The PM of India arrived at dawn this morning, on the final leg of his Islands of the Indian Ocean tour, which saw him first go to the Seychelles, and then to Mauritius before disembarking in Colombo for the two day visit which I understand includes a stop over in Anuradhapura and Jaffna, as well as opening the railway pier at Talaimannar after an absence of over 30 years.
The latter to most is not of significance as they are too young to know, but it was the way my parents used to take the train to Talaimannar and then the ferry across the Palk Strait to get to India, whenever they fancies a short trip with friends by train, for a sari shopping spree, before the days, of rapid air transport.
Frankly unlike some defeatists, I am glad that the PM is visiting, after a lapse of 28 years, and a long overdue visit, which to intelligent people is a sign of closer relations with our neighbor (only) which is only natural.
Do not forget our blood and cultural ties to India, are far stronger than with any other country. Even the Sinhala and Tamil languages are from Indian based languages, and the Sinhala people also came from various parts of India over various centuries. Even my ancestors, with the name Semasinghe are derived from Andra Pradesh names and I believe came in the 15th or 16th centuries, and I challenge any purist bigot to claim any special rights to this land over mine!
Whilst I am a proud Sri Lankan, I also can be happy to have India as a neighbor with whom we can have excellent relations. I know that there were differences in the past, and I am also willing to accept that previous Indian governments acted against the best interests of Sri Lanka by unknowingly creating that Frankenstein’s monster AKA LTTE!
I am sure we can put the past behind us, and look forward to the future with hope, and mutual benefit of Sri Lanka and India, and the first news of visa on entry to Sri Lankan Nationals coming to India, is most welcome and a needed gesture, as I remember a few years ago, the hassle I had to go to India urgently to attend to a family emergency when a member of my family fell ill on a pilgrimage to India, and I had to go there urgently to bring her back.
In fact it is the only Country I would wish to visit in future from all the Countries I have so far gone to purely for the sense of kinship we have. I also wish to see more effort on the part of the Sri Lankan authorities to encourage Indian visitors and travelers to Sri Lanka, and I seriously believe that such a rich country like India can bring the well heeled tourist in their private planes direct to their destinations, as we expand our local airports for civil aviation.
Sri Lanka is the most attractive destination for Indian Tourists to feel most at home, and with thoughtful marketing, we should attract the high spending families for a great family vacation in our numerous top class resorts dotted across the Island, and with the lower carbon footprint this will create, will also preserve the Earths depleting CO2 levels by this process, without the need for tourism from the far off places, even China which we seem to be making an effort at attracting. With a neighbor so much like us, our Indian visitors will feel more at home here, and we will learn to be better hosts to them, rather than the homage paid to the Europeans.