High Commission of Sri Lanka in India

Second Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Science & Technology held in Colombo PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 18:30

The Second Meeting of the SAARC Ministers of Science & Technology which was chaired by the Minister of Science & Technology of Sri Lanka, Prof. Tissa Vitarana, was held in Colombo on 24th November 2009.   

The Ministerial meeting was attended by Ministers of Science and Technology from SAARC countries namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan.

In his inaugural address, Minister Vitarana emphasized the need to further promote cooperation in the area of Science and Technology within the SAARC to achieve socio – economic development in South Asia.  

Delivering a message from the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Hon. Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, the Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr. Mahinda Bandusena, stated that the application of science and technology would enable value added products to be developed from the agricultural produce of South Asian countries. Mr. Ghulam Dastgir, Director, SAARC Secretariat, also addressed the Inaugural Session.   

The Second Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Science & Technology reviewed the progress in the implementation of the decisions of its First Meeting held in New Delhi in September 2008.  The Meeting also considered the Report of the Fourth Meeting of the SAARC Technical Committee on Science & Technology and the Report of the Third Meeting of the SAARC Working Group on Biotechnology. The Meeting reviewed the implementation of the SAARC Action Plan on Science & Technology and underscored the need for expediting the harmonization of standards within SARSO under SAFTA. The Meeting also considered the matters connected to funding modalities to undertake science & technology programmes and projects under the implementation of the SAARC Action Plan on Science & Technology, Programme of Cooperation, SAARC Industrial Research and Development Initiatives, “Science Caravan”, the format/framework of the SAARC Science and Technology web portal, Sri Lanka Nanoscience Institute to  serve as a SAARC Institute for Nano Technology, a SAARC mechanism on intellectual property rights etc.   

The visiitng Ministers from the SAARC countries called on H. E the President on 25th November 2009 and held a detailed discussion on future endavours of the SRRAC in the fields of Science & Technology.  

The Ministerial Meeting was preceded by the Meeting of Senior Officials held on 23 November 2009. The Meeting of Senior Officials was chaired by Ms. M.B.A. Ekanayake, Secretary, Ministry of Science & Technology of Sri Lanka. 

    

Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
Colombo  
25th November 2009
 
New Pilgrims' Rest at Sanchi inaugurated PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

Prime Minster Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka visited Madhya Pradesh in India from 30 October -2 November 2009 to declare open the Sanchi Vandana Niketana which is a pilgrims rest put up for the benefit of Buddhist pilgrims visiting the ancient Buddhist site of Sanchi which had been a sacred place for Buddhists since the time of the Mauryan Emperor, Asoka, in the 3rd Century BC.Sanchi is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO because of its historical and archeological significance. Sanchi is important for Buddhists in Sri Lanka as it was from there that Arahat Mahinda Thero embarked on his mission to introduce Buddhism to Sri Lanka.The Stupas at Sanchi had immensely influenced the Buddhist architecture in Sri Lanka in early stage. 

The inauguration of Sanchi Vandana Niketana on 31st October was attended by high level representatives of India, including the Chief Minster of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Sivaraj Singh Chauhan, former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, and Madhya Pradesh Cultural Minster Shri Laxmikant Sharma, among others. Two Ministers from Sri Lanka, Mr. Dinesh Gunawardane, Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development and Mrs. Sumedha G.Jayasena, Minster of Childcare & Women's Empowerement were among the distinguished guests.   

The land for a Pilgrims Rest close to the famous temples was originally donated to Sri Lanka Buddhists by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. It became necessary to put up a new Pilgrims Rest with modern facilities for the benefit of Buddhists visiting Sanchi. The new Building was setup by the Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development.

Prime Minister Wickramanayaka in his speech at the opening ceremony explained that Buddhist philosophy did not teach ill will or hatred towards anyone. "The Buddhists envisage a world where everyone irrespective of race, caste or creed could live in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters. It was a basic teaching of Buddhism which believes in ahimsa ,metta and karuna" He further said that Sri Lanka was recently able to overcome a severe terrorist threat after 25 years of bloody conflict which saw the loss of more than 90,000 lives. The Prime Minister gave a pledge on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka that it would continue to further develop facilities at Sanchi which is a world renowned Buddhist pilgrim centre. 

Shri Shivaraj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh recalled the long association between Sri Lanka and Sanchi going back to Asoka's time and Arahat Mahinda.He also mentioned that terrorism had affected many countries including India and Sri Lanka.He congratulated Sri Lanka for its successful fight against the scourge of terrorism. He paid tribute to former Prime Ministers of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi who were victims of terrorism. He recalled that the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi fell on the same day as the ceremony.

 
Sri Lanka invites Indian Investments PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

 

Addressing a Seminar on "Emerging Peace & Investment Opportunities for Sri Lanka", organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in New Delhi on 15 September 2009, Honorable Navin Dissanayake, Minister for Investment Promotion, Sri Lanka invited Indian Industry to invest in Sri Lanka now that the 'war on terror' was over. He asked Indian Industry to visit Sri Lanka and see for themselves the opportunities that the country provides for Investments and business. Apart from profits, Indian Industry would create immense goodwill amongst the two neighbours, which is immeasurable. He added Sri Lanka provided lots of opportunities in many fields and many Indian companies are already operating in the country. 

In his address, Mr C R Jayasinghe, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in India said that Sri Lanka has always regarded herself, ever since she has liberalized her economy over three decades ago in 1977, as an intrinsically friendly destination for foreign investors. This was not the first seminar that was being organized by the Board of Investment to sensitize the Indian entrepreneurs of the potential that the Island offers. More such seminars would be held in the future.

The High Commissioner said that while his nation struggled against the phenomenon of terror, the economic links with India continued to move from strength to strength. Investment from across the Palk Straits came in from sectors such as agriculture and plantation, ICT, Telecommunication and Manufacturing.

Speaking about the FTA between India and Sri Lanka, he said that there has been tremendous growth in the volume of two- way trade from US $ 600 million to US$ 3.2 billion last year. For both the countries, it was the first FTA, which was signed.

In his welcome address Mr. V K Mathur spoke about the strong relations between India and Sri Lanka, the FTA, which has benefited both the countries, the expectation that CEPA would be signed soon, the need for a proper environment for attracting investments, procedural simplifications and all that is needed to make the investor welcome to the country. The Seminar was attended by about 60 delegates from a cross section of Indian Industry which raised various issues concerning policy for investments. The Board of Investments also made a presentation on opportunities areas and said that approval for application would be granted quickly.

 
President inaugurates International Buddhist Conference PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Friday, 21 March 2008 00:00

President Mahinda Rajapaksa  inaugurated on 20 March the two day International Buddhist Conference on the theme ‘Cultural interface between India and Sri Lanka based on Buddhist History, Art, Literature and Philosophy’ at the Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy, Pallekelle, Kandy.

Scholars and delegates from eight countries participated in the conference organized as a joint commemoration by India and Sri Lanka of the 2600th Sambuddhatva Jayanthi. The organizers yesterday identified the Conference as one which would further nurture the mutual bond of friendship between India and Sri Lanka.

The conference was organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), in association with the External Affairs Ministry, Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs Ministry, the SIBA and Peradeniya University. The conference is an outcome of bilateral talks between President Rajapaksa and Indian leaders during his visit to New Delhi last year.

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President Rajapaksa appeals for joint action against terrorism at SAARC Summit PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has emphasized that no country could afford to limit their resolve in the eradication of terrorism to a mere subset of national security. Addressing the 14th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in New Delhi on Tuesday (3 April 2007) the President said, "Terrorism anywhere is terrorism and is a global menace. Unless we act collectively as a region, trans-border terrorist groups will find safe havens in other parts of the region. Modern day terrorists operate in a multi-dimensional fashion. They operate politically, militarily, financially and ideologically".

 

Full text of the speech....

Your Excellency, Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Chairman of the 14th SAARC Summit,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Summit. Each of my visits to India has been a special occasion. However, this is very special to me since it is for the first time that I am attending the SAARC Summit as the President of Sri Lanka. I, therefore, take this opportunity to convey my sincere appreciation to the government of India; in particular, to Your Excellency, the Prime Minister of India as well as the people of India for the warm welcome and the generous hospitality that I and my delegation have been accorded and also for the excellent arrangements made for the Summit.

Mr. Chairman, let me congratulate you on your election as the Chairman of the fourteenth SAARC Summit. Your stewardship will no doubt see SAARC meet the challenges of the twenty first century, based on the goals set for the third decade of its journey. Sri Lanka will whole heartedly extend its cooperation and assistance to the Government of India in its position as the new Chair of SAARC.

I take this opportunity to pay my tribute to the outgoing Chair, Bangladesh.

I compliment His Excellency Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji, Secretary General of SAARC and his team for their commitment.

I also take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to Afghanistan, the most recent addition to SAARC membership.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our region is the proud inheritor of a unique historical tradition. Our common contribution to religion, art, literature, and moral values is second to none. But, today, we are a region of contrasts. There are significant disparities in GDP, income levels, natural resources, populations etc.

Countries, particularly in Europe, have come together to form regional blocks despite major differences in language, culture, religion, income levels and deep seated historical enmities bringing benefits to their people that could not have been possible only a few years ago. I am particularly concerned that SAARC has not realized its enormous potential yet.

I strongly believe that SAARC must become a Union where we will endeavour to achieve our political and economic pursuits. It is also high time that we adopt a single currency, which will enhance the productivity of the region and improve trade without barriers.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

SAARC, as I see, today stands at a critical point. A large majority of our peoples are living in rural environments. We should pause for a moment to ask ourselves, "What have we really done for our rural masses?" Whilst we like to have sprawling cities in our countries, haven't we neglected the majority of our people, the rural poor? The little we have done in our rural areas has been small initiatives. Most villages stand with little or no basic infrastructure.

Our region, home for over one-fifth of the global population, must focus on the livelihoods of most of our people. Let us not forget that the entire SAARC region is still seriously affected by poverty, although during the last two decades, we have concentrated on reducing it. However, for most people in our region life is far from satisfactory. We, as leaders, therefore, have an enormous responsibility on our shoulders to deliver now, and not wait for the future.

We should be able to transform our people to be the producers for the world given the diversity and the rich soils of our region. I request this august forum, to adopt a resolution to work with dedication and commitment to uplift the quality of our people in the rural areas.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am a strong believer of practicality. While endorsing and fully subscribing to the values of SAARC, we badly need to be action-oriented rather than dependent on rhetoric. Merely saying good things about each other and ignoring the reality will take us nowhere. Therefore, all what we have endorsed over the years, must without any further delay, be transformed into action.

Promotion of intra-regional trade is important to realize the goals enshrined in the SAARC Charter to improve the image of the region as viable economic powerhouse. We must have a region-centric approach to make the SAFTA work in a real sense and give it effective force. I believe that a sincere commitment and a strict timetable to implement the SAFTA will lead to whole of South Asia becoming one massive region for enhancement of trade.

Coincidentally, year 2007 has been named the "South Asia Year of Tourism". Tourism is one of the most lucrative trades that has not been fully tapped and developed systematically in our region. Our governments need to find new avenues to develop inter-regional and intra-regional tourism in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner. More intra-regional travel will promote people to people contact we have advocated for so long.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Deviating from economic issues, I wish to touch upon the question of human rights in the region - an issue that is close to my heart and which has been a critical motivating force in my political career. Human rights have been a part and parcel of the great cultural tradition of the sub-continent for millennia. The edicts of Emperor Asoka scattered around the sub-continent are an ample testimony to that.

Guided by the principles of our great religions, we have respected the rights of our fellow human beings, and it has not been necessary for us to wait for the calamity of global wars or the deaths of millions due to misguided philosophies to recognize their value. We, in our region, will continue to protect and advance human rights, including economic rights, despite having to struggle with differences and poverty left behind by centuries of colonial domination.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Speaking of terrorism, no country could sustain itself and flourish without addressing the need to maintain security and no country could afford to limit their resolve to the eradication of terrorism to a mere subset of national security. Terrorism anywhere is terrorism and is a global menace. Unless we act collectively as a region, trans-border terrorist groups will find safe havens in other parts of the region. Modern day terrorists operate in a multi-dimensional fashion. They operate politically, militarily, financially and ideologically.

Therefore, our effort to curb this menace should also be multi-pronged and sustained and far reaching, and must include their sources of sustenance. The recent air attack at Katunayake by the LTTE must attract attention of all of us to the fact that our region as a whole is not safe from the barbaric terrorist groups. I wish to appeal therefore to this august forum to work jointly on a counter terrorism strategy for our entire region, to defeat terrorism.

My government has placed great emphasis on eradicating terrorism and making Sri Lanka a safe place for our people. It is not lost on us, however, that terrorism, whilst needs to be suppressed, also has to be grappled with, on a political platform.

Mr. Chairman, I am very much in agreement with your proposal to establish a South Asian university. This university need not be confined to one country. We need to ensure that leaning is borderless and that any student in any of our countries could benefit out of this unique initiative.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The time has come to move away from 'fancy rhetoric' and give way for action and relentless effort in our resolve to achieve the collective aspirations of all of us.

In conclusion, may I therefore be permitted to quote a great son of the region, Emperor Asoka, (I quote) "May my sons, grandsons, and great grandsons strive for the welfare of all mankind. But this is difficult without great and sincere effort". (Unquote)

May the Noble Triple Gem Bless you all!

 


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