Modi’s Mission to make States Stronger – Cooperative Federalism Is the Key

By Sarkaritel March 14, 2015 09:51

Modi’s Mission to make States Stronger – Cooperative Federalism Is the Key

India’s Future is also Future of Neighboring Countries

By TN Ashok         Diplomatic Editor

Colombo, March 13 : Visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the strong economic and political future he dreamed for India was also the future he wanted for all its neighboring countries because the future of any country was determined by the state of its neighborhood.” “I am convinced that the future of any country is influenced by the state of its neighborhood. “

“The future that I dream for India is also the future that I wish for our neighbors. We in this region are on the same journey: to transform the lives of our people. Our path will be easier, the journey quicker and destination nearer when we walk step in step”, Modi said in his address to the Sri Lankan Parliament, a rare honor bestowed on a visiting Prime Minister. Modi is the first Prime Minister to make a bilateral visit to Sri Lanka in 28 years since Rajiv Gandhi visited the country in 1987.

Referring to his priorities to make India strong, Modi said my top priority is to make the states in India stronger. I am a firm believer in cooperative federalism.  The government at the center was devolving more power and more resources to the states. And, we are making them formal partners in national decision making processes.” 

Referring to the ethnic strife and civil war in Sri Lanka , Modi said Sri Lanka has lived through decades of tragic violence and conflict. You have successfully defeated terrorism and brought the conflict to an end. You now stand at a moment of historic opportunity to win the hearts and heal the wounds across all sections of society.

Recent elections in Sri Lanka have reflected the collective voice of the nation – the hope for change, reconciliation and unity, Modi said adding the steps that you have taken in recent times are bold and admirable. They represent a new beginning.  I am confident of a future of Sri Lanka, defined by unity and integrity; peace and harmony; and, opportunity and dignity for everyone. 

Among those present at the parliament during Modi’s address were the Speaker of Parliament,  Chamal Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka  Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the Leader of the Opposition Nimal Siripala De Silva. 

Modi told the sri Lankan parliamentarians that India and Sri Lanka stood together as proud independent nations – soverign and equal. No matter where you look in India or Sri Lanka, the many strands of our links – religion, language, culture, food, customs, traditions and epics – come together into a deep and strong bond of familiarity and friendship.

“ Ours is a relationship that is beautifully defined by the journey of Mahindra and Sanghamitra. They carried the message of peace, tolerance and friendship more than two millenniums ago”, Modi recalled turning the pages of history and said it is evoked by Kannagi , the central character of the great Tamil epic Silapathikaram , who is worshipped as goddess the Pattini in Sri Lanka. It lives in the Ramayan trail in Sri Lanka.

It expresses itself in devotion at the dargah of the Nagore Andavar and the Christian shrine of Velankanni.
It is reflected in the friendship of Swami Vivekananda and Anagarika Dharmapala, the founder of the Maha Bodhi Society in Sri Lanka and India. It lives in the work of Mahatma Gandhi’s followers in India and Sri Lanka. Above all, our relationship thrives through the inter-woven lives of ordinary Indians and Sri Lankans.

Modi said India and Sri Lanka’s independent life began at around the same time and Sri Lanka has made remarkable progress since then. The nation is an inspiration for our region in human development. Sri Lanka is home to enterprise and skill; and extraordinary intellectual heritage.  There are businesses of global class here.

Sri Lanka is a leader in advancing cooperation in South Asia. And, it is important for the future of the Indian Ocean Region. Sri Lanka’s progress and prosperity is also a source of strength for India. So, Sri Lanka’s success is of great significance to India. India will always be there for Sri Lanka, Modi said.
Modi said success largely depended on how a nation was able to define itself. All of us in this region, indeed every nation of diversity, have dealt with the issues of identities and inclusion, of rights and claims, of dignity and opportunity for different sections of our societies. We have all seen its diverse expressions. We have faced tragic violence. We have encountered brutal terrorism. We have also seen successful examples of peaceful settlements, Modi recalled drawing a parallel to both India and Sri Lanka’s chequered progress in recent years.

Each of us has sought to address these complex issues in our own ways. However we choose to reconcile them, to me something is obvious: Diversity can be a source of strength for nations. 
When we accommodate the aspirations of all sections of our society, the nation gets the strength of every individual, Modi said adding, when we empower states, districts and villages, we make our country stronger.

“You can call this my bias. I have been a Chief Minister for 13 years; a Prime Minister for less than a year!
I believe in Sri Lanka’s ability to achieve it. It is rooted in our common civilizational heritage, Modi said. .

The path ahead is a choice that Sri Lanka has to make. And, it is a collective responsibility of all sections of the society; and, of all political streams in the country. But, I can assure you of this: For India, the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka are paramount. It is rooted in our interest. It stems from our own fundamental belief in this principle.

“ My vision of an ideal neighbourhood is one in which trade, investments, technology, ideas and people flow easily across borders; when partnerships in the region are formed with the ease of routine , he said adding In India, the growth momentum has been restored. India has become the fastest growing major economy in the world. The world sees India as the new frontier of economic opportunity. But, our neighbours should have the first claim on India. I will be happy if India serves as a catalyst in the progress of our neighbours.

In our region, Sri Lanka has the potential to be our strongest economic partner, <Modi emphasised saying  We will work with you to address your concerns to boost trade and make it more balanced. India’s trade environment is becoming more open. Sri Lanka should not fall behind others in this competitive world. That is why we should conclude an ambitious Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

India can also be a natural source of investments – for exports to India and elsewhere; and to build your infrastructure. We have made good progress today, Modi pointed out saying  Let us also work together to harness the vast potential of the Ocean Economy.  Our two nations must also take the lead in increasing cooperation in the South Asian Region and the linked BIMSTEC Region.

Connecting this vast region by land and sea, our two countries can become engines of regional prosperity, he said adding I also assure you of India’s full commitment to development partnership with Sri Lanka. We see this as a responsibility of a friend and neighbour. India has committed 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in development assistance. Today, we have committed further assistance of up to 318 million dollars to the railway sector.

We will continue our development partnership. We will be guided by your Government. And, we will do so with the same level of transparency that we expect in our own country.

Last month we signed the agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

More than anywhere else in the region, I see enormous potential to expand cooperation with Sri Lanka in areas like agriculture, education, health, science and technology and space. Indeed, we are limited only by our imagination, Modi said hoping Sri Lanka will take full benefit of India’s satellite for the SAARC Region. This should be in Space by December 2016.

A future of prosperity requires a strong foundation of security for our countries and peace and stability in the region. The security of our two countries is indivisible. Equally, our shared responsibility for our maritime neighbourhood is clear. India and Sri Lanka are too close to look away from each other. Nor can we be insulated from one another.

Our recent histories have shown that we suffer together; and we are more effective when we work with each other, Modi recalled and stressed that  cooperation helped deal with the devastation of tsunami in 2004. As a Chief Minister, I was pleased to share our experience in reconstruction after the Bhuj earthquake in 2001.
Our cooperation is also integral to our success in combating terrorism and extremism.

For both of us, local threats remain. But, we see threats arising in new forms and from new sources. We are witnessing globalisation of terrorism. The need for our cooperation has never been stronger than today.
The Indian Ocean is critical to the security and prosperity of our two countries. And, we can be more successful in achieving these goals if work together; build a climate of trust and confidence; and, remain sensitive to each other’s interest.

We deeply value our security cooperation with Sri Lanka. We should expand the maritime security cooperation between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives to include others in the Indian Ocean area, he said adding We are two countries at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean. Your leadership and our partnership will be vital for building a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous maritime neighborhood.

By Sarkaritel March 14, 2015 09:51

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