During the second day of his Sri Lanka visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced direct flights between Varanasi and Colombo which will be operated by Air India from August. PM Modi said these flights will allow his ‘Tamil brothers’ to visit the spiritual land of Kashi Vishwanath. “I have the great pleasure to announce that from August this year, Air India will operate direct flights between Colombo and Varanasi. My Tamil brothers and sisters will also be able to visit Varanasi, the land of Kashi Viswanath,” he said.
At the event, PM Modi said this is a great opportunity to strengthen the ties between India and Sri Lanka. “I believe we are at a moment of great opportunity in our ties with Sri Lanka. You will find in India a friend and partner that will support your nation-building endeavours,” he said at the event. The Indian Prime Minister also thanked President, Prime Minister and people of Sri Lanka for extending him the honour to be Chief Guest at the event while adding that, “I also bring with me the greetings of 1.25 billion people from the land of the Samyaksambuddha, the perfectly self-awakened one.”
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He added that the message of Lord Buddha is as relevant today as it was two and a half millennia ago. “Lord Buddha’s message is as relevant in the twenty-first century as it was two and a half millennia ago. The themes of Social Justice and Sustainable World Peace, chosen for the Vesak day, resonate deeply with Buddha’s teaching,” he said. PM Modi said that the biggest challenge to ensure world peace is not the conflict between the states but the mindsets. “The biggest challenge to Sustainable World Peace today is not necessarily from the conflict between the nation states. It is from the mindsets, thought streams, entities and instruments rooted in the idea of hate and violence. On Vesak let us light the lamps of knowledge to move out of darkness. Let us look more within & let us uphold nothing else but the truth,” he added.