High Commission of Sri Lanka in India

76th Anniversary of Independence Address by H.E. the High Commissioner at the Diplomatic Reception 9 February 2024 PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

Honourable Shri Raj Kumar Singh, Minister of Power & New and Renewable Energy of India,

Honourable Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi, State Minister for External Affairs and Culture,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ayubowan, Vanakkam, Assellaamu Alaikum, Namaste!

Having recently taken office as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, it is indeed a privilege to warmly welcome and host all of you here, at the Sri Lanka House, to celebrate 76 years of Sri Lanka’s independence. Your presence here is much appreciated.

Please permit me to extend a special welcome to you, Honourable Minister Raj Kumar Singh ji, to this auspicious occasion. I am extremely thankful for the honour bestowed upon Sri Lanka by you gracing this celebration, despite your busy schedule.  

Honourable Minister, it is a great pleasure to learn that you hail from the State of Bihar, home to the hallowed ground where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you are aware, Bodhgaya is a venerated site for Buddhists world over, and Sri Lankan devotees make it their mission, to engage in pilgrimage to this sacred environ, at least once in their lifetime.

Hon. Minister, your presence here this evening is also singularly significant, with the expansion of cooperation between our two countries, in the sectors of energy and power connectivity, encompassing renewable energy, power generation and grid connection, and multi-product petroleum pipeline. The timely initiative by your esteemed Ministry, to organize a visit of an investment delegation to Sri Lanka next month, is invaluable.

Hon. State Minister Meenakshi Lekhi, affording us the courtesy by your attendance this evening has added to the significance of this event. As a woman, and hailing from the country that is distinguished for producing the world’s first female Prime Minister as far back as 1960, it is always a matter of personal pride, for me to encounter women in leadership roles, especially holding portfolios of such consequence, which you epitomize with such ease. I look forward to not only working with you in foreign relations, but also benefitting from your vast knowledge, to explore possibilities for building on the age-old cultural links that our two countries share.

Hon. Minister, Ladies & Gentlemen,

Sri Lanka is at a critical juncture in its history. The country’s recent economic crisis is now, not news to you. We are however not yet out of the woods, and the path to full recovery is long and arduous. However, thankfully, under the able leadership of Honourable President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the country’s economy is poised on a trajectory of development. Honourable Minister, dear friends, I wish to emphasize that, India was the first country to come forward with approximately USD 4 billion unconditional financial assistance, which has been the lifeblood for our ailing economy. Additionally, there has been unstinted support from India, for Sri Lanka to get on board the IMF process. We are indeed grateful for such magnanimity.

Hon. Minister, Ladies & Gentlemen,

If we take a moment to look at the immediate yesteryears in retrospect, we today do not see unending queues for gasoline, cooking gas, and experience long power cuts and food shortages. This gradual economic stabilization has evolved from an increase of foreign remittances and impressive increase of tourist arrivals, with India claiming approximately 18% of the total arrivals. Direct airlinks between Sri Lanka and many other destinations across the world resumed, raising the country’s profile yet again, as one of the most preferred tourist destinations in the world. Inflation, which stood at a daunting 50.6% last year has dramatically decreased to 6.4% today. 

Hon. Minister, Ladies & Gentlemen,

The relations between India and Sri Lanka remain special and robust. It was last July, that Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe first visited India as President. This interaction culminated in both leaders signing the “Sri Lanka – India Economic Partnership Vision”, which concretised the progression of the bilateral relations through connectivity of five pillars. Last October, Hon. External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, undertook a visit to Sri Lanka to attend the Council of Ministers’ Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, of which Sri Lanka is the current Chair until 2025. Last December, the Hon. Speaker of Sri Lanka and a 16-member Parliamentary delegation visited India at the invitation of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

In terms of other areas of cooperation, recently, a round of negotiations was completed on the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), which is envisioned to be completed later next month.  

The ever-growing defence cooperation between the armed forces of our two countries is heartening. The Indian government offers Sri Lanka the largest number of training berths, for which we are extremely thankful.

The people-to-people connectivity, which is the living legacy of our relations, remains central in our interactions. The promotion of our Buddhist and Hindu religious linkages, the further intensification of educational cooperation and tourism, are therefore key focal areas in our approach. We look forward to further strengthening the civilizational and cultural links, through the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit and the Ramayana Trail, which entwines the recently sanctified Ram Mandir. I take this opportunity to reiterate Sri Lanka’s appreciation to Hon. Minister Dr. Jaishankar for his recent advice to the Indian youth, to visit Sri Lanka if they wished to take a holiday. 

Hon. Minister, Ladies & Gentlemen,

Undoubtedly, the fervent aspiration of the people of Sri Lanka is for a future of continued progress, prosperity and peace. I am confident that Sri Lanka will continue to enjoy the abiding support from all of you here, for this journey. On that note, allow me to reiterate my sincere thanks for your presence this evening.

On this felicitous occasion, may I invite all of you to join me in a toast

-       to the good health of the Hon. Presidents and Prime Ministers of India and Sri Lanka;

-       to the continued strong ties between the peoples of India and Sri Lanka; and

-       to the further deepening of the flourishing bilateral relations.

‘Jai Bharat-Sri Lanka ties’

Heartfelt thanks yet again, Hon. Minister, for your magnanimous gesture of attending this gathering as the Chief Guest.

Hon. State Minister, my deep appreciation to you for so kindly gracing this occasion.

Thank you.