According to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, the opening of passenger ferry service between Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai is “truly a big step” for people-to-people ties between the two countries.

Jaishankar practically participated in the opening of the ferry services, which were flagged off today in Nagapattinam by Ayush Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways.

The external affairs minister stated in his virtual speech that the ferry service between the two nations is also a confirmation of the people-centred initiatives of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the vessel Cheriyapani made its maiden voyage to Sri Lanka carrying 50 people and will make its return trip to India this evening carrying passengers from Sri Lanka.

We have assembled here this morning to watch the commencement of the passenger ferry running between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai, Jaishankar stated. Prime Minister Modi and President Ranil Wickremesinghe both agreed that this was a significant development for people-to-people exchanges between India and Sri Lanka.

But this event is not only a ferry launch. It is confirmation of the Modi administration’s people-centred policies, which have benefited both Tamil Nadu residents and residents of Sri Lanka’s northern area, he continued.

Jaishankar referred to India’s “Neighbourhood First Policy” as a kind and forward-looking strategy to engage with nearby countries that places an emphasis on connectivity, cooperation, and relationships. He claimed that India’s strategy is evident in the PM Modi-approved flights between Chennai and Jaffna.

PM Modi was the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Jaffna, the external affairs minister also noted.

“Let’s examine how various policies have combined to affect change. First off, we have a strategy called Neighborhood First that is kind and far-sighted toward nearby nations with a focus on connectedness, collaboration, and contacts, and that is precisely what we are looking to achieve with this ferry, he said.

“This is already apparent in the flights that Prime Minister Modi has authorised between Chennai and Jaffna. Such actions are a prime minister’s natural course of action given his deep affection for Tamil Nadu and his keen concern for the well-being of all Sri Lankans. Who could possibly forget that Prime Minister Modi made history by being the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Jaffna?” he said.