When Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh arrives here on July 11, he will be the second Cabinet Minister to visit Sri Lanka this year.
Mr. Ramesh, who is currently being treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, confirmed that he was undertaking the trip despite the fact that he had been advised rest by his doctors. “I was admitted to AIIMS on Saturday afternoon with severe pain and glandular inflammation arising from a wild insect bite a few days back at Saranda forest. I am under medication and treatment and likely to be discharged on Wednesday. I am feeling weak but given the current state of our bilateral relationship, have decided to go ahead with the visit although Anuradhapura is off my programme,” he told The Hindu.
Apart from delivering two lectures during the three-day visit, Mr. Ramesh will hold discussions with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, and External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris. The last Cabinet Minister who visited Sri Lanka was External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
Mr. Ramesh will share the Indian experience with the flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme at the Laxman Kadiragamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), in Colombo. The Institute will also sign an agreement with the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, New Delhi, for further cooperation.
Mr. Ramesh will later talk at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies on the “Changing Role of India in South Asia.”
Asked about his last visit in February 2008, Mr. Ramesh said, “The last time I was there we did the groundwork for cooperation in the power sector (Sampur Power Plant of NTPC, Grid connectivity). I also had some Indian companies like Mahindra, Virtusa, Arvind etc with me to scout for investment opportunities.”