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HC’s Republic Day 2018 Address

HC’s Republic Day 2018 Address

On the occasion of the 69th Republic Day of India, I extend my warm greetings and good wishes to my fellow Indian citizens and to the friendly people and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Unity Government of Sri Lanka, headed by H.E. President Maithripala Sirisena and Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, on completing three years in office.

This year marks a very special occasion for India and Sri Lanka, as we both celebrate 70 years of independence. We take pride in being fellow democracies, where the will of the people reigns supreme, and in the enormous strides that we have made over the last seven decades. At the same time, we remain equally mindful of the challenges that lie ahead and continue to make relentless efforts to meet the developmental aspirations of our citizens.

We have a special place for Sri Lanka in our hearts. We are privileged that Sri Lanka shares our sentiment in equal depth. India will be there to support and partner you, whenever you need us. We believe that together, we can do more than what we can do individually.

Last year was an exceptional year for our bilateral relations. You would recall the landmark visit in May of our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi to Sri Lanka, as the Chief Guest at the UN Vesak Day celebrations. This was his second visit to Sri Lanka in two years. In August last year, our External Affairs Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj visited Sri Lanka. We had the privilege of hosting the Sri Lankan leadership in India as well on several occasions. This high level of bilateral engagement has resulted in tangible outcomes that are of direct benefit to ordinary citizens in both countries.


Today is also an occasion for introspection. How did we perform last year, as neighbours, partners and, more importantly as trusted friends? Allow me to list out a few achievements or indicators of the year gone by:

Nothing is more noble than saving human life. Considering the success of 1990 Emergency Ambulance Service in Western & Southern Provinces, we agreed to expand the service nationwide with Indian assistance 

A decent house is every man’s dream. We have nearly completed 46000 houses in the North and the East; construction of another 14000 houses, in the plantation sector is currently underway. We launched construction of 1200 houses under Model Village Program all across Sri Lanka, and a Gram-Shakti housing Program in Southern Province. 

Coming to infrastructure, we provided fresh assistance of US$ 318 million for development of Sri Lanka Railways. We recently signed an agreement for over US$ 45 million for renovation of the Kankesanturai Harbour. We are also looking at other connectivity projects including roads.

We are constructing a 1500-capacity auditorium for the Ruhuna University, which will be completed soon.

We are honoured to assist the Dalida Maligawa to set up a school to preserve and promote Kandyan heritage and dance.

We are helping establish a Trilingual National School in Polonnaruwa. We also upgraded Engineering & Agricultural Faculties in Killinochchi Campus of Jaffna University.

From last year, we opened up our premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to meritorious Sri Lankan students, and the entrance examination was held in Colombo for the first time. Sri Lankan students can also take part in our National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for pursuing medical and dental courses in India.

We launched a Knowledge Network that allows Sri Lankan Universities digital access to more than 1600 academic institutions in India and beyond.

Our defence partnership became stronger with naval ships, Sayurala and Suraksha, built under Indian assistance, joining Sri Lankan Navy.

Our cultural and people to people relations touched new heights:  Sri Lankan Airlines has become the largest foreign carrier to India. More flights were launched, including flight by Varanasi by Air India. India continued to be the largest source of tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan tourists too are among the top ten sources for the Indian tourism market.

Sri Lanka became a proud partner in the South Asia satellite, a gift from India to its South Asian neighbours.

Considering that India and Sri Lanka are both societies that respect technology and innovation, the first India-Sri Lanka Joint Research Symposium was held in Colombo in May last year.

As you would have noticed, our activities in Sri Lanka are centred around one theme: to touch the lives of ordinary people. India will continue to remain engaged with Sri Lanka, and offer our support in a spirit of partnership and cooperation, based on your own choices, and priorities.

India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, has a compelling story to tell the outside world. I say this with all humility that India has become a land of limitless possibilities and endless opportunities. I would encourage Sri Lanka to take advantage of the growing economic prowess and technological strength of India. I genuinely hope that we craft together a future that our future generations can be proud of.

As Lord Buddha said, “there is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path”. Let us walk the path of happiness together, hand in hand.

Long live India-Sri Lanka friendship. 

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