The ’Nam 200’ (We 200) celebration organized to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Indian Origin Tamil (IOT) community was held on 02. 11.2023, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, with the participation of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, at Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo.
Indian Finance Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman also participated in this event and was welcomed by more than 5000 Tamil people from the upcountry. The festival consisted of various cultural elements.
The inauguration of the project to build 10,000 houses under Indian aid in the lower part of Dimbula, Kotagala, Mount Vernon estate and the opening of a new auditorium and a computer unit at the Hatton Vocational Training Center were taken place with the use of online technology.
Speaking on this occasion Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stated that
‟At this moment of completing 200 years since the arrival of Indian estate workers to Sri Lanka, we must recognize the challenges they faced and work for a fairer future where all labour families are treated with respect and justice. The people of Indian origin who worked with determination and made sacrifices in order to make a contribution for Sri Lanka as well as Indo-Lankan friendship have created a unique 200 years of history. No one living today has seen the pain and suffering of these people. They made various sacrifices to overcome this pain. But that journey transformed the living conditions of the people and the country into a special change. We have heard through reports that how many of them have sacrificed their lives for their rights? That is why the journey was strong. The struggle of the estate community of Indian origin continued for a long time.
We gratefully remember Mr. Soumyamurthy Thondaman who rendered great service not only to this community but also to the Sri Lankan working class. Under the leadership of Mr. Thondaman, the people were able to make great progress as a trade union. I was able to work together with Mr. Thondaman to win rights for the working class. I appreciate the good work done by Minister Jeevan Thondaman as the youngest minister in our cabinet. Therefore, the opportunity to commemorate this victory has been lead to many great achievements.
The rights of the people working in the estates today and the future of the children and young generation is special. We are committed to providing good citizenship rights to all.
The Prime Minister also emphasized that this is the first time that a comprehensive program has been initiated to fully integrate this community into the Sri Lankan society.
Religious leaders, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chairman of the Ceylon Workers Congress, Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman, Secretary of the Political Party Minister Jeevan Thondaman, ministers, foreign diplomats and many government officials participated in this event.
Prime Minister’s Media