Narendra Modi in Sri Lanka Live: ‘Diversity calls for celebration, not confrontation’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India will fully support steps taken by Sri Lanka to improve the living conditions of Tamils of central Lanka.india Updated: May 12, 2017 14:41 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday lauded the contributions of the Indian-origin Tamil community in Sri Lanka, saying people like Tamil Nadu’s late former chief minister MG Ramachandran and cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan have left an indelible mark on society.
Arriving to a rousing welcome at a public rally in Dickoya, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled his own association with tea, and said he shares something with the Tamil people of central Sri Lanka.
Modi announced the construction of 10,000 houses in upcountry areas, and vocational training centres and 10 engineering training centres and labs to impart suitable skills, as well as computer and science labs in schools in tea plantation areas.
He said “diversity calls for celebration and not confrontation. Sinhala and Tamil people and languages existed harmoniously. We need to strengthen not separate these threads of unity harmony, Tamils of central Sri Lanka are best placed for this,” the Prime Minister said.
On Friday morning, he participated in the opening ceremony of the 14th International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo.
Follow live updates here:
1.40 pm: PM Narendra Modi announces construction of additional 10,000 houses in up-country areas. He ends his address recalling the poet Thiruvalluvar: “Wealth will find its own way to the man of unfailing energy and efforts.”
1.35 pm: “I am aware the government of Sri Lanka is taking active steps to improve your living conditions including a 5-year National Plan of Action. We have decided to extend 1990 Emergency Ambulance Service, currently operating in western and southern provinces, to all other provinces.”
1.30 pm:” Another national icon of India from later years, Puratchi Thalaivar MGR was born on this very soil, establishing a life-long connection. In more recent times, you have gifted to the world one of the finest spinners in cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan.”
1.25 pm: “We remember your forefathers. Men and women of strong will and courage, who undertook the journey of their life from India to then Ceylon,” he says.
“You speak one of the oldest-surviving classical languages in the world. It is a matter of pride that many of you also speak Sinhala. We need to strengthen, not separate, (these) threads of unity and harmony.”
1.20 pm: PM Narendra Modi begins addressing the Tamil community. “It is a great pleasure to be here today. And, I am most grateful for your warm and enthusiastic welcome.”
1.00 pm: Residents of Dickoya line the streets to welcome the Prime Minister.
12.00 pm: India will continue to be a “friend” of Sri Lanka and will help in the nation-building of the island country, PM Modi said during the 14th International Vesak Day celebrations.
“In trade and investment, we are already significant partners. We believe that trade across borders will be to our mutual benefit. India’s rapid growth will bring dividend to the entire region, especially Sri Lanka,” he said.