Home / FT Lite/ A peep at happenings in the early days

A peep at happenings in the early days

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Saturday, 23 September 2017 00:00

On the eve of the 58th death anniversary of the late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike on 26 September, this rather unusual picture appeared in a Facebook entry announcing the release of 1,000 historic photographs by the Government Information Department on the internet. Though a caption of the picture did not identify the location or the event, I racked my brains going back to my reporter days on the Dinamina. 

Having joined the paper immediately after the formation of the MEP Government under SWRD in April 1956, I was assigned to cover most of the events that he attended. If I remember right, this picture may have been taken on the occasion of the takeover of the British naval base in Trincomalee in keeping with the election promise made by the Prime Minister that British military bases would be taken over once he came to power.

We were given a Volkswagen Beetle whenever we had to cover events in the outstations and invariably the vehicle was shared by the Dinamina and Daily News, the morning Lake House papers. The big, burly photographer Wally Perera, being one of the most senior press photographers at the time, accompanied us on these coverages. He did the trip to Trincomalee along with me and Dalton de Silva of the Daily News news desk. Wally was ideal company on long trips – he had so many stories to relate of the bygone days. He always dressed smartly, often sporting a bow tie with a short-sleeved shirt.

The release of such a large number of pictures is indeed laudable. It’s obviously the brain-child of Ranga Kalansuriya, Director-General of Information with his years of experience related to media. Following the link given by him on Facebook, I did a quick glance. It was a treasure hunt. To have preserved such valuable pictures since the formation of the Department in 1948 is indeed praiseworthy.

As reporters we used to visit the Information Department regularly. By mid-1950s the office had moved to Fort from the Secretariat building. The Government Record Office (later named the Government Publications Bureau) continued to be in the old place, with almost all the ministries and most of the Government departments being housed in the Secretariat building behind the old Parliament (present Presidential Secretariat). 

The venue was most convenient for the public to pick up the Government Gazette (out every Friday) and other Government publications including the Acts passed by Parliament, Hansards recording Parliamentary proceedings and administration reports when they came to attend to any other matters with a Government office.

Getting back to the collection of pictures, they have been divided into 19 categories. Most of the pictures (152) show community development activities with another 129 under the category ‘Government Officials’ which really deals with the tenures of the Bandaranaikes – SWRD and Sirimavo when they were prime ministers – while a separate section carries 57 pictures of the D S Senanayake era. 

The allocation of pictures and titles could have been better. For example, ‘Current Affairs’ section is not current since the events have taken place many years ago. Though short captions have been used to identify the pictures, most of them are vague. The use of dates of the events can enhance the value of the pictures. So is the spelling of some names. ‘Thevis Guruge’, for example, is spelt ‘Themis Guruge’. 

Apart from the present generation these pictures will be looked at by future generations, hence the information, names and dates must be accurate. These mistakes can be easily be corrected.

Let me once again thank Ranga K and his team for their effort. There will be many like me who will remember the bygone eras and enjoy these pictures recollecting old memories. For those interested the link is www.dgi.gov.lk – GFU Gallery.

Share This Article


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

In the desert of Tamil films, actor Sivaji Ganesan was an oasis

Saturday, 22 September 2018

‘Indian Film,’ first published in 1963 and co-authored by former Columbia University Professor Erik Barnouw and his student Dr. Subrahmanyam Krishnaswamy, is considered a seminal study of the evolution and growth of Indian cinema. The book is cit

Imran may turn blind eye to blasphemy law and persecution of Ahmadiyyas

Saturday, 22 September 2018

There are clear signs that Pakistan’s freshly minted Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will make a sincere effort to reduce corruption and maladministration in the domestic sphere. In foreign affairs he is likely to make a brave attempt to mend fences wi

The rate of exchange, capital flight and the Central Bank

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Central Bank (CBSL) exists for the sole purpose of price stability. Its controls on the financial system and monetary policy exist to maintain price stability. As put forth many times by the Governor, the failing of the CBSL to control inflation

Red flag over the Sri Lankan Navy

Friday, 21 September 2018

Shocking story Rusiripala, a former banker in Sri Lanka, who has taken to writing in Daily FT, is perturbed by the red flag I have raised (Daily FT article 18 September) over the shocking charge that our Navy had operated a ransom gang that had abduc

Columnists More