Amid the economic crisis, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar asserted that it is natural for India to stand by Sri Lanka during its difficult time as “blood is thicker than water”.
“Blood is thicker than water. It was natural for India to see what it could do to stand by Sri Lanka at this very difficult time, ” said Jaishankar. In the time of crisis, India has time and again stood by the countries surrounding it following its “Neighbourhood first policy”.
India, under its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, has always come forward to help debt-ridden Sri Lanka, and in the latest instance, New Delhi has also distributed the ration in Kalmunai on March 16.
EAM S Jaishankar was speaking at the inauguration of The Exhibition Sri Lankan Architect ‘Geoffrey Bawa’ in New Delhi on Friday.
“(Sanjay) Kulatunga, Trustee, Geoffrey Bawa Trust) and I was talking about (India and Sri Lanka), I reminded him of the saying that blood is thicker than water. For us, it was natural at the moment of difficulty that we should see what we could do within our resources, capabilities and efforts to stand by Sri Lanka at this very difficult time,” Jaishankar said while speaking at the event.
“When I think of Sri Lanka, Geoffrey Bawa is a figure that comes to my mind,” EAM said. “He is the father of the tropical modernist movement. The introduction was to us to visit the parliament building. What we saw was very simple and revolutionary, inspiring many other parts of the world. His achievements are not just in Sri Lanka,” he added.
“I am confident that this exhibition will promote a very close relationship between the two countries,” EAM said.
Speaking on the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, Jaishankar said, “It is very natural for India to step forward. Blood is thicker than water. It is natural at a moment of difficulty. I have always believed that you will come through this challenge but it is important to have real friends standing by you (Sri Lanka).”
“Culture is one expression of people-to-people exchanges and today we are exchanging many. Sri Lanka is very much part of our shared history. I am delighted to be present here showcasing the work of renowned artist Geoffrey Bawa,” Jaishankar added.
Sri Lanka Envoy Milinda Moragoda and MoS External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi were also present at the inauguration of the exhibition.
Geoffrey Bawa was a Sri Lankan architect. He was among the most influential Asian architects of his generation. He was born in 1919 and he passed away in 2003.
India helped Sri Lanka more than any other country, especially when the island nation was struggling through an unprecedented crisis, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said during Raisina Dialogue ‘Ideas Pod” earlier in March.
Earlier in January too, India extended aid worth USD 3.9 billion to help Sri Lanka sustain itself in face of the acute economic and financial crisis and meet its immediate needs such as medicines, cooking gas, oil and food items, Sri Lanka-based news publication News 19 reported.
India’s EXIM bank and State bank of India, for the import of essential commodities, extended export credit facilities worth USD 1,500 million to Sri Lanka. India also concluded a USD 400 million agreement with Sri Lanka to help preserve the country’s forex reserves.
A USD 1 billion credit line for essential goods, a USD 500 million credit line for fuel, and a USD 55 million credit line for fertiliser have been extended to Sri Lanka, News 19 reported.
India has been helping Sri Lanka with donations out of goodwill and humanitarian assistance. India will supply Sri Lankan Transport Department with a fleet of 500 buses. A total of 75 buses were handed over to Sri Lanka by India’s High commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Bagalay.