Since the establishment of the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI) in 1995, over 10,000 participants have enriched their knowledge and diplomatic skills through attending academic programmes of the Institute. There are prominent personalities among them who contributed to the society while holding significant positions as well as bringing fame to Sri Lanka.
In view of the 25th anniversary of the institution, the BIDTI has initiated an Alumni Association to provide a networking platform for former students of the institute. An initiative that was much appreciated by participants, the inaugural meeting of the BIDTI Alumni Association took place on Sunday, 16th August 2020.
This initial gathering was setup for all interested parties to familiarize themselves with one another and determine the objectives they wish to achieve through the organisation.
The following are elected as the Office Bearers
President- Shakthi De Silva
Vice President – Shamilka Karunanayake
Secretary – H. L. Tharindu Udara Liyanage
Assistant Secretary – Chrishantha De Silva
Treasurer- Jayasiri Samaratunga
Hashan Wickramasingha Wadanambi
In addition, the following has been elected to the Working Committee
U. G. Dasuni Sanoja
M. Joy Lucian
K.M. P.P Prasadini Fernando
E. A. Kushendri Edirisinghe
S. S. Evangeline
Alumni who are interested in joining the association could contact the following:
Delivering an introductory lecture on ‘Research Study’ Professor Nayani Melegoda, the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, reflected on the core elements of a Research Proposal. She also discussed the core theories of International Relations, the criteria for selecting a Research Topic as well as how students should develop Research Questions and Problems.
In her presentation, Professor Melegoda discussed pertinent areas of Research and stimulated great interest to explore the entire expanse of current affairs. Paying particular attention on how a Literature Review should be developed, Professor Melegoda also advised students on the importance of paying adequate attention to accurately reference academic material.
Wrapping up her presentation, Professor Melegoda noted the diverse Research Methodologies applied by scholars and the importance of utilizing a suitable methodology for their Dissertation.
The 6th Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomacy and World Affairs Course inauguration took place on the 14th of June 2019. The course is conducted at the BIDTI in collaboration with the University of Colombo. The Course is open for those who have successfully completed the Diploma in Diplomacy and World Affairs course and possess a degree from a University recognized by the University Grant Commission.
Through this course, participants are able to gain a firm grounding on topics such as research ethics, methodologies and methods which will enable them to develop a comprehensive research on a topic related to international relations.
The Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu indicated that the Indian Prime Minister during his scheduled trip to Sri Lanka this weekend, “will carry the message of solidarity and hope from the people of India to the people of Sri Lanka. This will be his [Prime Minister Modi’s] first foreign tour in his second term and he will be the first head of Government to visit Sri Lanka after the Easter attacks. It is a symbol of our solidarity with Sri Lanka.”
In his Keynote address at the inauguration of the 21st Diploma Course in Diplomacy and World Affairs, the High Commissioner threaded through topics as diverse as India’s foreign policy and the need to effectively and collectively address terrorism in the region. The High Commissioner indicated that the “core aim of India’s foreign policy is to ensure safety and security of its 1.3 billion people and meet their genuine developmental aspirations.” He also emphasized that the pursuit of development and peace must be reached through collaboration with other countries. In his words: “India has always believed in sharing its developmental successes. This is because India has always believed that the whole world is one family.”
Referring to the Easter terror attacks in Sri Lanka, High Commissioner Sandhu stressed that complex challenges such as terrorism must be addressed through “collective action.” Distinguishing between Islam and the Jihadi ideology which played a part in the Easter attacks, the High Commissioner stated “This Jihadi ideology is against Islam. Islam in Arabic literally means peace. This divisive ideology is a threat to Sri Lanka; it is a threat to India; it is a threat to regional security and global peace…. We have to strive together to ensure that such heinous crimes are never repeated.”
Delivering the inaugural address, Ambassador Damayanthi Rajapakse, the Director General of the East Asia, South East Asia and Oceania division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representing the Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, stressed on the impact made by Sri Lanka’s geographic centrality on the island’s foreign policy. She added that Sri Lanka’s unique position between the East Africa and East Asia brings both challenges and opportunities and that it “is up to policymakers and diplomats to make best use of this.” She went on to describe the BIDTI as “a platform that brings together diplomats, practitioners, scholars and students from Sri Lanka and across the world to explore global challenges and evolving demands of diplomatic statecraft, [as well as] to better understand the nexus of theory and practice and to enhance and appreciate the role of diplomacy as a critical element in national policy formulation and implementation.”
Given below is the High Commissioner’s Keynote address:
Ambassador Pamela Deen, Director General, Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute,
Mrs. Damayanthi Rajapakse, DG East Asia, South Asia and Oceania Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka
Former Ambassadors, Secretaries,
I am happy to be here today at the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute for the inauguration of 21st Diploma Course in Diplomacy & World Affairs. I have been meaning to be here for a while now; however, it had to be postponed couple of times. Director General Pamela Deen has been a longstanding friend. I congratulate Ms. Deen on her active role in taking BIDTI forward.
You are today starting the 21st Diploma Course in Diplomacy and World Affairs. I am confident that it would equip you to appreciate the 21st century challenges in International Affairs.
This is my first public function in Sri Lanka, after our new Government has taken over in India. As you are aware, President of Sri Lanka attended the Swearing in Ceremony last week along with other world leaders. It is a proud moment for humanity who believe in the strength of democracy; people of India chose PM Modi making him not only the leader of largest democracy in the world, but also a leader with the largest popular mandate in the world.
The decisive mandate for PM Modi is a reflection of support for continuation of the Government’s policies, and has led to a stable Government. India-Sri Lanka relations have seen landmark changes in the last five years, with PM Modi’s 2 visits to the island, and substantial strengthening of economic pillar of the relationship. The continuation and further strengthening of these policies is also in Sri Lanka’s interest.
I am glad that today’s inaugural function also provides an opportunity for me to interact with the youth in Sri Lanka. India and Sri Lanka are ancient civilizations, but nations of youth. I have always believed in the power of youth; the power to think out of the box; the power to innovate; and the power to look into the future rather than the past. In you, I see hope and freedom; In you, I see confidence and resilience; in you, I see a better tomorrow.
Today, I would briefly touch upon India’s foreign policy with special emphasis on national security. I would also briefly speak about India-Sri Lanka relations.
What is the primary objective of India’s foreign policy? In other words, what are we trying to achieve through our engagement with other countries? The core aim of India’s foreign policy is to ensure safety and security of its 1.3 billion people and meet their genuine developmental aspirations. As Prime Minister Modi has said, we seek a future for Indian Ocean that lives up to the name of SAGAR- Security and Growth for All in the Region.
Some of you may think that foreign policy in pursuit of national interest is a narrow concept. While pursuing our objectives, I would like to point out that we are not governed by self-interest alone. We want others to win, when we win. Growing together has been the basic essence of our foreign policy. India has always believed in sharing its developmental successes. This is because India has always believed that the whole world is one family. We call it, Vasudaiva Kudumbakam.
How do you ensure safety and security of your citizens and take your country forward on its development path? It is a live question today in Sri Lanka, after the dastardly terrorist attacks in April that killed hundreds of innocent people. It is a question which world leaders are trying to grapple with, almost every day.
First and foremost, we must understand that we cannot remain peaceful, secure and prosperous, if the region and world at large were to be in turmoil. It is a highly interconnected world today. It is in our individual and collective interest to maintain world peace and collective stability. You cannot banish other’s misery as his or her own problem; it is as much as yours as his or hers. In Indian Vedic philosophy, we call it, ‘the reality of cosmic unity’.
There was a time when the rulers guarded physical borders. Even now we do it. What has changed now is that, these physical border security measures are not enough. Internet and cyberspace have revolutionized the way we think and act. While digital age, technology and social media have brought humanity together, it has also become a potential weapon for spread of aggression and intolerance. Irrespective of the actual location of individuals, ideas and ideologies travel beyond borders, on a real time basis. Terrorism and Extremism are complex challenges. Collective threats and challenges demand collective action.
The recent attacks in Sri Lanka, is not just against Sri Lanka. Terrorism anywhere in the world attacks the conscience of whole humanity; it attacks the human spirit that we are one. We know your pain and agony. India has experienced it herself.
You must understand that there are forces within the region and in the world at large, who have been working to propagate hate and violence; propagate the Jihadi ideology. This Jihadi ideology is against Islam. Islam in Arabic literally means peace. This divisive ideology is a threat to Sri Lanka; it is a threat to India; it is a threat to regional security and global peace.
We cannot talk about the danger of snakes and walk over the pits, and expect them not to bite us. We need to walk the talk. We need to identify the snake-pits and isolate them. We need to find out who nurtures these snake-pits, and close those channels.
We have to strive together to ensure that such heinous crimes are never repeated. We need to clearly understand what happened, for which we require focussed action. Any attempt to divert attention from the core issue will only be self-defeatist.
Counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism and radicalism are of equal importance. “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defenses of peace must be constructed”, says the preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO. The most important tool available for us is education. Education is not just about what is taught in class-rooms. Education is about what you read, books and digital; who your friends are; what your families and communities teach you. Love and tolerance are virtues which can be nurtured only in the waters of togetherness. Alienation, compartmentalization and hierarchy of identities provide fertile soil to breed hate and violence.
For India, pluralism and diversity call for celebration and not confrontation. India is not only world’s largest democracy but also world’s most intricately pluralistic society. India has been able to preserve this rich mosaic of pluralism under democratic structures. We firmly believe in taking everyone along in our journey towards development. Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, which means Solidarity with everyone, development for all.
India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour. We are both ancient civilizations; pluralistic societies; most importantly democracies. We share similar aspirations and face common challenges. Countries, like individuals, need to look ahead. The first day of PM Modi in office after the swearing in ceremony was dedicated to meeting the leaders from the neighbourhood and extended neighbourhood. It is a reflection of the importance that we attach to the special relations with our neighbours.
Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka this weekend. PM Modi will be the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka after the Easter attacks. He will carry the message of solidarity and hope from people of India to the people of Sri Lanka.
Our relationship with Sri Lanka is without any caveats and riders. It is open and genuine. India is not interested in capturing Sri Lanka’s assets, resources or markets. We are only interested in seeing a united, peaceful, strong, sovereign and prosperous Sri Lanka. Our future will be shaped by what we do today, how quickly we do it and how strongly we feel for it. There is no space for ambivalence or complacence. India stands with you in the hour of need.
Sri Lanka may now have friends who show Sri Lanka great dreams, or encourage Sri Lanka to see things through their lens. But, if there is one friend that Sri Lanka has, who has given information when it mattered the most; who was the first to send ships with men and material when floods hit Sri Lanka; who have offered development assistance for several people-oriented projects as per Sri Lanka’s own priorities; and some of them spread island-wide; who stood with Sri Lanka in rain and in shine; my young friends, have no doubt, it is India.
There is also a narrative which we increasingly hear that India is trying to balance the influence of a third country in Sri Lanka. Out actions speak for themselves. Our relations with Sri Lanka stand on its own and are not dependent on our relations or Sri Lanka’s relations with any third country.
Your decisions today, my friends, should not be coloured by what others say, or by analyses of the past where we no longer live, but must be based on Sri Lanka’s own interests and your vision of how you wish to see Sri Lanka in the decades ahead. We will continue to be with you, come what may.
As Lord Buddha said, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
The BIDTI inaugurated the 20th Diploma Course in Diploma in Diplomacy & World Affairs on 5th March 2019 with the presence of over hundred participants who enrolled for the course.
Delivering the inaugural address by the Director General (Policy & Research) Sashikala Premawardene representing Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned that Sri Lanka’s involvement in the conduct of foreign relations goes back to ancient times citing dispatching of envoys during the Anuradhapura Kingdom. Referring to the post-independence period she highlighted role Sri Lanka played in the United Nations Convention on Law of the sea and the UNCTAD. Further, she explained the present engagement of making Sri Lanka as the hub of the Indian Ocean, emphasized the need of a White Paper on the foreign policy and challenging task of creating it.
The Canadian High Commissioner David McKinnon delivered the keynote speech highlighted the Canadian Foreign Policy and its achievement based on principles of human rights and democratic norms. He also referred to the longstanding friendly relations Canada enjoys with Sri Lanka over a half century.
Delivering the vote of thanks Ravindra Lekamwasam explained the impact and advantage of the course he experienced as a medical student.
Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana said that the prime duty of Sri Lankan Defence Attachés assigned to Sri Lanka Missions overseas is to serve the country and its people and that they should be mindful of the fact that they are ‘there to serve and not to be served’.
Foreign Minister Marapana made these remarks attending as the chief guest of the certificate awarding ceremony of the Intensive Training Programme for military officers who would be assigned as Defence Attachés/ Advisors in Sri Lanka Missions overseas, organized by the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI), the training arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The certificate awarding ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday (08 March). The participating military officers received their certificates from Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana upon successful completion of the training programme.
The Intensive Training Programme, which was conducted at the BIDTI from 18 February to 07 March 2019, was attended by thirty (30) officers from the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Air Force and the Sri Lanka Navy, who would be assigned as Defence Attachés/ Advisors in Sri Lanka Missions overseas in the near future.
This was the first time that the BIDTI conducted a Training Programme for prospective Defence Attachés/ Advisors of Sri Lanka.
Delivering the keynote address of the ceremony, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana further said that although these officers receive a comprehensive training in their relevant field, when serving abroad as Defence Attachés they are exposed to a new climate of work. In this context, the Minister observed, that training programmes of this nature would equip them with the broad spectrum of knowledge that is required to carry out their diplomatic assignments. The Minister further said that they should not forget the most important element of their work – that is to serve the people of Sri Lanka.
Addressing the ceremony, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha paid tribute to the defence services and the Defence Attachés who served during the conflict and the immediate aftermath of the conflict. He recalled with appreciation the tremendous support and leverage that the diplomatic agents received from Defence Attachés in their battle against the LTTE in international fronts. Referring to the rising extremism in the international arena and the importance of defence cooperation in curbing it, he requested the prospective Defence Attachés to help the international community to deal with the menace of terrorism with the benefit of their lived experience of fighting one the world’s most ruthless terrorist organizations.
Director General of the BIDTI Ambassador Pamela J. Deen welcomed the invitees and participants, and stated that the BIDTI was pleased to conduct this programme on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Commodore A.B. Dhanapala of the Sri Lanka Navy, on behalf of the participants, delivered the vote of thanks.
This Intensive Training Programme, which aimed at helping participants understand the nature and scope of their diplomatic assignments overseas, dealt with a range of topics that are relevant to their line of work.
The programme included lectures on theoretical as well as practical aspects of diplomacy, covering a wide range of topics including the history of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic relations, foreign policy of Sri Lanka since independence, bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, media relations, human rights, protocol and the role of a Defence Attaché in a Sri Lanka Mission overseas.
Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, members of the Colombo-based diplomatic corps including several Ambassadors, representatives of the Army and Air Force commanders, and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the certificate awarding ceremony.
A training programme for the prospective Defence Attachés/ Counsellors scheduled to assume duties at the Sri Lanka missions overseas was inaugurated on 18th of February 2019 at the BIDTI. Thirty officers selected from the tri forces viz the Army, the Navy and the Air Force have joined the training programme.
Welcoming the invitees and participants, Director General Pamela J. Deen stated that the programme was the first of this nature taking place in Sri Lanka, thus filling the void felt for a long time. While congratulating the participants for being selected, she mentioned that the training envisaged was intensive and would cover all necessary aspect for them to perform duties as Defence Attachés. Further, in view of the responsibilities involved their spouses would be invited to attend the programme appropriately.
Speaking at the inauguration Director General of the Ocean Affairs and Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sashikala Premawardhane, representing the Secretary of the Ministry emphasized the relevance and the importance of the programme. It would enlighten and equip all Defence Attachés prior to their assuming duties overseas.
Demarcating the roles of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she mentioned that there was a strong link between the two ministries. Director General Premawardhane gave an overall picture to the audience emphasizing the need of both Ministries to work together for the national interest and national security of the country. She said that the end of the war brought out changes needed and outlook shifts, but the national security and the national interest remain as the focal points.
Main objective of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to promote, protect and projection of national interest and the prospective Defence Attachés should focus on working closer relations with defense establishments of countries assigned in order to accrue benefit to Sri Lanka. In that exercise they could promote defence dialogue, thematic conferences and seeking to enter into agreements on defence cooperation. Further, she opined a new vista for the selected Defence Attachés to be innovative in thinking while being alert to grasp opportunities to promote domestic and foreign interests.
Director General Staff, Training and Doctrine Major General H.R.N. Fernando representing the Chief of Defence Staff appreciated the initiative taken by the BIDTI in organizing the programme. Brigadier I.G.R.G. Bogodawatta, Coordinator of the training programme and Commander Amila Darmawardhane of the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff were present.
A training programme on Economic Diplomacy had been conducted at the BIDTI from 3rd to 8th April 2019 with the collaboration of the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (CFSI). Upon request made by the BIDTI, the Global Affairs Canada arranged the visit of Ambassador David Devine to conduct series of lectures on economic diplomacy. Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated the conduct of the training programme in three stages enabling large number of participants to benefit from the expert experience.
Ambassador Devine, a skilled negotiator has an experience over 36 years involved in negotiations for Canada in trade, free trade agreements and the World Trade Organisation Agreement.
Senior and mid-level Sri Lanka Foreign Service officers, nominees of the key stakeholders involved in promoting trade and investment attended the programme held from 3rd to 5th April 2019. Among the participants were Ambassadors designated to number of countries, nominees of the Board of Investment, Gems & Jewellery Authority, Export Development Board, Tea Promotion Bureau, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade and Dept of Commerce. On 6th April cadets of the Foreign Service and Trade Service attended an exclusive programme organized for them. Ambassador Devine also made a presentation on 8th April to participants of the 20th Diploma in Diplomacy and World Affairs course where robust discussion took place.