(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Reiterating India’s support for Sri Lanka, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the situation in the island nation is very sensitive and New Delhi is focusing on ways it can help Colombo economically at this time of need.
Addressing a press briefing in Kerala, Jaishankar said, “The situation in Sri Lanka is very sensitive and complicated. Even as we speak there are developments taking place. Our commitment is to support the Sri Lankan people because they are our neighbours. They are friendly people. We want to help them as they are going through a very difficult phase. We want to help because of this feeling of friendship. We have been extremely supportive of the island nation in the last few months.” “Our focus is on Sri Lanka’s economic situation and how we can help them. We are not involved in the other matters. Only focused on economic aspects of the issue and we are not concerned about other factors. We can not respond to everything that comes on social media,” the Minister added.
Jaishankar on Sunday said that India has been providing assistance to Sri Lanka and is monitoring the developments in the island nation adding that there is no refugee crisis now.
“We have been supportive of Sri Lanka, are trying to help, and have always been helpful. They are working through their problem, we will see what happens. There is no refugee crisis right now, said Jaishankar upon his arrival in Kerala as part of intensifying the BJP’s efforts to make gains in South India.
Jaishankar’s comments reflect how India continues to stand by its neighbours amid difficult times. His remarks particularly hold more importance as Sri Lanka faces an unprecedented political and economic crisis.
Under the ‘neighbourhood first policy’, India has responded with urgency to government of Sri Lanka’s request for assistance for overcoming hardships and will enhance economic linkages between the two countries be it through infrastructure connectivity and renewable energy.
“India has delivered aid of around 3.5 billion dollars which has been given through currency swap, financing of food, and fuel. medicines and fertilisers,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said earlier.
Responding to a question on India-Sri Lanka ties, he said “We have responded with urgency to government of Sri Lanka’s request for assistance for overcoming hardships,” adding that “India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and works in their best interest.”
Underlining the fact that India has been giving priority to ‘neighbourhood first policy’, Arindam Bagchi said, ” India will try to enhance economic linkages between the two countries be it through infrastructure connectivity and renewable energy.”
In line with its “neighbourhood first” policy, India has been highly active to help Sri Lanka during its economic crisis. More than 25 tons of drugs and medical supplies which were donated by the Government and people of India during the last two months are valued at close to SLR 370 million. This is in addition to the economic assistance of around USD 3.5 billion and supply of other humanitarian supplies such as rice, milk powder, kerosene.
These humanitarian supplies are in continuation of the Government of India’s ongoing support to the people of Sri Lanka in multiple forms such as financial assistance, forex support, material supply and many more. These efforts prove that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy which places people-to-people engagement is still active.
India is becoming a stronger and more mutually beneficial partner to Sri Lanka. Apart from assistance during the pandemic and fertilizer chaos, India is also donating basic products to the island nation.
Sri Lanka has been suffering a diesel shortage since February, which led to hours of daily power cuts. Presently, Sri Lanka is struggling with acute food and electricity shortages, forcing the country to seek help from its neighbours.
The recession is attributed to foreign exchange shortages caused by a clampdown on tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is unable to buy sufficient fuel and gas, while the people are being deprived of basic amenities as well.
Meanwhile, several dramatic videos have been doing the rounds on social media after Saturday’s upheaval where thousands of protesters stormed his official residence in the capital of Colombo. Amid the political unrest and massive demonstrations, the President and Prime Minister both have decided to resign from their position. (Courtesy Times of Oman)