Dr. Uthum Heart
It is with deep sadness that I heard of the passing away of my dear
friend Dr. Uthum Herat on Friday, October 23, 2009.
I write to honour my friend. I first met Uthum in the early 1960s
when he joined S.Thomas’ Preparatory School in Kollupitiya. We then
moved to the ‘big’ school S.Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia in 1968.
Uthum was a serious, studious young man.
He excelled in his academic studies. At one stage I sat behind the
same desk with Uthum Herat and Suresh Thambipillai, at S.Thomas’
College. Our friend Suresh was fascinated by the Scarlet Pimpernel by
Baroness Emmuska Orczy. Uthum and I used to tease Suresh no end.
He did have a sense of humour. He loved to play a friendly game of
cricket at lunchtimes and on a serious note he was a member of the
celebrated Thomian debating society, chess club and other Thomian
It was in the 1970s, that a charismatic former Rugby player and Old
Royalist called Rev. Duleep de Chickera joined College as Chaplain. He
was instrumental in bringing us into that area of belief, faith and
spirituality as we turned to Christ. Uthum joined the Student Christian
Movement and in later years he became a Lay Preacher in his church, - he
certainly was a man of faith.
Before I left for the UK, Uthum and I participated in a celebration
called ‘Breakdown and Breakthrough’ with Ronald Toussaint, Asitha Perera,
Yohan Dias-Abeysinghe, Suresh Thambipillai, Johann de Silva, together
with students from S.Thomas’ College, Royal College, Ladies College and
The dramatised act of worship for Easter at the Cathedral of Christ
the Living Saviour was directed by a British Religious Education worker,
Gillian Todd. The newspapers featured Uthum and all of us in an article
titled - ‘Easter Detente with the Now People,’ it was also featured in
the Daily News and the Sunday Observer in 1974. Hundreds of people
attended this act of worship.
Uthum was the cross on which Christ was crucified and we all shouted
out: ‘Christ has smashed death, he has liberated the world, he has freed
the Universe. You and I and everything are free again, let’s have a
festival and follow him across the skies, through the flames of heaven!’
We kept in touch over the years and his last e-mail to me was only a
few weeks ago when I wished him for his birthday. I last met Uthum in
2003 on a visit to Sri Lanka - we reminisced about College days.
Uthum, always the caring friend, was concerned that our son Charin
was diagnosed with autism and wanted to know more about our Autism
Uthum was a loyal son of Sri Lanka - with 27 years of public service
at the Central Bank. Before being appointed as the Deputy Governor at
the Central Bank, Uthum served in the Statistics Department, Economic
Research Department and as an Assistant Governor in charge of Bank
Supervision, Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institution Department,
Financial Stability Departments and several operational departments. He
has worked in areas of financial systems and price stability of the
Uthum was on release to IMF to serve as the Alternate Executive
Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka in IMF from 2004 to
2007. He held a degree in Science from the University of Sri
Jayawardenepura with a first class honours. He obtained his MSc and PhD
degrees from University of Purdue, USA, where he specialized in Finance
and International Finance.
He was also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of
Management Accountants, UK and had authored many articles in reputed
international and local journals in the areas of monetary policy,
foreign exchange market, financial sector reforms, money laundering,
Central Bank independence, economic growth, exchange rate, financial
market deployment, unemployment and savings and investments.
Uthum was a visiting lecturer and resource person at Colombo and
Moratuwa Universities, SEACEN Research and Training Centre, Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri
Uthum served as member of Monetary Policy Committee, Financial System
Stability and Foreign Exchange Management Committee of the Central Bank.
He was the Central Bank nominee to serve as the co-chair of the
Financial Services Sub Committee for negotiations with India on the
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. He played a pivotal role
at the Central Bank.
I will never forget childhood memories of Uthum attending my birthday
parties at Maha Nuge Gardens. I will miss my friend - a kind hearted,
caring gentleman with impeccable manners.
I have never heard Uthum saying a bad word against anyone. He was a
gentle soul who was quiet and unassuming but he was also a deep thinker
with a heart of gold.
May he rest in peace, in the arms of Christ.