In what could be called a spontaneous outpouring of gratitude, huge number of Sri Lankans from all walks of life came together and filled the Grand Marquee to thank India for all of the support extended to Sri Lanka towards overcoming the economic obstacles the country has been facing.
In attendance was The High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka H.E Gopal Baglay and Hon. Minister of External Affairs Mr Ali Sabry.
The event was organized by Sri Lankans with the thought of extending appreciation for the lifeline India threw to Sri Lanka at a time when the country was facing unprecedented challenges as a nation since independence.
Several distinguished Sri Lankans expressed their sentiments of goodwill towards their neighbour India, stressing on the common cultural and social values the two countries share. A citizens’ outpouring of gratitude towards India for reaching out to Sri Lanka in her time of acute need, was not only timely but also appropriate given the consistent level of co-operation between the two countries.
Ven Dr Kosgoda Sri Subhuthi Anunayake Thero, Ven Dr M Wimalasara Thero, Prof. Mallawa Handy Jagath Ravindra, Dr Vinya Ariyaratne, Mrs Kimarli Fernando, Mrs Nayomini R Weerasooriya, Mr. Naveen Gunaratna, Mr. Mahen Amarasuriya, Mr. Balraj and Mr Ravindran spoke at the event which was attended by several eminent Indians and Sri Lankans.
Every speaker presented his or her unique insights on the historic, cultural, social and the common interests and values shared by both countries, recalling personal anecdotes and occasions of warmth and sincerity between the two nations.
In acknowledging the sentiments expressed by the citizens of Sri Lanka, The High Commissioner stressed on the uniquely historic ties between the two countries. Helping the closest neighbour in a spirit of brotherhood and fellowship was a key aspect in that relationship, he added. H.E Gopal Baglay mentioned that India and Sri Lanka are “Sahodaraya” ( born from the same womb) so it’s but natural for us to do “ sahayog “ which is to help each other as part of one family.
Addressing the audience, Minister Ali Sabry stated that the help from India couldn’t have come at a more pertinent time ; given the fact that if help did not come at the time it did, there was a possibility of systems collapse which could have been disastrous.
He also acknowledged the exceptional level of support given by India and the crucial role played by Ms Nirmala Seetharaman, the Indian Minister of Finance, in enabling Sri Lanka to engage with the IMF at the start.
In a true manifestation of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy under which India responds expeditiously to urgent needs of her neighbours, India extended assistance towards Sri Lanka’s economic recovery in excess of USD 3.8 billion and was made available in critical areas such as food, medicines, fuel and other essentials.
In a Neighbour First policy of reaching out to its closest neighbour in its hour of need, India has reiterated and upheld the common bond of friendship between the two nations.