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Post Election Unofficial Holiday in Sri Lanka

It’s so boring and everything around here is quiet. Even though today is not a holiday, only a few showed up to work. Many people had gone to their homes far away from Colombo, to vote. Many of the shops are closed and streets usually crowded with people and vehicles are empty. There seemed to be a threat of unstable political situation on immediate aftermath of election but no such activities have been reported. Even the election yesterday was quite peaceful. Matter of fact, this was one of the most peaceful elections in recent memory in Sri Lanka.

Around noon today, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajpakse was declared the winner of the presidential election with a narrow margin with about 50.8 percent over 48.8 percent of Ranil Wickermasingha. The election was awfully close. Secretly, I was routing for Ranil, in the hopes that he might be effective in establishing the peace as he was the one who signed the cease fire agreement in 2002 but ....alas…

Sarvodaya as business:

Sarvodaya is not only a large NGO but it also runs some large businesses. One of its income generating activities is running a complete printing company called Sarvodaya Vishva Lekha. Just now I had an opportunity to visit the facility with Dr. Ariyaratne. There I met Mr. Susiri de Silva, Managing Director, of the Vishva Lekha, who walked to me through the facility. The facility is spread over 2 acres of land and houses entire facility required for printing from design to printing, binding, and cutting. There were several large printers – some huge, some small, that print from one color to four color and small diaries to big posters. Mr. de Silva told me he started the business in 1982 from almost nothing and has steadily grown to become one of the most successful printing house in Colombo. The total annual revenue is SLRs. 300 million ($3 million).

It is amazing that one of the preeminent non-profit organization is also running one of the most successful company. May be it is not too surprising but I did wonder how one deals with the need to be competitive and efficient in the area where business contracts are often dealt in a shadowy manner. Mr. de Silva said the business was built completely on merits. The Vishva Lekha has many awards under its belt and these days they don’t need to go for business.

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