Vol 14, No. 1 Jan-Mar 2018
Lanka Relations: New Issues, New Perspectives"
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
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.
is due to undergo Presidential elections shortly. Parliamentary elections
are due next year.
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
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
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.
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.
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?
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
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,
P. Sahadevan: Dr. P. Sahadevan is a Professor
of South Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi.
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
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,