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A great personality with guidance and inspiration – The Island

An excellent persona with steering and inspiration – The Island

Professor Carlo Fonseka

On the first dying anniversary of Professor Carlo Fonseka, I want to deliver the main focus of the reader to the legacy of our beloved professor by way of his providers to studying and analysis within the discipline of Physiology and Drugs, to college training, and extra typically to the Sri Lankan nation. His contribution was made in all kinds of fields, but additionally within the exemplary life he led which, in my understanding, epitomised the qualities of mettā, karunā, mudithā and upēkkha, the teachings of the Buddha. It’s a well-known proven fact that within the early phases of his college profession Carlo Fonseka was a dedicated socialist, and a distinguished activist of the ‘Lanka Sama Samaja Occasion’. He additionally proclaimed that he’s a ‘Rationalist’.

‘Rationalism’ has many definitions and interpretations. Very often, it’s misunderstood as an ideology that rejects all non secular beliefs and devotional practices. But when one have been to learn Professor Fonseka’s compositions within the quantity titled ‘Essays of a Lifetime’, it turns into clear that ‘Rationalism’, as professed by him, represented the fundamental precept in scientific endeavours in line with which, in producing data, ‘Motive’ is superior to emotion and to objectively unverifiable notion.

As most of us are conscious that there is no such thing as a dearth of writings on Professor Fonseka revealed each earlier than in addition to after his passing away. In view of that, there may be hardly any have to repeat the glittering particulars documented on his educational achievements. Nevertheless, I shall briefly define that Professor Carlo Fonseka obtained MBBS with first-class honours on the College of Ceylon in 1960; and was awarded the Andrew Caldecott Gold medal for the best competence in that examination, Maneckbai Dadabhoy Gold medal (for the best competence in Obstetrics and Gynaecology), Perry Exhibition “for the best competence in a 3 -year interval, Distinctions in Surgical procedure, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Pharmacology and Forensic drugs. His research resulting in the MBBS diploma have been embellished with many such distinctions and prestigious awards which, I feel, solely a only a few in your entire historical past of the Medical College in Colombo may have matched. He obtained his PhD from the College of Edinburgh. His doctoral thesis work has been quoted in textbooks of Physiology.

He joined the educational employees of the Division of Physiology of the College of Colombo in 1962 and rose steadily in rank, gaining recognition right here and overseas as an excellent researcher and an inspiring trainer, to be elevated to a professorship in Physiology. Later he moved to the newly established College of Drugs, Ragama, as its founder Dean, and the one who was instrumental in growing the College to take to the air.

He authored many broadly acclaimed publications in his discipline, specializing in specialties akin to neuroendocrinology, ache and reminiscence.

The Grasp’s diploma in Medical Training was obtained a lot later in life (1999) underscoring his optimistic perspective in direction of studying all through his life.

He was a fantastic trainer in Physiology and had a ardour to instill data in his college students. His college students at Colombo and later at Kelaniya had virtually worshipful admiration and affection for him. One in all his pupil admirers has said that his title ‘Carlo’ ought to be thought to be an abridgement of the Sinhala time period ‘Kālōchitha’ – an attention-grabbing assertion!

Outdoors the confines of educating, analysis and educational administration, he continued to take care of a refined degree of curiosity and involvement all through his profession in all kinds of points. As an example, a e book authored by him has a concentrate on the important necessity of selling peace and inter-group concord with a purpose to alleviate poverty, and obtain fairness and social justice in Sri Lanka.

He was an ardent campaigner for eliminating narcotic and tobacco consumption, and offered his fullest cooperation and management to the associated authorities efforts, whatever the political occasion affiliations of those that required his providers.

When entrusted tasks in educational administration, he by no means grew to become a ‘sure’ man of political bosses. He was guided completely by his personal convictions, even when his steadfast stand precipitated displeasure among the many powers that be.

We have now typically seen that he was related to the glitterati of our performing arts in theatre, cinema and music, however not with the target of pursuing the limelight. That affiliation was due completely to the elite performers in these fields pursuing him, as a result of he had the competence to contribute to their pursuits and aspirations.

I discover it troublesome to think about every other particular person in our college group whose document may match his versatility and competence in such a broad spectrum of fields. But, he interacted in excellent ease with these in any respect ranges of our society, together with rural youth, not as a ‘pundit’ distributing knowledge or a political bigwig harvesting votes, however as a good friend anticipating to interact in a dialogue.

This latter function of Professor Fonseka’s persona is mirrored in a narrative of a go to by him to a village in Puttalam District, invited for a speech by an affiliation of youth, primarily faculty drop-outs and college students of upper-secondary degree at a Central Faculty. That was within the gloomy aftermath of the youth rebellion of 1971. As beforehand organized, on arrival on the railway station that morning, he was respectfully greeted and escorted to the venue of the assembly in a procession of bicycles, with the illustrious ‘physician’ himself garlanded, and seated on the crossbar of the lead bicycle, motor automobiles in that period being far much less ample in comparison with the current. The social setting was one among combined ethnicity. His viewers, overwhelmingly younger women and men, consisted of Buddhists, Roman Catholics and Muslims, together with members of the clergy. In response to this story, they listened to the speech with rapt consideration, and took part in a full of life dialogue that lasted till mid-day. What impressed the narrator of this story greater than all else was the calm, respectful and persuasive method by which the eminent ‘physician’ responded to even those that disagreed with a few of his concepts. He had lunch together with his hosts, additional casual chats, and was escorted again to the Railway station, demonstrating to a small section of our society that the obstacles of the ‘Ivory Tower’ should not completely insurmountable.

That was a uncommon and exemplary dimension of Professor Fonseka’s persona, the power to “stroll with kings, however not lose the frequent contact”, a personality trait of the best ‘Man’ as portrayed by the well-known poet Rudyard Kipling.

On a private observe, he was a really expensive senior colleague to me. The steering, inspiration and the benevolence he bestowed on us Physiologists will stay amongst us for a few years to return.



(MBBS, MPhil, PhD)

Senior Lecturer, College of Drugs, Peradeniya

President, Physiology Affiliation of Sri Lanka for 2019



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