On Friday, March 24, 2023, H.E. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, virtually addressed and engaged in a open and candid dialogue with the faculty, staff, students and affiliates of Harvard University on economics and development, political challenges (democracy, reconciliation and human rights), youth and education in Sri Lanka and also to engage in an open discussion with participants.
Mahinda Samarasinghe, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States of America had initiated contact with the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and the Centre for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, and proposed the symposium which was hosted by the Institute at the Boylston Hall, Cambridge, MA. The event was well attended and acknowledged as a successful discussion.
The session commenced with an introduction from Fatema Sumar, Executive Director of the Center for International Development (CID). This led into the address by President Wickremesinghe, for a duration of approximately 15 minutes. The remaining time during the one-hour session was split into two parts. The first consisted of Professors Tarun Khanna, Faculty Director, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, and Asim Khwaja, Director- CID, Harvard Kennedy School, moderating and leading a conversation on the economic and political challenges facing Sri Lanka, among topics of particular interest. The second part consisted of open questions from an audience composed of Harvard students, staff, scholars, and affiliates in attendance in the room. Detailed questions were presented by the audience and comprehensively answered by H.E. the President.
During the discussion, President Ranil Wickremesinghe invited Harvard students of Sri Lankan origin to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka and witness for themselves the progress being made in addressing challenges faced by the country. He also encouraged them to engage in a discussion with Sri Lankan interlocutors of their perspectives on how they could contribute to reconciliation and development efforts in their motherland.
The link to the official transcript is at https://www.hks.harvard.edu/cid-co-hosts-conversation-ranil-wickremesinghe-president-sri-lanka#transcript
The link to the video of the event is at https://youtu.be/C_cImA9mGSw
Embassy of Sri Lanka
07th April 2023