Mar 18 (News18) Union external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday said India helping Sri Lanka during its economic crisis was a natural step due to the historical relationship shared between the two countries.
The union minister’s comments came during the inauguration of an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of Indo-Lanka diplomatic relations.
“Blood is thicker than water,” S Jaishankar said, referring to India and Sri Lanka bilateral relationship.
“For us it was natural at a moment of difficulty that we should see what we could do within our resources, within our capabilities, within our efforts to stand by Sri Lanka at this very difficult time,” he further added.
As Sri Lanka faced a major economic crisis, India extended unprecedented financial and social assistance to its neighbour, providing $4 billion in 2022 via currency swaps, credit facilities and procurement of essential items.
Jaishankar said that the cultural cooperation between the two countries has been visible. He said New Delhi gave a lot of attention to the cultural facet of its relationship with Sri Lanka in recent years.
“(The cooperation between India and Sri Lanka is) visible in the grants given to promote Buddhist ties, the support given to restoration of temples, in the construction of the Jaffna cultural centre and the mini exchanges that India promotes between both countries,” Jaishankar said.
The Jaffna Cultural Centre is a facility constructed with grant assistance from the government of India.
It was conceived as a reconciliation project primarily aimed at expanding cultural infrastructure for people living in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. It is also an example of the India-Sri Lanka development partnership.
The exhibition was titled “Geoffrey Bawa: It is Essential To be There” and featured works of Sri Lanka’s iconic architect, the late Geoffrey Bawa.
The event was jointly organised by the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi, and the Geoffrey Bawa Trust.
The exhibition features over 120 documents from the Bawa archives, including a section on unbuilt work and Bawa’s own photographs from his travels.
It explores relationships between ideas, drawings, buildings and places, and the different ways in which images were used in Bawa’s practice.
The exhibition showcases the close cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka and highlights the importance of preserving cultural heritage for future generations.
The Indian government provided technical and financial assistance for various conservation and restoration projects in Sri Lanka.
One notable example of Indian aid in preserving cultural heritage in Sri Lanka is the restoration of the ancient Buddhist site of Anuradhapura. This UNESCO World Heritage site was in a state of disrepair due to years of neglect and damage caused by natural disasters.