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Old 23-02-13, 11:43 AM
sriyanjay sriyanjay is offline
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Default at S Thomas’ College, when Read was warden and Rev G A H Arndt was sub-warden

D R WIJEWARDENE’S 127th birth anniversary falls today:

Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

The 127th birth anniversary of Don Richard Wijewardene, the Founder of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd (ANCL) falls on February 23, 2013. To mark this occasion an all-night Pirith Pinkama was held followed by a Sanghika Dana to the Maha Sangha today.


It is very often said that “great men whether great social reformers, eminent lawyers, veteran journalists or even great judges differ from common man only in one thing. They give life a meaning, a purpose and dedicate themselves to that purpose. They testify to the truth and refuse to compromise whatever the cost”.

The secret of late D R Wijewardene as a powerful newspaper proprietor was due to his high degree of discipline, dedication, devotion, commitment combined with loftiness of his character and versatility of his intellect. Further, no field of human endeavour was left untouched by the swaying amplitude of his imagination, encompassing sweep of his thought, felicity of his words and the indefatigable zeal of his actions. No wonder, he left an indelible impression in most of what he touched with rare dynamism and exemplary zeal.

His greatness was unique. There was a ring of authenticity and nobility of courage and earnestness in whatever he did. Besides, he was of the opinion that noble means, noble ideas and noble actions would certainly have noble consequences, convoluted thinking and contorted behaviour would lead to calamitous consequences.
Strong personality

In fact, he was a great patriot and his devotion to his country was evident in deeds, not in words. He was a patriot in action, not in speech. Indeed, he was one of the remarkable personalities of the era. The running of a newspaper is more hazardous than any other venture. If it is successful one may derive sufficient wealth and power to influence a country, a nation or a government. If it fails, the owner will be completely crushed.

D R Wijewardene established seven newspapers - the Dinamina, Silumina, Daily News, Sunday Observer, Thinakaran and Sunday Thinakaran. He trained a generation of gifted journalists to man the newspapers. He was recognized as an able administrator and installed printing machinery which could print a large number of copies per hour.

Having overcome the perils of an arduous journey, he set about to equip his Newspaper Group known as Lake House or the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd (ANCL) and to establish it as an unshakable foundation. He went to office at 10 o’ clock in the morning and would first examine the Financial Section and the Printing Department to ensure that the papers reached the outstations in time before the people woke up.
Moulding of public opinion

Although D R Wijewardene possessed a strong personality, he had not sufficient confidence in his ability to excel in debate or sway crowds by the power of his speech. As such, he chose the far more effective method of influencing men by establishing newspapers among the best in Asia and published in national languages as well as in English.


He was born at Sedawatte, where his father, the late Muhandiram D P Wijewardene, a wealthy merchant and contractor who lived within easy reach of Colombo, where he had a very successful business.

He was educated at S Thomas’ College, when Read was warden and Rev G A H Arndt was sub-warden. From S Thomas’, he went to Peter House, Cambridge and came in compact with great personalities like Surendranath Benerji, generally known as the Silver-tounged orator of Bengal, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a Member of Imperial Legislative Council.

In fact, Wijewardene was very much impressed by Gokhale's sacrifice for Independence of India. Further, D R Wijewardene's friend and mentor during his student life in England was F H M Corbet, an influential Barrister with Ceylon connections.

Wijewardene's major contribution was the moulding of public opinion through the highly successful newspapers he established.

This success was due to not only in his business ability and political knowledge, but even in greater measure to a flair for journalism. Although he had never been a Reporter or political correspondent, he was always the first News gatherer of his papers.

Though, he rarely put pen to paper, the columnists and the leader writers were inspired and encouraged by his uncanny gift of reading the public mind.

In fact, his interest in Journalism was stimulated by daily reading of the Landon Daily News then edited by A G Gardiner. When he founded a newspaper himself he called it the Ceylon Daily News. In the meantime he owned a half share in Sinhalese newspaper called Dinamina published from Norris Road in which Sir Baron Jayatillaka wrote most of the Editorials.
Solid foundation

He was a good judge of men and matters. He always had loyal writers, men who were ready to be driven hard because they respected his integrity and devotion to duty. 'Crowther' whom he had known in England joined him in 1919 as Editor of the Daily News and continued in that position.

The partnership was happy and fruitful and helped to lay a solid foundation. In fact, no man worked harder than Wijewardene himself. He had the gift of leadership and his was not a public leadership, but only within his small circle of friends, fellow freedom fighters and within the institution he created.

He had an uncanny gift of spotting those who could serve both his ideals and the execution of them. Undoubtedly, he was a man of exceptional and exemplary character, an intellectual and a man of business.

He was unique in his generation of freedom fighters, because he alone had the vision and foresight to gauge the importance of public opinions. Indeed, he was a multifaceted and multi-dimensional personality in the whole history of Sri Lanka's journalism.



Last edited by sriyanjay; 24-02-13 at 10:45 AM.
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