where will we have freedom? Before independence, the law worked well. The honesty of that time is not there today. Every day when you look at the newspaper, it is reported that crores of money has been stolen. So where is the freedom? Therefore, there is no way for us to have political economic development in a spiritually, morally and culturally degraded country. At that time, the left wing movement started and reached a certain situation. We all belonged to it. I accepted that socialism until I was 17 years old and saw Stalin’s crimes in Russia. But I can say that it is the politics of those parties, both left and right, that destroyed this country. These political parties are not suitable for this country. It is because of party politics that we have to enjoy this false freedom. If there was no party politics, it means that if this country was not divided into various parties, our country would have moved forward – Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne said.

    In the meantime, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has instructed the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, Mr. Pradeep Yasaratne to make the necessary arrangements to give state honors to the late Dr. AT Ariyaratne. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

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