March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

TENSIONS BETWEEN INDIA AND SRI LANKA RELATION

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THE CONTEXT: Recent announcement by Sri Lanka’s President about a proposal to establish land connectivity with India has come after a long while. Much of the plans outlined in the statement have been discussed for years but could not implemented.

RECENT ISSUES BETWEEN INDIA AND SRI LANKA

mention in a joint statement issued in July, 2023 after both the prime ministers met in New Delhi.

  • Issue with Energy sector: Another area of concern in the relation of India and Sri Lanka is related to energy sector. For example, the idea of connecting the electricity networks of the two countries was floated even in 1970. Over 13 years have lapsed since the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the bilateral grid, but not even one unit of electricity has been transmitted.  In the case of Bangladesh, India has been exporting at least 7,000 million units (MU) annually for the last couple of years. However, certain projects are underway and both countries should be focused to ensure that the deadline is met.
  • Economic relations: Energy is not the only area where progress has been slow. The India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement was signed in December 1998, yet the two countries have not yet been able to go beyond it despite holding talks for years.
  • Untapped potential of tourism: In the area of tourism, which is a major source of revenue for Sri Lanka, India remained the largest single country of tourist arrivals, with its share being 17% of the overall number of arrivals. But the potential is much higher which is not being explored due to underperformance of Sri Lanka.
  • Fisheries Dispute: One of the longstanding issues between India and Sri Lanka is related to fishing rights in the coastal waters of Indian ocean.Indian fishermen have often been arrested by Sri Lankan authorities for allegedly engaging in illegal fishing in Sri Lankan waters. This has led to tensions between both the countries.
  • China’s Influence:India has repeatedly expressed concerns about China’s increasing economic and strategic influence on Sri Lanka. It has been viewed as a challenge to India’s own interests in the region.

THE WAY FORWARD:

  • Infrastructure development: The relationship between India and Sri Lanka in the areas of infrastructure development, energy links and trade has vast potential. It should be much deeper than what it is now by encouraging investment from India’s private sector and joint ventures with Sri Lankan companies.
  • Enhancing Economic Cooperation:Both countries should work towards reducing trade imbalances and promoting greater economic cooperation. It can be done by identifying sectors with complementary interests and fostering investments can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • Balancing China’s interests:While maintaining friendly ties with other countries is essential, both India and Sri Lanka should ensure that their bilateral relations remain strong and are not unduly influenced by china.
  • People-to-People Relations:There is a need to strengthen people to people relations by encouraging cultural exchanges, tourism, and educational ties. Strong connectivity is one of the avenues which can strengthen ties between the two countries and increase people-to-people linkages.
  • Energy security:As the global energy crisis continues to rise, it is imperative that India and Sri Lanka cooperate in making use of clean and green energy to make South Asia Energy self-sufficient.
  • Building upon the initiatives take in recent years: The momentum has been generated by certain developments in the last one year as:

1. Resumption of air services between Chennai and Jaffna

2. Launch of passenger ferry services between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai

3. Joint venture agreement among India’s National Dairy Development Board, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation

4. Cargills of Sri Lanka for self-sufficiency in the dairy sector

It should be sustained and improved upon to view Sri Lanka as a high standard of living and stable economy.

THE CONCLUSION:

There has been rising concern due to long pending infrastructure and security projects between India and Sri Lanka. There is a need to enhance connectivity and energy security between both the countries based on cooperation, coordination and consolidation. It can be done by laying specific procedures for specific issues to further strengthen India’s relationship with Sri Lanka.

PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS

Q.1 In respect of India-Sri Lanka relations, discuss how domestic factors influence foreign policy. (2013)

Q.2 ‘India is an age-old friend of Sri Lanka.’ Discuss India’s role in the recent crisis in Sri Lanka in the light of the preceding statement. (2022)

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION

Q.1 Economic ties between India and Sri Lanka while growing in recent years are still far below their potential. Elucidate the policy constraints which are inhibiting this growth.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/bridge-this-deficit-between-india-and-sri-lanka/article67619246.ece

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