Rohan Samarajiva


Five years ago, we celebrated the first of our alumni entering a PhD program.   And today we celebrate the first of our alumni completing a PhD.  Congratulations to Dr Dimuthu Ratnadiwakara who did wonderful work in the short time he worked with us.  He is now on the tenure track at Louisiana State University.  As a lapsed academic I cannot but be proud of Dimuthu’s achievements.
I write with some sadness.  After 13 consecutive academies and conferences, we are compelled to take a year’s break.  There is no money for CPRsouth in 2019. IDRC continues to value our work; but changed priorities (no longer is “future leaders” a thing) means that they did not allocate funding for us this year. Given my time constraints, I could only try for a single funder who would pick up the core funding including travel.
LIRNEasia proposed simple, immediately actionable ways to promote independent living by persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Nepal.
Presented by Rohan Samarajiva at Data Governance event at Royal School of Public Administration, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 4, 2019.
Presented by Prof. Rohan Samarajiva at the Asia Liberty Forum in Colombo on 28th February 2019.

Data-driven governance in Sri Lanka

Posted on December 7, 2018  /  0 Comments

Presented by Prof. Rohan Samarajiva at United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development. December, 2018.
Presented by Rohan Samarajiva, for AfterAccess Team at IGF in Kathmandu, Nepal. 03.11.2018
Rohan Samarajiva, Gayani Hurulle, (2018) "Metrics to improve universal-service fund disbursements", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance,
We rely on fiber-optic cables. The last mile may be wireless, but in the middle are the big pipes, dominated by fiber. The scientist responsible has passed away according to NYT. “The word ‘visionary’ is overused, but I think in the case of Charles Kao, it’s entirely appropriate because he really did see a world that was connected, by light, using the medium of optical fiber,” said John Dudley, a researcher in fiber optics based in France and a former president of the European Physical Society. “And I think society today owes him a great deal for that work.
The slideset used in the speech given as Chief Guest at the closing ceremony of Research for Transport and Logistics Industry 2018 Conference, on 7 July 2018.  
The search for a silver bullet ICT solution for low/volatile prices for agricultural produce continues, even when it should by now be evident that there is none. What matters is the level of supply and demand when the crop is ready to be harvested. We have great difficulty in foretelling the future. ICTs can, as the Economist points out, result in faster and wider dissemination of misleading or irrelevant information such as what is everyone growing at this particular time. What is relevant is the price that will be fetched when the crop is harvested, which is determined by supply and demand at that time.
The Social Science Section of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science organized a symposium to discuss the Sri Lanka Singapore Free Trade Agreement, signed in January 2018. Given it has been six months since this legal instrument binding two countries was signed in the Presidential Secretariat, I sought to explain the politico-economic context within which these kinds of agreements are being negotiated and signed. The slideset that I used is here. The audience was sparse, indicating the atrophied state of social science in Sri Lanka. The knowledge of trade agreements even among the panelists left much to be desired.
In April 2018, LIRNEasia’s Team Leader for Big Data Sriganesh Lokanathan traveled to New York to speak at UN Head Quarters. Here is what UN Global Pulse had to say about his speech. “You cannot fix what you cannot see,” said Sriganesh Lokanathan, Team Leader, Big Data for Development, LIRNEAsia. He argued that no one actor can achieve the promises of big data alone, and that the only way in which responsible and inclusive innovation can take place, is through collaborations and accountability by all stakeholders. He also underlined the importance of developing the capacity of citizens around the use of big data.
In an overview of studies on India in the United States, Devesh Kapur of the University of Pennsylvania has some less than complimentary things to say about RCTs. They mirror some of my comments about systematic reviews here, the next layer of RCTs, though I do not say anything about the benefits to reseachers like Devesh does. By contrast, there has been a considerable increase in India-related work in the social sciences. The field has become much more empirical and India offers several advantages for a researcher: large sample sizes, heterogeneity in multiple dimensions, relatively low cost of gathering data, and weak official oversight (which, in any case, is unlikely to be enforced). It would be hard to do many of these trials in the US or China.
Since 2016, we at LIRNEasia have had a strong engagement with the post-conflict Northern Province. In my role at ICTA, I was invited to inaugurate the incubator space established by the Northern Chamber of Information Technology on 26 June 2018. The seven-hour one-way journey did not justify a single event. So we crammed in a whole series of interactions, including a structured discussion organized by our partner Jaffna Managers’ Forum. Among the invited senior professionals and politicians were the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Provincial Council members, senior academics, etc.
Here is what I wrote about Smith v Maryland and the third party doctrine two years ago. The US government’s justification for the collection and use of telephone metadata pertaining to US citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA) exposed by Snowden was based on the third-party doctrine, derived from the above judgments (Savage, 2013). A 2013 decision from the District Court of the District of Columbia (perhaps the most important, because Washington DC is within the District) attracted significant attention because it explicitly contradicted the Smith rationale, stating that the surveillance of meta-data in 2013 was qualitatively different from that which was decided in 1979. However, a subsequent decision by a District Judge from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court responsible for oversight of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities reaffirmed the third-party doctrine. Until the various appeals work their way up to the Supreme Court, Smith v Maryland will continue as the ruling precedent in the US.