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Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

Chairperson/BCIS Council of Management

Biography

Chandrika Bandaranaike KUMARATUNGA served as the Executive President of Sri Lanka during the period 1994 – 2005. Having had her primary education here in Sri Lanka, she attended the Institute of Political Science (Sciences Po) at the University Of Paris to engage in higher studies.

Since her retirement from active Politics, Madam Kumaratunga has been a driving force behind Sri Lanka’s major efforts for reconciliation with a view towards achieving lasting peace in the country. She has also associated herself with major reforms in the country at policy level, especially in the field of Anti-corruption, Human Rights, and Economic Reforms.

Madam Kumaratunga is a Member, and formerly a Director, of Club de Madrid as well as the Global Leadership Foundation; two global networks of distinguished leaders among several other International Organisations.

She was awarded, among others, the Medal of Commander of the Legion of Honour from the French Government as well as the Search for Common Ground Award for Outstanding Political Vision and Courage.

Academic background

  • Completed secondary education in Sri Lanka.
  • Graduated in Political Science and International Relations in 1970 from the Political Science Institute – (Sciences Po) of the University of Paris.
  • Diploma in Group Leadership.
  • Trained as a journalist at Le Monde newspaper.
  • PhD studies in Development Economics at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, University of Paris from 1970-1973.
  • Research Fellow at Institute of Commonwealth Studies of the University of London from 1988 -1991 and UNU-WIDER
  • Fluent in English, French and Sinhala.

Publications

  • “The Janawasa Movement: Future Strategies for Development in Sri Lanka,” a FAO publication (1980).
  • The Co-Operative Movement in Sri Lanka - Land and Agrarian Reforms in Sri Lanka
  • Food Policies and Strategies in Sri Lanka from 1948 to 1989 (a WIDER publication)
  • The State and Social Structures in Sri Lanka.

Professional achievements

  • 1972-1977 - Additional Principal Director of the Land Reforms Commission
  • 1976 - 1977 - Chairperson of the Janawasa Commission, which established cooperative farms for rural youth. State lands were used to set up 250 farming units employing 30,000 young people in whom ownership of the farm land was vested. This project was identified as one of the most successful employment projects for rural youth in a Developing Country. Awarded the FAO Silver Medal for Agricultural Development in 1977.
  • 1978 - 1979 - Served as Expert Consultant to FAO. Awarded the FAO Ceres Medal for efforts to foster rural development and peace in Sri Lanka.(2003)
  • Led the successful privatizations of State Enterprises.Telecommunication
    Power
    Ports and Aviation Services
    Highways
    Insurance
    Plantations of Tea / Rubber
  • Guest lecturer at many Universities across the world.

Areas of Competence

  • Leadership in formulating and implementing projects in all areas of development.
  • Wide experience and skills in policy planning and implementation and in the promotion of private investment for Developmenta. Setup the National Council for Economic Development [NCED] for purpose of formulating State policy and for monitoring its implementation, with the participation of government / business leaders/professionals/ academics.
    b. Strategic Enterprises Management Agency [SEMA] to manage government owned enterprises, as well as to monitor privatized, previously State owned enterprises, led by the State and the private sector.
    c. The National Procurement Agency [NPA] to eliminate corruption in the procurement processes of the government.
  • Led a successful campaign against Corruption in Government, with new laws, practices and institutions created for this purpose.
  • Wide experience in international relations for over 30 years with a large number of high government level contacts, in many countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
  • Effective communications and public relations skills.
  • She was mainly responsible for bringing her Party to power after 17 years and continuing to win free and fair elections for 13 years.
  • She moved her Party and the country away from the pro-war, confrontational mind-set to one of negotiations and peace for the first time in 46 years after independence. Formulated and successfully implemented strategies to steer the Nation to begin to accept living within a plural, multicultural society.

Areas of Competence

  • Leadership in formulating and implementing projects in all areas of development.
  • Wide experience and skills in policy planning and implementation and in the promotion of private investment for Developmenta. Setup the National Council for Economic Development [NCED] for purpose of formulating State policy and for monitoring its implementation, with the participation of government / business leaders/professionals/ academics.
    b. Strategic Enterprises Management Agency [SEMA] to manage government owned enterprises, as well as to monitor privatized, previously State owned enterprises, led by the State and the private sector.
    c. The National Procurement Agency [NPA] to eliminate corruption in the procurement processes of the government.
  • Led a successful campaign against Corruption in Government, with new laws, practices and institutions created for this purpose.
  • Wide experience in international relations for over 30 years with a large number of high government level contacts, in many countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
  • Effective communications and public relations skills.
  • She was mainly responsible for bringing her Party to power after 17 years and continuing to win free and fair elections for 13 years.
  • She moved her Party and the country away from the pro-war, confrontational mind-set to one of negotiations and peace for the first time in 46 years after independence. Formulated and successfully implemented strategies to steer the Nation to begin to accept living within a plural, multicultural society.

Political Career

  • She was elected:
    Chief Minister of the Western Province in 1993 in a land slide victory.
    Prime Minister (August 1994)
    Executive President (November 1994)
    And later for a second term in 1999, both by massive popular votes.
  • Survived an assassination attempt by separatist militants, sustaining permanent damage to one eye.
  • Retired from active politics in 2005, after serving two terms as Executive President.

Achievements during Executive Presidency

Conflict Resolution
  • In 1994 her government inherited a nation plagued by violent politics - a civil war between the government and a separatist terror group as well as a State guilty of massive Human Rights violations, with around 50,000 murders of victims of extrajudicial killings.
  • Her Government re-established democracy, democratic institutions and respect for Human Rights.
  • It also effectively curbed rampant corruption within the State. New laws were enacted and Institutions and procedures created for these purposes.
  • Took on the challenge of the prolonged ethnic conflict with the stated policy, that Minority Rights must be granted and that the resolution of war and the ethnic conflict could not be achieved with arms alone but through a political solution.
  • Proposed, for the first time in Sri Lankan history, an extensive devolution of power through a federal system of government, in place of the separate State demanded by the rebels and entered into two Cease Fire agreements and negotiations with the rebels. One of which lasted from 2002 - 2005. She also signed a landmark agreement with the LTTE viz the P-TOMS which was an effective first step towards cooperation between the government and the LTTE.
  • She is the first Sri Lankan leader, in 60 years of Independence to have spoken against extremism and worked towards building understanding and integration between all Sri Lankan communities and made a public apology to the minorities for discrimination against them by past governments and appointed a Truth Commission to inquire into and compensate injustices suffered by them. It is noteworthy that she continued with her policy of negotiations with the rebels, even after they attempted to assassinate her and badly wounded her.
Economic Policy
  • Her Government’s stated policy, “free market economy with a human face” was designed to give access to the benefits of development to all sections of the population. During her Presidency:-Per capita income doubled from US $ 620 to US $ 1200
    GDP increased by double
    Electricity supply to individual homes increased from 32% - 55%
    Supply of safe drinking water to households increased from 30% - 70%
    A seven fold increase in fixed & mobile telephones.
    An annual economic growth rate of 5 to 6%
    All of the above were achieved despite an ongoing civil conflict.
Protection of Children and their Rights
  • Prevention and control of every form of child abuse was one of her primary concerns. She established the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) which was formed by an Act of Parliament. The NCPA functioned directly under the President. She was invited by The United Nations as one of the keynote speakers together with Bill Gates to the UN Conference on the Child in New York, in 2002.
Social Infrastructure
  • Her government tripled budgetary provisions for Education and Health, to modernize and render these services to be more responsive to the needs of the people. There was a paradigm shift in the philosophy of Education, paving the way for a vibrant 21st century generation of creative thinkers ready to take on the knowledge based globalized world, while appreciating diversity in our society rather than reject it.
  • Under her Presidency, Sri Lanka completed the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for Education and Health.

Post Presidential career

  • Madam Kumaratunga is among the few Asian leaders to retire at 60 years of age, after serving two terms as President, in November 2005.
  • Currently she is engaged in social entrepreneurship and is Chairperson the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI), which is a non-profit, non-political body.
  • SAPRI is an independent “think-tank” whose focus is the study of issues essential for progress of South Asia. SAPRI comprises leading thinkers from the region and beyond who undertake research, and formulate policy proposals to be disseminated to decision makers of the region.
  • Has served as Advisor on Poverty Alleviation in the Clinton Global Initiative
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Club de Madrid.
  • Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Chapter of the South Asia Foundation.
  • Founding Chair of the Foundation for Democracy and Justice.
  • Founding Chair of the South Asia Policy and Research Institute.
  • Member of the Council of Women World Leaders
  • Madam Kumaratunga was Chairperson of the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation set up by the Government of Sri Lanka until 15 th November 2019.
  • She has travelled the globe extensively on speaking assignments. Has attended and addressed a large number of Local and International Events