India has allocated a grant of US$15 million to Sri Lanka to reinforce the enduring Buddhist connections between the two nations. The grant agreement was formalized on 2 November during a signing ceremony at the president’s house in Colombo, attended by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, as part of her three-day visit to Sri Lanka.
The first project to be initiated under this grant will involve the solar electrification of religious sites throughout Sri Lanka, with an allocation of US$10 million. This significant project was outlined in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) jointly concluded by both governments.
According to the MOU, “This grant is specifically allocated to bolster the longstanding Buddhist connections between India and Sri Lanka, underscoring the deep historical and cultural ties that bind these two nations together.” (The Week)
This grant underscores the significance of bolstering Buddhist linkages between the two countries. The allocation of the funds will contribute to various initiatives, including the construction and renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchange, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exhibition of relics, and other areas of mutual interest.
To accommodate the evolving economic situation in Sri Lanka, both nations have agreed to adjust the grant amount from Sri Lankan rupees to Indian rupees, aligning it with market conditions.
“This adjustment is being formalized through diplomatic Letters of Exchange and Acceptance, signifying a shared commitment to further enhancing these ties,” according to a statement from the government of Sri Lanka. (MyIndMakers)
Gopal Baglay, the high commissioner of India, and Somaratne Vidanapathirana, the secretary of the ministry of Buddhasasana, religious and cultural affairs, played pivotal roles in securing the agreement.
During her visit to Sri Lanka, Sitharaman also engaged with the influential Buddhist clergy in the central town of Kandy. Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist nation, received her meetings with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and leaders of the Indian-origin plantation community.
“FM Smt. @nsitharaman discussed the continued tradition of strong historical and cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka. Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana acknowledged the cordial relations between the two countries and expressed gratitude for the support from India during the times of economic hardship in Sri Lanka,” the finance ministry said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). (CNBCTV18)
Sitharaman’s visit was in conjunction with her role as the guest of honor at NAAM 200, an event organized by the government of Sri Lanka to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Indian-origin Tamils in the country.
The move was the latest in a series of measures aimed at bolstering the economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries. While the religion fell into decline in India, eventually reaching nearly complete elimination, it has been preserved as the majority and official state religion in Sri Lanka. According to 2012 data, some 70.2 per cent of Sri Lankans identify as Theravada Buddhists, 12.6 per cent are Hindu, 9.7 per cent are Muslim, and 7.4 per cent identify as Christians.
India allocates $15 mn grant to Sri Lanka to bolster Buddhist connections (Business Standard)
India provides $15 million grant to strengthen ongoing Buddhist ties with Sri Lanka (MyIndMakers)
India will collaborate with Sri Lanka on debt treatment: Nirmala Sitharaman (The Hindu)
India allocates USD 15 mn grant to Sri Lanka to bolster long-standing Buddhist connections (The Week)
FM Nirmala Sitharaman embarks on 3-day official visit to Sri Lanka, meets Buddhist leaders (CNBCTV18)
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