Dr Gamani Corea – a passing away – 4th November 1925 – 3rd November 2013
The end was not salubrious as the beginnings, as he passed his last few years as a recluse suffering from senile dementia, which my father attributed to not eating enough Coconut Oil based foods due to his extensive sojourns in the West. He passed away on the eve of his 88th birthday at his home at Horton Lodge at 28 Horton Place, Colombo 7.
Anyhow, he was the son of Dr CVS Corea, and of Frieda who was also Sir John Kotelawala’s sister, whose mother was Alice Kotelawala one of the 3 wealthy Atygalle sisters from whose wealth he was able to do what he did.
Gamani Corea’s grandfather, Victor from Chilaw, the Corea heartland, was a freedom fighter and a member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon.
He earned an MA from Corpus Christie Cambridge in 1949 and another MA from Nuffield College Oxford in 1952, and later a DPhil from Oxford. After a career in the Central Bank and Civil Service in Ceylon, he was sent as the SL Ambassador to the EU in 1973. He served 4 terms as the Secretary General of the UNCTAD at its HQ in Geneva, between 1974 - 1984. Subsequently he held many important posts details of which are available at the link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamani_Corea
The reason I chose to write this in a blog entry was to show how close he was to Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, for over 3 decades, much longer than the Ghandhis association with their PM. See link for the Indian PM’s condolence note. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/pmreleases.aspx?mincode=3
Manmohan Singh earned an Economics Degree at St John’s College Cambridge in 1957 and a D Phil in Economics at Nuffield College in Oxford in 1962, where Gamani Corea also went. Manmohan also worked for UNCTAD between 1966-69, then again as Secretary General of the South Commission in Geneva between 1987-90. Gamani was also a member of the latter commission.
Though Manmohan Singh is 6 years younger than Gamani Corea, and in the news lately owing to the will he? or wont he? Debate on his presence at CHOGM 2013, he was kind enough to express his sadness at Dr Gamani Corea’s demise in a very personal way in a note published today from the Prime Minister’s Office in India.
I am sure it was the first time many were even privy to this special friendship!