Business representatives from India and Sri Lanka,

Distinguished guests,

684-32 PM MODI AT Business Meeting hosted by Ceylon (3)

I am delighted to be here at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you for coming here in such large numbers.

It is a real honour to visit Sri Lanka.

Over the course of these two days, I will meet people from all walks of life.

For me, this is one of the most important meetings in Sri Lanka.

This is because no matter how old and strong the relationship is, economic cooperation is often the locomotive that gives it momentum.

It is also important because for all of us in our region, the most important priority is transforming the lives of our people.

Our path will be determined by our economic choices and the quality of governance. But, business enterprises will remain critical for our success.

I often say that a nation`s fortunes are linked to its neighbourhood. There are many in India who would argue that India is too large to need her neighbours. There are many in our region who worry that India`s economic size will hurt them.

I disagree with both views.

For one, we all need a stable and peaceful neighbourhood to concentrate on national development.

I also believe that countries do better when the entire region moves together.

I said at the SAARC Summit that barriers of boundaries inhibit progress; international partnerships give it speed. That is why we see a rising tide of regional integration and cooperation across the world.

684-32 PM MODI AT Business Meeting hosted by Ceylon (2)

Our region is rich in resources. We constitute a large market. We complement each other. Therefore, our cooperation can be of huge benefit to all of us. There are already powerful examples in South Asia that show us that difference in size is no constraint to beneficial partnerships, if we use our strengths and seize our opportunities.

Bhutan benefits from hydropower exports to India. Nepal has significant manufacturing exports to India – in part driven by Indian investors. Infrastructure, energy, supply chains, traditional handicrafts, modern manufacturing, tourism and services – there are no limits to our possibilities.

I hardly need to tell this informed audience about the transformation unleashed in India over the past ten months. There is new purpose and clarity in our policies; a new vision for inclusive development; new standards in our governance; and, a new level of energy in our economy. Last quarter, India was the fastest growing global economy. We are confident that we can grow even faster.

The progress of one-sixth of humanity is a major economic opportunity for the world.

The global confidence in India has been restored. The world`s engagement with India is at a new level. But, the first claim on us should be that of India`s neighbours. And, I will be happy if India is a catalyst for economic growth in our own region. That is why I speak of a neighbourhood where trade, investment, ideas and people move easily across the borders.

And, as I said in Kathmandu, Nepal, in November, India will do its part for the region. We will work to integrate our markets more. We will make trade smoother and possible through the most direct routes. We will invest in regional connectivity. And, we will share our capabilities in science and technology with South Asia, from advanced medicines to disaster management or space science.

As a friend and neighbor, we attach the highest importance to Sri Lanka`s economic progress.

Sri Lanka is a nation of many achievements and great strengths. It has education, skills and enterprise. It has an excellent location. And, it has won peace now. Sri Lankan businesses have shown that they can compete with the best in the world. Our garments and tea industry know that!

We are pleased to be Sri Lanka`s largest trading partner and one its largest sources of investment. Our Free Trade Agreement in 2000 was a pioneering initiative in the region. It has given a big boost to our trade. Sri Lanka`s exports to India have grown sixteen times – yes, sixteen times – since then. This is impressive by any standards.

I know there are concerns here about the huge trade imbalance. I am prepared to work with you to address them. I want balanced growth in trade. We will try to make it easier and smoother for you to access the Indian market. That is part of my philosophy of ease of doing business in India. Our agreement on Customs cooperation is a step in that direction.

India is opening up to the world. We offer duty free access to Least Developed Countries, including in South Asia. And, India has Free Trade Agreements with ASEAN and others.

We should ensure that Sri Lanka does not fall behind in the changing and competitive world. That is why India and Sri Lanka should move boldly to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. You should also attract investments from India for exports to India. That should be the natural outcome of our proximity and your strengths.

Indian investments can also upgrade and expand your infrastructure. It is also natural that Indian investors are more likely to invest here because of familiarity and proximity. They are already here. And, I know that there are many large commitments in the pipeline. They are looking for your support.

During this visit, I am pleased with progress on Sampur Thermal Power Project and the Trincomalee Oil Farm. That is good for Sri Lanka`s energy security and for our partnership.

Sustainable development of the Ocean Economy can be a huge area for cooperation.

I also believe that when we connect the lives of people, we strengthen the bonds between nations. We have extended visa on arrival facility to Sri Lanka from April 14. We should do more to connect our countries by air and sea.

India and Sri Lanka were, in some ways, better connected in the past than we are now! In the past, a person could buy a rail ticket in Colombo and travel to Chennai by rail and ferry! Air India`s decision to launch direct flight between our capitals will help reverse that trend.

Tourism unites people and creates economic opportunities. India is already the biggest source of tourists here. We will work together to increase that flow.

684-32 PM MODI AT Business Meeting hosted by Ceylon (1)

In conclusion, let me return to the point I had made at the beginning. India`s progress gives us the ability to create opportunities for our neighbours. Our development partnership has injected commitments of 1.6 billion dollars in assistance from India. That has helped rebuild and upgrade infrastructure in Sri Lanka.

Today, we have offered another Line of Credit of about 318 million dollars for the railways sector. Reserve Bank of India has agreed to provide Central Bank of Sri Lanka a currency swap arrangement for 1.5 billion dollars. This will increase the stability of Sri Lankan Rupee.

It is not just in development partnership. We will also be supportive in advancing your commercial interests. I believe in Sri Lanka`s capabilities. We should engage more. We should open up to each other more.

We should move forward with greater belief in our own strengths; more trust in each other; and, with more confidence in the fruits of our partnership.

As I was saying before, Sri Lanka has the potential to be our most important economic partner in the region. We count on your support to make it happen.

Thank you and wish you all the best. Thank you very much.

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I enjoyed talking to all of you. It is my endeavor every year that I interact with young friends like you, so as to know about your thoughts. Your words, questions and inquisitiveness help me too to deal with the challenges of the future.


This discussion is happening at a time when India is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of 75 years of its Independence. The date of August 15 this year brings with it the 75th anniversary of Independence. In the last 75 years, India has tried to build a better police service. The infrastructure related to police training has also improved a lot in recent years. Today, when I am talking to you, I can see the youths who will participate in ensuring law and order in India for the next 25 years. This is a huge responsibility. Therefore, we have to move forward with a new beginning and a new resolution.


I do not know much as to how many of you have gone to Dandi or have seen the Sabarmati Ashram. But I want to remind you of the Dandi Yatra of 1930. Gandhiji had talked about shaking the foundation of British rule on the basis of Salt Satyagraha. He also said that "when the means are just and right, God also stands by".




Mahatma Gandhi left the Sabarmati Ashram with a small group. As days passed, people, wherever they were, started joining the Salt Satyagraha. When Gandhiji completed his journey in Dandi after 24 days, the entire country stood up in unison. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Attock to Cuttack, the entire India had become animated. Remember that emotion and the will-power. It was this fervor and solidarity that fired the power of collectivism for India's freedom struggle. The country is demanding the same spirit for change and willpower from the youth. The tide that rose in the country between 1930 and 1947, the way the youth of the country came forward and the entire young generation got united for one goal, today the same spirit is expected from you as well. We all have to live in this spirit and stick to this resolution. At that time, the people of the country, especially the youth, had fought for Swaraj (self-rule). Today you have to work wholeheartedly for Surajya (good rule). At that time people were ready to die for the freedom of the country. Today you have to move forward with the spirit of living for the country. How our police service will be, how strong it will be after 25 years, when 100 years of India's independence will be completed, it will depend on your actions today. You have to build the foundation on which the edifice of the grand and disciplined India of 2047 will be built. Time has chosen youth like you to fulfill this resolve. And I consider it a great privilege for all of you. You are starting your career at a time when India is going through a phase of transformation in every field and every level. The next 25 years of your career will also be the most important 25 years of India's development. Therefore, your preparation, your state of mind should be in line with this greater goal. In the next 25 years, you will work in different positions in different parts of the country and play different roles. You all have a huge responsibility of building a modern, effective and sensitive police service. Therefore, you always have to remember that you are on a special mission for 25 years, and India has specially chosen you for that.


Experiences around the world show that when a nation moves forward on the path of development, the challenges from outside the country and from within the country also mount equally. Therefore, your challenge is to continuously prepare policing in this era of technological disruption. Your challenge is to stop new modes of crime with even more innovative ways. You will also have to develop and apply new experiments, research and methods, especially regarding cyber security.



Your role is important in ensuring that the countrymen, who have been given whichever rights by the Constitution and the democracy of the country, perform the duties expected of them. Therefore, the expectations from you are high and your conduct is always monitored. There will also be a lot of pressure on you. You don't have to think only within the boundaries of the police station or the police headquarters. You also have to be familiar with every role in the society, be friendly and always keep the dignity of the uniform supreme. One more thing you always have to keep in mind. You will be serving in different districts and cities of the country. Therefore, you have to remember one mantra all the time. Whatever decision you take while in the field, it should be in the interest of the country, it should have a national perspective. Your scope of work and problems will often be local, so this mantra will be very useful while dealing with them. You have to always keep in mind that you are the flag bearer of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’ (One India, Supreme India) too. Therefore, your every action should reflect the spirit of Nation First, Always First.


I can also see a new generation of glorious women officers in front of me. Over the years, a continuous effort has been made to increase the participation of girls in the police force. Our daughters inculcate the values ​​of humility, spontaneity and sensitivity along with efficiency and accountability in the police service. Similarly, the states are also working to implement the commissioner system in cities with a population of more than one million. So far, this system has been implemented in many cities of 16 states. I am sure that positive steps will be taken in other places as well.


To make policing futuristic and effective, it is very important to work with collectiveness and sensitivity. Even in this Corona period, we have seen how our colleagues in the police have played a big role in handling the situations. Our policemen have worked shoulder to shoulder with the countrymen in the fight against Corona. Many police personnel have had to sacrifice their lives in this effort. I pay my respectful homage to all those jawans, police comrades, and on behalf of the country, I extend my condolences to their families.



I want to put one more aspect before you. These days we see that wherever natural calamity, floods, cyclonic storms or landslides occur, our NDRF comrades are there with full readiness. The name of NDRF during the disaster instills confidence among the people. NDRF has created this credibility with its excellent work. Today people have faith that NDRF personnel will save them in times of disaster even by putting their lives on the line. NDRF also, mostly, has personnel from police force, who are your own companions. But do the police command this feeling and respect in the society? There are policemen in the NDRF. NDRF also has respect. The police personnel working in NDRF are also respected. But is the social system like that? Why is it so? You also know the answer to this. The negative perception of the police in the public mind is a big challenge in itself. At the beginning of the Corona period, it was felt that this perception had changed a bit. Because people were watching the videos on social media of policemen serving the poor, feeding the hungry, cooking food and delivering it to the poor. Therefore, there was a change in the perception in society towards the police. But the same old situation has returned again. After all, why does the people’s trust not improve, why does the credibility not improve?


Our police personnel even sacrifice their lives for the security of the country, to maintain law and order and to eliminate terror. You are unable to go home for many days and you often have to stay away from your family even during festivals, but when it comes to the image of the police, the attitude of the people changes. It is the responsibility of the new generation joining the police to change this image; this negative perception of the police should end. You have to do this. You have to come face-to-face every day with the established traditions of the police department that have been prevalent for years while you undergo training. It depends on your training, willpower and your morale whether the system changes you or you change the system. What are your intentions? What ideals are you attached to? With what resolve are you proceeding while fulfilling those ideals? That only matters about your behavior. In a way, this will be another test for you. And I am sure you will be successful in this too.


I would also like to extend my best wishes to the young officers of our neighboring countries here. Be it Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives or Mauritius, we are not only neighbors but we also have a lot in common in our thinking and social fabric. We are all companions of happiness and sorrow. Whenever there is any calamity or problem, we are the first to help each other. We have experienced this even in the Corona period. Therefore, our partnership is bound to grow for development in the years to come. Mutual coordination is more important especially today when crime and criminals are beyond borders. I am sure that the days you spent at Sardar Patel Academy will help you in cementing your career, your national and social commitment and friendship with India. Once again wishing you all the very best! Thank you!