Commemorating the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence, Sri Lanka India Society President Mr. Kishore Reddy was honoured with the presence of President of Sri Lanka Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, First Lady Mrs. Maitri Wickremesinghe, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka His Excellency Gopal Baglay and Mrs. Bina Baglay, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Hon. Ali Sabry and Mrs. Sarah Sabry, and many other dignitaries to celebrate a night of friendship.
Established in 1949, the Sri Lanka India Society is one of the oldest and largest friendship societies in Sri Lanka where to date two great nations that continue their deep-rooted, centuries-old ties. From being part of the Commonwealth to sharing similar sentiments on religion and cultural norms, Indo-Lanka relations have been multi-faceted, unwavering, and time-tested. Since gaining Independence just six months apart, over the years, the neighbours have strengthened their relations in the region whilst the benefits of its synergies have touched the lives of many.
Recently, a dinner was held to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence from the British, during which President Wickremesinghe was presented with the ‘Param Rakshak’, a token of appreciation by the Sri Lanka India Society. The token of appreciation was a masterpiece sculptured by visual artist Dananjaya Edirisinghe, a former employee of Fairfirst Insurance, which symbolises the formation of the most powerful relationship and protection surrounding India and Sri Lanka.
The bond between the two nations and the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence was organised as an evening of friendship by the Sri Lanka India Society, which was held at Taj Samudra Grand Marquee on 15th September 2022, along with the support of the event’s cosponsors: LIC Lanka, Lanka IOC, Niru (Diamond Cutters), and Fairfirst Insurance.
In his address to the attendees, President Wickremesinghe looked back on the different forms of diplomatic relations the two countries have had in the past and how they have influenced each other for their betterment. He highlighted democracy and trade as two modern aspects that bind the two countries together. In addition, he shared that steps would be taken to revive and upgrade the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ILFTA) in order to boost trade ties between the countries. The President did not forget to express his appreciation towards Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India’s donation of Rs. 2 billion that will be utilised to create new pathways for Buddhist relations between the nations.
High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Baglay stated: “The strength of the relationship between India and Sri Lanka lies in their people-to-people ties. The closeness of history, the closeness of geography, our proximity, the shared heritage, the shared history – there is so much that binds us. And it is just not a historical coincidence that when India woke up to the dawn of Independence in 1947, Sri Lanka was not to be left far behind.”
He also spoke of the upcoming anniversary that celebrates 75 years of Indo-Lanka diplomatic relations as two independent countries, with aspirations to take commemorative measures for the occasion.
Sri Lanka India Society President Mr. Reddy, when speaking about the relationship between the nations in contemporary regard, said: “Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture, and defence. Both countries share a broad understanding of major issues of international interest. As a friendship society, we are very happy and equally proud of India’s assistance to Sri Lanka at a time of need and this truly resonates with the phrase ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’.”
He concluded his speech with a toast, saying: “We wish Sri Lanka and India peace and prosperity, today and in the future, and to the enduring friendship and partnership between both countries.”