High Commission of India organized the first Seminar cum Exhibition on Defence on 7 June 2023 in Colombo. Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon, State Minister of Defence was the Chief Guest of the event. High Commissioner H.E Gopal Baglay, Defence Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of Sri Lanka Navy and other senior officers from Sri Lanka Armed Forces, Police and Special Task Force also participated. In addition, representatives from 16 leading Indian Defence companies such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited, and Bharat Electronics Limited were also a part of the event. It also witnessed enthusiastic attendance by local industry representatives from Sri Lanka.

High Commissioner complimented the conduct of the first such collaborative exhibition that brought together stakeholders in the defence sector from the two countries. He underlined that India is exporting to 85 countries and defence exports stood at USD 2 billion from April 2022 – March 2023. This provided a good opportunity for Sri Lanka, as an immediate neighbour. He noted that the event is in line with India’s commitment to promote security with partner countries in the region and Government of India’s philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ (world is one family).  The event was also a practical instance of ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy of India.

State Minister of Defence lauded the growth of Indian defence industry and expressed hope that seminar would facilitate collaboration between two countries, thereby contributing to stable Indian Ocean Region. Further, the procurement of cost effective and tailor-made products from India in the last decade has helped protect Sri Lankan sovereignty and territorial integrity. He emphasized that collaboration and joint R&D with Indian defence industries would also lead to Sri Lanka’s economic revival. The Minister thanked Government of India for standing by Sri Lanka during challenging times.

Addressing the gathering through video message, Defence Secretary of India, Shri Giridhar Aramane described Sri Lanka as India’s priority partner and reassured that India stands committed to capacity and capability building of Sri Lanka Armed Forces as part of PM Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region). He also highlighted the common security challenges faced in the Indian Ocean Region and called for enhanced collaboration to create a safer environment. He also brought out that India stands at the cusp of a major evolution to establish robust R&D and indigenous manufacturing ecosystems, while fostering innovation and entrepreneurship under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

It may be recalled that Sri Lanka Armed forces have been successfully operating a range of Indian defence equipment like L-70 guns, Indra Radar, Offshore Patrol Vessels and Army training simulators. More recently the GoI has committed supply of Floating Dock, Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and Dornier aircraft which would ensure capacity building of Sri Lanka Armed Forces. Thus, the vibrant Seminar which had presentations, live demonstrations and interaction between the India-Sri Lankan business representatives and the Sri Lanka Armed Forces and Police fostered positive discussion and engagement towards promotion of Defence Industry. The exhibition was also open to visitors where in other defence personnel, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, NCC cadets and interested people visited the event.