When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 3 February 2013

“How did you come here?”

This was a question that the late Ray Wijewardene – maverick engineer, agronomist and inventor – frequently asked of his visitors to his Colombo home cum office. Most travelled in a motor vehicle – bus, car or motor cycle.

“Just think about it for a minute,” Ray would tell them. “You came here in an imported vehicle, fuelled by imported oil — and you drove it on roads paved with imported bitumen (tar).”

After waiting a few seconds for this to sink in, he delivered his punch line: “Do you still believe we’re an independent nation?”

He had a greater vision of independence, not limited to political self-governance that Ceylon obtained in February 1948. He argued that countries should aspire to be as “non-dependent” as possible.

Ray wasn’t…

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