31 January 2021

Indian Government lists bill to ban Cryptocurrency.

The Indian Government has listed a bill which prohibits the use of private cryptocurrency. It has decided to issue its own digital currency – a stablecoin backed by rupee – and proposed to ban cryptocurrency.

The cryptocurrency ecosystem in India has always been a grey area with no regulations whatsoever. There is no clarity with regards to the possession, trading, or dealing of cryptocurrencies till date. Rather than regulating, the Indian government is planning to ban cryptocurrency.

In the budget issue of the 17th Loksabha session, the government has listed a bill which proposes a ban on all private cryptocurrencies.

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Corruption Perception Index 2020.

Sri Lanka Secures 94th Rank in Corruption Perception Index among 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020, released by Transparency International.

Sri Lanka is jointly sharing its 94th position with 07 other countries by reaching 38 score results.

Those countries are: Suriname, Serbia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Peru, Brazil and Kazakhstan.

Top Countries:

New Zealand and Denmark have jointly secured the first position with scores of 88.

Lowest Countries:

Somalia and South Sudan rank lowest at 179th position with scores of 12.

CPI Index:

The CPI index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people. The index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

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Cloris Leachman - Emmy and Oscar winning actor, dies at age 94.

Emmy & Oscar winning-actor Cloris Leachman has passed away. She died of natural causes at her home in Encinitas, California.

The late star was known as one of Hollywood’s most prolific performers having won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and eight Primetime Emmy Awards.

List of awards received by Cloris Leachman

Academy Awards

  • 1971 - "The Last Picture Show" / Best Supporting Actress

BAFTA Awards

  • 1971 - "The Last Picture Show" / Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Daytime Emmy Awards

  • 1983 - "The Woman Who Willed a Miracle" / Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming

Golden Globe Award

  • 1975 - "Phyllis" / Best Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Primetime Emmy Awards

  • 1973 - "A Brand New Life" / Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
  • 1973 - "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" / Best Supporting Actress in Comedy
  • 1975 - "Cher" / Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music
  • 1975 - "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" / Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series
  • 1984 - "Screen Actors Guild 50th Anniversary Celebration" / Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
  • 1998 - "Promised Land" / Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
  • 2002 - "Malcolm in the Middle" / Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
  • 2006 - "Malcolm in the Middle" / Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series


Brand Finance Global 500 2021 Ranking.

Brand Finance evaluates the strength and value of more than 5000 global brands every year.

Brandirectory holds all of the Brand Finance rankings, specialist reports and whitepapers published since 2007. With over 40 sectors and industries covered in 46 countries, Brandirectory is the most comprehensive collection of original brand valuations, brand strength analyses and royalty rate calculations.

The Global Soft Power Index and Nation Brand rankings bring the same rigorous valuation approach to perceptions of soft power, national influence, and the nation-to-nation awareness and attitudes that drive global travel, trade and tourism.

Brand Finance’s brand value rankings have been certified by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) through the Marketing Metric Audit Protocol (MMAP), the formal process for validating the relationship between marketing measurement and financial performance.

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Asia-Pacific Personalised Health Index.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released ”Asia-Pacific Personalised Health Index‘’. The index measures the progress towards personalised healthcare for 11 countries.

Singapore (1st), Taiwan (2nd), Japan (3rd) and Australia (4th) also performed well in overall readiness. 11 countries include and they are: Australia, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand.

‘Personalized Health Index’ measures performance against 27 different indicators and they are divided into four categories ”Vital Signs”.

  • Policy Context,
  • Health Information,
  • Personalised Technologies
  • Health Services.


World Leprosy Day - 31 January (Last Sunday of January)

Every year on the last Sunday of January, World Leprosy Day seeks to increase public awareness of leprosy, a chronic infectious skin disease. The day also helps to debunk common myths associated with leprosy.

Unbeknownst by many, leprosy was renamed Hansen’s disease in 1873. It was renamed after the Norwegian scientist, Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen discovered the cause of the illness. This cause was a slow-growing bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae. Despite the fact the disease was officially renamed, many people and organizations still call it leprosy. In 2016, there were 200,000 cases of the disease in the world. In the United States, about 150 to 250 cases are reported each year.

World Leprosy Day was established in 1954 by French philanthropist, Raoul Follereau. His goal was to raise awareness about leprosy. He also aimed to teach people that this ancient disease is now easily curable. He chose the last Sunday in January as it was close to the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death, which occurred on January 30th, 1948. Gandhi was known for having compassion for those with leprosy.

The theme of the 2021 campaign is “Beat Leprosy, End Stigma and Advocate for Mental Well-Being”.

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30 January 2021

Black Lives Matter movement nominated for Nobel peace prize.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel peace prize for the way its call for systemic change has spread around the world.

In his nomination papers, the Norwegian MP Petter Eide said the movement had forced countries outside the US to grapple with racism within their own societies.

In his nomination statement, Norwegian Member of Parliament Petter Eide writes, “I find that one of the key challenges we have seen in America, but also in Europe and Asia, is the kind of increasing conflict based on inequality. Black Lives Matter has become a very important worldwide movement to fight racial injustice. They have had a tremendous achievement in raising global awareness and consciousness about racial injustice.”

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Martyr's Day: 73rd Death Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi, the 'Father of the Nation', was assassinated on January 30, 1948 at the age of 78 years by Nathuram Godse. 30th January 2021 marks this great leader's 73rd death anniversary. 

India marks the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, as Martyrs' Day or Shaheed Divas every year on January 30. It is also observed to pay homage to the freedom fighters who laid their lives for the country's independence.

Born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, 1869 in Gujarat's Porbandar, Mahatma Gandhi received his higher education in England before returning back to India and leading the freedom struggle against the British rule. He introduced 'ahimsa or non-violence' to India and took on the mighty British with the non-violent protests.

His ideals have been followed worldwide, and cited as a textbook of 'living the right way'. Fondly called 'Bapu', he was an exceptional persona emanating truth, non-violence, simplicity. 

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29 January 2021

U.S. to provide health rooms for 120 schools in Sri Lanka.

The United States has initiated a project to set up health rooms at 120 schools in Sri Lanka, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo said today (January 29).

The initiative is launched in coordination with zonal and provincial education and health services authorities, to support the health and well-being of thousands of Sri Lankan students, the statement issued by the Embassy read further.

“The health rooms promote Ministry of Education recommendations to ensure basic precautionary measures against current pandemic and will include beds, mattresses, first aid kits, portable screens, and water dispensers.  The rooms enable isolation and related care for students if needed.”

Located in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Anuradhapura, Kandy, Monaragala, and Gampaha, the health rooms will promote the well-being of students even after the current pandemic ends, the Embassy noted.

Students will be able to have their vision checked and access other health services, the Embassy said further, adding that health rooms were supported through the U.S. Government’s development agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“For more than 50 years, the United States’ global health programs have saved lives, protected people most vulnerable to disease, and promoted stable communities,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz.  “We’re helping reduce the spread of current pandemic by supporting health authorities in their isolation of suspected cases and by promoting the overall health of students in rural areas of Sri Lanka.”

The statement added that the United States is helping Sri Lanka combat current pandemic by preparing laboratory systems, activating case-finding and event-based surveillance, and supporting technical experts for response and preparedness.

The health rooms are part of more than USD 6 million in current pandemic assistance the United States has provided to Sri Lanka, the Embassy said further.


World's tallest dog dies.

Freddy the Great Dane, who held the record for tallest dog living (male), has sadly passed away. He was 8 and a half years old. 

The gentle giant was a much adored and pampered pet who became an international superstar when his record was announced in 2016.

When measured by a vet and Guinness World Records’ Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday, Freddy was a towering 103.5 cm (3 ft 4 in) from foot to withers. 

Standing on his hind legs - not a measurement that GWR officially counts - his height was an imposing 226 cm (7 ft 5.5 in).

Freddy's owner Claire Stoneman from Essex, UK, was devastated at her beloved pet's passing: "He was not just the tallest dog but the dog with the most love and the biggest heart". 

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Cicely Tyson, Pioneering Hollywood Icon, dies at age 96.

Cicely Tyson, the pioneering Black actor who gained an Oscar nomination for her role as the sharecropper’s wife in “Sounder,” won a Tony Award in 2013 at age 88 and touched TV viewers’ hearts in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” died Thursday 28 January 2021, at age 96.

Tyson's death was announced by her family, via her manager Larry Thompson, who did not immediately provide additional details.

A onetime model, Tyson began her screen career with bit parts but gained fame in the early 1970s when Black women were finally starting to get starring roles. 

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Dilhara Lokuhettige found guilty under ICC Anti-Corruption Code

Former Sri Lanka player Dilhara Lokuhettige has been found guilty of three offences under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code following a hearing by an independent Anti-Corruption Tribunal.

Lokuhettige, who was charged under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code in November 2019, has been found guilty on all charges after he exercised his right to a hearing before a Tribunal. Lokuhettige remains suspended and sanctions will follow in due course. 

The three-member Tribunal concluded, by a majority, that the ICC had jurisdiction to bring the charges against Lokuhettige and was unanimous in deciding the merits of the case. 

Lokuhettige has been found guilty of:

Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match.

Article 2.1.4 – Directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any Participant to breach Code Article 2.1. 

Article 2.4.4 - Failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the Code.

Lokuhettige has also been charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) with breaching three counts of the ECB Anti-Corruption Code for Participants for the T10 League and these proceedings are ongoing.

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Birth of the Modern Automobile - 29 January 1886.

The Benz Patent-Motorwagen ("patent motorcar"), built in 1885 by Karl Benz, is widely regarded as the world's first production automobile, that is, a vehicle designed to be propelled by an internal combustion engine. The original cost of the vehicle in 1885 was 600 imperial German marks, approximately 150 US dollars (equivalent to $4,268 in 2019). The vehicle was awarded the German patent number 37435, for which Karl Benz applied on 29 January 1886. Following official procedures, the date of the application became the patent date for the invention once the patent was granted, which occurred in November of that year.

Benz's wife, Bertha, financed the development process.

Benz unveiled his invention to the public on 3 July 1886, on the Ringstrasse in Mannheim.

About 25 Patent-Motorwagen were built between 1886 and 1893.

The car is currently being maintained by Mercedes-Benz Classic.

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ICC announces 'ICC Player of the Month'

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the introduction of the ICC Player of the Month awards which will recognise and celebrate the best performances of both male and female cricketers across all forms of international cricket throughout the year.

An independent ICC Voting Academy comprising former players, broadcasters, and journalists from around the world, will team up with fans to vote for the ICC Men’s Player of the Month and ICC Women’s Player of the Month.

Fans have been treated to some sensational cricketing performances during the month of January making the inaugural player of the month awards a highly competitive affair. From performances from youngsters such as Mohammed Siraj (IN), Washington Sundar (IN), T. Natarajan (IN), Rishabh Pant (IN), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (AFG) to established players such as Ravichandran Ashwin (IN), Joe Root (ENG), Steve Smith (AUS), Marizanne Kapp (SA), Nadine de Klerk (SA), Nida Dar (PAK), there will be no shortage of candidates for the month of January.

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Kaja Kallas becomes Estonia’s first female Prime Minister.

Kaja Kallas, the leader of the Reform Party, has become Estonia’s first female prime minister; Estonia would thus currently become the only country in the world where both the president and the prime minister are women.

Kaja Kallas was nominated to form the government by the Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, on 14 January – after the previous governing coalition, led by the Centre Party, collapsed.

The Reform Party, led by Kallas, won the 2019 parliamentary election in Estonia with 34 MPs in the country’s 101-seat parliament, Riigikogu. However, the second most successful party in the election, the Centre Party – led by Jüri Ratas – went ahead and formed the government, instead.

In April 2019, with 25 MPs in the parliament, Ratas’s party formed the coalition with the conservative Isamaa Party (12 MPs) and the far-right and populist Estonian Conservative People’s Party, also known as EKRE (19 MPs) – the decision of which received a widespread criticism in Estonia and abroad. Since then, Ratas’s government experienced many scandals, mainly due to the outspoken EKRE leaders, father and son Mart and Martin Helme.

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US President Joe Biden signs executive actions on racial equity.

President Joe Biden signed four executive actions Tuesday 26 January 2021 aimed at advancing racial equity as part of his push to use the powers of the presidency to implement parts of his agenda.

The executive actions direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to "take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies that have contributed to wealth inequality for generations," according to a fact sheet shared by the White House.

The executive actions also end the Justice Department's use of private prisons, recommit the federal government to Tribal sovereignty and take steps to combat discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that has intensified during the current global pandemic.

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28 January 2021

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - 28 January.

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC). Disintegration of the entire vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The O-ring failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it sealed, allowing pressurized hot gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRBs aft attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces promptly broke up the orbiter.

The crew compartment and many other vehicle fragments were eventually recovered from the ocean floor after a lengthy search and recovery operation. Although the exact timing of the death of the crew is unknown, several crew members are known to have survived the initial breakup of the spacecraft. However, the shuttle had no escape system and the impact of the crew compartment with the ocean surface was too violent to be survivable.

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Global Community Engagement Day - 28 January.

Every year on January 28th, Global Community Engagement Day seeks to encourage organizations, individuals, and businesses to better engage with their community.

Communities become better when professionals and organizations engage with different groups of people in their community. Community engagement helps to build and strengthen relationships. This includes relationships with local residents, faith-based groups, cultural groups, voluntary groups, and even virtual groups.

The first Global Community Engagement Day was held on January 28th, 2018. Engage 2 Act, a nonprofit organization based in Australia, created the day. They came up with the date by asking their social media followers what pioneer of community engagement stands out to them. The person who answered the question the best was born on January 28th. They used the winner’s birthday as the date for Global Community Engagement Day. The mission of Engage 2 Act is to create, nurture, and support a dynamic professional network for those interested in community engagement.

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The International Trade Centre conducts training on International Best Practices for the regulation of online trading.

EU – Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance

The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) successfully completed a training program on the ‘International Best Practices for the Regulation of Online Trading’ last Friday (22). Over 60 CAA officials based in Colombo as well as the regions participated in the training. The event took place virtually within the framework of the EU-Sri Lanka Trade Related Assistance project funded by the European Union (EU) with ITC as the lead implementing agency.

The training was held against the backdrop of the current pandemic which has led to an increase in E-commerce and online trading activities in Sri Lanka over the last year and brought to attention the need for a strengthened framework to protect consumers as well as online businesses.

Dr. Dayaratna Silva, National Project Coordinator, EU-Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance project said, “In the marketplace, there are a number of agents – producers, retailers, traders, and consumers. The consumers are on the receiving end and face a huge asymmetry of information.”

The training session was structured based on a guide to online trading produced at the request of the CAA by ITC Consultant (Lawyer), Dr. Michael Geist. Dr. Geist also acted as the main trainer of the event. The session aimed to train CAA officials and other stakeholders on the importance of consumer trust, and international best practices and guidelines to be followed in matters relating to functioning and operating online trade. It focused on the various components of E-commerce transactions such as pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase activities.

Speaking at the event, Major general (Retired) D. M. S. Dissanayaka, Chairman, CAA explained that following the lockdown and the significant increase in online purchasing the CAA was prompted to develop a set of guidelines for consumer protection with the support of ITC. “In addition to this, ITC also extended their support to conduct trainings for CAA officials on the International best practices for the regulation of online trading. I would like to thank ITC for their assistance in this regard which no doubt will help promote consumer trust and economic activities in Sri Lanka in the online domain,” he said.

ITC has been working closely with Sri Lanka to provide support on E-commerce related matters since March 2018. This work began with the 1st Public Private Dialogue (PPD) which was organized in collaboration with the CAA. Over the years, ITC has also supported relevant authorities to make amendments and revisions to legislation including Consumer Protection, Data Protection and Cyber Security.


Europe’s Largest Solar Plant planned for Western Spain.

Spain’s largest utility Iberdrola SA and the French food giant Danone SA sealed an accord to build 590 MW-capacity photo-voltaic plant, the largest in Europe.

The 300 million-euro ($364 million) project will be located in the western province of Caceres, Iberdrola said in statement on its website. The utility will provide power to Danone’s 29 supply points for 10 years, starting from April 2022 under a power purchase agreement.

Spain is by far Europe’s busiest subsidy-free photo-voltaic market, and leads the sector’s booming growth in the region, according to a BloombergNEF report. It commissioned 2.9 GW last year, four times the 729 MW of capacity added in 2019.

The plant will avoid the emission of 245,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, Iberdrola said. Danone’s suppliers in Spain, Graham Packaging and Salvesen Logistica, will also join the project, dubbed Francisco Pizarro after the famous Spanish conquistador.

Other Spanish companies have also committed to developing similar projects. In July, oil producer Repsol SA began the construction of its Valdesolar project, a 264-MW photo-voltaic plant with a planned investment of 200 million euros.

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Joe Biden And Vladimir Putin Agree to extend 'New START' Nuclear Arms Treaty.

The United States and Russia have “agreed in principle” to extend the New START arms treaty by five years, the Kremlin said on January 26 following a phone call between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The New START treaty, which was signed back in 2010, caps to 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed by Moscow and Washington, who control the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. According to Deutsche Welle media outlet, on Tuesday 26 Jan 2021, the Kremlin said that both the leaders “expressed satisfaction” and diplomatic notes had been exchanged, confirming that the treaty would be extended. 

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The World’s Best Stock Rally Is in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka stocks have returned a world-beating 30% so far in 2021 as domestic investors get more active.

Local individuals were responsible for 79% of total market turnover last year, according to the nation’s stock exchange, amid a 70% increase in new accounts from 2019. At the same time, overseas investors were exiting -- they sold $272.8 million of shares, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

“As the pandemic rebound got underway, abundance of global liquidity, substantial rate cuts and domestic retail participation have helped fuel the rally,” Joshua Crabb, a Hong Kong-based money manager at Robeco, said in an interview. “Keep in mind the currency has also weakened, which makes exports more competitive, encourages tourism and introduces inflation, which helps nominal assets like equities.”

The March selloff saw the CSE All Share Index plunge 32% as a dearth in tourism, increased political uncertainty and concerns about debt sustainability weighed on risk appetite. Since then, the central bank cut its key rate by 200 basis points and provided liquidity, helping the island nation beat a recession. The country has even reopened its airports for international tourism. Equities have now more than doubled to records from their 2020 lows, and trading volume on the Colombo Stock Exchange hit a record $77 million this week.

Progress in accessing Covid-19 vaccines has also provided a tailwind. Sri Lanka approved the Oxford University-AstraZeneca PLC vaccine for emergency use last week after a surge in cases since October. Some 500,000 doses are scheduled to arrive from India on Jan. 28, the government said.

It’s encouraging to see Sri Lanka taking action on the vaccine front but developments still need to be monitored, Robeco’s Crabb said. After the rapid rally, he says stocks may be due for a pause.

“In the near term, I would expect the market to consolidate its gains,” he said. “At current valuations, we really need to see an improvement in the economy and in company earnings to see another leg up.”


Webinar on cooperation between ICT sectors of Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka, in association with the Export Development Board (EDB) organized a virtual meeting on 21 January 2021 to explore cooperation potential in the ICT sectors of Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.

Representatives from the Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM), Federation of Information Technology of Sri Lanka (FITIS) and the EDB interacted with General Secretary of Viet Nam Software and IT Association (VINASA) Nguyen Thi Thu Giang, Chairman of Vietnam Internet Association (VIA) Vu Hoang Liean and respective representatives of umbrella organizations of the IT sector in Viet Nam. Comprehensive presentations on opportunities available in both countries were conducted virtually by the four agencies.

The potential of Viet Nam’s initiatives in their smart city concept, digital transformation, e-governance and technology training (AI, IoT, Block Chain and Big Data etc) was explored by the participants. Sri Lankan associations also assured the possibility of complementing skills between the two countries as part of future cooperation. The two sides also agreed to together explore business ventures in software development, outsourcing, BPO and other sectors. Vietnamese organizations will be inviting their Sri Lankan counterparts to participate at major IT events they hold in Viet Nam in the future.

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Viet Nam Prasanna Gamage opened the virtual meeting by welcoming the initiative and participating agencies and assuring the fullest cooperation of the Mission in promoting cooperation within this important sector.  Third Secretary/Commercial of the Embassy Prasadi Boomawalage coordinated the webinar with the two sides.


Shyamalie Wijegunawardena of Spring & Summer awarded at the 10th Edition of the ‘Top 50 Professional & Career Women Awards for Sri Lanka and Maldives 2020’

Co-Founder, Spring & Summ​er - Mrs. ​​Shyamalie Wijegunawardena was recently recognised at the 10th Edition of the “Top 50 Professional & Career Women Awards for Sri Lanka and Maldives 2020”, as the recipient of the Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Large) Award on January 26, 2021 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo.

Organised by Women in Management (WIM) in partnership with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and the Government of Australia, the event celebrates the achievements of remarkable women who inspire those around them – whilst taking into account their astounding achievements throughout their careers, businesses and everyday lives.

Mrs. ​Shyamalie Wijegunawardena, Co-Founder, Spring & Summ​er Fashion Collection (Pvt) Ltd - ​noted on the recent award, “I am humbled to stand amongst my fellow females who exceed expectations and to be recognised for the hard work. I  accept this award on behalf of the Spring & Summer family who have portrayed ingenuity and prowess over the past 25 years and our loyal customers for a successful journey. I wish all the career women -  who work tirelessly to uplift this nation, the best of luck for their future endeavours”

The annual event is an uplifting and emotional award ceremony where women are celebrated equally in one room.

Spring & Summer was founded in 1995 by Daya & Shyamalie Wijegunawardena​. The clothing brand, at present, has six [06] major outlets in Wattala, Nugegoda, Maharagama, Panadura, Colpetty, Bambalapitiya and is available via an online store, with delivery island-wide. As one of Sri Lanka’s leading retail brands, Spring & Summer has 85% of its products designed and manufactured locally.


Virtusa Recognized as a Top Employer for 2021 in the UK and Middle East.

Virtusa Corporation (NASDAQ GS:VRTU), a global provider of digital strategy, digital engineering, and IT services and solutions that help clients change and disrupt markets through innovation engineering, today announced it has been named a Top Employer for 2021 in the United Kingdom and the Middle East by Top Employers Institute. The Top Employers Institute recognizes leading companies dedicated to discovering and nurturing talent while enriching the world of work.

This achievement recognizes Virtusa’s best-in-class HR policies and practices as a result of an independent survey covering six HR domains and consisting of 20 topics such as People Strategy, Work Environment, Talent Acquisition, Learning, Well-being, Diversity and Inclusion, and more. Virtusa was recognized for the 11th consecutive year in the United Kingdom and appeared in the rankings for the first time in the Middle East.

Virtusa’s work environment is driven by its core values, which are at the center of Virtusa’s people strategy and have driven its successes to date. These values include:

  • Passion to inspire global teams to deliver extraordinary results.
  • Innovation by applying intellectual curiosity to reimagine better outcomes for clients.
  • Respect to protect the environment, honor diversity, and treat everyone with dignity.
  • Leadership that is agile in thought and transparent in action.

These values have helped shape Virtusa’s proprietary technologies that empower team members to challenge the norms while delivering value to clients. These include its AI-powered dashboards and leaderboards, which encourage team member engagement, and Engineering IQ, a new talent framework that benchmarks existing skill levels and provides a roadmap for advancement to accelerate career progression. In addition, Virtusa offers surveys that promote team members to share feedback within the company as well as mentorship opportunities, which nurture career growth through programs focused on wellness, engagement, and learning.

“At Virtusa, we are committed to creating an environment that is equally focused on collaboration, learning, and innovation,” said Sundar Narayanan, EVP, chief people officer, Virtusa. “Being named a Top Employer in the United Kingdom and the Middle East underscores Virtusa’s devotion to our global team members, empowering each and every individual to grow, succeed, and contribute to our success.”

“Despite the challenging year we have experienced (which has certainly made an impact on organizations around the globe), Virtusa has continued to demonstrate the power of putting their people first in the workplace,” said David Plink, CEO, Top Employers Institute. “We are proud to share this year’s announcement and congratulate the organizations who have been certified in their respective countries through the Top Employers Institute program.”


Commercial Bank of Ceylon moves up to No 2 in LMD 100’s principal rankings.

  • Highest ranked bank in 2020 edition of prestigious list; leads Sri Lanka’s top banks in both turnover and profit
  • Has been inTop 10 every year since launch of ranking in 1993

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has moved up to second place in the latest ‘LMD 100’ after a solid performance in 2019-20 saw the Bank achieving the No 2 spot in the two principal rankings – Turnover and Profit – to reaffirm its position as one of the country’s strongest business entities.

Commercial Bank is once again the highest-ranked bank in the Top 10 of this prestigious list of corporate giants, is ahead of many diversified conglomerates and has the distinction of being ranked among the Top 10 every year since the ranking was first published in respect of 1993-94.

The LMD’s primary ranking is based on turnover, but the magazine also ranks companies by sector as well as by total assets, profit after tax, shareholders’ funds, market capitalisation, earnings per share, dividends per share and many other performance indicators.

Commenting on the Bank’s ascent to No 2 in the LMD 100, Commercial Bank Managing Director Mr S. Renganathan said: “The year of assessment for this ranking was a difficult one, even though it preceded the current pandemic. Impairment provisioning had begun moving up, and business sentiment was affected by several factors including the Easter Sunday attacks. To be ranked the second best-performing corporate entity in the country overall is therefore an extraordinary achievement that reflects the intrinsic strength of Commercial Bank and its team.”

The LMD 100 ranking encompasses many of the country’s leading conglomerates, telcos, retail giants, insurers and other sector leaders, as well as listed banks.

The largest private sector commercial bank and third largest bank in Sri Lanka, the Commercial Bank Group ended 2019 with the performance milestone of gross income surpassing Rs 150 billion for the first time, while at Bank level, Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC reported PBT of Rs 22.339 billion and PAT of Rs 17.025 billion.

The first Sri Lankan Bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 10 years consecutively, Commercial Bank, which won more than 25 international and local awards in 2020, operates a network of 268 branches and 885 ATMs in Sri Lanka.

Commercial Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.


Cabinet approval to raise daily wage of estate sector workers.

The Cabinet of Ministers have approved a proposal to take necessary steps to increase the daily wages of estate sector employees up to Rs. 1,000, across wages control boards so that the budget proposal on the this could be implemented.

The estate sector employees are eligible for a daily wage / remuneration of Rs. 750 including a fixed price allowance of Rs. 50 and another allowance named over-kilo rate if the fixed weight of kilograms exceeds related to productivity. 

The budget proposals presented to the Parliament in November 2020 suggested a daily wage of Rs. 1,000 for the estate sector. 

Although several rounds of discussions were held with the parties who signed the “Estate employee salaries collective agreement 2019 – 2021, one party; Ceylon Employers’ Association representing the estate owners’ association who is one party of the collective agreement has proposed to escalate the daily wage up to Rs. 920. 

“Considering this fact, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the resolution furnished by the Minister of Labour for taking necessary steps to escalate the employee wages of the estate sector up to Rs. 1,000, across wages control boards so that the budget proposal could be implemented,” the government said.

Estate Housing Scheme

Meanwhile the Cabinet has also decided to revise the existing estate housing scheme for providing more secure residence for the entire estate community. 

“The estate housing scheme” for the construction of new houses instead of line rooms for the estate community has been implemented across various methodologies from the year 2000 to date, the Cabinet spokesman said. 

By now two projects, namely a house of 550 square feet with the sole land ownership for 7 perches with the sponsorship of the State and a house of 550 square feet with the partnership of the governments of India and Sri Lanka, are being implemented. 

Accordingly, the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers has been granted to the resolution tabled by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Minister of Urban Development and Housing for taking necessary steps as follows subject to adhere to one general methodology when allocating houses for the estate community since an anomaly / discrepancy has been created due to the difference of the procedure followed at awarding houses under these schemes and to take actions appearing below. 

• Construction of new houses in the same venue replacing the existing line houses.

• Implementing the housing schemes in respective venues if there are disaster risks of flowing / landslide or the space where the line houses are in is insufficient. 

• Construction of the first phase of the house spending Rs. 1.3 million with square feet of 550 so that it could be developed up to two stories in the future. 

• Allocate 03 more perches for each beneficiary for animal husbandry and home gardening apart from the initial allocation.

• Claim only 50% of the value of the construction cost as a pay back from the beneficiaries and providing a 20-year period for recovering the same. 

• Providing necessary facilities as transitional residences at a respective place in the close proximity to the site until new houses are constructed in the place where line houses are situated.


Sri Lankan Cricketer Dilhara Lokuhettige found guilty under ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

Former Sri Lanka player Dilhara Lokuhettige has been found guilty of three offences under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code following a hearing by an independent Anti-Corruption Tribunal.

Lokuhettige, who was charged under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code in November 2019, has been found guilty on all charges after he exercised his right to a hearing before a Tribunal. Lokuhettige remains suspended and sanctions will follow in due course. 

The three-member Tribunal concluded, by a majority, that the ICC had jurisdiction to bring the charges against Lokuhettige and was unanimous in deciding the merits of the case. 

Lokuhettige has been found guilty of:

Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match.

Article 2.1.4 – Directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any Participant to breach Code Article 2.1. 

Article 2.4.4 - Failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the Code.

Lokuhettige has also been charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) with breaching three counts of the ECB Anti-Corruption Code for Participants for the T10 League and these proceedings are ongoing.

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UN rights chief seeks sanctions against Sri Lankan generals.

The UN human rights chief has called for an International Criminal Court investigation into Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist conflict and sanctions on military officials accused of war crimes, according to a report obtained by AFP.

Michelle Bachelet accused Sri Lanka of reneging on promises to ensure justice for thousands of civilians killed in the final stages of the 37-year separatist war that ended a decade ago.

“Domestic initiatives for accountability and reconciliation have repeatedly failed to produce results, more deeply entrenching impunity, and exacerbating victims’ distrust in the system,” she said in the report obtained by AFP ahead of its official release.

The government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reversed some advances made under previous administrations in protecting human rights, the report said.

Surveillance of rights activists and dissidents has increased and a climate of self-censorship has emerged, it claimed.

Sri Lanka has not signed up to the ICC, and so it is outside its jurisdiction. But while another state cannot refer a non-signatory to the ICC, the UN can.

In her latest assessment, Bachelet recommended for the first time that the ICC look into Sri Lanka’s case, and said action should be taken against war criminals, including Tamil rebels, the AFP reported.

“Member states can actively pursue investigation and prosecution of international crimes committed by all parties in Sri Lanka before their own national courts,” she was qouted as saying.

The 17-page report also calls for possible targeted sanctions “such as asset freezes and travel bans against credibly alleged perpetrators” of rights violations.

Bachelet expressed concern at General Shavendra Silva’s elevation as army chief and General Kamal Gunaratne’s appointment as defence secretary, according to AFP.

Silva, who was a field commander at the height of the war, already faces a US travel ban.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week said Sri Lanka would investigate some allegations.

He gave a commission of inquiry six months to look into previous inquiries into allegations of “human rights violations, serious violations of international humanitarian law”.

Bachelet called on member states to take action to preserve evidence from key cases such as the killing of 17 aid workers from a French charity in August 2006 and the 2009 assassination of newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.

The UN rights chief alleged several top police officers involved in high-profile cases had been penalised or arrested to stifle investigations.

She also criticised President Rajapaksa for granting a pardon in 2020 to an army officer convicted and jailed for killing eight Tamil civilians, including four children, in April 2000.

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19th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) concluded.

The 19th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) concluded on Sunday 24 Jan 2021. During the 9-day long festival which started on 16 January, 226 films from 73 countries were shown.

Kyrgyz film ‘The Road to Eden’ jointly directed by Bakyt Mukul and Dastan Zhapar won the best film award at the festival. The film tells the struggle of an old writer who wishes to promote literature to bring enlightenment to his people.

In the Asian competition section, the Best Director award was given to Ksenia Langutina for the film Farida. The film is jointly produced by Azerbaijan and Russia.

Masud Hasan Ujjal won the Best Film Award in the Bangladesh Panorama section for his film ‘Unponchash Batash’

The Best Audience award was won by the film ‘Gondi’ directed by the Bangladeshi director Arefeen Khan.

Information Minister of Bangladesh Dr. Hasan Mehmud was the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony. Speaking on the occasion Dr. Mahmud said that the government has taken several steps to promote films in Bangladesh. He said that the government will take steps to reopen the closed cinema halls in the country and to technologically upgrade the cinema halls already running.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chief Patron of the Dhaka International Film Festival expressed happiness at the successful organising of the festival.

The Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) had introduced a new section this year on the ‘World Leaders who changed society’ under which films on Mahatma Gandhi, Lenin, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were shown during the festival.

The DIFF 2021 was dedicated to the centenary year of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

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Global Climate Risk Index 2021.

The Global Climate Risk Index 2021 published by the Bonn-based environmental think tank Germanwatch. The Global Climate Risk Index 2021 analyses to what extent countries and regions have been affected by impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.). Human impacts (fatalities) and direct economic losses were analysed. The most recent data available — for 2019 and from 2000 to 2019 — were taken into account.

  • The countries and territories affected most in 2019 were Mozambique, Zimbabwe as well as the Bahamas.
  • For the period from 2000 to 2019 Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti rank highest.

This year’s 16th edition of the analysis reconfirms earlier results of the Climate Risk Index: Less developed countries are generally more affected than industrialised countries. Regarding future climate change, the Climate Risk Index may serve as a red flag for already existing vulnerability that may further increase in regions where extreme events will become more frequent or more severe due to climate change.

Index of Sri Lanka: 30

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27 January 2021

International Olympic Committee (IOC), Tokyo Olympics to unveil rule book.

This is the rule book that the IOC and Tokyo organizers are set to roll out next week to explain how 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and tens of thousands of others will try to safely enter Japan when the Olympics open in just under six months.

Organizers and the International Olympic Committee are finally going public with their planning, hoping to push back against reports the Olympics will be canceled with Tokyo and much of Japan still under a state of emergency with current pandemic cases rising.

The rollout at Olympic headquarters in Switzerland is planned for Feb. 4, with Tokyo likely to present on Feb. 5.

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Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa wins second term.

The incumbent President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has won a second five-year term after winning the 2021 Portuguese presidential election with a landslide victory. The 72-year-old former leader of the Social Democratic Party won 61 per cent of the total votes. He is serving as the President of the country since 9 March 2016 and would start his second term on March 9, 2021.

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China surpasses United States as largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

China was the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020, according to a report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). China overtook the United States to gain the top position in 2020. The country attracted $163 billion inflows in 2020, compared to $134 billion attracted by the United States.

However, in 2019, the United States had received $251 billion in inflows and China received $140 billion. Overall, the global FDI had fallen by 42% in 2020, attracting an inflow of an estimated $859 billion, compared to $1.5 trillion in 2019.

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Greece, France sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal.

Greece signed a 2.3 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) deal with France to purchase 18 Rafale fighter jets, as tensions remain high with neighbor Turkey.

Florence Parly, the French defense minister, signed the agreement in Athens to deliver 12 used and six new aircraft built by Dassault Aviation over two years, starting in July 2021.

France has sided with Greece in a dispute over boundaries in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean that has brought NATO members Greece and Turkey to the brink of war several times in recent decades.

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Study suggests earth is losing ice faster than in Mid-1990s.

New research suggests Earth’s ice is melting faster today than in the 1990s.

An estimated 28 trillion metric tons of ice have melted away from the world’s sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers since the middle of the 1990s. The yearly melt rate is now about 57 percent faster than it was 30 years ago. Scientists reported the findings in a study published in The Cryosphere.

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Dead whale in the Mediterranean probably 'one of the largest' ever found.

The carcass of an enormous finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus) was discovered near the Italian port of Sorrento earlier this week, the Italian Coast Guard said in a Facebook post.

Officials discovered the carcass on Sunday (Jan. 17), before towing it to the nearby port at Naples. The whale measured about 65 feet (20 meters) long and likely weighed more than 77 tons (70 metric tons) — likely making the corpse "one of the largest" ever found in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the agency.

Coast Guard divers first discovered the whale after a young calf swam into the Sorrento harbor in a state of distress, according to news reports. The calf reportedly rammed its head into the harbor walls several times before retreating back underwater; when divers followed it, they discovered the fin whale's corpse.

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Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducts maiden test launch of Akash-NG Missile.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted successful maiden launch of Akash-NG (New Generation) Missile from Integrated Test Range off the coast of Odisha. Akash-NG is a new generation Surface-to-Air Missile for use by Indian Air Force (IAF) with an aim of intercepting high manoeuvring aerial threats. The launch met all the test objectives by performing high maneuvers during the trajectory.

The performance of the Command and Control system, onboard avionics and aerodynamic configuration of the missile was successfully validated during the trial. The Multi Function Radar was tested for its capability of integration with the system. The Akash-NG system has been developed with better deployability compared to other similar systems with canisterized launcher and much smaller ground system footprint.

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Dixon Technologies inks deal with HMD India for manufacturing Nokia smartphones.

Dixon Technologies India Ltd’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Padget Electronics, has entered into an agreement with HMD India for manufacturing of Nokia smartphones. The smartphones will be manufactured at Padget’s manufacturing facility situated at Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India.

In December 2020, Dixon Technologies had announced that Padget Electronics Pvt Ltd has entered into an agreement with Motorola Mobility LLC for manufacturing smartphones.


International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (International Holocaust Remembrance Day) is observed on 27 January every year since 2006 to commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. A genocide occurred during World War II in which Nazi Germany, aided by its collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, between 1941 and 1945.

The theme of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021 is “Facing the Aftermath: Recovery and Reconstitution after the Holocaust”.

History of the day:

On January 24, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Later that year on November 1, the UN General Assembly designated January 27th as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. It is also referred to as Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was on January 27th in 1945 that Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

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