Born: 6April 1959
Died: 23 June 2017
I never actually worked with Saman Kelegama though we met regularly in different forums, notably as the bosses of the two Sri Lankan think tanks supported by the Think Tank Initiative, and also as co-Directors of the Gamani Corea Foundation. I greatly admired Saman’s knowledge of economics, his analysis and the contribution he made to Sri Lanka’s policy making, had huge respect for how he navigated the murky political contexts to retain IPS’ independence and integrity, recognised that he was much loved by his colleagues and greatly admired by scholars as a development intellectual, both in Sri Lanka and globally. Among the Think Tank Initiative think tank Directors in South Asia, Saman had his place among the heavy weights! I didn’t really understand Saman’s world of trade economics, nor did I really approve of his management style (nor he of mine!) Socially I found him rather shy and ingenuous, a little lost outside his world of economics, but still always ready to join the fun! I struggle to come to terms with his sudden and unexpected death and the gap his departure creates in Sri Lanka, where good evidence based analysis and intellectual integrity is at a premium. I cannot even imagine what his family and close friends and colleagues must be feeling. My sympathies go out to them. Saman Kelegama, you have in your time here on earth, made a difference, changed the game for the better. You have left a legacy, a guide that others can follow and take to different heights. This will be the tribute of those you mentored. Rest in Peace.