Sri Lanka embraces India’s Sagarmala, to use para diplomacy to link Southern states: PM
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will support India’s ‘Sagaramala’ program of building ports around the country, and will use para diplomacy to build stronger links with the key Southern Indian state, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
"Joining the Sagarmala is an advantage for us, not a disadvantage," Wickremesinghe told the Colombo International Maritime Conference on Thursday.
Sri Lanka was also planning to engage in para diplomacy directly with Southern states in India to closely integrate with their economies, he said.
Southern Indian states and Sri Lanka could form a $500 billion economy, he said.
Sri Lanka has had strong historical links with Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, he said.
The prosperity of ancient Sri Lankan kingdoms from Anuradhapura to Kotte was closely linked with maritime trade, he said.
In the last few decades, misled by socialism, India and Sri Lanka closed trade links and became ‘land-based economies’.
"So did China, so did Vietnam," he observed.
Leaders in Sri Lanka’s Anuradhapura and India’s Kanchipuram at one time dominated trade east of Sri Lanka, until the rise of the Chula Empire, Wickremesinghe said.
Sri Lanka also had similar foods to Kerala, and people went to pilgrimages and even visited shrines to this day to get blessings.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka had also embraced China’s ‘One Road One Belt’ initiative, and China would partner Sri Lanka in managing the Hambantota Port and the Mattala Airport, Wickremesinghe said.
Expanding Indian influence and colonisation gave birth to Indianite Hindu-Buddhist cultures in Sri Lanka, present day Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, which traded with each other displacing or mixing with the native Austronesian cultures based on ancestor worship. (Colombo/Sept22/2016)