India’s engagement with its neighbours received a policy reinvigoration after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government assumed power and announced its ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. The first sign of this policy was visible when Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited all the heads of state of the neighbouring countries for his oath-taking ceremony, on May 26, 2014. India’s interest and engagement with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has also intensified in the past few years – from being a reluctant player to driving the regional economic agenda.
Research Fellow, IDSA, Dr Smruti Pattanaik’s article on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wikramasinghe's recent visit to India, titled ‘Touching base . . .’ was published in The Sunday Observer on September 20, 2015.
In the true spirit of a democracy, Modi should reach out to leaders of all major political parties in Bangladesh and convince them of India’s intention to work as a partner in progress and development.
Growing international concerns about human rights violations in the last phase of the Eelam war and the continued surveillance and intimidation of the Tamils in Sri Lanka have drawn the attention of their co-ethnics across the world. The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which had detached itself from the political events in Sri Lanka after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, has renewed its interest. In the post-war phase, the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils has become an emotive issue.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit is likely to improve the atmospherics to a significant extent, introduce a positive vibe into the process of engagement and serve as a stepping stone for deepening the relationship further.