Rajiva Wijesinha

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Rajiva Wijesinha
රජීව විජේසිංහ

Member of the Sri Lanka Parliament
for National List
In office
State Minister of Higher Education
In office
12 January 2015 – 17 February 2015
PresidentMaithripala Sirisena
Prime MinisterRanil Wickremesinghe
Personal details
Born (1954-05-16) 16 May 1954 (age 65)
Sri Lanka
NationalitySri Lankan
Political partyLiberal Party of Sri Lanka
Alma materUniversity College, Oxford; Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Rajiva Wijesinha, MA, DPhil (Sinhala: රජීව විජේසිංහ) (born 16 May 1954)[1] is a Sri Lankan writer in English, distinguished for his political analysis as well as creative and critical work. An academic by profession for much of his working career, he was most recently Senior Professor of Languages at the University of Sabaragamuwa, Sri Lanka.

In June 2007 President Mahinda Rajapakse appointed him Secretary-General of the Sri Lankan Government Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process and in June 2008 he also became concurrently the Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. The Peace Secretariat wound up in July 2009),[2] and in February 2010 he resigned from the Ministry as well as the University,[3] and became a member of parliament on the National List of the United People's Freedom Alliance following the General Election held in April 2010,[4] following which he was appointed a member of parliament.[5][6]

He belongs to the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka,[7] and has served as its President and leader, and also as a Vice-President of Liberal International. He is currently Chair of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats and was re-elected leader of the Liberal Party Sri Lanka on the proposal of the previous leader following the Liberal Party Annual Congress of 2011.[8] He has travelled widely, including as a Visiting Professor on the Semester at Sea Programme of the University of Pittsburgh, and has published Beyond the First Circle: Travels in the Second and Third Worlds.

Education and career[edit]

Rajiva Wijesinha schooled at S Thomas' College, Mt Lavinia (which he later served as Sub-Warden, for a brief period), and won an Open Exhibition in Classics to University College, Oxford when he was 16. After his first degree, which also led to an MA in 1977, he moved to Corpus Christi College, Oxford as an E K Chambers Student (Edmund Kerchever Chambers), and obtained a BPhil degree in English, followed by a DPhil degree on the subject of Women and Marriage in the early Victorian novel.[9] The thesis was subsequently published by the University Press of America under the title The Androgynous Trollope.

He taught briefly at the University of Peradeniya before resigning in protest against the increasing authoritarianism of the government of President Junius Richard Jayewardene. He then worked for the British Council in Colombo as its Cultural Affairs Officer before rejoining the University system to initiate English degree programmes for students from backgrounds that had limited English in school. He was responsible for the islandwide pre-University General English Language Training programme, as well as General English programmes at the Affiliated University Colleges established in 1992 to introduce employment oriented courses into the tertiary education system.

In 2001 he served as a Consultant to the Ministry of Education to initiate the reintroduction of English medium education in the state sector, which had banned it previously for several decades. He was also Academic Consultant to the Sri Lanka Military Academy when it began degree programmes for Officer Cadets. He has served as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the National Institute of Education, and has been a member of the National Education Commission and of the Board of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies.

In 1982 he supported Chanaka Amaratunga to set up the Council for Liberal Democracy and was Co-Editor of the Liberal Review, at a time when dissenting voices had no space to publish in Sri Lanka. He became President of the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka when it was established in 1987 and, though more comfortable as an analyst rather than a politician, he took over as Leader of the Party after Dr Amaratunga's death in 1996. He was the Presidential candidate of the party in 1999, and came 6th out of 15 candidates, defeating several former parliamentarians. During this period he conducted workshops on Liberalism in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Indonesia, on behalf of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung (FNS), the German Liberal Foundation, for whom he also edited Liberal Values for South Asia (revised recently as Liberal Perspectives on South Asia and published in 2009 by Cambridge University Press, Delhi).

He was instrumental in promoting English Language writing in Sri Lanka, and initiated the English Writers Cooperative of Sri Lanka while he was at the British Council which aided and administered the EWC at its inception. He had earlier edited the New Lankan Review,[10] which provided space for Sri Lankan writers in English when the genre was regaining acceptance, and he served on the Editorial Board of the EWC for over a decade. He has edited several collections of poetry and short stories by Sri Lankan writers in English, most recently Bridging Connections, an Anthology of Stories which also contains translations from Sinhala and Tamil and was published by the National Book Trust of India in 2007.[11][12][13]

He was the first Sri Lankan writer resident in the county whose works have been translated into a European language. Servi, the Italian translation of Servants which won the Gratiaen Award for 1995, was published by Giovanni Tranchida Editore in Milan in 2002,[14] and this was followed in 2006 by Atti di fede.[15] This last was a translation of Acts of Faith, based on the 1983 government-sponsored riots against Tamils known as Black July, and the first part of a trilogy that included Days of Despair (1989) and The Limits of Love (2005). He worked on this last novel, which is based on the kidnapping and murder of the poet and journalist Richard de Zoysa, as a resident at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center and at the Center for Writers at Hawthornden Castle.

Prof Wijesinha serves at present on the editorial board of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Works in other genres include The Foundations of Modern Society, Political Principles and their Practice in Sri Lanka and A Handbook of English Grammar, published by Cambridge University Press in Delhi, which also brought out most recently Declining Sri Lanka: J R Jayewardene and the erosion of Democracy.



Non Fiction[edit]

  • The Androgynous Trollope: Women in the Victorian Novel (1982)


  • George Cawkwell of Univ. Colombo, Sri Lanka: S. Godage & Brothers, 2019 (edited)
English Language[edit]
Travel and Social History[edit]
  • Beyond the First Circle: Travels in the Second and Third Worlds, 1993
  • Fact and Fable: Aspects of East West Interaction (proceedings of a conference held at Sabaragamuwa University in August 1999), 2000
  • Richard de Zoysa: his life, some work ... a death, 2000
  • Across Cultures: Issues of Identity in Contemporary British and Sri Lankan Writing, 2001 (edited with Neluka Silva)
  • Gilding the Lily: Celebrating Ena de Silva, 2002
  • All Experience: Essays and Reflections (edited essays of Sam Wijesinha), 2001.[23]
  • The Foundations of Modern Society, 2004


Articles in books & major journals[edit]

  • Interview in Configurations of Exile: South Asian Writers and their World, edited by Chelva Kanaganayakam, TSAR, Toronto, 1995
  • Teaching Post-Colonial Literature in Sri Lanka' in Dolphin 27 – Teaching Post-Colonialism and Post-Colonial Literatures, edited by Anne Collett, Lars Jensen & Anna Rutherford, Aarhus, 1997
  • "Aberrations and Excesses: Sri Lanka substantiated by the Funny Boy", Miscelanea vol. 18, Universidad de Zaragoza, 1997
  • "Cutting through Territories: Naipaul's 'A Way in the World'", Translating Cultures, KRK/Dangaroo, 1999
  • "Sex and the Single Girl: Scott's recommendations for the Raj", Gladly wolde she teche and lerne: Essays in honour of Yasmine Gooneratne, London 1999
  • Why are we afraid of Secularism in Pakistan?, Christian Study Centre, Rawalpindi, 1999
  • "Travesties: Romance and Reality in the Raj Quartet", Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, Orissa, 2000
  • "Spices and Sandcastles: the exotic historians of Sri Lanka", Across Cultures: Issues of Identity in Contemporary British and Sri Lankan Writing (proceedings of the Conference held at the British Council Sri Lanka in 2000; British Council, Colombo, 2001)
  • "A deeper communion: the older women of The Raj Quartet", Missions of Interdependence, the publication of the proceedings of the 1999 Tübingen EACLALS Conference (Rhodopi, 2002)
  • "Richard de Zoysa: his life, some work ... and a death", Towards a Transcultural Future: Literature and Human Rights in a ‘Post’-Colonial World, the publication of the proceedings of the 2000 ASNEL Conference held in Aachen (Rhodopi 2005)
  • "Bringing back the bathwater: new initiatives in English policy in Sri Lanka", The Politics of English as a World Language, the publication of the proceedings of the 2001 ASNEL Conference held in Freiburg (Rhodopi, 2003)
  • "Religion and Culture in the Liberal State", Liberal Values for South Asia, edited by Wijesinha, CLD, Colombo 1997
  • "Education in Sri Lanka – the failure of good intentions and little learning", Protection of Minority Rights and Diversity, edited by Nanda Wanasundara, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, 2004
  • "Agendas of Oppression", I want to speak of tenderness: 50 writers for Anne Ranasinghe, edited by Gerard Robuchon, ICES 2004
  • "Travels in the United States", Excursions and Explorations: Cultural Encounters between Sri Lanka and the United States, edited by Tissa Jayatilaka, Colombo, 2002
  • "A Refuge", Gilding the Lily: Celebrating Ena de Silva, edited by Wijesinha, Colombo, 2002
  • "Entries on Bapsi Sidhwa and Sri Lankan Literature", Encyclopaedia of Postcolonial Studies, edited by John C Hawley, USA, 2001
  • Entry on Sri Lankan Literature in English in the Encyclopaedia of South Asian Literature in English, edited by Jaina Sanga, USA, 2004

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Team Lanka Mission (15 May 2008). "Sri Lanka: Happy birthday Dear Professor". The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office in Geneva. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  2. ^ Hiran H. Senewiratne (25 July 2009). "SCOPP to close down". Daily News Online. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  3. ^ Rajiva quits, question mark over Eran
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Sri Lanka Parliament profile Archived 20 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (21 April 2010). "Gazette Extraordinary No. 1650/19" (PDF). The Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  7. ^ Kamal Nissanka (27 May 2007). "Liberal Party Elects a New Leader". Liberal Lanka. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  8. ^ Liberal Party (18 December 2011). "Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha Is To Lead The Party Again After Five Years". Liberal Party Sri Lanka. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  9. ^ Rajiva, Wijesinha (1979). Marriage and the position of women, as presented by some of the early Victorian novelists (Thesis). Oxford Research Archive.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ An Anthology of contemporary Sri Lankan poetry in English. Published by the British Council in collaboration with the English Association of Sir [sic] Lanka. 1988. ISBN 9789559055006.
  12. ^ "Vedams eBooks".
  13. ^ http://www.bookhouse-lk.com/other_publications.htm
  14. ^ http://www.tranchida.it/sections.php?op=viewarticle&artid=339
  15. ^ http://www.tranchida.it/sec_new.php?artid=239&op=viewarticle
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "ELT Journal | Oxford Academic".
  18. ^ "A Guide to Studying and Thinking - நூலகம்".
  19. ^ "Home". Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 July 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 July 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Bridging Connections (An Anthology of Sri Lankan Short Stories).
  23. ^ "The Sunday Times Plus Section".
  24. ^ Enemies of pluralism: Assaults on diversity, democracy and the rule of law by J.R. Jayewardene and Velupillai Prabhakaran. International Book House. 2006. ISBN 9789558975411.
  25. ^ http://www.bcis.edu.lk/news/press%20release%20for%20the%20book%20launch_DecliningSriLanka.pdf[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ Pursuing peace, fighting falsehood. International Book House. 2008. ISBN 9789551732219.

External links[edit]