PM Narendra Modi in Sri Lanka Stresses on Peace and Harmony in a Multi-Language Society as it bonds People

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to the brave hearts who lost their lives in 2001 Parliament attck
Prime Minister Modi in a garden Wikimedia

Dickoya (Sri Lanka), May 12, 2017: In the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the Tamil-dominated tea plantation area in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said there is no better place than a peaceful and harmonious multi-language society that unifies cultures and bonds people.

“There is no better place than a multi-language society with peace and harmony,” he said with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by his side.

He was speaking at a public meeting after dedicating a 150-bed state-of-art hospital constructed with Indian aid, and pointed out that he is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit “this beautiful region”.

Modi had visited Sri Lanka two years ago and had undertaken a trip to Jaffna in the north at that time.

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The plantation Tamils are distinct from the Tamils of North and East in the island nation, which has for over three decades faced a violent struggle in the North and East by Tamils for their rights.

In a 30-minute speech peppered with quotes from the works of Tamil saints and scholars, he also announced India’s assistance in the construction of 10,000 additional houses in upcountry areas, where 4,000 have already been built under ownership basis for the beneficiaries.

He also said that India has decided to extend the 1990 emergency ambulance service, currently operating in Western and Southern provinces, to all other provinces.

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

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“You are the children of Tamil mother. You speak one of the oldest classical languages of the world. Along with that you also speak Sinhalese, which is a matter of pride. Language is not just a tool of communication but it also bonds and unifies cultures and people.

Recalling the links between Tamils and Sinhalese, Modi said they are historically intertwined and were used in the courts of Nayak kings of Madurai and Thanjavur. There were even marriages among people speaking the two languages.

“We are for strengthening the spirit of unity and harmony and you must be a force in this,” he said, while addressing the Indian-origin Tamils, whose ancestors came to this part of Sri Lanka two hundred years ago.

Heaping praise on the contribution by Soumyamurthy Thondaman, the founder of the Ceylon Workers Congress, the Prime Minister recalled the troubles that the Indian-origin would have encountered when their ancestors came from India.

“Today, we remember your forefathers, those men and women of strong will and courage, who undertook the journey of life from India to then Ceylon. The journey may have been uphill and struggle hard but they never gave up. We remember and salute their spirit,” he said.

Modi said that the Tamils had encountered hardship in establishing their identity in a newly independent country through peaceful struggles. In this context, he referred to the late Thondaman, who had worked hard for the prosperity of the plantation Tamils and in their campaign for economic progress.

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He recalled that Mahatma Gandhi had made a single visit to the plantation areas of Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and other places and in commemoration of the historic visit the Mahatma Gandhi Centre was set up with Indian assistance in 2015.

The Prime Minister said that the plantation Tamils would be completing shortly 200 years of their migration to the hill areas, and as a mark of this milestone “we will continue to participate in the journey for economic prosperity and progress”.

“We see you as a seamless part of our continuum. We want to nurture this relationship between Sri Lanka and India and establish ties in which my government’s priority is to work for the progress of all Indians and all Sri Lankans,” he said.

He said the Indian government had from 1947 undertaken programmes in education, health and community development centres in cooperation with the Sri Lankan government.

Under this 700 scholarships are available to students either in Sri Lanka or in India.

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 a huge sum as foreign exchange for the country. (IANS)

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