Ravi : Versatile sportsman, Administrator,


Richmond College, Galle is one of the leading seats of learning in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. This great school was started in the year 1876 is rich in tradition. Many outstanding personalities passed through the portals of Richmond College. Among them were national leaders in the caliber of late D. M. Rajapaksa, popularly known as the "Lion of Ruhuna" who served the peasants of Giruwapattuwa, late, Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, father of Free Education, Minister of Education and Prime Minister in late 1950’s, late Dr. W. Dahanayake, are just some of distinguished Richmondites out of so many. Further, President Mahinda Rajapaksa too had his Primary Education at Richmond. The Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa was also a distinguished Richmondite. He joined Richmond in 1948.

Richmond College produced many productive citizens in all fields and all walks of life during the past 134 years. They will continue to produce many distinguished old boys in the years to come.

Out of many military personalities that Richmond produced during the past decades in the Defence services, one name stands out.

Vice Marshal Ravi Arunthavanathan, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, MSC Defence studies, PSC, SLAF (Retired). After retirement, he served as an Additional Secretary Defence, Ministry of Defence, Pubic Security, Law and Order, under secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Arunthavanathan was an outstanding, sportsman, and a fine sports administrator. In early 1970’s, he was one of the leading schoolboy wicket-keeper batsman in the island. In the 1972, season he was placed third in the all-island schoolboy wicket keeping ranking with 29 victims, behind the stumps. Further, he was a great team personality. He played in the 1972 memorable Richmond-Mahinda big match, popular known as "Lovers Quarrel". His captain Prasad Kariyawasam, who broke the historic Richmond-Mahinda big match record held by Sirisena Hettige of Mahinda a former Hakmana MP in 1930’s. Prasad Kariyawasam is Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in India. He represented Sri Lanka schools and the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya with distinction.

In the record breaking innings of Prasad Kariyawasam, it was Ravi Arunthavanathan, who came into bat when Richmond were 55/4 and played the second fiddle, holding onto one end for Kariyawasam to hit the ball to all corners of the park at Galle Cricket Club.

Incidentally, out of the hundred run partnership, Ravi’s contribution was thirty odd runs. Ravi’s innings showed guts, courage and fighting spirit. Prasad captain of Richmond refers to Ravi as a great fighter.

Going down memory lane, Ravi related how he batted for 3 hrs 45 minutes, and saved Richmond from the jaws of defect against Nalanda in the year 1972. Nalanda was captained by Dhammika Samarawickrema, who was a star student of mine at Nalanda in late 1960’s.

Ravi, hails from a very distinguished family. His father R. Arunthavanathan was a highly respected Superintendent of Police. Ravi’s beloved mother Sita, was one of the best teachers in the island and a renowned Buddhist scholar and writer.

Ravi has three brothers, Niranjan, Suvindran, Indran and two sisters – Gowri and Mauri. He is the eldest in the family.

"At Richmond there was no caste, creed, colour or race. We, were all one family. I think, Richmond had a big advantage, that after such great missionary principals like Rev. Darrel Small, Snetch left Richmond they produced many old boys as Principals, Richmond have provided three principals to Royal College.

They are D. G. Welikale, B. Suriyarachchi and the present Royal Principal Upali Gunasekera. Incidentally, Royal College never produced a principal, an old Royalist, to this prestigious position.

Ravi had a liking to join a Defence Service, from his child hood. Probably, his father who served in the Police, would have motivated him. In 1972, he joined the Sri Lanka Air Force. Out of 25,000 applicants, eleven (11) of them were selected. He was one of them. In fact, a majority of them were from leading Colombo schools. They underwent training at Diyatalawa which was a wonderful experience. He served the Air Force for 35 years. It was a challenge. During the JVP uprising in 1989, and then the Eelam war the defence Forces fought hard to save the country. Ravi served in various parts of the island. Once he was the Commanding Officer in the East, in Baticaloa. Baticaloa was a HOTSPOT. The Air Force, and specially the STF fought hard and got rid of the terrorist from the Baticaloa area. Late Lionel Karunasena and recently retired, Nimal Lewke the Deputy Inspector General of Police respectively did a marvelous job in eradicating terrorism from the Baticaloa area. It was a fine team effort. "I pay my highest respect for all forces and those who laid their lives in combat".

Joining as an officer cadet in December 1972, Ravi Aruthavanathan retired as an Air Vice Marshal.

In his long journey spanning, more than three and half decades, starting his career as a young officer, he had come up, managing personnel combat, command, General Management and even of personal nature that devolves on a service officer holding responsibilities in Commanding Officer, Zonal Commander and a Director, gaining valuable experience covering the entire ambit of personnel management under combat stress.

In appreciation of his cherished, dedicated, committed 35 year plus career, he was awarded the Uttama Seva Padakkama, culminating with the highest decoration in this sphere, which is the Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya award. Along with the said distinctions for distinguished service, he was also awarded Rana Wickrama Padakkama and Rana Sura Padakkama for gallantry.

Ravi Arunthavanathan being an officer of the Administrative Regiment initially had built up experience in leading men in combat at all levels. Subsequently, he held greater responsibility such as Commanding Officer of Air Force, Batticaloa at the height of Anti-terrorist operations. Further, he was sent as the Base Commander, China Bay, after the attack on that base, not only speaks volumes for the wide experience in this field, but goes to endorse the feat of being decorated for gallantry weighing strongly in favour for such consideration.

Being commissioned, his first appointment was to serve as a Officer Instructor at the Ground Combat and Recruit Training Unit at Diyatalawa, where all officers and other ranks start their service life. Ravi handled the duties of Staff Officer Training (GH) at Air Headquarters.

Ravi had the proud distinction of serving as the AIDE-de-CAMP – (ADC) to three Air Force Commanders namely Air Chief Marshals Harry Gunatilake, Dick Perera and Walter Fernando, spanning a period of eight years.

He represented Air Force in cricket and soccer. In soccer, he played full back. He held various sports administrative appointments in both Air Force Sports Council and in the Defence Services Sports Board. He also served as its secretary and treasurer. Further, he was the Chairman of Motor Races Organized with leading clubs.

Ravi had the proud distinction of being the Tournament Director of the International Cricket Council (ICC) conducted under 19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, where 16 countries participated. He was paid a big bouquet by both the ICC and the Sri Lanka Cricket for the excellent manner, in which he handled and conducted the under 19 World Cup Tournament.

He functioned as a Main Sub Committee Chairman in the SAF Games and Commonwealth Game conference in Sri Lanka. He paid glowing tributes to Anna Punchihiwa, Thilanga Sumathipala, Rienze Wijetilleke, Jayantha Dharmadasa and Hemasiri Fernando.

Ravi served as the President of Galle Cricket Club for six years, during which the international stadium came to being.

He functioned as Vice President of Sri Lanka Football Federation and the Chairman, Soccer, Sri Lanka, Air Force for about 10 years. During this period, he handled the Colours Award Committee of the Air Force and the Defence Services from time to time.

Ravi had also been a live-wire of Richmond College Old Boys Association, (Colombo branch). He served as the Secretary of RCOBA and as its President for over a decade, a feat which has been acclaimed by all concerned. The retired Air Vice Marshall and former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order, Ravi is married to an old girl from Maliyadeva Girls School, Kurunegala, Dr. Lilangani De Silva, consultant Radiologist. They are blessed with a son Kulsith, , an old Royalist presently studying at the American National School.

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