Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe heaped praise on India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as the county celebrated 75 years of Independence. Speaking at the handover ceremony of a Dornier aircraft from India today, Mr Wickremesinghe said India’s “global dominance is a tribute to Pandit (Jawaharlal) Nehru” and he was the one who showed the way forward.
“India today is becoming a world power and it is still on the rise and by mid-Century, when we are no longer there, we could see a powerful India playing a dominant role on the global stage. That itself is a tribute to Pandit Nehru,” he said.
Referring to India’s Independence Day anniversary, Mr Wickremesinghe said he was inspired by Nehru’s famous “tryst with destiny” speech as India gained freedom in 1947.
In this context, he also recalled an anecdote about the time Nehru helped Sri Lanka become part of the United Nations.
“I remember and I was told how his (Nehru’s) representative VK Krishna Menon gave all the support to my father to go around in New York arranging for Sri Lanka’s entry into the United Nations. My father knew him (Nehru) well. I only saw him at a distance as a student, watching his car pass by on the way to India House,” he said.
India and Sri Lanka – which is also marking 75 years of Independence — are “two sides of the same coin” and both countries must work together to strengthen their relationship, the Lankan President said.
Thanking India for handing over of the maritime surveillance aircraft, Mr Wickremesinghe said India is looking after its own interests. But “India must also look at its role as a global power,” he added.
Emphasising the importance of ties between the two nations, Mr Wickremesinghe advised rising politicians of Sri Lanka to “get to know their Indian colleagues.
“My advice to rising politicians in Sri Lanka, those who aspire for higher office, is — get to know your Indian colleagues. Get to know them well and get to deal with them because if you don’t do that, it will be difficult for you to look at issues and understand what the other says”.