Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, on Friday addressed Indian-origin Tamil community at Norwood Grounds in Dickoya. PM Modi is addressing Indian-origin Tamils against the backdrop of India’s insistence that Sri Lanka should undertake devolution of power to the ethnic community as part of the reconciliation process.
PM Modi’s visit is mainly aimed at reinforcing the traditional connect between India and Sri Lanka at a time when China is seeking to make inroads in the island nation.
Here are the highlights:
#Under Indian housing project in SL 4000 houses being constructed in up country areas, happy to announce an additional 10,000 houses
#You kept your bonds with India alive, assure you that India will support Sri Lanka's efforts towards your socio-economic development
#The Government and people of India are with you in your journey towards peace and greater prosperity
#We have decided to extend 1990 Emergency Ambulance Service, currently operating in Western & Southern Provinces, to all other Provinces
#Am aware the Government of Sri Lanka is taking active steps to improve your living conditions including a 5-year National Plan of Action
#In more recent times, you have gifted to the world one of the finest spinners in cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan
#Another national icon of India from later years, Puratchi Thalaivar MGR was born on this very soil, establishing a life-long connection
#You and I have something in common, as some you may have heard, I have special association with tea
#If Sri Lanka today is third largest exporter of tea, it's because of your handwork
#We need to strengthen, not separate, (these) threads of unity and harmony
#You speak one of the oldest-surviving classical languages in the world. It is a matter of pride that many of you also speak Sinhala
#We remember your forefathers. Men & women of strong will & courage, who undertook the journey of their life from India to then Ceylon
#People the world over are familiar with famous Ceylon Tea that originates in this fertile land
#It is a great pleasure to be here today. And, I am most grateful for your warm and enthusiastic welcome
Earlier on Friday, PM Modi participated in the International Vesak Day celebrations in the Sri Lankan capital, the biggest festival of Buddhists.
Modi, on his second visit to Sri Lanka in two years, was received by his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe at the venue amid traditional fanfare.
The prime minister, who is the chief guest at the event, lit lamps - a traditional practice. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena was also present on the occasion.
Speaking at the event, Wickremesinghe thanked Modi for being the chief guest at the event.
“Proud to host Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo. I want to thank Prime Minister Modi for being the chief guest during the celebrations,” Wickremesinghe said.
“Teachings of Buddhism are relevant in today’s world. Buddhism shows a moderate path and need to consolidate social justice,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)