Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An introduction to Engineering and Politics - PART 1 - By Vickramabahu Karunaratne

PART 1 – Resist the Rag

For some strange reason my parents thought that I would grow up to be a great engineer.

May be because I broke everything that came my way faster than my elder brother who was certainly more careful. Anyway, my carelessness sealed my fate.

Nay, not quite.

But I found myself entering the Engineering Faculty with such eminent engineers to be: M.P., Siri, W.M., Chris, et al.

The first thing I got involved in was an anti-rage resistance.

I can remember nine of us from Ananda Collage, slowly moving around the Colombo campus draped in white suits complete with maroon and gold collage ties.

Then, suddenly Chris Ratnayake came to me and suggested that I join him in an organisation to resist the ragging that was going on.

I must say that at first, I did not like this guy with a foreign look and with a foreign accent. In addition he spoke bad Sinhala. He was called ‘Cheena’ by his class mates.

But “Resist the Rag!” I could not miss that.

So I went along with Chris.

That was the beginning of a long friendship that has survived even his full time appointment with the World Bank!

Anyway, the clandestine committee that was formed to resist the seniors consisted of a few students drawn mainly from Colombo schools. We decided to request everybody in our batch to abandon suits and disobey the seniors.

Next day, we gathered at the Thurston collage garage and marched as a group to the Campus.

At the gates we met a group of seniors with their cycles blocking our entrance. Rajaratnam was in the lead.

Arguments broke out.

Then, suddenly, Sumith Kulathilake broke the line shouting “Let us go; why should we explain anything to them?”

Our Seniors all gathered around him and ordered: “You all can go; we want to question this man”.

We did not move an inch; and also we outnumbered them. They could see that we meant business, and in any case, they themselves were divided.

“O.K. If you do not want it, let us call it a day”, Rajaratnam finally said.

That was the beginning of a new tradition ‘no-rag’ which survived as long as our batch remained in the Faculty.

To be continued with PART 2 - Science Faculty Days

Add your comments below.


  1. Very good example form an Academic. We need more courages people like him in the universities today to eliminate ragging from universities.

  2. I'm a batch mate of Bahu's and did not escape ragging by Rajaratnam & Co, Though not severe but still humiliating and below the level of human dignity.

    Ragging is a stupid practice that must be stopped as it can result in permanent damage to the futures and lives of the victims. .

  3. Dr VicKramabahu Karunaratne is a rare genius of engineering and Politics.I still remember the meeting an evening in the Efac staff common room the likes of late Prof Thurairajah, Dr V Karuaratne, Dr David Kumar, Mr Shanmuganayagam and Dr Sivasekaram discussing politics with some of the instructors like me invited to join. I was telling my relatives last Saturday that Dr Vicramabahu is the Einstein of Srilanka politics for his courageous stand on many issues which can make Sl. great.

  4. Unfortunately ragging is some parts of the world got out of hand and lost its original purpose . I remember reading a decade or so ago when ragging got out of hand and ended in the death of a new medical student in India who happened to be the son of the vice chancellor or dean of the same university .The senior who ragged him was the son of two doctors.I hope that sort of things do not happen anywhere in the world.


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