COLOMBO: The Indian Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar expressed his happiness about the Indian Origin Tamils (IOTs) being in the Sri Lankan national mainstream, fully participating in governance and securing benefits for themselves, Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), told Express after meeting the top Indian official here on Monday.
According to Ganeshan, Jaishankar conveyed to him that India will henceforth give “special consideration” to the Indian Origin Tamils in view of their special needs and also their willingness to participate in Sri Lanka’s governance structure, the political mainstream as it were.
India has been telling the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders too to cooperate with the Sri Lankan and Indian governments, but with only marginal success so far. The Indian Origin Tamils, on the other hand, have a better record of participating in democratic structures from the time of Saumyamoorthy Thoondaman.
“Today, we are Sri Lankan in every way, but without losing our identity as a people of Indian origin,” said Mano Ganeshan, who is a cabinet minister of National Dialogue and National Languages.
Jaishankar told the TPA leaders that the number of houses allotted for plantation Tamils of Indian origin under the Indian Housing Project will be increased from the present 4000.
Each beneficiary is given LKR 900,000 to build a house. And thanks to the efforts of the TPA, plantation workers now get land deeds with which they will be able to apply for assistance under the Indian Housing Scheme. Jaishankar also promised to expedite work on the much needed Indian-funded hospital at Dickoya.
The Indian Foreign Secretary also met Muslim leaders and cabinet ministers, Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, and Rishad Bathiyutheen of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress.
Jaishankar met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Strategic Investment and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama and reviewed the Indian development projects and prospects of further investment in Sri Lanka. Some of these projects have been stalled for one reason or the other.
In view of the drought in parts of Sri Lanka, Jaishankar announced that India will immediately send eight water bowsers and 100 metric tons of rice and promised to send more aid.