India and Sri Lanka set sail on a path of enhanced diplomacy and economic ties as Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the ferry service between Nagapattinam, India, and Kankesanthurai, Sri Lanka via video message today.
New Delhi, October 14, 2023: In a historic moment, Prime Minister Modi heralded a new era of diplomatic and economic cooperation between India and Sri Lanka with the launch of a ferry service connecting Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai. This initiative marks a significant milestone in strengthening the already rich relations between the two nations.
Highlighting the deep-rooted historical, cultural, and commercial connections between India and Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister emphasized that Nagapattinam and its neighboring towns have a longstanding tradition of maritime trade, including ties with Sri Lanka. The historical port of Poompuhar, as mentioned in ancient Tamil literature, is a testament to this legacy. Furthermore, the Sangam age literature’s vivid accounts of boats and ships traversing between these countries, such as Pattinappalai and Manimekalai, resonate with the cultural bonds shared over centuries.
The Prime Minister also alluded to the renowned poet Subramania Bharti’s song, ‘Sindhu Nadhiyin Misai,’ which symbolically mentions a bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka. The introduction of the ferry service breathes life into these historical and cultural connections, bridging the two nations’ shared heritage.
In a forward-looking perspective, the Prime Minister noted that the recent joint vision document with President Wickremesinghe emphasizes connectivity as its central theme. “Connectivity is not only about bringing two cities closer; it also brings our countries closer, our people closer, and our hearts closer,” Prime Minister Modi emphasized.
Enhanced connectivity is expected to boost trade, tourism, and foster stronger people-to-people relationships while creating fresh opportunities for the youth in both countries.
Reflecting on earlier milestones in India-Sri Lanka connectivity, the Prime Minister recalled the launch of direct flights between Delhi and Colombo in 2015, followed by the historic landing of the first international flight in Kushinagar from Sri Lanka. Direct flights between Chennai and Jaffna commenced in 2019, and the Nagapattinam-Kankesanthurai ferry service is a critical addition to this ever-growing network of connections.
Prime Minister Modi stressed that the vision for connectivity transcends the transport sector. India and Sri Lanka are actively collaborating in various areas, including fin-tech and energy. The integration of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) with Lanka Pay is a clear demonstration of this partnership, facilitating digital payments and promoting financial technology sector connectivity. Moreover, plans are underway to link the energy grids between the two nations to ensure energy security and reliability, vital for the developmental journey of both countries.
The Prime Minister underscored that the partnership for progress and development is a cornerstone of India-Sri Lanka’s bilateral relationship. India has already made a significant impact through projects related to housing, water, health, and livelihood support in the Northern province. The announcement of support for the Kankesanthurai Harbour upgrade was met with enthusiasm, signifying a shared commitment to comprehensive development.
Reiterating India’s commitment to regional cooperation, Prime Minister Modi referenced the G20 Summit hosted by India. He highlighted the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which has been embraced by the international community. Part of this vision is to prioritize sharing progress and prosperity with neighboring nations. The recently unveiled India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, born from the G20 summit, promises to have a profound economic impact on the entire region, benefitting the people of Sri Lanka through strengthened multimodal connectivity.
The Prime Minister expressed gratitude and thanked the President, Government, and the people of Sri Lanka for the successful launch of the ferry service. He also looked forward to resuming the ferry service between Rameswaram and Talaimannar, further underlining India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral ties for the mutual benefit of both nations.
The launch of the ferry service marks a remarkable step in connecting not just two cities but two nations, their people, and their futures. It opens doors to deeper cooperation, economic growth, and the nurturing of cultural ties that have stood the test of time. India and Sri Lanka have set sail towards a promising horizon of prosperity, together.
The newly inaugurated ferry service represents more than just a convenient mode of transportation. It symbolizes the resilience of the historical and cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka that have endured through the ages. As this ferry begins its journeys, it also carries the hopes and aspirations of both nations for a future defined by stronger diplomatic and economic bonds.
The Nagapattinam-Kankesanthurai route is set to facilitate smoother travel between the two countries, creating a bridge of connectivity that transcends geographical boundaries. Beyond the practical benefits of improved trade and tourism, this service is a testament to the power of people-to-people engagement, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures.
This momentous event is part of a broader vision shared by both India and Sri Lanka, where cooperation extends beyond transportation. The integration of the financial technology sector and the energy grids are just a few examples of the comprehensive partnership between these neighboring nations.
India’s commitment to supporting Sri Lanka’s development journey is evident through various projects that have touched the lives of the people in Sri Lanka. The collaboration extends to areas such as housing, water supply, healthcare, and livelihood support, showcasing India’s dedication to leaving no one behind in the path to progress.
As the world watches this historic development, the Prime Minister’s emphasis on “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” a belief that the world is one family, resonates with the global community. The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, initiated during the recent G20 Summit, promises not only to bring prosperity to the region but also strengthen India’s connectivity with its neighbors, including Sri Lanka.
The ferry service is more than a mode of transportation; it is a symbol of unity, progress, and cooperation. India and Sri Lanka, two nations with a shared history and a promising future, are coming together to strengthen their relationship, fostering prosperity and connectivity for generations to come.
The launch of this ferry service is a historic moment, not only for the two nations directly involved but for the entire region. As the ferry sets sail, it carries with it the hopes of a brighter future built on cooperation, mutual respect, and shared prosperity. The bond between India and Sri Lanka is growing stronger, proving that history, culture, and diplomacy can forge a path to a brighter future.