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The Past is Another Country is a series of interviews with individuals distinguished for their contributions to culture and to society. In addition to discussing their individual contributions, the programmes explore the context in which each of them functioned. The interviews, by Rajiva Wijesinha, cover a range of developments in post-independence Sri Lanka, and present a panoramic view of social change in the latter half of the 20th century.

Derrick Nugawela’s parents belonged to the Nugawela and Panabokke families, distinguished landowners in Kandy and successful politicians in Colombo during the State Council period, and thereafter in the early years after independence. He himself however, after the early death of his father, had to make his own way, and became a planter, where he had to work himself up in a profession dominated by British expatriates. By the sixties he ran one of the best plantations in Sri Lanka, while also being a Volunteer Officer who was put in charge of Hambantota during the 1971 insurgency. Having later emigrated to Australia, he had to again make his own way there, before returning to Sri Lanka for Citibank, and later becoming a Director of the Board of Investment.