In an apparent message to China and pro-Sino lobbies, Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Sunday highlighted how supportive his country has been to Sri Lanka and urged the nation to benefit from the giant neighbour’s success story by virtue of destiny.
Speaking at the a reception to commemorate the 70th Republic Day of India and 71st Independence Day of Sri Lanka on Sunday at the Taj Samudra, Taranjit was emphatic that Sri Lanka is special for India.
“If there is one country which has built 47,000 houses free in Sri Lanka, it is India. We will construct another 16,000 houses all over Sri Lanka. If there is one country which has completed 71 development projects in all part of Sri Lanka in almost sectors under grants, it is India. If there is one country which has gifted its crown jewel Buddhism to this island, it is India. If there is one country which has responded with men and material within hours of been struck by natural disasters, it is India,” reiterated the Indian envoy.
“Sri Lanka, my friends, we have many friends and partners. Some of them with promises of a new world and selling bright dreams. But there is only one country that is joined by destiny, and that is India,” the High Commissioner told the gathering at the ceremony organised by the Sri Lanka India Society (SLIS) with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Chief Guest.
Noting that India will be one of the biggest and strongest economies in the world, Taranjit urged Sri Lanka to be part of India’s story and take advantage of the opportunities next door.
He recalled that President of India Ram Nath Kovind in his Republic Day address spoke about the Indian Model which rests on tripod of diversity, democracy and development. “We cannot chose one above the others. We must have all three and we will have all three.”
Tharanjit said as a democracy with pluralistic traditions and development aspirations, Sri Lanka’s model is no different.
Earlier in his speech, the Indian envoy described Wickremesinghe as a visionary and statesman, who had always believed that greater connectivity and economic integration are key to development.
“He (Wickremesinghe) has been an architect of the close friendship between India and Sri Lanka. It was during a landmark visit by Wickremesinghe to India in April 2017 that the two countries signed an agreement on cooperation on economic projects. This agreement has provided a blueprint for further strengthening of India-Sri Lanka development partnerships,” the Indian envoy said.
However, he pointed out that, “We need to focus on implementing the blueprint for the benefit of people of Sri Lanka.”