Tenth anniversary of a Sinhala newspaper in UK
Daya Ananda Ranasinghe
YEOMAN TASK: A decade, in any lingo, is a long period of time in
terms of publishing and distributing a newspaper. It becomes even more
laborious when one takes on the responsibility of such a yeoman task on
oneâs own shoulders single handed.
To execute such an operation it not only demands absolute dedication,
but involves a tremendous amount of monetary burden and risk factor as
well, to ensure its smooth and uninterrupted operation.
Publishing a newspaper is not simple. It involves three main vital
functions of editing, publishing and distributing. To fulfil this task
in Sinhala format from a foreign land is even harder.
With the ever changing political ambience in Sri Lanka, always
associated with a full dose of mud slinging at each other, and in the
midst of an ongoing terrorist war, to publish a constructive and
objective journal needs a lot of courage.
In this regard the editor and publisher of Lanka Viththi, the only
Sinhala journal published in London and distributed to many parts of the
world over the past ten years qualifies to be congratulated on its
successful 10th anniversary.
In 1997 on the Sinhala New Yearâs day Daya Ananda Ranasinghe
presented the Sri Lankan expatriate community in the UK with a precious
âAvurudu giftâ in the form of a Sinhala newspaper and called it Lanka
Viththi, carrying a prominent message, under its masthead: âLanka
Viththi is for Sinhala Readers wherever they are.â
Undoubtedly it created history as the first ever Sinhala newspaper
published outside the mother country and within a very short spell of
time Lanka Viththi entered the World Wide Web in Sinhala fonts, moving
with the times.
Looking back, over a period of ten long years, it would stand to
reason that everything in life is bound to change rapidly on a daily
basis. By the same token it would also be correct to assume that the
physical appearance of editor and publisher of Lanka Viththi, Daya
Ananda Ranasinghe, may have changed over this period, yet his integrity,
commitment, conviction and the determination to go forward had not moved
Concealed behind any successful act or product the amount of
painstaking work that goes to make it a success is enormous. In
newspaper publication too this responsibility is shared by different
departments and sub editors doing a series of multi function tasks such
as setting up of childrenâs pages, womenâs pages, literal pages,
classical pages, editorial and sports pages.
To make the task even more complex advertising and circulation play a
vital role with extra staff to keep the business going! When such
factors were equated with Lanka Viththi production, evidently minus all
such extra facilities or additional staff, the editor and publisher had
to literally turn himself into a human robot to get his paper on time at
the end of every month.
Where would one find erudite Sinhala scholars and professors on any
given subject in the UK, unlike in Sri Lanka, who could be accessible,
approachable and helpful at short notice? In terms of an English
newspaper of course, the facilities available on the Internet to down
load on any subject are enormous and easy.
Under such circumstances, the survival of this Sinhala journal for
ten successful years could only be seen as a miracle. Today with an
increased circulation Lanka Viththi serves thousands of Sinhala readers
in France, Italy, Sweden, USA, Latin America, Australia, Middle East and
The main concept of this Sinhala journal has been to help maintain
harmony in the Sri Lankan society, with a prime aim of developing the
intellect of Sri Lankans as well as acting as a guiding beam of light to
the young children of Sri Lankan parents and to educate the community in
multiple ways in showing how to lead a peaceful life as good citizens
wherever they live.
Daya Ananda Ranasinghe needs no formal introduction as the Editor of
Lanka Viththi. He has served as a journalist for many leading newspaper
groups in Sri Lanka and has bagged more than 33 years of journalistic
experience. He is a renowned lyric poet and a scriptwriter for Sinhala
films and a singer too.
He has also released a music CD with six love songs of Dharmadasa
Walpola, H.R. Jothipala, Mohideen Baig, Victor Ratnayake and the Hindi
Maestro Mohamed Rafi, under the title âMa Sith Gath Geeâ (songs that
appealed to me).
It was a yet another dream Daya Ananda had as a child in becoming a
singer during an era of popular songs on the radio. Daya Ananda does not
consider himself as a singer but underlines the fact that he is a
journalist and quite happy as the editor of Lanka Viththi.
In 1982 Daya Ananda won the best creative scriptwriter of the year
OCIC Award in Colombo for the film Adhistanana (Determination) that
represented Sri Lanka in the Film Festival in Manheim, Germany.
Looking back at his track record one could only deduce that is this
very determination (Adhistanana) which has probably given him the
courage to fulfil his long felt dream to dedicate ten years of committed
service to his mother tongue and his fellow Sinhala expatriates
scattered round the globe.