TRIBUTES | Sunday Observer


 Kandavanam Kanagasabai:

A large hearted philanthropist

The news of the passing away of Kandavanam Kanagasabai on June 30 2018 was shocking. He,was a close relative of mine, who I addressed as “Anna.” He was affectionately known as ‘KKS.’ My family in Sydney was greatly saddened and deeply grieved by his demise.

Life comes to an end like a streak of lightning, a bubble of water, a dew drop on a leaf or a line drawn on water. Death can never be avoided. Death comes to all, but when it comes to someone whose relationship was built on values, parting is indeed sad and unbearable.

My association with him spanned for more than six decades. There are many facets to the personality of Kanagasabai Anna.

My memory goes back to Karaveddy in Vadamaradchy, a place reputed for eminent personalities in all walks of life, medical, legal, judicial, engineering, business and so on. He was born in Karaveddy on October 5, 1930. His father was Chairman of Karaveddy Village Council.

Kanagasabai Anna had his secondary education at Karaveddy Vigneswara College. He was admitted to St. Patricks College Jaffna by his father to ensure that he had training and discipline under the hard taskmaster Principal Rev.Fr. Long. As a student he was a good sportsman.

On June 3 1955, he married his uncle’s daughter, Navaratnam, literally meaning ‘ nine jewels’. She is a perfect housewife with pleasing manners and winning ways. She maintained a beautiful and happy home extending a warm welcome to all who came to their home. True to her name she was a jewel of a lady. Their daughter, Pamathy, is now settled down in Singapore with her husband T. Raveendran from Karaveddy. His second daughter Dayamathy is a medical doctor, residing in Australia with her husband M. Jeganathan.

Kanagasabai Anna was rice miller, and had a business under the name, ‘KKS Stores’ at Dam street, Pettah, Colombo. I used to visit him there on my way to and from Hulftsdorp courts and enjoy discussing various matters. In fact I learned a lot in the discussions. To mention a few -

(1) When your wife says “ correct me if I am wrong “, just smile and agree. Don’t start correcting her. It is a trap’!

(2) There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us. So let us not talk about the rest of us.

(3) We must learn to say with our hearts the three word sentence.” I am sorry “, “ Please forgive me “, “I love you “.

(4) I have six trustworthy friends - where, what, when, why, how, who.

He had amassed a lot of wealth as a business tycoon. Hard work was his trade mark. It is considered appropriate to quote H. W. Longfellow, who said - “The heights of great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight. But, while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the night.”

Karaveddy Vigneswara College, his alma mater owes a debt of gratitude to Kanagasabai Anna. The OBA Colombo branch which was functioning for more than 30 years, had conducted many and varied ceremonies. On one occasion, Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was the chief guest at the AGM held at the Y. M. C A. Colombo. He was surprised to see old students like K C. Nadarajah, leading criminal lawyer, and Dr. Siva Chinnathamby, gynaecologist of international fame.

The vote of thanks was proposed by M. Sivasithamparam, former TULF leader. In the vote of thanks he said if the letter ‘ O ‘ was put in the middle of the initials S. W. R. D., he would be a SWORD. The Prime Minister was highly thrilled and referred to Sivasithamparam as a spruce tongued orator. This association was completely destroyed during the 1983 July communal violence.

Kanagasabai Anna, Siva Anna and Prof Karthigesu Sivathamby conducted the inauguration of the OBA at a meeting held at the Bambalapitiya flats community centre on July 5 1992. Kanagasabai Anna was a patron of the OBA till he passed away on June 30 2018. He had done a lot for the college. To mention a few - he bought the adjoining land and donated it to the College. He donated lavishly for the Platinum Jubilee ceremony of the school, for the sports fund and scholarships fund. In November 2004 he went to Karaveddy to see his only sister. The Principal of his alma mater then took him in a procession from Nelliady to the College, to a reception.

He donated a big sum to an account in his father’s name to be used for a scholarship. Similarly he gave vast amounts of cash for the OBA.

His golden jubilee wedding anniversary on June 3, 2005 was celebrated at a five star hotel in Colombo. There was a large gathering, including leading personalities -then Attorney General K.C.Kamalasabesan, judges, prominent lawyers, and top police officials.

On a personal note, he was extremely helpful to my family in several ways. He helped at my daughter’s and son’s weddings in a big way showering them with valuable gifts and entertaining all guests in the Hotel.

I cannot describe in words what he had done in relation to my daughter ‘s wedding.

He had helped many others too to conduct weddings. He had made donations for parliamentary elections for Siva Anna ( M. Sivasithamparam). Kanagasabai Anna was a large hearted philanthropist. He lived in the lap of luxury and comfort.

He was always well dressed, in a crisply pressed shirt. He was an individual of integrity and humility, and lived a full life. He was a happy family man and an excellent social worker. He was suddenly taken ill and admitted to a private hospital in Colombo. Within a few days he was brought to his residence according to his wishes and passed away peacefully. He was a most loving person, who will remain supreme in my mind and heart. Although I could not be present to watch his last journey , I have the satisfaction that my youngest son represented me and did all he could, including carrying the coffin.

Kanagasabai Anna will be greatly missed. I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the members of his grieving family. The good and noble never die. May his soul rest in peace and rise in glory.

Velautham Vimalarajah,
(Former Labour Court judge)


Ramanathan Nadarajah:

Loss of a veteran banker

It was with profound shock and grief that the banking community, his friends and relatives received the sad news of the untimely demise of Ramanathan Nadarajah on June 24, 2018, at the age of 74.

He was born on May 9, 1944 as the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Kasipillai Ramanathan, a respected and religious family in Thirunelvely North, Jaffna. He had his education at Parameshwara College Jaffna, a leading college, in Jaffna founded by the late Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. He graduated from the University of Ceylon (Peradeniya) with a degree in double Mathematics and Physics with a Second Class (Upper Division)

‘Nada’ as he was fondly called by his friends, started his banking career when he was 24 years, joining the Bank of Ceylon as a staff officer. He was placed in the higher grade of Staff Assistant Grade – II, then Staff Assistants being presently known as Management Trainees. His hard work, dedication and commitment earned him lots of respect and admiration from all and although he never craved for positions or limelight he was able to move swiftly up the hierarchical ladder of the Bank.

He obtained extensive experience in Branch Banking having worked as Manager at the Kurunegala and Main Street Colombo branches. He then moved to Credit Support Department, Imports Department, Treasury Division Corporate Credit (Restructuring & Recoveries) Department and the Finance & Planning Division making him a complete banker with the widest possible exposure.

He was extremely committed to his work, well known for ‘Paying Attention to Detail’. He was a master in scrutinizing credit papers and added value in no uncertain manner to the bank’s credit evaluation process.

Having served in almost all key functions of commercial banking, he kept on moving up the bank’s hierarchy to be an Assistant General Manager and thereafter a Deputy General Manager of Bank of Ceylon.

He passed the Diploma in Banking Examination conducted by the Chartered Institute of Bankers London and was awarded its Associateship, then elected as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, London (FCIB). He also completed his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Colombo. It is remarkable that he succeeded in his MBA as he had fallen and broken his pair of spectacles on entering the examination hall and had to answer the first paper while holding the only undamaged lens to his eye with his left hand.

He retired from Bank of Ceylon at age 55, even though he was entitled to request extensions of service until he was 60. He was immediately picked up by Pan Asia Bank as its Deputy Chief Executive Officer, and was then appointed Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer of Pan Asia Bank. After a few years of guiding that bank, he wanted a younger person to take over the leadership and was happy to leave the bank when a successor was found. Thereafter, his services were sought again, this time to help Seylan Bank to come out of the crisis they were in. He was appointed an Executive Director of Seylan Bank. He also functioned as the Chairman of its subsidiary Seylan Developments PLC at that time.

In spite of all this he did not shy away from service to the Sri Lankan banking community, and was elected the inaugural President of the Primary Dealers Association in Sri Lanka. He was also elected to the Council of Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka (APB) and became its President in 2001. He was awarded the Honorary Life Membership of the APB in recognition of his contribution.

At the time of his demise he was serving as a Member of the Council of Advisors and a Member of the Fund Management Committee of Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka.

Nada was a man of undoubted integrity and a fountain of knowledge. He had a wide circle of friends not only in the banking industry but also in many other specialized fields, some of them being his batchmates at the university. They were Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others. For him race or religion of a person did not matter. In fact the ringing tones on his mobile phone was always a popular Sinhala song. He was the absolute role model for persons believing in communal harmony.

‘Nada’ was a gentleman of the highest order. He practised yoga and meditation and encouraged others also to do so. He was soft spoken, not craving for positions, always with a smile, and what he said came straight from the bottom of his heart. He was an epitome of simplicity, humility and modesty.

He was always wearing a broad smile and a greeting with ‘God Bless You.’ He was always keen to help anyone who needed assistance. He had no enemies. He was a teetotaller and strict vegetarian but he did not want to miss any functions that he was invited to.

However, he used to get himself excused from staying on for the dinners saying that his loving wife would be waiting for him. He is a practising and devoted Hindu who never missed any Hindu religious ceremony.‘Nada’ was fortunate to have Umayal, as his wife.

She was always there to support him and never grumbled about his late hours in the bank. They were a happy couple always together except when he was away on official duty. According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva and Parvathi were inseparable and Nadarajah (another name for Lord Shiva) and Umayal (another name for Parvathi) were no different, so much so that even when he met with the fatal accident they were together, but by the grace of God she escaped miraculously without any major injuries.

Our association with Nada goes back many years, having been close friends and colleagues at the Bank of Ceylon and later at the Association of Professional Bankers – Sri Lanka. His demise is not only a loss to his family, friends and fellow bankers but also to Sri Lanka’s banking industry.

He leaves behind Umayal his devoted wife, two daughters Marthangini and Ajahini and three loving grandchildren who along with his relatives and all his friends will miss him forever.

May his soul attain Moksha.

Parama Dharmawardene,
Former Deputy General Manager, Sampath Bank, A. Kathiravelupillai
– Former Deputy General Manager, Bank of Ceylon, Guy de Silva, Former Senior Deputy General Manager, Bank of Ceylon.


K. Mahinda Silva:

A genuine friend with a sincere heart  

The second death anniversary of K. Mahinda Silva fell on July 15. He passed away at the age of 63.

He was attached to the Lake House Audit Department for 27 years, where he performed a dedicated service and led an exemplary life.

The memory of this great friend has touched our lives, leaving loving memories in our hearts. Mahinda was a wonderful human being, and one of the nicest persons I have ever met. With a remarkable talent and well earned recognition, he was a genuine friend, honest, kind, and down to earth. He gave happiness to every one he knew, and was a ray of sunshine that gave life and warmth. That was the special reason that he was loved so very much by the Lake House staff, his relatives and friends.

Mahinda studied at Ananda College, Colombo. Aggression was never in his vocabulary. He was a loving person with a beautiful heart. He had compassion and understanding, with a readiness to forgive and forget. He was courageous and never hesitated to stand up for justice.

Mahinda was a devoted husband to his wife Sandiya and a dutiful father to his two daughters, Imasha and Ashani. He had an inseparable connection with his family that was deep and symbiotic. We will never forget his hospitality, kind words and genuine smile. We have lost an unassuming, simple and loving friend.

“May you attain Supreme Bliss of Nibbana”.

A.D.T. Maithripala