Colombo: India and Sri Lanka held talks on the implementation of a USD 15 million grant for the promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries, the Indian High Commission here said on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 26 announced the grant assistance of USD 15 million for the promotion of Buddhist ties between India and Sri Lanka to further enhance bilateral cultural links.
The prime minister made the announcement during a virtual summit with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Deputy High Commissioner of India Vinod K Jacob met Kapila Gunawardena, Secretary, Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs to discuss the implementation of the grant from India for the promotion of Buddhist ties between India and Sri Lanka, the High Commission said in a statement.
Jacob said it was a first of its kind grant announcement by India and may be used for the construction/renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchanges, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exposition of the Buddha’s relics, strengthening engagement of Buddhist scholars and clergy, it said.
Gunawardena welcomed the suggestions and stated that the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs will work towards finalising various projects to utilise the Indian grant.
The two sides also discussed other Indian grant projects currently under implementation such as the Kandyan Dancing School being constructed at the Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy (SIBA) campus in Pallekele, Kandy, and the Jaffna Cultural Centre.
The Deputy High Commissioner also briefed the Secretary on India’s advancements in the niche field of digital documentation of cultural and world heritage sites in order to preserve them for posterity and invited Sri Lanka to partner in this advanced field. Gunawardena noted that Sri Lanka would be happy to partner with India in this initiative to conserve cultural heritage, the statement said.
A joint statement issued after the Modi-Rajapaksa talks had said the Sri Lankan leader welcomed the announcement made by his Indian counterpart on India’s grant assistance of USD 15 million for the promotion of Buddhist ties.
It said both sides agreed to facilitate tourism by enhancing connectivity and early establishment of an air bubble between the two countries to resume travel.