Visiting India, Mrs Bandaranaike sought the concurrence of Prime Minister Nehru for the proposals that had been formulated in Colombo with regard to the tension between India and China. Speaking in New Delhi, Mrs Bandaranaike said “I think it is a lesson of history that war does not solve any question: it only provokes more problems.”
The island of Kachchativu in the Palk Strait, having been a subject of controversy, was finally demarcated to lie on Sri Lanka’s side of the maritime boundary after intense negotiations on the part of Mrs Bandaranaike with her Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi. The agreement reached between the two Prime Ministers resolved a long standing issue which many had attempted and failed to resolve.
Mrs Bandaranaike visited China to apprise the Chinese Government on the outcome of the deliberations in Colombo. She secured a positive response and China expressed its gratitude to Mrs Bandaranaike for her initiative and efforts to promote a peaceful settlement. The visit was also an opportunity to reaffirm the Bandung Principles, whereby it was agreed that ‘the application of these principles and the observance of the spirit of Bandung not only in so far as this problem was concerned but also in the case of all other problems which arose in this area, would assist in their expeditious and peaceful solution.’
The convening of the fifth Non Aligned Movement Summit in Colombo saw Sirimavo Bandaranaike assume leadership of the eighty six-nation strong movement. Receiving the baton of leadership of NAM from Algerian President Houari Boumediène, Mrs Bandaranaike steered along a path of economic development with emphasis on collective economic self-reliance, aimed at reducing the gap between the developed and developing countries. The demand for a ‘New International Economic Order’ was made, asserting the aspirations of the developing world and in support of an expansion of trade. The 5th Summit that was held at the newly constructed Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, gifted by the Chinese government, was instrumental in positioning Sri Lanka at the centre of the developing world.
The promulgation of a Republican constitution on 22 May 1972 saw the end of Dominion status and the birth of a completely independent Sri Lanka. Under the new constitution the office of Governor General, hitherto appointed by the Queen of the United Kingdom, was replaced by the office of Head of State as President. Mr William Gopallawa became the first President of Sri Lanka, while Mrs Bandaranaike became Prime Minister. With the promulgation of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the National State Assembly superseded the Seventh Parliament. The first National State Assembly was dissolved four years later on 18 May 1977.