ECONOMIST and Member of Parliament Dr. Harsha de Silva has been honoured with the prestigious Multi Nation Eisenhower Fellowship for 2011.
He is leaving for his six week fellowship in the United States starting early April. "I want to really understand the dynamics among politicians, think tanks, academics and the media in developing and implementing important policies in the US within the framework of economic freedom of the people.
" said Dr. de Silva. He added "Some of the post 2008 policies have been very un-American from a traditional sense, and criticised by many, but, they implemented them with the support of the people". He also said he is very interested in getting a broader perceptive of how US policy on trade and development assistance is formulated and how Sri Lanka could benefit in that regard. "We need to strengthen our ties with the United States. No matter what some people say, America will continue to be a major force in the global scene in decades to come" said the parliamentarian.
Twenty outstanding mid-career Fellows drawn from 49 different countries from all walks of life: business, government, NGO’s, agriculture, the arts, sports, religion, etc., are invited to the U.S. annually for an intensive, individually designed programme in the Fellow's professional field. Each Fellow is competitively identified by a high-level in-country nominating committee and finally selected by a committee at Eisenhower Fellowships headquarters in Philadelphia. Any person between the ages of 32 and 45 years with a track record of substantial achievement and demonstrated leadership with the potential of further professional and personal growth with a commitment to international collaboration is eligible for nomination. The 15 member in-country committee that selected Dr. de Silva was headed by emeritus Professor Savitri Goonasekere. Originally he was expected to participate in the fellowship in 2010 but due to the general elections the Fellowship was postponed to 2011.
Dr. de Silva said that the Eisenhower Fellowships has already made appointments for him to meet with a cross section of some very influential people in America. They include several senators, congressmen, and top officials at the White House, US Treasury, Federal Reserve, State Department, the Government Accountability Office as well as highly respected economists at MIT, Harvard, Stanford, National Bureau of Economic Research and at think tanks like Brookings, CATO and the Heritage Foundation. He is also planning to meet with some well known journalists at CNN, Fox, and Wall Street Journal and visit several esteemed journalism schools including Berkeley, Columbia and the University of Missouri. He is also slated to deliver talks at several universities.
Since 1958, sixteen Sri Lankans have had the privilege of becoming Eisenhower Multi Nation Fellows. Some of them are civil servants of the calibre of Messrs Shelton Wanasinghe (1967), Godfrey Gunatillake (1970) and R. S. Jayaratne (1978), business giants such as the late Lalit Hewavitarane (1966), leading business executives like Suneetha Jayawickrama (1968), Asoka de Lanerolle (1972), Dayananda Gunawardene (1986), business and civil society activists such as Chandra Jayaratne (1989), a solitary diplomat HE Mangala Moonasinghe (1975) and the current Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal (2000). The most recent recipient was Dr. Susie Perera, currently Director Policy Analysis and Development at the Ministry of Health (2007).
Besides the core Multi Nation Programme Eisenhower Fellowships has a special women's leadership programme of which conservationist Manori Gunawardena is the only Sri Lankan alumnus (2010). In addition it also has several Single Region Programmes including a South Asia Programme specially designed for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Alumni of this programme consist of civil society activists Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, J. C. Weliamuna and Kala Pieris de Costa and parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne, all from 2004. The next South Asia Regional Programme is scheduled to be held in 2012.