Jaffna [Sri Lanka], February 11 (ANI): Appreciating the Indian government’s efforts to support Sri Lanka during its financial crisis, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe during the dedication of Jaffna Cultural Centre to the people of Sri Lanka said that the two countries are having discussions for the economic development of the area and the projects in Trincomalee Port.
“We appreciate the support given by India in this financial crisis to overcome the debt trap”, said President Wickremesinghe.
“Jaffna Cultural Centre is a gift by PM Narendra Modi. I thank him and the Indian government for that. This is one of the major projects between India and Sri Lanka. We are having discussions for the economic development of this area and especially the massive development projects in Trincomalee Port. We are also having discussions about the energy sector”, he added.
Calling India and Sri Lanka as the two sides of the same coin, Wickremesinghe stated that the two countries share the same culture which needs to be preserved.
“This cultural centre is a public centre. The cultures of India and Sri Lanka are inseparable. India and Sri Lanka are like the two sides of the same coin. We share the same culture. Therefore, we need to develop it and preserve it. Therefore, I thank India and the Indian PM for this cultural centre, on behalf of everyone”, said the President.
Speaking further about the Tamil culture, Wickremesinghe added that the culture is inspired by the Southern states in India and the Tamil culture in Jaffna has nurtured the Sri Lankan culture.
“We need to embark on a new journey now. We need to unite as Sri Lankans. Our policy is reconciliation, development and culture. Tamil culture in Jaffna has nurtured Sri Lankan culture. Tamil culture in our country is inspired by Southern states in India. Let’s unite together and rebuild this country. This is the country of all of us. This centre must become the centre of Tamil”, said the President.
Built with an Indian government grant, the Jaffna Cultural centre is a glowing example of an India-Sri Lanka development partnership. Along with the Sri Lankan President, Union Minister of State (MoS) for information and broadcasting L Murugan, and Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay were also present during the event.
Jaffna cultural centre, located next to the iconic Jaffna Public Library is the tallest building in Jaffna town. The centre is conceived as a reconciliation project and is primarily aimed at expanding cultural infrastructure for the people of Northern Province and helping them to reconnect with their cultural roots as well as to the rest of the country and to rejuvenate the ancient cultural heritage of Jaffna.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State L Murugan underlined that India’s partnership with Sri Lanka was guided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and he also announced a special financial assistance scheme to 100 students from economically weaker families in the University of Jaffna.
The Sri Lankan President also handed over a special token of gratitude to minister L Murugan for Jaffna Cultural Centre.
The Jaffna Cultural Centre includes a state-of-the-art facility that consists of multiple facilities such as a museum of two floors; an advanced theatre-style auditorium for more than 600 people, an 11-storeyed learning tower, a public square which could also act as an amphitheatre etc.
Along with that, it also has a temporary exhibition gallery (air-conditioned), open exhibition gallery, gift shop, museum Stores and workshop, a 100-seat conference facility, a cafeteria, multi-media library, lecture rooms, studios, and gallery spaces.
The MoU or the Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of the Jaffna Cultural centre was signed on June 9th, 2014. Following its construction, the iconic facility was virtually inaugurated during the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in March 2022, along with the then Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa nearly two years after its construction.
The centre is envisaged as a public space to “promote, preserve and foster the cultural heritage of Jaffna”, and serve as “a hub of cultural activities” in Sri Lanka. Jaffna which is an erstwhile cultural capital of national and regional importance, suffered many losses through the period of a protracted civil war. (ANI)
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