Global community supporting Sri Lanka’s progressive march

Updated 04 February 2014
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Global community supporting Sri Lanka’s progressive march

On this day, as we celebrate the 66th anniversary of our independence, we restate our commitment to safeguard the freedom and rights of our people, and decide on our future free of dictates from the re-emerging forces of colonialism.
With our freedom strengthened by the defeat of separatist terrorism, we proceed on our journey toward progress.
This requires new social, political and economic strategies that include modern infrastructure such as ports, airports, highways, power and energy and the latest trends in industry, commerce and trade, and education. While most of this is already in place, in the new drive for development, much more remains to be achieved offering exciting challenges ahead.
It is our belief that the strength of our freedom largely depends on developing indigenous skills and knowledge, to restore the glories of our past and move ahead to the victories of the future.
As we celebrate our freedom today, we should remember with the deep gratitude the members of our security forces who courageously stepped forward to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity when they were under grave threat.
We shall always honor and pay tribute to the great sacrifices they made to ensure that we live in freedom and unity.
Our policy of nonalignment, with a commitment to justice and humanity, has brought us friends in the global community who understand our trials in recent decades, and are ready to help us go forward in freedom with the assurance of support in international fora.
I share your dream to strengthen the Sri Lankan nation under a single flag in a united country. Achieving this requires hard work, with diligence and honesty of purpose.
It calls for patriotism that transcends the barriers of geography and community, with reconciliation in a rich unity of purpose.
This will lay the foundation for the success of our children and future generations who will inherit this land, to live in peace and harmony bringing the glories of new achievements that inspire us from our past.
Let us together pledge to build this future for our land and people in the peace and freedom we have won.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa

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Sri Lanka’s tryst with destiny

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Sri Lanka’s tryst with destiny

Sri Lanka today celebrates her 66th Independence Day with magnificent pomp, pageantry and spirit of patriotism. The day signifies the effort of a developing nation to celebrate her cherished sovereignty, rich cultural heritage and diverse ethnicity in right earnest.
Indeed, on Feb. 4 each year Sri Lanka unites as a nation, despite fratricidal differences, to commemorate the heroic sacrifices of freedom fighters. It is nothing short of an irony that the same populace, who are at loggerheads today, once fought shoulder to shoulder to achieve political independence from the British yoke. Mahatma Gandhi, principal icon of Indian freedom movement, had greatly influenced the island nations’ nationalists. Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, was very special to Gandhi as he aptly equated the picturesque country to a “resplendent pendant” on the Indian necklace during his visit in 1927. However, in today’s context Gandhi’s utterance is likely to be misinterpreted by a section of Lankan people as another instance of India’s hegemonic attitude toward her miniature neighbors.
In fact, the political landscape of the subcontinent altered drastically with the trio of Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan achieving independence in those initial days of decolonization following the end of a bloody WWII. As Sri Lanka turns 66 today, it is time for the nation to once again reaffirm her faith in plurality. Yes, the country did endure hard times in the past six and half decades but stood firm in the face of repeated onslaught on her sovereignty. The worst one came in the form of a three-decade long civil war that eventually disturbed social amity and dealt a body blow to Sri Lanka’s political vitality. And many Sri Lankans still blame India for their plight, accusing New Delhi of undue interference. Perhaps India’s often-repeated assertion of doing everything under her command to enable the ethnic minorities to become the master of their own destiny within the ambit of a united Sri Lanka has hurt the Sri Lankan psyche badly.
As India continues her engagement with Colombo, perhaps it is also time for New Delhi to be more discreet in handling the bilateral relations so that it does not appear that the Indians are treating Sri Lanka as a vassal state to further New Delhi’s strategic ambition in South Asian region. Years ago Sri Lanka made a tryst with destiny and that destiny was certainly not supposed to be bereft of multi-racial and religious cohabitation. Independent Sri Lanka not only made rapid economic and political progress but also ensured that the minority communities can negotiate their linguistic and cultural rights with a majority ruled government. The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayam pact bears testimony to the right intention of providing special autonomy to provincial councils. This radical step would have addressed the communal discord, plaguing the nation for most part of her independent history, adequately and establish a truly pluralistic political culture. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka floundered midway as its journey toward republicanism, laced with number of overarching grand themes including secularism, was interrupted by the advent of rabid ethno-nationalism surreptitiously. However, one must also concede that the island nation did evolve into a modern industrial society from a primitive and feudal agrarian system very fast. Lanka also boasts of impressive social indicators in education and health besides ensuring that none of her citizens goes to sleep hungry with the introduction of a massive food subsidy program. Today, as peace prevails, Sri Lanka is witnessing an impressive growth trajectory. Being the third major country in SAARC, she plays an important role in fostering cooperation among member states and has taken the lead in making South Asia green and happy. Hence, this Independence Day is the perfect opportunity for the Lankan nation to let go of the past, characterized by political alienation and cultural castration, and allow the long suppressed soul of the nation to be liberated from prejudices.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Jamarat facilities ready to receive pilgrims for Hajj in Saudi Arabia

Updated 35 min 28 sec ago
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Jamarat facilities ready to receive pilgrims for Hajj in Saudi Arabia

  • Fixed and mobile stairways are located throughout the Jamarat area to facilitate pilgrims’ arrival
  • Saudi Arabia considers it a privilege to expand and improve its services to pilgrims every year

JEDDAH:  Jamarat facilities in Mina are fully prepared to receive Hajj pilgrims during the throwing of stones.

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has deployed sunshades, cooling systems, escalators, closed-circuit TV, guidance and awareness-raising signboards and facilities, and information services.

The ministry’s projects include the installation of fixed and mobile cameras along the paths leading to the holy sites to monitor and manage pedestrian movement.

Fixed and mobile stairways are located throughout the Jamarat area to facilitate pilgrims’ arrival.

 

Amenities

Many organizations and entities have provided amenities to help pilgrims on Arafat. Umbrellas have been distributed to provide shade and avoid heat stroke, cold water has been provided to quench pilgrims’ thirst, and food and beverages have been handed out. 

Holy Qur’ans have also been distributed to help pilgrims perform an Islamic ritual that abolishes worshippers’ sins.

Saudi Arabia considers it a privilege to expand and improve its services to pilgrims every year.

 

Live broadcast

The Media Ministry has launched a live broadcast of Hajj rituals on social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, as well as on YouTube.

The ministry has provided 19 channels transmitting in Arabic, English, Urdu, Malay, French and German.

 

Free internet

Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) has announced it will provide 1GB free for every pilgrim who uses its prepaid services as a gift to pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season. The gift is aimed at facilitating their experience during Hajj on the day of Tarwiya and Arafat.

STC chairman, Nasser bin Sulaiman Al-Nasser, explained that the company’s gift came as a result of instructions from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to all governmental and private bodies related to the service of pilgrims.

 

Educate pilgrims

Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said the ministry has launched an awareness campaign in six languages — Arabic, English, French, Russian, Chinese and Persian — to educate pilgrims on Hajj regulations, provide them with health advice, and help them follow schedules in order to avoid overcrowding.

The ministry has launched the Manasikana smartphone app to provide pilgrims with services in eight languages, Mashat added.

The app informs pilgrims of grouping and transport plans, helps them find camps, lodgings and companions, and enables them to send reports and complaints to concerned authorities at the ministry.