Colombo, October 11 (newsin.asia): The Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, said on Friday that tourist arrival figures for September this year shows that arrivals from India are about three times the number from the second-highest source.
“Indian tourists are back in big numbers and are driving all the supply chains in the Sri Lankan economy,” the envoy emphasized in his inaugural address at the Post Graduate Institute of Sciences- Research Congress, University of Peradeniya.
The University of Peradeniya (located in Kandy) is known for its quality research in various fields, not just in Sri Lanka, but also in the region and beyond, the envoy said.
“I am conscious of the fact that today I am standing in the largest and oldest university in Sri Lanka. I am also conscious of the fact that today I am speaking before a large group of scientific experts. I feel truly privileged, and honoured. I thank the Director, PGIS and Deputy Vice Chancellor for giving me this opportunity.”
“Both India and Sri Lanka come from a rich tradition where acquisition of knowledge was considered the supreme goal in life; where knowledge and wisdom were cherished and scholars were most respected. We are proud owners of the legacy of Nalanda and Vikramashila, the prominent centers of learning in ancient days, where Medicine and Mathematics were taught side by side with Buddhist studies and Philosophy. Scholars from Sri Lanka like Lanka Jayabhadra adorned these Universities.”
“Sri Lanka had an equally illustrious heritage,” Sandhu further said. “The ruins of a hospital found in Mihintale, which many believe, is the oldest hospital in the world, is particularly relevant. The ruins of ancient libraries are found in Anuradhapura. Sri Lanka’s strong tradition of innovation is also reflected in the old reservoirs which were built as early as 5th century BC, which are used even now.”
Coming to modern times, the envoy said: ‘I am happy to state that India has been able to build on our strengths. India is currently home to the world’s third-largest scientific and technical manpower. Indian educational institutes have produced the minds that now lead the global Corporations such as Google, Microsoft, Nokia, to name a few. We have sent our Missions to the Moon and the Mars. More than one-third of the top 1,000 global R&D spenders have centers in India.”
“India will soon become the second-largest market for robotic surgery in the world. The vaccines developed by Indian scientists against Rotavirus and Hepatitis B have been trendsetters, and have helped reduce the prices of these vaccines considerably in most developing countries.”
“Further, the warning system developed by India in the wake of 2004 Tsunami is amongst the best in the world,” he added.
“It is heartening to note that University of Peradeniya has strong tie-ups with several educational institutions in India- IIT, Kanpur, IIT Roorkee, University of Delhi, South Asian University etc. We also have an ongoing Programme of Cooperation in Science and Technology between India and Sri Lanka, under which several projects have been jointly funded, based on mutual interests.”
“I note that several scholars from University of Peradeniya are actively collaborating with our scientists in India on various research projects under this Programme. We need to have more such collaborations,” the High Commissioner said.
Sandhu pointed out that Sri Lanka was the first in South Asia to join the National Knowledge Network (NKN), through which Sri Lankan Universities now have digital access to around 1600 universities in India & beyond.
“We have recently started conducting the IIT Joint Entrance Examination and the Graduate Aptitude Test for Engineering (GATE) in Colombo for the benefit of Sri Lankan students. The Government of India offers 750 scholarships annually to the Sri Lankan students, for Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Doctoral studies. We have also launched a new web portal, Study in India, which has all the relevant information regarding education opportunities in India, in one place.”
“More than 25000 seats are earmarked in Indian Institutions for foreign students. I urge students in Sri Lanka to make use of all these opportunities,” Sandhu said.
“When I see the youth of today I am filled with a deep sense of optimism. The youth has the ability to think big, think out of the box, ideate and innovate and bring transformational changes. I see in their eyes, a sparkle, a passion, and a hunger for development. The future of our great nations, is in their hands. They have to mold it the way they want, as the future belongs to them. The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, is passionate about innovation, technology and creation of an eco-system for start-ups. He has often said, “if we do not innovate, we stagnate”.
I conclusion, the High Commissioner said: “For India, Sri Lanka is special. The Indian Housing project in Sri Lanka, is the largest grant assistance project of Government of India, in any country abroad. Similarly, we have constructed the largest University Auditorium in Sri Lanka, in University of Ruhuna. The 1990 Emergency Ambulance Service, funded by India, is now operational island-wide.”
“Our development partnership with Sri Lanka is based on Sri Lanka’s own priorities. Our projects are people–oriented. They have a direct impact on the lives of common people. From North to the South and West to East, it is spread all across the island,” the envoy stated.
Sandhu pledged that India will continue to stand with Sri Lanka in her journey ahead.
“The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi was the first world leader to visit Sri Lanka after the Easter attacks. This has been also an important messaging and you can see the difference it has made tourist arrival figures,” he pointed out.
On Thursday, the High Commissioner Sandhu was received and blessed by the Most Venerable Mahanayake of the Asgiriya and Malwathu Chapters, the Most Ven Warakagoda Gnanarathana Thera and the Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Thero. He also worshipped at the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Sacred Tooth).