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Tuesday, June 27, 2017
I think it was Kelegama who made Think Tanks an operative term in the Sri Lankan context. In fact, it was not Kelegama who founded IPS. However, Kelegama was undoubtedly the singular person who made IPS so well-recognised in Sri Lanka, as a premier Think Tank that offers research and policy advice on economic affairs and related subjects. The emergence of IPS marks a salient milestone in Sri Lankan contemporary history as a direct corollary to the water-shed transformation in Sri Lanka when an aggressive economic policy shift liberalised the economy in 1977. I am privy to an anecdote shared by Dr. Howard Nicholas, an eminent Economist of Sri Lankan origin, now domiciled in The Netherlands, about the conception of IPS. As I recall, the then Finance Minister Ronnie de Mel has stressed the importance of having an independent Think Tank to generate ideas and offer policy advice to the new environment of the economy, business and trade under what was popularly called an ‘open economy’. Howard has been entrusted with the task of doing the spade work of this novel venture which took the name of IPS in 1988. Howard himself led IPS in the years of its infancy albeit maintaining a low-key.