A carefully-crafted itinerary is on the works for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to Sri Lanka. The itinerary likely includes a trip to Anuradhapura, a sacred Buddhist city steeped in the richness of the Sinhalese civilisation.
Modi will also visit Tamil-dominated Jaffna besides reviewing the Indian rehabilitation project for the people displaced by Sri Lanka’s civil war. The devolution of political power for Tamil minorities forms a key part of India’s bilateral agenda and it holds immense political significance in Tamil Nadu as well.
However, Modi’s proposed visit to Anuradhapura, in the North Central province, intends to send a larger message. The city is one of the principal shrines of Buddhism. The city was established around a cutting from the “tree of enlightenment” —Buddha’s fig tree — brought there in the 3rd century BC by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Though it is not final, there is also a plan for the PM to visit Kandy, Sri Lanka second largest city. “The final programme is still being worked out”, said an official.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Sri Lanka on Friday marking the third high-level bilateral visit between the two countries. MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted that Swaraj’s visit was a signal of the upswing in ties. “Buoyancy in India-SriLanka ties in 2015,” his tweet read.
Swaraj’s visit comes two weeks after new Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena visited India on his maiden foreign trip following a surprise win over long-time president Mahinda Rajapaksa.