India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, delivered a heartfelt speech at the #NAAM200 event, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Indian Origin Tamils (IOT) in Sri Lanka. She expressed her delight at being a part of this milestone occasion, acknowledging the arduous journey and remarkable contributions of the Malayaha Tamil Makkal, as IOTs are popularly known.

Sitharaman highlighted the historical background, noting that the IOTs were brought from Southern India, primarily Tamil Nadu, to work on British coffee, tea, and rubber plantations in upcountry Sri Lanka in the 1820s. She praised their resilience and hard work, which played a crucial role in the development of Sri Lanka, particularly through the global success of Sri Lankan tea, a major export commodity.

The Finance Minister emphasized India’s unwavering support for the upliftment and well-being of the Malayaha Tamil Makkal, noting the longstanding solidarity between the two nations. She mentioned the various development projects, including housing initiatives, educational support, and skill development programs, as part of India’s commitment to the IOT community.

Sitharaman also spoke about India’s assistance during Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, reaffirming India’s commitment to working with the Sri Lankan government on debt restructuring and economic recovery. She discussed the economic partnership vision document and ongoing connectivity projects that aim to deepen civilizational ties between the two countries.

In conclusion, she thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for organizing the NAAM 200 event and expressed confidence in both nations marching together for a better future, fulfilling the aspirations of their common people. The event aimed to celebrate the enduring bonds and contributions of the Indian Origin Tamils to Sri Lanka’s rich history and culture.