We can transform Asia with the help of Regional powers | Sunday Observer

We can transform Asia with the help of Regional powers

Last Friday, was a historic day for India and the countries within the region.

Narendra Modi was sworn in as India’s new Prime Minister for a second term and his leadership will continue to shape India’s future in the political arena as well as areas such as development, infrastructure, FDIs, the economy.

The landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) at the recently held Parliamentary Elections in India, indicate that the people of India have placed their trust in Modi and his government.

After all, Modi is viewed as a popular nationalist leader who puts his country’s concerns first before bowing to the whims of other political leaders. His ‘country first policy’ has won the hearts of many Indians -something Sri Lankan politicians can learn from. India has always played a key role in the progress of South Asia. Being a super-power in our region, decisions by India impact on many South Asian countries, including us. Being their closest neighbour, we have been directly impacted by India’s foreign policies and in Modi’s new term, we can now expect stronger ties- benefiting both countries. During my father, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, relations between India and Sri Lanka were at their peak. Of course some bureaucrats tried to create tensions between the two nations, but Narendra Modi and Mahinda Rajapaksa are both leaders with a strong vision. They both realised the true potentials of their own countries and both had a vision of working for their people. Third party interference to create trouble was never successful and despite suffering some set backs both leaders maintained excellent ties.

Mahinda Rajapaksa has always maintained a Non Aligned foreign policy with all partners. In fact, during his tenure, Sri Lanka’s foreign relations with all its regional partners was at their best, with many regional investors, including India, showing keen investment interest in several sectors. These investments, if it was taken forward by the present UNP government would have benefited both countries. Today, the only mega Indian investments which this country is seeing is that what was signed and agreed upon during the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is most unfortunate that this government has not seen the potential of the Indian market and has not pursued the idea of having stronger relations with our neighbours.

India is a gigantic market and its economic potentials are limitless. It also has an emerging youth market, similar to that of Sri Lanka with the youth population increasing in both countries. As I have always maintained the youth have the capacity to perform miracles and come up with inventions beyond our imagination. Today, the governments of both countries must keep aside all differences and make use of this advantage and forge ahead in order to economically and socially strengthen both nations.

Another key area, which Sri Lanka and India must work on today, is countering terrorism in the region. On April 21, Sri Lanka witnessed brutal terrorist attacks and it has now come to light that India had warned our authorities over possible attacks which were ignored. By working together in areas of intelligence sharing and counter terrorism tactics, terrorism can be eliminated from the whole region. India’s assistance is vital at this point and our authorities too can benefit from India’s assistance.

In fact, Narendra’s Modi’s upcoming visit to Sri Lanka on June 8, is welcomed by the entire nation. Modi will be the first Head of State to visit Sri Lanka since the brutal Easter attacks, and his visit will send a strong signal to the world that Sri Lanka is once again a safe destination. At a time when the country’s tourism industry has suffered a severe set back, I hope the Government will keep aside its bickering and irresponsible attitude and take maximum advantage of Modi’s visit and seek ways to further strengthen our bilateral ties, for the benefit of both countries and their people.

Sri Lanka is a budding nation which has a lot to offer. It is time we invite regional partners to know our potential and the potential of our youth. Asia indeed is the future super power and Sri lanka, I strongly believe, can have a strong role to play in Asia’s transformation with the help of its regional partners.