High Commissioner H.E Gopal Baglay hosted a Reception at India House, residence of the High Commissioner, for friends of India on 26 January 2022 to mark India’s 73rd Republic Day. More than 500 guests attended the event, which was held in strict compliance with COVID-19 protocol.
Hon’ble Finance Minister, Basil Rajapaksa was the Chief Guest and Hon’ble Foreign Minister, Prof. G.L. Peiris graced the occasion as the Guest of Honour . Special guests included former President H.E Maithripala Sirisena, Hon’ble Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, more than 10 Cabinet Ministers besides several State Ministers, MPs cutting across party lines, distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, senior officials, industry and media leaders, among others.
Welcoming the dignitaries, High Commissioner noted that Sri Lanka occupied a central place in India’s foreign policy and emphasized that millennia-old ties across language, culture, history etc were the mainstay of the bilateral relationship. He reiterated that India will continue to support the people of Sri Lanka as per their requirements. He further mentioned about the plans to mark the milestone of 75 years of Independence of both countries through joint events.
A special video message by External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar was also played at the event. He stressed that India and Sri Lanka share a special relationship and alluded to the close economic cooperation between the two countries in the recent past. He expressed confidence that the understanding between the leadership which is complemented by the deep people to people ties will impart further momentum to the bilateral relationship.
Guest of Honour Hon’ble Foreign Minister, Prof. G.L. Peiris remarked that India had touched every aspect of lives of Sri Lankans and its economy. He underlined the breadth of India’s development assistance projects which cover wide ranging areas such as health, education, infrastructure etc. He defined the bilateral relationship as one rooted in ‘loyalty, friendship, goodwill and mutual concern’ and anchored in ‘values, convictions and cherished beliefs’.
‘Narthana Bandham’ – a unique dance ensemble, conceived and choreographed by Deshanethru Dr. Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan, blending the best of Indian and Sri Lankan dance forms – was performed by Aru Sri Theatre. The Army Band of Sri Lanka played melodious tunes from India and Sri Lanka during the event.
Commemoration of the 73rd Republic Day of India forms a part of celebration of 75 years of India’s Independence-Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM), across the globe. High Commission is commencing a series of special events dedicated to AKAM from 26 January 2022 – 4 February 2022. The events will include a mega cultural event, unveiling the bust of Rabindranath Tagore at Sri Palee Campus of University of Colombo, felicitation of winners of the International Quiz on Buddhism, trade promotion event etc.