Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Indian PM arrives in Sri Lanka to attend Vesak celebrations

Indian PM arrives in Sri Lanka to attend Vesak celebrations

Modi's superficial agenda of Sri Lanka was apolitical as "officially" he went there mainly to participate International Vesak Day function as a chief guest, but unofficially his visit was much more important diplomatically.

Modi, while addressing thousands of Tamils at a rally in the presence of Lankan President Maithripala Srisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, also invoked "chai pe charcha", saying it was not just a slogan but a "mark of deep respect for the dignity and integrity of honest labour". With Chinese submarines - clearly not intended for trade - docking in Colombo, New Delhi's suspicions naturally went through the roof.

Soon after his arrival, Modi took part in a traditional lamp lighting ceremony at a Buddhist temple here as part of the International Vesak Day celebrations. He had toured Sri Lanka in March 2015.

"Buddhism imparts an ever present radiance to our relationship", Modi said in his speech in Colombo. "Our region is blessed to have given to the world the invaluable gift of Buddha and his teachings".

He said the countries of the south, central, south-east and east Asia are proud of their Buddhist links traced to the land of Buddha. Talking about Sri Lanka's tea production, PM Modi said people world over are familiar with Ceylon tea that is grown here but "least do they know that it is the result of your sweat".

As Modi touched down in Colombo for a two-day visit Thursday, a top Sri Lankan defence official confirmed Beijing had been denied permission for a port call by a Chinese submarine.

Modi gave an assurance that India will fully support the journey of economic progress of the Tamils and others in Sri Lanka.

"Health & wellbeing of people of Sri Lanka - a shared priority". Praising the hard work of the plantation Tamils, he said Ceylon tea is famous the world over but it is less known that the sweat and toil of the Tamils are behind it. Sri Lanka is the third largest exporter of tea globally and earns $1.5 billion as foreign exchange for the country.

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Last month, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had visited India.

He also announced a series of sops for the Sri Lankans like setting up of vocational training centres, ten engineering training centres and labs to impart suitable skills, computer and science labs in plantation schools.

The Indian prime minister will also pray at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic at Kandy in central Sri Lanka.

Mahinda Rajapaksa who was President of the country for a decade said he held nothing against Modi's visit.

Modi is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka.

He will then arrive at the President's Palace for a lunch hosted by the Sri Lankan President.

Bhikkhus of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple.

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