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Sri Lanka honours Arthur Clarke, Kadirgamar

V.S. Sambandan

N. Ram among six foreign nationals conferred with "Sri Lanka Ratna," the highest honour for non-nationals

— Photos: AP

HONOURED: Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has a word with science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke after he was presented the `Sri Lankabhimanya,' the highest honour for Sri Lankan nationals.

COLOMBO : Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Monday conferred the "Sri Lanka Ratna" — the island-nation's highest honour for non-nationals — on N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, for his "outstanding, professional contribution towards journalism."

The "Sri Lanka Ratna" is conferred for "exceptionally outstanding and most distinguished service to Sri Lanka in particular and\or humanity in general." Mr. Ram is the first Indian recipient of the honour, which is conferred on a restrictive basis.

The highest honour for Sri Lankans, the "Sri Lankabhimanya" was posthumously conferred on Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar for his "astute advancement of Sri Lanka's case in the international forum."

The "Sri Lankabhimanya" is conferred for "exceptionally outstanding and distinguished service to the nation."

Well-known science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, a Sri Lankan citizen, was the other recipient of the honour. Sir Arthur, who runs a foundation in his name, received the honour from the President for his "visionary concepts."

— Photos: AP

The President is conferring the `Sri Lanka Ratna' on N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu , in Colombo on Monday.

The state investiture ceremony was held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall here.

The "Sri Lanka Ratna" comprises a citation and a gold medal studded with nine "navaratnas" (Sri Lankan gems) with a Manel symbol (the country's national flower).

The other foreign nationals who received the honour include Lord Naseby from the U.K. for "furthering the U.K.-Sri Lanka relations" and internationally renowned novelist and poet Michael Ondaatje.

His novels include The English Patient and Anil's Ghost.

Nearly 200 Sri Lankans were conferred with honours for their service to the nation.

He came first for diving

Reuters reports:

Arthur C. Clarke, born in England in 1917, first came to the island in the 1950s for diving. He had said he became a resident after he ``fell in love with the place.''

One of the first to suggest the use of satellites orbiting the earth for communications, Sir Arthur has written more than 80 books, including ``2001 - A Space Odyssey'' and 500 short stories and articles.

In the 1940s he forecast that man would reach the moon by the year 2000, an idea that was dismissed as rubbish by experts.

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