On Thursday (August 12, 2021) the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi released a 27 page "Integrated Country Strategy '' that highlighted the complementarities between India and Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is planning to deepen its ties with India in various sectors including defence, connectivity, trade and people to people.
On Thursday (August 12, 2021) the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi released a 27 page “Integrated Country Strategy ” that highlighted the complementarities between India and Sri Lanka. “The two countries are essentially multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, and also multi-cultural countries. There is so much in common.”
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Who has prepared the document?
It has been prepared by High Commissioner-designate Milinda Moragoda, and Chargé d’ Affaires Niluka Kadurugamuwa. The roadmap is envisaged for the next two years and has inputs from various consulates of Sri Lanka High Commission including Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
Sri Lanka-India Trade
The island nation is keen on expanding bilateral trade with India and also to focus on expanding its presence in the Indian market. It plans to increase its exports to India and has plans to set up business councils which help in this plan in various cities across India – Chennai and Mumbai. And to also make efforts to get approval of food testing laboratories of Sri Lanka in India.
The document is in two parts: Part I besides highlighting its Strategic Framework it also outlines seven goals, and objectives of each goal.
Part II of the report is more focused on describing and justifying the Goals and Objectives and what are the ways of achieving these.
Sri Lanka and Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
It talks about facilitating its participation in four bilateral and multilateral military drills annually. And to make sure there are visits by the top defence leadership to India — Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Air Force, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Army, Director General Coast Guard one per year and its Defence Secretary too. According to the report, it also wants to make “full utilization of the relevant berths offered by the Ministry of Defence of India to Sri Lanka”.
The document states that there are plans to set up the Office of the Defence Advisor, in the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi.
In 2019, for counter terrorism ops, India had announced a USD 50 million special Line of Credit for counter-terrorism activities, which has yet to be used by the island nation.
It lays down plans to further facilitate digital connectivity between the two countries as well as increasing sea, air, and electrical grid connectivity. All its missions have been asked to identify new air destinations for its domestic airlines flights to India. And also to operationalize destinations which have been identified already like Ahmedabad. There are plans to further pursue the resumption/ establishment of passenger ferry services between Sri Lanka and India.
More focus on religious exchanges — Buddhist and Hindu exchanges. The ceremonial handing over of the sacred stone from Sita Amman temple in Sri Lanka to Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Buddhist ties are the lynchpin of the relations between the two countries therefore there are plans to promote Buddhism ties with India and also the “Buddhist circuit. There are plans to further promote the Ramayana, Vailankanni trail, the Murugan and the Shiva Shakthi trails.
To have visits by Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister, Foreign minister to India and vice versa as well. And to have an exchange at the level of speakers too.
Coinciding with the centenary of the first visit of Gurudeva Rabindranath Tagore to Sri Lanka, that country is getting ready to establish its Consulate General in Kolkota in 2022.