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On a mission to promote peace in Sri Lanka: Kalam

[Hindu, Saturday, 21 January 2012 10:11 No Comment]

TH20_APJ_ABDUL_KALA_898725e The former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, will embark on a mission to promote peace, harmony and prosperity for all societal constituents in Sri Lanka and propagate an agenda for an inclusively developed nation.

On the eve of his four-day visit to the island nation, Mr. Kalam gave an e-mail interview to The Hindu, explaining how he plans to meet leaders of “both sides” to convey a mission of building an environment for harmony and mutual trust.

He has asked the Sri Lankan government to arrange a visit to the camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs). Mr. Kalam is going to Sri Lanka to participate in the launch of the ‘Trilingual Initiative,’ an ambitious programme of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that seeks to encourage Sri Lankans to learn all three languages spoken in the multi-ethnic country — Tamil, Sinhalese and English.

Excerpts from the interview:

How significant is the ‘Trilingual Initiative’ and what kind of a change do you think it can bring about in Sri Lanka ?

Abdul Kalam: This initiative has to be a start for inclusive growth in Sri Lanka. This initiative will enable the students to learn their subjects better in their mother tongue. For example, I learnt in my mother tongue, Tamil up to tenth class. Also, it can bring cultural and civilisational unity. Above all, the individual languages can enrich each other.

Do you have plans to meet Tamils living in the IDP camps during your four-day visit to Sri Lanka? What do you have to tell them?

I am going to meet the leaders from both sides and convey a mission of building an environment for harmony and mutual trust. I have asked the Sri Lankan government to arrange a visit for me to the camps.

How important is it for Sri Lanka to accommodate the political and cultural interests of Tamils there?

In a democracy the well-being, individuality and happiness of every citizen is important for the overall prosperity, peace and happiness of the nation.

What do you think is the solution to the fishermen issue? How can Sri Lanka help in ensuring the safety of fishermen of Tamil Nadu?

We need a bipartite agreement between India and Sri Lanka, leading to a win-win situation for both the nations. The sharing of resources has to be planned and it should lead to increase in per capita income and ensure safety for the fishermen community.

Do you apprehend any criticism from political parties or organisations that may oppose your visit to Sri Lanka? How would you react to such criticism?

I am going to Sri Lanka with a mission of promoting peace, prosperity and harmony for all societal constituents. Even for this mission there could be criticism; that is what democracy is all about.

Several thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils are still living in India and abroad as refugees. How important is it for Sri Lanka to bring the refugees (Tamils) back home?

The onus is now on the Sri Lankan government to ensure a conducive environment for all Sri Lankan Tamils to come together in their motherland and work for the prosperity of the nation as a whole.

You have always advocated the youth to dream for a developed India. What is your message to the youth in Sri Lanka who have suffered years of ethnic crisis and war?

An economically peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka is the dream of youth of the nation. My message for the youth is to collectively work for an inclusively developed Sri Lanka. I am meeting thousands of students in multiple universities and schools and I will interact with them.

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