India has allocated a $15 million grant to Sri Lanka to strengthen enduring Buddhist ties between the two nations. The grant agreement was formalized on November 2 in a signing ceremony at the President's home in Colombo, in the presence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as part of her three-day visit. days in Sri Lanka.
The first project launched under this grant will be the solar electrification of religious sites across Sri Lanka, with an allocation of US$10 million. This important project was outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) jointly entered into by the two governments.
According to the MoU, “this grant is specifically intended to strengthen the long-standing Buddhist ties between India and Sri Lanka, highlighting the deep historical and cultural ties that unite these two nations.” (The week)
This grant highlights the importance of strengthening Buddhist ties between the two countries. The allocation of funds will contribute to various initiatives, including construction and renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchanges, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exhibition of relics and other areas of mutual interest.
To adapt to the changing economic situation in Sri Lanka, both countries agreed to adjust the amount of subsidy from the Sri Lankan rupee to the Indian rupee, aligning it with market conditions.
“This adjustment is formalized through letters of diplomatic exchange and acceptance, signifying a shared commitment to further strengthen these ties,” according to a Sri Lanka government statement. (MyIndMakers)
Gopal Baglay, High Commissioner of India, and Somaratne Vidanapathirana, Secretary, Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, played a pivotal role in securing the agreement.
During her visit to Sri Lanka, Sitharaman also engaged with influential Buddhist clergy in the central city of Kandy. Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country, hosted its meetings with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and leaders of the Indian-origin plantation community.
“FM Smt. @nsitharaman discussed the continuing tradition of strong historical and cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka. The Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana acknowledged the cordial relations between the two countries and expressed gratitude for India's support during times of economic hardship in Sri Lanka,” the Ministry of Finance said in a message on X ( formerly Twitter). (CNBCTV18)
Sitharaman's visit was part of her role as guest of honor at NAAM 200, an event organized by the Government of Sri Lanka to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Tamils of Indian origin in the country .
The move is the latest in a series of measures aimed at strengthening economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries. While the religion fell into decline in India, eventually reaching near complete elimination, it was preserved as the majority and official state religion in Sri Lanka. According to 2012 data, approximately 70,2 percent of Sri Lankans identify as Theravada Buddhists, 12,6 percent are Hindu, 9,7 percent are Muslim, and 7,4 percent identify as Christian.