Claiming India’s commitment to Sri Lanka’s economic prosperity, visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday stressed that whether it was on land or in the waters of the Indian Ocean, the security of India and Sri Lanka was indivisible.
Modi declared that his conversations with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had reinforced India’s will to join hands in achieving their common goals.
The Indian leader was addressing the International Vesak Day event at the BMICH in Colombo.
Excepts of Modi address:
“I believe we are at a moment of great opportunity in our ties with Sri Lanka. An opportunity to achieve a quantum jump in our partnership across different fields. And, for us, the most relevant benchmark for the success of our friendship is your progress and success. We are committed to the economic prosperity of our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters. We will continue to invest in driving positive change and economic growth to deepen our development cooperation. Our strength lies in sharing our knowledge, capacity and prosperity. In trade and investment, we are already significant partners. We believe that free flow of trade, investments, technology, and ideas across our borders will be to our mutual benefit.
India’s rapid growth can bring dividends for the entire region, especially in Sri Lanka. In infrastructure and connectivity, transport and energy, we are poised to scale up our cooperation. Our development partnership stretches across nearly every sector of human activity such as agriculture, education, health, resettlement, transport, power, culture, water, shelter, sports, and human resources.
“Today, India’s development cooperation with Sri Lanka amounts to US Dollars 2.6 billion. And, its only aim is to support Sri Lanka in realizing a peaceful, prosperous and secure future for its people. Because, the economic and social well being of the people of Sri Lanka is linked with that of 1.25 billion Indians. Because, whether it is on land or in the waters of the Indian Ocean, the security of our societies is indivisible. My conversations with President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have only reinforced our will to join hands in achieving our common goals. As you make important choices for the harmony and progress of your society, you will find in India a friend and partner that will support your nation-building endeavours.
“Sri Lanka takes pride in being among the most important nerve centres of Buddhist teachings and learning. Centuries later, Anagarika Dharmapala undertook a similar journey, but this time, from Sri Lanka to India to revive the spirit of Buddha in the land of its origin. In some way, you took us back to our own roots. The world also owes a debt of gratitude to Sri Lanka for preserving some of the most important elements of the Buddhist heritage. Vesak is an occasion for us to celebrate this unbroken shared heritage of Buddhism. A heritage that connects our societies across generations and through centuries.
“The friendship between India and Sri Lanka was etched in time by the “Great Master”. Buddhism imparts an ever present radiance to our relationship. As close neighbours, our relationship spreads across many layers. It draws its strength as much through our interconnected values of Buddhism as it does from the limitless possibilities of our shared future. Ours is a friendship that lives in the hearts of our people and in the fabric of our societies.
“To honour and deepen our links of Buddhist heritage, I have the great pleasure to announce that from August this year, Air India will operate direct flights between Colombo and Varanasi. This will ease travel to the land of Buddha for my brothers and sisters from Sri Lanka, and help you directly visit Sravasti, Kusinagar, Sankasa, Kaushambi and Sarnath. My Tamil brothers and sisters will also be able to visit Varanasi, the land of Kashi Viswanath.”