65th Independence Day of India celebrates in Sri Lanka
The High Commission of India and the Indian expatriate community in Sri Lanka celebrated the 65th Independence Day of India on Monday, 15th August at India House in Colombo. High Commissioner Ashok K. Kantha unfurled the National Flag, which was followed by rendering of the National Anthem by the lady officials of the High Commission and the Indian community. The High Commissioner inspected the Guard of Honour presented by the BSF contingent and read out excerpts from the Address to the Nation on the eve of Independence Day by the President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil.
On the occasion, High Commissioner also conveyed his greetings to the citizens of Sri Lanka and noted that India and Sri Lanka, knit together by the ties of history, geography and culture, were destined to play key roles in the rising Asia and our partnership must therefore progress in the spirit of being the closest of neighbours and friends whose destinies were interlinked. High Commissioner highlighted the exchange of high level visits in the recent past and emphasized the successful implementation of engagement of bilateral agenda in all fields. Last year, India was Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and also emerged as the number one source country in terms of foreign tourist arrivals and Foreign Direct Investment. High Commissioner also highlighted that earlier this month, negotiations were completed on agreements to set up a 500 MW power project at Sampoor in Trincomalee District by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and all the agreements have been initialed and will be signed shortly. High Commissioner also expressed happiness at the resumption of ferry service between India and Sri Lanka after about 30 years with the commencement of ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo in June this year.
High Commissioner also highlighted the progress in the construction of 50,000 houses under a grant provided by India and also the work in progress for the wreck-removal and salvage at the Kankesanthuraya Harbour which will help in restoring traditional commercial linkages. High Commissioner also highlighted the rapid progress in reconstruction of railway lines in Northern Sri Lanka, under a Government of India Line of Credit of US $800 million and another railway project in Southern part under another concessional credit line of US$ 167.4 million. He also highlighted that construction of a 150-bed multi-specialty hospital at Dickoya in the Central Province under a grant from the Government of India has started and that all the projects funded by the Government of India are being implemented in a smooth and timely manner.
A brief cultural programme followed which included patriotic songs and colourful and patriotic dance performances by the students of the Indian Cultural Centre. Subsequently, High Commissioner and other officials of the High Commission paid their respects to the memory of fallen soldiers of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in a solemn ceremony at the IPKF Memorial in Colombo.
The following is the full text of the speech made by Ashok K Kantha, High Commissioner of India
On the occasion of the 65th Independence Day of India, I extend my greetings and good wishes to my fellow citizens of India and to the people and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Today, as India celebrates its 65th Independence Day, we celebrate our nation’s continuing commitment to democracy, pluralism and diversity of religion, language, race, ethnicity and culture. This diversity, we feel, is the key to our unity. Today, India’s message to the world is that of pluralism, tolerance and balance between individual rights and collective responsibilities. Internationally, there is now widespread respect for India’s role as a force of moderation, reason and stability and for her values and ideals rooted in peaceful coexistence, multilateralism, justice, freedom, equality and fraternity.
India, which emerged relatively unscathed from the global economic crisis, has been growing at an average of over 6% per annum, over the past twenty-five years. Real GDP growth rate averaged 7.3% in the last decade, catapulting the Indian economy to the status of the second fastest growing large economy in the world. In the fiscal year 2011-12, we are fairly confident that our economy will maintain a growth rate of around 8%. This growth is vital to fund our ambitious programmes of socio-economic development, to bridge the infrastructure deficit and to create employment opportunities for our young population.
Buoyed by this rapid and sustainable economic growth, India is seeking to play a role commensurate with her size, potential, civilisational heritage and destiny. We have sought to be a reasonable and moderating force in the UN Security Council, to which India was elected in October last year as a non-permanent member for 2011-2012. India has continued to support strongly the processes of reform and restructuring of the UN, including expansion of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council to make it better equipped to respond effectively to an era of transformational change in global affairs.
One of the dominant themes in recent years has been the shift in the centre of gravity of the global economic landscape from advanced economies to emerging economies, particularly those in Asia. Our relationships with the countries of South Asia, particularly our neighbours, which have always been a matter of high priority for us, assume greater significance in this context. Since South Asia is going to be a key beneficiary of this tectonic shift, both India and Sri Lanka must factor this key trend into their bilateral relationship. Accelerated economic development of a large economy like India’s obviously creates significant opportunities for Sri Lanka, which is already our leading economic partner in South Asia. Some spin-offs for Sri Lanka in this partnership are expanded trade, increased bilateral investments, surge in tourism, improved connectivity and a growing knowledge partnership.
Last year, India was Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and also emerged as the number one source country in terms of foreign tourist arrivals and foreign direct investment. The growing engagement with India has facilitated creation of new capacities in the Sri Lankan economy in diverse sectors ranging from civil aviation and hospitality to ports and dockyards. A good example of this partnership is the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement which has yielded positive dividends over the past decade. Discussions on a comprehensive framework for enhanced economic cooperation are now underway and I do hope that the coming months will see the fruition of these efforts to the mutual benefit of both our countries.
Mahatma Gandhi called Sri Lanka the ‘nearest neighbour’ to India. It is through that prism that we see our ties. For Sri Lanka, the end of three decades of internal conflict has brought historic opportunities. Today, Sri Lanka is poised to take advantage of the peace dividend. India, as its closest neighbour, is prepared to be Sri Lanka’s partner in this journey. India has always been committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and to the restoration of lasting peace through reconciliation. It is our hope that the vision and leadership that resulted in an end to armed conflict will now be employed in the quest for a genuine political settlement resulting in national reconciliation among all the communities of Sri Lanka. We will continue to support Sri Lanka’s commitment to heal the wounds of the past and to build a caring society which ensures a life of equality and dignity to all its citizens.
An important building block for this process and in our development partnership is the rehabilitation of the devastated lives of internally displaced people in conflict-affected areas. India has contributed and will continue to contribute to the humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons in Sri Lanka. Our assistance package of INR 5 billion (US$ 110 million approximately) for immediate relief and resettlement is under implementation, while we move towards longer-term reconstruction activities.
India’s developmental assistance is entirely based on the priorities set by the Government and people of Sri Lanka. In recent months, our assistance has been stepped up significantly to meet the challenges of reconstruction and resettlement in the North and the East of Sri Lanka. Last month, work commenced for wreck-removal and salvage at the Kankesanthurai Harbour as part of a larger project to rehabilitate the Harbour, which will help restore traditional commercial linkages, both domestic and regional, and give a fillip to economic activity by encouraging trade.
Another major initiative is the project for construction of 50,000 houses, for IDPs in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and for estate workers in Central and Uva Provinces of Sri Lanka, under a grant provided by the Government of India. I am happy to note that work on the ground has already started and houses are beginning to come up under the pilot project. The project for reconstruction of railway lines in Northern Sri Lanka, under a Government of India Line of Credit of US $800 million, is also making rapid progress. Work is proceeding smoothly on the Southern Railway Project under another concessional credit line of US$ 167.4 million. India is also assisting in the rehabilitation of the Palaly Airport, restoration of Duraiappa stadium, construction of a Cultural Centre at Jaffna, refurbishing schools and hospitals, assisting fishing communities, setting up vocational training centres at Batticaloa and Nuwara Eliya, assisting war affected women in Batticaloa through a training and employment generation project and helping in the revival of agriculture through provision of tractors, seeds and agricultural implements. We have also started construction of a 150-bed multi-specialty hospital at Dickoya in the Central Province under a grant from the Government of India. In June this year, ferry services between the two countries were resumed after about 30 years with the commencement of the passenger ferry service between Tuticorin in India and Colombo in Sri Lanka.
In the spirit of our close and multi-faceted ties, the year has already witnessed several high-level official visits in both directions. We have had the privilege of receiving His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka in India on three occasions since June last year. The Hon’ble Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament led important delegations to India twice in a span of three weeks. The Hon’ble Speaker of the Lok Sabha of India visited Sri Lanka in February this year. Parliamentary Friendship Groups have been revived in both our Parliaments. There have been several ministerial visits. In the coming months, we look forward to maintaining the frequency of such exchanges between our two countries.
India and Sri Lanka, knit together by the ties of history, geography and culture, are destined to play key roles in the coming rise of Asia. Our partnership must therefore progress in the spirit of being the closest of neighbours and friends whose destinies are interlinked. On this day, we rededicate ourselves to this ideal.
Submitted By: Janaka Alahapperuma
Source: High Commission of India- Colombo, Sri Lanka
Kashmir has not enjoyed independence yet. It is under the jack boots of India. Kasmir is largely a muslim nation. The minority Hindus are calling the shots with an unelected Chief Minister in power. When is India going to call a national referundum in Kashmir for a united independent Kashmir nation?
The mind boggles to think that India is ever lecturing SL to grant ever increasing autonomy to a united North and East under the so-called 13th ammendment to our Constitution, imposed on us by India. What hypocrisy! India is even a bigger hypocrite than USA/UK.
Next time Indian PM comes to lecture our Hon President on the Tamil question, he should curtly remind the Indian PM to solve the Big Q about Kashmir first. That should shut him up. There should be no more softly softly approach. We should reduce our trade with India and increase trade with China, who supplies us with quality goods, unlike the rubbish dumped on us by India such as drugs with expired use-by-date.
Nicholas stop talking rubbsh about a country that would wipe sri lanka off the map if it wanted to do through military power. loooool
Aryan, you were stung to reply as you are propbably an Indian, dumping rotten goods in SL and sucking our life blood.
Re the Kashmir issue you know I am telling the truth. The whole world knows the truth. There can no longer be a divided K. It has to be resolved soon. Kshmir should soon be declared a sovereign nation and the north and south united. The minority Hindu Indians should pull out to India. If a referendum is granted Kashmir would definitely vote for autonomy.
I demand India grant Kashmir its independence. It cannot keep the Islamic nation of Kashmir trodden under foot anymore. If not terrorism will rip asunder India one day as other States in India demand autonomy. Damn good! Indira Gandhi, the bitch who nursed, funded, trained and armed LTTE and released the evil on SL should be damned forever!
As for India destroying SL militarily it is only a pipe dream. Even the LTTE killed thousands of Indian troops and taught it a bitter lesson. That is why I call SL for Defence Pacts with China and Russia against such military adventurism, not only by India but also by the pseudo-world power, Yankee USA.
Nick … 🙂 Its ironical (and good conspiracy theory) that you say that on one hand we could arm the LTTE and then send our troops to have them killed. IPKF was a force caught between two warring factions and that was one of faulty decision making on our part. I see that you speak the language of most fanatics who want us to be reduced to independent states. One cannot predict the future but its always best to keep our homes intact rather than carpet bombing others. As on the J&K go and lecture China (ur friend to-be) on Tibet before you wag your tongue on this issue.
I assume you are an Indian. Indira Gandhi, damn the bitch, nursed, trained, funded and armed the LTTE with help of RAW and released the evil blight on SL to cripple our economy for 30 years, until Hon Mahinda Rajapaksa and Hon Defence Secretary destroyed them with the help of our heroic defence forces, something the IPKF could not achieve. Thousands of IPKF troops were killed by the LTTE before they had to flee SL with their tail between their legs. The Indian army is only good for ceremonial duties.
I hate India for enforcing their so-called 13th ammendment on our Consitution. We should now get rid of it. If India and Tamil Nadu stop meddling in our politics we could resolve our Tamil issue easily. When Gen Kobbekaduwa surrounded VP and the ragamuffin LTTE in Vedamarachchi and was about to annhilate the lot totally the Indian gvernment interfered and threatened to bomb SL in retaliation unless we released VP and the LTTE terrorists immediately. Unfortunately, Gen Kobbekaduwa relented on the orders of the cowardly PM, JRJ. VP went on to cripple our economy and kill thousands of Sinhalese through terrorism and also ironically kill your ex PM Rajiv. He and his mother fed and nourished a vicious snake that bit his hand eventually. Damn good!
Indira Gandhi, damn the bitch, broke her agreement with our PM to take back 300,000 stateless Indian Tamils who were brought into SL from Tamil Nadu by the British Raj. This is the typical deviousness of India.
They dump shoddy, out-of-date drugs on SL and other shoddy medical equipment and goods. Unfortunately, GOSL has not yet said to India, “Enough is enough” and break off trade agreements with India. We should import all drugs and medical equipment from China instead. We should also increase other trade dealings with China also. Above all, we should have strong Defence Pacts with China and Russia against military threat/adventurism from India and the imperial West.
As regards, J&K problem, India cannot carry on being a colonial power in this region anymore. The people of this State will eventually break free. Tibet was a province of China just as Mongolia was from ancient times and are represented in the Chinese flag as 2 stars. Under Chinese rule Tibet has developed very well with freedom of religion and expression except political unrest instigated by the imperial West for vested interest, as in Libya, Syria and Egypt.
Go for it Nicholas, the Sinhala Lion waving its sword.
Enlighten Amren on the Kalla T problem that we have had for the past 60 years and the Mass Expatriation Solution that we have been expounding in recent times.
India, under the Italian Mafia and Manmohan Singh, is no longer a regional power.
With Chinese aid, Sri Lanka will soon be the superpower of South East Asia and the Indians can build a masoleum for their dear friend, the “settapochchi” Sun God.
Nick .. People of SL have every moral right to choose whom they want to be friends/trade with and how they want to amend their constitution. Needs political will and sound judgement on your political class. Also you have a better insight to what happened in last 2-3 decades in SL and how the people may have suffered. Prolonged suffering and mistrust leads to anger and thats evident in your country as well as ours.
Holding J&K is a matter of pride for us now and we cannot let go of it come what may, and it was a part of larger India (if I go by your Tibet analogy) in “ancient times” and if my history is correct so was SL … if not recent … but ancient times.
I can put umpteen examples on your new found friend China where they have a similar situations like J&K. Be graceful that SL is not close to their mainland, otherwise it would also be a part of the 2 stars.
Even the best armies of the world have their worst days. Its never easy to operate in a foreign territory and there are past examples of Russia in Afganistan and US in Vietnam.
Guru … you can enlighten me … why go through Nick … and why become a superpower in SE Asia, go for the “world”, become a member of ASEAN so that SL can compete with SE countries (as you want it to become a superpower in SE and not S Asia) and China (who of course has been pestering them over South China sea).
China has not annexed North Korea. China has no ambitions of empire-building as the imperial West did and still does. I hope one day Korea will be one sovereign nation like Germany, without the ludicrous situation of imperialist USA stationing their forces in S Korea to provide ‘security’. It is USA that seeks to dominate the world and not China. USA is a threat/menace to world peace. China is a genuine friend of SL. Russia is likewise a good friend. I am glad Russia has agreed to help SL to explore for natural gas and oil off the SL coast and also to provide oil and gas in the meantime.
In the 60’s, Burma expelled enmasse all the Tamil migrants to India. They were expelled with only the clothes they wore. There were no treaties with India. SL was too nice or cowardly to have signed a treaty with Indira Gandhi, the devious woman, instead of mass expulsion of Tamil coolies from India who were brought in to work in British plantations by the British Raj. The British had taken Tamils from South India to Kenya, South Africa and even the West Indies for their plantations in the British colonies. Indira Gandhi re-negged on her agreement to take back 300,000 South Indian Tamils. They grew into a couple of millions by now. Worst of all, she crippled us economically by unleashing on us the blight of LTTE terrrorism, which was her baby. I hope she rots in hell for all the 30 years of economic disaster, suffering, deaths and destruction caused by her maliciously in SL through the LTTE.
India should set a good example to the world of letting-go of J&K. It is not too late. India should swallow her ‘national pride’ and be gracious even now, to recognise not to be territorial but to recognise that J&K does not have a Hindu majority but is more Muslim. India should let the people of J&K decide by referendum their future.
I hate India for dumping in SL shoddy goods, especially drugs and medical equipment etc with expired dates. There have been even contaminated saline drips. Some had holes in them which were covered by labels with new expiry dates. Such is the malpractices of India! Unfortunately, corrupt politicians in SL turn a blind eye to these malpractices of India because they are bribed. India has become the ‘mother of all bribery & corruption’. Even the death fast of a Gandhian high principled holy man in India has not made India think of reforming its culture of bribery & corruption. There is massive poverty in India, which is also a hot-bed of crimes against humanity, which goes unpunished.
What I hate most about India is its ‘colonial’ mentality towards SL. Unfortunately, our politicians are too cowardly not to take a brave stand against India’s colonial attitude to SL!
A person of your stature and intelligence should refrain from speaking ill of the dead.
Please rise to the challenge of objective judgement of leaders of the past.
Hitler and Stalin are evil men. Do we speak well of them?
FM, there are times when we need to tell the truth to the world. VP is dead. He is evil. I do not have a good word for him. Indira Gandhi is an evil woman because through RAW she nourished, trained, funded, armed and relased the evil LTTE on SL to destroy our economy for 30 long years, murder thousands of our people through brutal terrorism and destroy property. She did not do us a favour. When VP and the LTTE were surrounded by the forces of Gen Kobbekaduva in Vadamarachchi India threatened to bomb us unless we released VP and the LTTE immediately. This was a hostile act of India. It amounts to neo-colonialism. This mentality of India still prevails. India is riddled with the most corrupt society from top to bottom. Man called Anna was confined in Tahir prison for daring to clamour against wide spread corruption in India and leading a protest of hunger strike etc, like Mahatma Gandhi, till effective legislation and action is taken to rid the country of the cancour of corruption. Unfortunately, our goons in SL copy Indian corruption.
We should consider India as our enemy. Trade deals with India is largely lopsided for their benefit. They dump all their shoddy goods on our shores. Their decrepit 2D Radar system was dumped on us and they promptly bought from Israel the better quality 3D Radar system. That’s how bad India is! We should cut all trading with India and establish stronger ties with China, Russia, Iran etc for better deals for our future development.