Happy 50th, IDRC


Posted by Rohan Samarajiva on May 13, 2020  /  1 Comments

Today is the 50th anniversary of the legislation that created the pioneering development research organization that is known as the International Development Research Centre of Canada. On behalf of all at LIRNEasia, warm good wishes and thank you for the productive partnership.

LIRNEasia would not exist if not for IDRC, which made it possible for a sui generis entity like it to emerge and find its feet. But I like to think we have also contributed to achieving the objectives IDRC was created to advance. In the words of David Hopper, the first President of IDRC: “For years the West thought all it had to do was to pass out its agricultural technology. Yet, without the adaptation of this technology to the specific needs of the developing regions, the technology was useless.” Hopper was very much into agriculture, but from the start IDRC was broad in scope. Its original divisions were (1) Agriculture, food and nutrition, (2) Information sciences, (3) Population and health sciences, and (4) Social sciences and human resources. The four points in the IDRC logo represented the four divisions, equal and intertwined.

By now, you the kind reader, must be wondering how this Sri Lankan sitting on the other side of the world from Canada knows all these arcane details.

All this comes from a term paper written for the very first graduate course I took at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, back in the Autumn of 1979:

RohanSamarajiva-IDRCpaper-1979

I still have the paper for which I got an A. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

1 Comment


  1. I wonder who on earth Rohan Samarajiwa’s course instructor in 1979 might have been? And did Rohan S. know that his instructor knew David Hopper and his executive assistant quite well? And that the instructor’s father was a founding member of Hopper’s team in Ottawa, helping to start up the Health & Population Division in 1970-71? And why would we be studying international development and technology transfer in a School of Communication in 1979 – weren’t there other more important things to do?

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