India-Sri Lanka Relations

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  • Addressing Violent Extremism: Lessons from Sri Lanka

    In the years since the hostilities in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, the understandable international focus on the evidence of war crimes by both sides has diverted attention from certain other questions that emerge from the 26-year conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government. Here I briefly explore three general questions that have arisen not only in Sri Lanka but also in many other modern conflicts, including those characterised by what is variously called asymmetric warfare, violent extremism or terrorism.

    July 2014

    Modi’s Visit will Herald a New Chapter in India-Sri Lanka Relations

    Modi’s Visit will Herald a New Chapter in India-Sri Lanka Relations

    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.

    March 12, 2015

    India-Sri Lanka Fishermen Problem: Some Solutions

    New Delhi should work out an arrangement with the Rajapakse government wherein the rights of both the countries’ fishermen are protected within the respective territorial jurisdiction. If this is not done, the welfare of the Sri Lankan Tamils, which different governments of India have endeavoured to promote as part of a decided long-term policy, will be compromised.

    June 18, 2014

    Sri Lankan Presidential Elections: India’s Stance

    It will be in India`s interest to adopt a neutral posture vis-à-vis the contestants in the January 2015 Sri Lankan Presidential elections.

    December 15, 2014

    Sarabjeet Singh asked: What should be India’s strategy in the backdrop of domestic politics impinging on bilateral ties with Sri Lanka?

    Gulbin Sultana replies: India needs to maintain a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, India needs to strengthen its economic and defence cooperation with Sri Lanka, and on the other, it needs to be assertive on the Tamil question and issues pertaining political reconciliation.

    Please refer to my following publications for more on the subject:

    Sri Lankan perceptions of the Modi government

    There is no one nationalist Sri Lankan view. Among the Sinhalas, there are also the liberals who are quite realistic about their assessments and would argue that there may be a change in leadership in India, but the cornerstone of India’s policy vis-à-vis Sri Lanka will remain the same. The Tamils, on the other hand, are unanimous in their view that India can and should play a major role in bringing meaningful political reconciliation to the country.

    July 01, 2014

    S. A. M. Muhajireen asked : What is the current status of India-Sri Lanka relations especially in reference to the growing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka?

    Gulbin Sultana replies: Growing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka is often viewed with concern by a section of security analysts in India. There is a view that on several occasions the Sri Lankan Government had tried to play the China card against India. However, India in its own subtle way has conveyed to Sri Lanka not to allow any external force to use its territory against India. Sri Lanka also understands that given the geographic proximity, cultural linkages, people-to-people contact and economic ties, it cannot afford to ignore India’s interests and concerns.

    Though there are differences of opinion on the issue of fishermen, signing of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and the implementation of the 13th Amendment, but all such issues of concern in the bilateral relations are influenced more by domestic factors in both the countries. Therefore, it will not be appropriate to say that growing Chinese presence in Sri Lanka has influenced the bilateral relations in any notable manner.

    Posted on May 16, 2014

    India’s abstention in the vote against Sri Lanka at Geneva: Likely Implications

    Despite its abstention, India will continue to be evaluated negatively in Sri Lanka for its approach to the Tamil issue. Moreover, Colombo is also taking steps which may unnecessarily complicate bilateral relations.

    April 16, 2014

    Prathap Singh asked: What are the implicit interests of the US in sponsoring a resolution in the UNHRC against Sri Lanka? What is India’a stand on the resolution?

    Gulbin Sultana replies: Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in the US have effectively influenced the members of the Congress and the Department of State through US lobbying firms to sponsor resolutions in the UNHRC against Sri Lanka. The United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) reportedly used the Washington lobbying firm, KSCW Inc., to table Resolution 177 against Sri Lanka in the US House with 53 signatures which included influential and prominent house members in 2012. The USTPAC reportedly invested US$ 30, 000 to get H. Resolution 177 tabled. The USTPAC is also said to have influenced Congressmen Danny Davis (D-IL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) to spearhead Congressional Caucus on Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka. The Caucus launched at the US Congress in November 2013, played a major role in initiating resolution against Sri Lanka at the 25th session of the UNHRC.

    Since the end of Eelam War IV in May 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has passed four resolutions on Sri Lanka: the first resolution was passed on May 27, 2009 during the special session on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka; second on March 22, 2012 during the 19th session of the UNHRC; third on March 21, 2013 during the 22nd session of the UNHRC; and, the fourth resolution was passed on March 27, 2014 during the 25th session of the UNHRC. In 2009, India voted in favour of Sri Lanka, but in 2012 and 2013 India voted against Sri Lanka. In 2014, India abstained from voting since the latest resolution called for an international investigative mechanism, which was considered by India as an intrusive approach.

    Posted on April 15, 2014

    India needs nuanced approach post-UNHRC Vote on Sri Lanka

    It would appear that India accorded preponderance to the broader interests of national sovereignty before its final stand on the UNHRC resolution. But it also cannot be oblivious to the likelihood of parallels being drawn in the future by some countries inimical to India.

    April 04, 2014