Marga Institute - Centre for Development Studies

Civil Society Forum

The Marga Institute started as a civil society initiative in the early seventies (Incorporated in 1972) and developed over a span of four decades. The ideas leading to the establishment of the Marga Institute took shape in the late nineteen sixties, among a group of public officers, academics and professionals.

Over the years the Institute has organized a number of seminars on public issues. The institute has also sponsored institutions and come up with initiatives to involve civil society in the resolution of ethnic conflict.

One of the key initiatives that were taken in the formation of citizens committees is the establishment and sponsorship of Peoples’ Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) which addresses the issue of political violence.

Other initiatives include

  • Post 1983 study on interracial equity and National Unity (in 1984)
  • Studies on Regional Cooperation

The Institute's outlook and conceptual framework have been non-partisan and ideologically open. This has enabled it to provide a forum in which groups with different ideological and political orientations have engaged in a rational and constructive dialogue on highly controversial national issues.

The Civil Society Forum is organized as one of the main activities of the Institute to deal with social, economic and political issues of national importance. Its main objective is to explore and examine the policy alternatives to enable Sri Lanka to realize its full potential for human development. Work in this area will lead to publication of Journals and other annual publications.

Recent Seminars

  • A seminar on "Post-war Accountability and Reconciliation: Redefining Sri Lankan Identity” was held on 9th February, 2012 at the Marga Auditorium. More
  • A Seminar to review the report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka PDF Report Institute was held on the 21st of July 2011. More
  • The Working paper presented at this seminar by Dr. Godfrey Gunatilleke Truth and Accountability. More
  • The Marga Institute organized a Panel Discussion on Constitutional Reforms which was held on the 25th of September 2013 More
  • A Seminar titled "The Numbers Game" -Politics of Retributive Justice was held on the 16th of May 2013 More
  • A follow up Seminar on the “THE NUMBERS GAME: collective atonement and moral accountability and responsibility of a Nation” was held on the 6th of June 2013 More
  • A Seminar was jointly organized by Marga Institute and the World Bank on Education & Social Cohesion on the 28th of September 2012 at the Marga Auditorium



A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image.

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