RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research is pleased to invite you to this special seminar with Professor Siri Hettige.

Seminar brief

The popularly elected, post-independence regimes in Sri Lanka from the mid 1950’s to the mid 1970’s favoured decentralised development that led to a significant improvement of life chances of rural inhabitants. Land reforms, redistribution of state land among the landless, establishment of industries in the provinces, and the development of rural infrastructure, such as education, health and transport facilities, helped reduce rural-urban migration.

Increasing state control over the economy during this period enabled the state to divert resources away from the cities and concentrate more on regional and rural development. However, the policy environment changed drastically in the late 1970’s, when a market-friendly development strategy, coupled with increasing centralization of power within a newly introduced executive Presidential system led to a greater centralisation of decision-making.

Continue reading the full brief.


Siri Hettige is Senior Professor in Sociology and Founder Director of the Social Policy Analysis and Research Centre at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He is former Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the same University and current President of the Sri Lanka Sociological Association.

Professor Hettige’s other current positions include Chairman, the working Committee on Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka, Adjunct Professor at RMIT University, Australia, and Adjunct Research Associate at Monash University, Australia.

Professor Hettige is a columnist for the Daily Mirror in Sri Lanka. Read his latest column Liberalism, Nationalism and Barbarism.

Image by Denish C via Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


RMIT City Campus Building 8, Lvl. 7, Rm. 6


Wednesday, 25 March, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm