Vol 14, No. 1      Jan-Mar 2018

(Under preparation)






"India-Sri Lanka Relations: New Issues, New Perspectives"


Subsequent to the elections of 2015, a National Unity Government was formed in Sri Lanka, under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena of the SLFP and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe of the UNP. The formation of the bipartisan government was a positive development, as it brought together the two main Sinhala political parties on a single platform. This was expected to create better conditions towards realisation of peace, reconciliation, economic development and a new Sri Lankan foreign policy orientation. With the establishment of the new unity government, Sri Lanka - India relations were also expected to improve. The visible 'pro-China tilt', seen under the earlier regime, was also expected to be substantially corrected. The new Sri Lankan Government did correct some of the 'tilt' and with frequent high level visits from both sides, the Indo-Sri Lankan cooperative relations grew.

Meanwhile, growing differences between President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe led to a major politico-constitutional crisis in 2018. In October of that year, Sirisena dismissed Wickramasinghe and in his place appointed former President Rajapaksha - that had to be soon reversed due to massive popular protests and subsequent legal interventions from the Sri Lankan Supreme Court. These developments were certainly received with apprehensions in India, which strives for a stable and prosperous neighbourhood. India-Sri Lanka relations did take some beating as a result of this domestic upheaval. Re-appointment of Wickramasinghe as Prime Minister did bring the relations back to some semblance of normalcy but the continued distrust and differences between the President and the Prime Minister are indeed affecting our bilateral relations.

Sri Lanka is due to undergo Presidential elections shortly. Parliamentary elections are due next year.

Ethnic reconciliation, promised soon after the termination of the conflict in 2009 did not take-off as expected. Previous Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who orchestrated the defeat and decimation of the LTTE, did not seriously advance the ethnic reconciliation process, despite pressures from the international community.  When the regime changed in 2015, the new President Maithripala Sirisena did attempt a long-term political solution to the ethnic issue, but it hit many road-blocks due to lack of essential political will amongst all the stake holders and the necessary socio-political consensus.

Involvement of China in Sri Lanka has increased in a major way in the past decade or so. This does have implications for India's security. The deadly terror attacks in April 2019 during the Easter celebrations has created a new complication. The involvement of radical groups based in West Asia as well as the probable involvement of the ISI and militant groups like Laskar-e-Toiba, impacts on India’s security and interests in the region

India has contributed immensely to Sri Lanka’s economic development, especially after the ethnic war. Two-decade-old Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries has helped in making India the largest trading partner of Sri Lanka. India continues to be the largest source of tourists. 

In the light of new issues that have emerged due to the October 2018 upheaval and the impending elections - both to the Presidency and to the Parliament, it may now be an opportune moment to look at and explore new perspectives on the state of India-Sri Lanka relations.

Where do these relations - important to both sides - stand? What is the state of various bilateral linkages in the economic, trade, cultural, ethnic, security and other spheres? What steps need to be taken by both sides to repair, nurture and improve these relations? What are the challenges? Does that require entirely a new perspective on the new and emerging issues?


The Indian Foreign Affairs Journal has invited a few experts in the field to comment on the above, and offer their views. Their views, as such, will be published as the 'Debate' in this issue.


(The views expressed by the authors are their own, and do not reflect the views of the Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, or that of the Association of Indian Diplomats)


Following have accepted our invitation to contribute to the 'Debate'


R. Hariharan: Col. R. Hariharan:  Retired MI specialist. Former Head of the Intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka (1987–1990).


D. Suba Chandran: Dr.  D. Suba Chandran is Professor and Dean, School of Conflict and Security Studies, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru


Jayanath Colombage: Adm. Dr. Jayanath Colombage is the Former Chief of Naval Staff of Sri Lanka, Director of Center for Indo-Lanka Initiatives, Colombo, Sri Lanka


N. Sathiya Moorthy:  N. Sathiya Moorthy is a Senior Fellow & Director of the Chennai Chapter, Observer Research Foundation.


N. Manoharan: Dr. N. Manoharan, is an Associate Professor, Department of International Studies and History, Christ College (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru.


Samatha Mallempati: Dr. Samatha Mallempati is a Research Fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi.


Gulbin Sultana:  Ms. Gulbin Sultana is a Research Analyst, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.


Nitin A. Gokhale:  Shri Nitin A. Gokhale is the Editor-in-Chief, Strategic News International, New Delhi.


P. Sahadevan: Dr. P. Sahadevan is a Professor of South Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

















Stuti Banerjee:  Research Fellow, Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi.

Chintamani Mahapatra and Netajee Abhinandan (Eds), India's Engagement with Extended Neighbourhood: Issues and Challenges, (Toronto, Canada, Roots Media, 2018), Pages: xii + 190, Price: US$ 20.00, Rs. 1,200.00


Dhrubajyoti Bhattacharjee: Research Fellow, Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi.

Tilak Devasher, Pakistan: At the Helm, (New Delhi, HarperCollins India, 2018), Pages:  344, Price: 499


Suresh Kumar Goel: Former Director General of the Indian Council fort Cultural Relations, New Delhi, former Ambassador of India to Laos.

Paramjit Sahai, Indian Cultural Diplomacy, Celebrating Pluralism in a Globalised World, (New Delhi, Vij Books / ICWA, 2018),  Pages: 594, Price: Rs. 695


B. S. Prakash: former Ambassador of India to Brazil and to Uganda and a former Consul General of India at San Francisco, USA.

Arvind Gupta, How India Manages its National Security, (New Delhi, Penguin Viking, 2018), Pages: 440, Price: 599.00:




Published in Volume 13, 2018




Vol 14, No. 2      Apr-Jun 2018

(Under Planning)