As the world’s largest democracy India celebrated its Independence Day today (August 15), Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation invited all Indians to carry out their duties to ensure that the country is a developed nation in the next 25 years.
The celebrations were held at the Red Fort where PM Modi said that corruption and dynastic politics were the two biggest challenges in India. Interestingly, this is also true for India’s neighbours especially Sri Lanka which is battling with rampant corruption resulting mainly from dynastic politics.
Beginning his speech, Prime Minister Modi stated that it was a historic day for India as it takes a new path, new pledge with renewed strength. He also said that India’s strength is in its diversity. “India is the mother of democracy that can cause trouble for even the biggest of sultanates,” Modi added.
Over the last decade, India has gone through a tremendous transformation and India’s economy which is currently at $3.17 trillion is expected to become the fifth largest in the world in 2022. The Gross Domestic Product, the monetary measure of all goods and services produced in a country in a year, rose from ₹ 2.79 lakh crore in 1950-51 to an estimated ₹ 147.36 lakh crore in 2021-22.
Meanwhile, India’s foreign exchange reserves increased from ₹ 911 crore in 1950-51 to ₹ 45,42,615 crore on August 5, 2022. Currently, India has the fifth largest forex reserves in the world. In July 2022, India’s foreign trade stood at over $143 billion.
Though India is celebrating its 75th Independence Day, the relationship between Sri Lanka and India is more than 2,500 years old. Relations between the two countries have also matured and diversified with time, encompassing all areas of contemporary relevance. In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at the highest political level, growing trade and investment, cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence.
India has a solid record as a development partner of Sri Lanka in the social, community, and human resources sectors, whether it is in mass housing or ambulance services, heritage conservation, or education.
A developed and more powerful India means more benefits to Sri Lanka as its closest neighbour and friend. Today, Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis and it has been India that has been standing beside Sri Lanka every step of the way by extending the help it needs.
This was further highlighted and appreciated by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland who said India’s “generous” and “multi-faceted” assistance to Sri Lanka to help it deal with its unprecedented economic crisis is “heartening.”
“India’s generous and multi-faceted assistance to Sri Lanka is heartening to see. It exemplifies both the spirit and values of the Commonwealth. In spirit, we are a family of nations, and families rally to help one another in times of need. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently expressed India’s support for the quest of the people of Sri Lanka for stability and economic recovery, through established democratic means, institutions, and constitutional framework,” she said.
“The unprecedented challenges Sri Lanka is facing have required, and still require, the dedication and fortitude of its leaders as well as the support of the international community,” Ms. Scotland further said.
Ms. Scotland also talked about India’s prominent role in combating the global food crisis and said that the Commonwealth is working towards bringing about a more holistic approach to ensure food security.
As Sri Lanka struggles to secure funds to purchase fuel, the country’s Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera earlier said his government had requested several countries to send fuel. However, India was the only country to have so far given Sri Lanka a line of credit to buy essential items like fuel.
Meanwhile, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that India has extended ‘unprecedented’ support of over $3.8 billion for ‘ameliorating the serious economic situation in Sri Lanka.’
“We continue to closely follow the recent developments in Sri Lanka. India stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realize their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established institutions and constitutional framework,” Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
India also continues to be the largest source of tourism for Sri Lanka. The UNWTO has ranked India as one of the fastest growing outbound markets in the world with the volume of travellers going up by 25% every year
Sri Lanka continues to appreciate the consistent support of the Government and people of India over the past few years in a variety of fields such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, disaster management, humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, commercial engagement and people-to-people ties.
Sri Lankan also welcomed the support extended by India during the meetings at the International Monetary Fund in March this year to secure a lifeline to overcome the economic crisis and on subsequent occasions in different forums including regional and plurilateral organisations.