Opportunities of Convergence

Keynote Address at the South Asian Diaspora Convention

by Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

on Monday 18th July 2016, in Singapore

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Singapore, Ambassador Gopinath Pillai, Chairman, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, Distinguished delegates and Friends.


Let me thank you at the outset for inviting me to this, the third South Asia Diaspora Convention, hosted by the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore. This event underscores the strategic position to which Singapore has evolved in the last 51 years as a key intersection between the East and the West. That we South Asians are congregating for this event in a South-East Asian nation is testimony to Singapore’s vision and skill in hosting these events.

South Asian relations with this region go a long way back.  The ancient historical chronicle, records that our people first came to Swarnabhumi 25 centuries ago. They were adventurers, sailors, traders, emissaries of Emperor Ashoka, astrologers, priests, and the like.

The best known is Kaundinya, an Indian Brahmin, who founded the kingdom of Funan.  This kingdom was connected to the ancient Pallava Kingdom of South India. For centuries, the alliance between the Pallavas and the Sri Lankan Kingdoms dominated shipping in the Bay of Bengal.  South Asia was the pinnacle of progress in the ancient world.


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