Text of PM’s Address to the Sri Lankan Parliament

Published By : Admin | March 13, 2015 | 16:04 IST
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Honourable Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa ji,

Honourable Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Shrimaan Ranil Wickremesinghe ji,

Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Nimal Siripala De Silva,

Honourable Members of Parliament,

Distinguished Guests,

30 PM Modi to Address Sri Lankan Parliament (4)

I am truly delighted to visit Sri Lanka - a land of beauty, culture and friendship.

I am deeply honoured to be in this Parliament. I am conscious of its rich history.

This Parliament represents one of Asia`s oldest democracies; and, one of its most vibrant.

Long before many others in the world, Sri Lanka gave every individual a vote and voice.

To the people of Sri Lanka, ayubuvan, Vanakkam.

I bring the greetings of 1.25 billion friends; and millions of fans of Sri Lankan cricket.

I bring the blessings from the land of Bodh Gaya to the land of Anuradhapura.

I stand here in respect for our shared heritage; and, in commitment to our shared future.

Last May, when I took the oath of office, I was honoured by the presence of South Asian leaders at the ceremony.

Their presence was a celebration of democracy`s march in our region. It was also recognition of our common destiny.

I am convinced that the future of any country is influenced by the state of its neighbourhood.

The future that I dream for India is also the future that I wish for our neighbours.

We in this region are on the same journey: to transform the lives of our people.

30 PM Modi to Address Sri Lankan Parliament (3)

Our path will be easier, the journey quicker and destination nearer when we walk step in step.

As I stand here in Colombo and look north towards the Himalaya, I marvel at our region`s uniqueness – of our rich diversity and our common civilisational links.

We have been formed from the same elements; and, from our interconnected histories.

Today, we stand together as proud independent nations – sovereign and equal.

India and Sri Lanka do not have a land boundary, but we are the closest neighbours in every sense.

No matter where you look in India or Sri Lanka, the many strands of our links - religion, language, culture, food, customs, traditions and epics - come together into a deep and strong bond of familiarity and friendship.

Ours is a relationship that is beautifully defined by the journey of Mahindra and Sanghamitra. They carried the message of peace, tolerance and friendship more than two millenniums ago.

It is evoked by Kannagi, the central character of the great Tamil epic Silapathikaram, who is worshipped as goddess the Pattini in Sri Lanka.

It lives in the Ramayan trail in Sri Lanka.

It expresses itself in devotion at the dargah of the Nagore Andavar and the Christian shrine of Velankanni.

It is reflected in the friendship of Swami Vivekananda and Anagarika Dharmapala, the founder of the Maha Bodhi Society in Sri Lanka and India.

It lives in the work of Mahatma Gandhi`s followers in India and Sri Lanka.

Above all, our relationship thrives through the inter-woven lives of ordinary Indians and Sri Lankans.

Our independent life began at about the same time.

Sri Lanka has made remarkable progress since then.

The nation is an inspiration for our region in human development. Sri Lanka is home to enterprise and skill; and extraordinary intellectual heritage.

There are businesses of global class here.

Sri Lanka is a leader in advancing cooperation in South Asia.

And, it is important for the future of the Indian Ocean Region.

Sri Lanka`s progress and prosperity is also a source of strength for India.

So, Sri Lanka`s success is of great significance to India.

And, as a friend, our good wishes, and our support and solidarity have always been with Sri Lanka.

And, it will always be there for you.

For all of us in our region, our success depends on how we define ourselves as a nation.

All of us in this region, indeed every nation of diversity, have dealt with the issues of identities and inclusion, of rights and claims, of dignity and opportunity for different sections of our societies.

We have all seen its diverse expressions. We have faced tragic violence. We have encountered brutal terrorism. We have also seen successful examples of peaceful settlements.

Each of us has sought to address these complex issues in our own ways.

However we choose to reconcile them, to me something is obvious:

Diversity can be a source of strength for nations.

When we accommodate the aspirations of all sections of our society, the nation gets the strength of every individual.

And, when we empower states, districts and villages, we make our country stronger and stronger.

You can call this my bias. I have been a Chief Minister for 13 years; a Prime Minister for less than a year!

Today, my top priority is to make the states in India stronger. I am a firm believer in cooperative federalism.

So, we are devolving more power and more resources to the states. And, we are making them formal partners in national decision making processes.

Sri Lanka has lived through decades of tragic violence and conflict. You have successfully defeated terrorism and brought the conflict to an end.

You now stand at a moment of historic opportunity to win the hearts and heal the wounds across all sections of society.

Recent elections in Sri Lanka have reflected the collective voice of the nation – the hope for change, reconciliation and unity.

The steps that you have taken in recent times are bold and admirable. They represent a new beginning.

I am confident of a future of Sri Lanka, defined by unity and integrity; peace and harmony; and, opportunity and dignity for everyone.

I believe in Sri Lanka`s ability to achieve it.

It is rooted in our common civilisational heritage.

The path ahead is a choice that Sri Lanka has to make. And, it is a collective responsibility of all sections of the society; and, of all political streams in the country.

But, I can assure you of this:

For India, the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka are paramount.

It is rooted in our interest. It stems from our own fundamental beliefs in this principle.

Hon`ble Speaker and Distinguished Members,

My vision of an ideal neighbourhood is one in which trade, investments, technology, ideas and people flow easily across borders; when partnerships in the region are formed with the ease of routine.

In India, the growth momentum has been restored. India has become the fastest growing major economy in the world.

The world sees India as the new frontier of economic opportunity.

But, our neighbours should have the first claim on India. And I again repeat, the first claim on India is of our neighbours – of Sri Lanka.

I will be happy if India serves a catalyst in the progress of our neighbours.

In our region, Sri Lanka has the potential to be our strongest economic partner.

We will work with you to boost trade and make it more balanced.

India`s trade environment is becoming more open. Sri Lanka should not fall behind others in this competitive world.

That is why we should conclude an ambitious Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

30 PM Modi to Address Sri Lankan Parliament (10)

India can also be a natural source of investments – for exports to India and elsewhere; and to build your infrastructure. We have made good progress today. Let us get together to harness the vast potential of the Ocean Economy.

Our two nations must also take the lead in increasing cooperation in the South Asian Region and the linked BIMSTEC Region.

Connecting this vast region by land and sea, our two countries can become engines of regional prosperity.

I also assure you of India`s full commitment to development partnership with Sri Lanka. We see this as a responsibility of a friend and neighbour.

India has committed 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in development assistance. Today, we have committed further assistance of up to 318 million dollars to the railway sector.

We will continue our development partnership. We will be guided by your Government. And, we will do so with the same level of transparency that we expect in our own country.

Last month we signed the agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

More than anywhere else in the region, I see enormous potential to expand cooperation with Sri Lanka in areas like agriculture, education, health, science and technology, and space. Indeed, we are limited only by our imagination.

We hope that Sri Lanka will take full benefit of India`s satellite for the SAARC Region. This should be in Space by December 2016.

People are at the heart of our relationship. When we connect people, bonds between nations become stronger. That is why we have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to Sri Lankan citizens.

We will also increase connectivity between our countries. We will strengthen ties of culture and religion. Last month we announced reduction in fees for Sri Lankan nationals visiting National Museum in Delhi to see the Kapilavastu Relics. We will bring our shared Buddhist heritage closer to you through an exhibition. Together, we will develop our Buddhist and Ramayana Trails. My birth place Varnagarh was an international centre of Buddhist learning in ancient times. Excavations have revealed a hostel for 2000 students and in plans to redevelop the centre.

Mr Speaker,

A future of prosperity requires a strong foundation of security for our countries and peace and stability in the region.

The security of our two countries is indivisible. Equally, our shared responsibility for our maritime neighbourhood is clear.

India and Sri Lanka are too close to look away from each other. Nor can we be insulated from one another.

Our recent histories have shown that we suffer together; and we are more effective when we work with each other.

Our cooperation helped deal with the devastation of Tsunami in 2004. As a Chief Minister, I was pleased to share our experience in reconstruction after the Bhuj earthquake in 2001.

Our cooperation is also integral to our success in combating terrorism and extremism.

For both of us, local threats remain. But, we see threats arising in new forms and from new sources. We are witnessing globalisation of terrorism. The need for our cooperation has never been stronger than today.

The Indian Ocean is critical to the security and prosperity of our two countries. And, we can be more successful in achieving these goals if we work together; build a climate of trust and confidence; and we remain sensitive to each other`s interest.

We deeply value our security cooperation with Sri Lanka. We should expand the maritime security cooperation between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives to include others in the Indian Ocean area.

I often say that the course of the 21st century would be determined by the currents of the Indian Ocean. Shaping its direction is a responsibility for the countries in the region.

We are two countries at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean. Your leadership and our partnership will be vital for building a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous maritime neighbourhood.

30 PM Modi to Address Sri Lankan Parliament (8)

In our deeply interconnected lives, it is natural to have differences. Sometimes, it touches the lives of ordinary people. We have the openness in our dialogue, the strength of our human values and, the goodwill in our relationship to resolve them.

Mr.Speaker,

Sri Lanka and India are at a moment of a great opportunity and responsibility – for realising the dreams of our people.

This is also a time for renewal in our relationship; for a new beginning and new vigour in our partnership.

We have to ensure that our proximity always translates into closeness.

We were honoured that President Sirisena chose India as his first destination last month. I am honoured to be his first guest here.

This is how it should be between neighbours.

Tomorrow I will go to Talaimannar to flag off the train to Madhu Road. This is part of the old India –Lanka rail link.

I recall the lines of a famous song ‘Sindu Nadiyin Misai’ composed by the great nationalist poet Subramanian Bharati in the early 20th century:

‘Singalatheevukkinor paalam ameippom’(we shall construct a bridge to Sri Lanka)

I have come with the hope of building this bridge – a bridge that rests on strong pillars of our shared inheritance; of shared values and vision; of mutual support and solidarity; of friendly exchanges and productive cooperation; and, above all, belief in each other and our shared destiny. Thank you once again for the honour to be with you.

Thank you very much.

'மன் கி பாத்' -ற்கான உங்கள் யோசனைகளையும் பரிந்துரைகளையும் உடன் பகிர்ந்து கொள்ளுங்கள்!
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Comments
“During Corona time, India saved many lives by supplying essential medicines and vaccines while following its vision of ‘One Earth, One Health’”
“India is committed to become world’s reliable partner in global supply-chains”
“This is the best time to invest in India”
“Not only India is focussing on easing the processes in its quest for self-reliance, it is also incentivizing investment and production”
“India is making policies keeping in mind the goals of next 25 years. In this time period, the country has kept the goals of high growth and saturation of welfare and wellness. This period of growth will be green, clean, sustainable as well as reliable”
“‘Throw away’ culture and consumerism has deepened the climate challenge. It is imperative to rapidly move from today’s ‘take-make-use-dispose’ economy to a circular economy”
“Turning L.I.F.E. into a mass movement can be a strong foundation for P-3 i.e ‘Pro Planet People”
“It is imperative that every democratic nation should push for reforms of the multilateral bodies so that they can come up to the task dealing with the challenges of the present and the future”

Namsakar!

On behalf of 130 crore Indians, I convey my greetings to the dignitaries from all over the world gathered at the World Economic Forum. Today when I am talking to you, India is tackling another Corona wave with caution and alertness. Parallelly, India is also moving ahead in the economic field with many promising results. Today, India is filled with the excitement of the celebrations of 75 years of its independence and also with the confidence of having administered 160 crore corona vaccine doses in just one year.

Friends,

A strong democracy like India has gifted the whole world a beautiful gift, a bouquet of hope. In this bouquet, we Indians have an unwavering trust on democracy; this bouquet has the technology that will empower the 21st century; and it also has temperament and the talent of us Indians. The Multi-Lingual, Multi-Cultural environment in which we Indians live is a great power not only of India but of the whole world.This strength teaches not only to think for oneself in times of crisis, but also to work for the humanity. During the Corona time, we have seen how India, following the vision of 'One Earth, One Health', is saving crores of lives by providing necessary medicines and vaccines to many countries. Today India is the world's third largest pharma producer; it’s a pharmacy to the world. Today, India is among those countries of the world whose health professionals and doctors are winning everyone's trust through their sensitivity and expertise.

Friends,

Sensitivity is tested in times of crisis, but India's strength is an example for the whole world at the moment. During this crisis, India's IT sector has saved all the countries of the world by working round the clock.Today India is sending record software engineers to the world. More than 50 lakh software developers are working in India. Today India has the third largest number of Unicorns in the world. More than 10 thousand start-ups have been registered in the last 6 months. Today India has a huge, secure and successful digital payments platform. Last month alone, 4.4 billion transactions have been done through Unified Payments Interface in India.

Friends,

The digital infrastructure that India has developed and adopted over the years has become a huge strength of India today. Technological solutions like Arogya-Setu App for tracking Corona Infections and CoWin Portal for Vaccination are a matter of pride for India. The online facilities offered by India's CoWin portal - from slot booking to certificate generation, has caught the attention of people from bigger countries as well.

Friends,

There was a time when India was identified with the license raj and majority of the things were controlled by the government. I understand the challenges that have been there for doing business in India in those days. We are constantly trying to overcome all the challenges. Today India is promoting Ease of Doing Business, minimizing government interference. India has made its corporate tax the most competitive in the world by simplifying and reducing it. Last year alone, we have eliminated more than 25 thousand compliances. India has regained the confidence of the business community by reforming measures like retrospective taxes. India has also deregulated many sectors like Drones, Space, Geo-spatial mapping. India has made major reforms in the outdated telecom regulations related to IT sector and BPO.

Friends,

India is committed to becoming a trusted partner in the world in global supply-chains. We are making way for free-trade agreement with many countries. The ability of Indians to adopt Innovation, new technology; the spirit of entrepreneurship of Indians; can give new energy to every global partner of ours. So this is the best time to invest in India. Entrepreneurship among Indian youth is at a new height today. In 2014 where there were few hundred registered startups in India, their numbers have crossed 60 thousand today. It also has more than 80 unicorns, of which more than 40 formed in 2021 itself. Just as expat Indians are showing their skills on the global stage, in the same way Indian youth are fully ready, geared up to give new heights to the all your businesses in India.

Friends,

India's commitment to deep economic reforms is another major reason that is making India the most attractive destination for investment today. During the Corona period, when the world was focusing on interventions like Quantitative Easing Program, India paved the way for reforms. The biggest projects to modernize digital and physical infrastructure got unprecedented momentum in the Corona times itself. More than 6 lakh villages in the country are being connected with optical fibre. An investment of $1.3 trillion is being made, especially on connectivity infrastructure. Through Innovative financing tools like Asset monetization a target to generate $80 billion has been set. India has also launched the Gati Shakti National Master Plan to bring every stakeholder on the same platform for promoting development. Under this National Master Plan, work will be done on infrastructure planning, development and implementation in an integrated manner. This will give a new impetus to seamless connectivity and movement of Goods, People and Services.

Friends,

While following the path of self-reliance, India's focus is not only on easing the processes, but also on incentivizing investment and production. With this approach, today, Production Linked Incentive schemes worth $26 billion have been implemented in 14 sectors.The $10 billion incentive plan to roll out the fab, chip and display industry is a testament to our commitment to making the global supply chain smooth. We are moving ahead with the spirit of Make in India, Make for the world. Along with telecom, insurance, defence, aerospace, now there are limitless possibilities offered by India in the field of semiconductors as well.

Friends,

Today India is drafting policies, taking decisions with regard to the present as well as the goals of the next 25 years. For this period, India has set the targets of high growth and saturation of welfare and wellness. This period of growth will also be green, it will also be clean, it will also be sustainable, it will also be reliable. Continuing the tradition of making big commitments and living up to them for the global good, we have also set a target of net zero by 2070. India, with 17 per cent of the world's population, may contribute 5 per cent, only 5 percent in Global Carbon Emission, but our commitment to tackle Climate Challenge is 100 percent. Initiatives like International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure for Climate Adaptation are proof of this. As a result of the efforts of the past years, today 40% of our Energy Mix is coming from non-fossil fuel sources. We have already achieved the commitments made by India in Paris, 9 years before their target.

Friends,

In the midst of these efforts, we also have to recognize that our lifestyle is also a big challenge for the climate. 'Throw away' culture and consumerism have made the climate challenge more serious. It is very important to rapidly shift today's 'take-make-use-dispose', economy towards circular economy.The same spirit is at the core of the idea of Mission LIFE that I discussed at COP-26. LIFE - means Lifestyle for Environment, a vision of such a Resilient and Sustainable Lifestyle which will be useful in not only dealing with Climate Crisis but also with futuristic unpredictable challenges. Therefore, it is important to transform Mission LIFE into a global mass movement. A public participation campaign like LIFE can be made into a big base for, P-3 'Pro Planet People'.

Friends,

Today, at the beginning of 2022, when we are brainstorming over these issues in Davos, India also considers its responsibility to make everybody aware of few more challenges. Today, with the change in the global order, the challenges we have been facing as a global family are also increasing. To combat these, there is a need for collective and synchronized action by every country, every global agency. Supply chain disruptions, inflation and climate change are few examples of these challenges. Another example is cryptocurrency. The kind of technology that is associated with it, the decisions taken by a single country will be inadequate to deal with its challenges. We have to have a common mindset. But looking at the global scenario today, the question is whether multilateral organizations are ready to deal with the new world order and new challenges; is that strength left in them? When these institutions were formed, the situation was different. Today the circumstances are different. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every democratic country to emphasize reforms in these institutions so that they can come up to the task of tackling the challenges of present and future. I am sure there will be a positive dialogue in this direction during the discussions in Davos.

Friends,

In the midst of new challenges, the world today needs new avenues, new resolutions. Today, every country in the world needs cooperation with each other more than ever before. This is the way to a better future. I am sure this discussion in Davos will expand this spirit. Once again, I got a chance to meet you all virtually. Many thanks to you all.