Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the Tamil community on Friday, saying people like Tamil Nadu’s late former chief minister MG Ramachandran and cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan have left an indelible mark on society.
Arriving to a rousing welcome at a public rally in Sri Lanka’s Dickoya, Narendra Modi also recalled his association with tea, saying he shares something with the Tamil people of central Sri Lanka.
“People the world over are familiar with famous Ceylon tea that originates in this fertile land,” said Narendra Modi, who has time and again referred to his humble past as a ‘chaiwallah’ in his speeches.
“Ceylon is famous all over the world due to sweat and toil of the Tamil people. We remember your forefathers. and women of strong will and courage, who undertook the journey of their life from India to then Ceylon,” Modi said.
“We remember and salute the struggle of the Tamil people of central Sri Lanka, their forefathers and leaders like Saumiyamurthy Thondaman,” he said.
Modi announced the construction of 10,000 houses in upcountry areas, and vocational training centres and 10 engineering training centres and labs to impart suitable skills, as well as computer and science labs in schools in tea plantation areas.
He said: “Diversity calls for celebration and not confrontation. Sinhala and Tamil people and languages existed harmoniously. We need to strengthen not separate these threads of unity harmony, Tamils of central Sri Lanka are best placed for this.”
Modi recalled the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to the region 90 years ago to spread the message of socio-economic development.
“In commemoration of Gandhiji’s historic visit, the Mahatma Gandhi International Centre was set up with Indian assistance in Matale in 2015,” he said.
Recalling the contributions of Tamil leader MGR and cricketer Muralitharan, he said, “a national icon of India… Puratchi Thalaivar MGR was born on this very soil, establishing a life-long connection.
“In more recent times, you have gifted to the world one of the finest spinners in cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan,” he told the gathering.
Earlier, Modi inaugurated the Dickoya Glengairan Hospital in Central Province, and said, “health and well-being of the people of Sri Lanka is a shared priority”
“We have decided to extend 1990 Emergency Ambulance Service, currently operating in Western and Southern Provinces, to all other provinces,” he said, adding that the government and people of India were with Sri Lankans in their “journey towards peace and greater prosperity”. (Hindustan Times)