Indo-Sri Lanka ties to become strategic and special.

Date:

Sri Lanka High Commission to India comes up with a new road map focussing on trade, defence and religious exchanges.

 The Sri Lanka High Commission is looking forward to ensuring more open and efficient communications between India and Sri Lanka when it released a 27-page “Integrated Country Strategy” on Thursday (August 12, 2021) to strengthen ties with India. 

 Mr Milinda Moragoda, soon to be assuming the office of Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in India, came up with the “integrated country strategy” map emphasising the need to avoid any “surprises” between the two nations. “There should be no surprises in Indo-Sri Lanka relations,” he said in an attempt to amend the skewed relation and to promote transparency.

 The island nation highlighted the complementarities in the roadmap or “integrated country strategy” essentially targeting, “The two countries are essentially targeting, “multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, and also multi-cultural” aspects of India and Sri Lanka. The roadmap is a mandate for two years and has insights from the Sri Lanka High Commission consulates in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. 

 The released document contains two parts, wherein the first part is dedicated to a strategic framework outlining seven goals and descriptions of the objectives of each of the goals. The second part of the report highlights the description and ways of achieving the mentioned goals and objectives of the roadmap.  

 The Indo- Sri Lanka Trade Front 

The report envisages increased exports from Sri Lanka and its market share in India, including plans to set up business councils in cities like Mumbai and Chennai. It also focuses on gaining recognition from Sri Lankan food testing laboratories in India.  

The Defence Front  

While on the defence and Indian ocean security front, Sri Lanka aims to facilitate participation in four bilateral and multilateral military exercises annually. It also includes the plans for visiting top defence personnel to India like the Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Army, Commander of the Air Force, Director General Coast Guard and Secretary of Defence, one per year and at the same time, ascertaining the full utilisation of the relevant berths provided by India’s Ministry of Defence to Sri Lanka.  

Additionally, the report mentions setting up the Office of Defence Advisor in the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Delhi. In 2019, India had announced a unique Line of Credit, a $50 million counter-terrorism operation that is yet to be utilised by Sri Lanka.  

The Connectivity Front 

Regarding the connectivity front, the roadmap talks to facilitate air, sea, electrical grid and digital connectivity between the two nations. All Sri Lankan missions are to identify new air destinations for their indigenous airline’s flights. The report further charts down to operationalise pre-identified destinations like Ahmedabad and pursue the resumption/ establishment of passenger ferry services between Sri Lanka and India. 

On Religious Exchanges 

A special anchorage on religious exchanges guides on patronising Buddhist and Hindu communities. Another cornerstone of the strategy is “the ceremonial handing over of the sacred stone from Sita Amman temple in Sri Lanka to Ram Mandir in Ayodhya”. It added another remark on Buddhism being the lynchpin of the relations of India and Sri Lanka being of “paramount importance”. 

It also lays out the plan to further promote the Buddhist circuit, the Ramayana, the Murugan, the Vailankanni and the Shiva Shakthi trails, emphasising them in utilising the “foster exchanges at the level of religious leaders and scholars”. 

Focal Point 

The critical tasks mentioned in the document include visits by the Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister, Emissary to India and vice versa, and exchange at the level of speakers. Sri Lanka also intends to establish its Consulate General in Kolkata, which coincides with the centenary of the first visit of Gurudeva Rabindranath Tagore to Sri Lanka in 2022. 

Ritika Singh
Ritika Singh
I am Ritika Singh currently graduating from Delhi University in B.Sc. Hons Geology. I dream to become a Geologist and explore unknown life-forms as moss on rocks at barren places makes me wonder if there is life possible beyond earth and what could our past and future be. I love to express my raw and random thoughts through writing on nature and anything happening around me grabbing my attention. Among other things i love learning about new disciplines and trying my hands on as many variable things as possible. From knitting to snorkeling, athletics to star gazing you can find me as an avid admirer of everything and anything around us.

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