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India-Sri Lanka Relations UPSC NOTE

 


India-Sri Lanka Relations

  • India and Sri Lanka are two South Asian nations situated in the Indian Ocean region.

  • Geographically, Sri Lanka is located just off the southern coast of India, separated by the Palk Strait.

Historical Ties:

  • India and Sri Lanka have a long history of cultural, religious, and trade ties dating back to ancient times.

  • From the 1830s onwards, British acquired indentured labour from India, especially from Tamil Nadu, to Ceylon. 

  • The Tamils who were transported by the British settled in the northern part of Ceylon.

  • Buddhism, which originated in India, is also an important religion in Sri Lanka.

Political Relations:

  • During the course of the three-decade long armed conflict between Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE(ended in 2009), India supported the right of the Government of Sri Lanka to act against terrorist forces.

  • In 1964, there was a Shastri–Sirimavo pact that was signed whereby Ceylon agreed to give three lakh Indian Tamils in Ceylon citizenship and India also agreed to repatriate a sizeable number to India. 

  • However, the matter of repatriation did not complete till 1988.

  • India–Sri Lanka Accord (ISLA) had been signed on 29 July 1987, which assigned a certain amount of autonomy to Tamil areas.


Economic ties:

  • India is Sri Lanka’s third largest export destination, after the US and UK. 

  • More than 60% of Sri Lanka’s exports enjoy the benefits of the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement. 

  • India exports a range of products to Sri Lanka, including pharmaceuticals, textiles, machinery, and food products. 

  • Meanwhile, Sri Lanka exports apparel, tea, rubber, and spices to India. 

  • India is also a major investor in Sri Lanka.

  • India has invested in the development of ports, highways, and airports.

  • India is also one of the largest investors in Sri Lanka's tourism industry, with Indian companies investing in hotels, resorts, and other infrastructure.

Strategic and Defence relations:

  • Sri Lanka located at the southern tip of peninsular India is strategically important for India in the most comprehensive sense.

  • Sri Lanka lies astride the major sea lanes of communication from Europe to East Asia and the oil tanker routes from the oil producing countries of the Gulf to China, Japan and other Pacific countries.

  • Sri Lanka is strategically important to India in terms of its Indian Ocean strategy and in terms of networking of partners for India’s aims of establishing an Indian Ocean Rim Community.

  • In 2017, both countries signed a MoU on defence cooperation, for collaboration in areas such as joint training, capacity building, and maritime security.

  • Under this agreement, India has provided training to Sri Lankan military personnel in areas such as counter-terrorism, aviation, and logistics.

  • India has also provided military assistance to Sri Lanka to help it combat various security threats.

  • In 2019, India gifted two naval ships to Sri Lanka to enhance its maritime capabilities.

  • India has also helped Sri Lanka to set up a national intelligence agency to combat terrorism and other security threats.

  • Joint Military exercise – Mitra Shakti and the Joint Naval exercise – Slinex.

Participation in Groupings:

  • BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and SAARC.

Recently in news

  • Development assistance package for the Tamils of Indian origin who are marking the 200th anniversary of their arrival in the island nation.

  • The two sides exchanged documents on cooperation in the field of animal husbandry, renewable energy, development projects in Trincomalee district in eastern Sri Lanka, and online payment services between the two sides.

  • The MoU on Trincomalee is aimed at developing the port and its nearby areas as a “regional hub for industry, energy, including renewable energy,”

  • The agreement on digital transactions was signed between Lanka Pay and ECI International to facilitate acceptance of India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in Sri Lanka.

  • The Prime Minister of India announced a package of ₹75 crore for various development projects for the Tamil community of Indian origin. 

  • India will also contribute additionally for development programmes in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.

  • The two sides adopted a vision document to enhance maritime, energy and people-to-people connectivity.

  • A passenger ferry service will be launched soon to connect Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and northern Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai.

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