The India Sri Lankan history can be traced back to1983 when a civil war in Sri Lanka broke out.
The cause of the war was conflictbetween the two major groups in Sri Lanka, the Tamils and the Sinhalese.Sinhalese wanted to gain power in Sri Lanka and wanted to curb Tamil presencein administration. Tamils held major position in the administration becausethey were educated in English and only the masses educated in English couldpursue higher education and hence get better jobs.Sinhalese started a movement of nationalism and aconstitutional provision to popularize Sinhalese as the language and Buddhismas the religion of the country. As the discrimination rose, an organizationknown as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was formed to fight for Tamil rights.As a result a civil war started in 1983.India Sri Lankan ties deteriorated in 1980’s withrising Tamil militant separatism in Sri Lanka. It was believed that the stategovernment of Tamil Nadu was helping LTTE by encouraging and funding them.
In 1987,India faced growing anger among its own Tamils and a flood of refugees. As aresult India directly intervened in the civil war in conflict with the SriLankan government. Since LTTE was funded by the Indian state government, Indiabegan to supply food and medicines through sea and air routes.India and Sri Lanka entered into an agreement knownas the peace accord to let provinces of Sri Lanka practice autonomy ofoperations and as a result Tamils lay down their weapons. Furthermore, Indiawas supposed to send a peace keeping force (IPKF) to enforce disarmament andensure regional cooperation. Since the agreement was signed by Indian and SriLankan government, many people in the LTTE group started opposing the leaderelected by the Sri Lankan government.
Not only this, the LTTE group alsostopped on giving up their armaments to IPKF.All this led to a break out between the LTTE groupand the India Army. The Indian government then decided to disarm the LTTE groupby force. Operation Pawan was launched during this time. It is during thisoperation that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. The Sri Lankan government startedsupporting LTTE group and provided them with arms to fight with the Indianarmy.
It is during this operation that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. After twoyears India withdrew IPKF as it failed to defeat the LTTE group.Ever since then till the year 2009, India and SriLanka did not have good relations with each other.
After 25 years of violence,India and Sri Lanka agreed upon India reconstructing the war affected areas andorganizing rehabilitation programs.Osantha N. Thalpawila (2014) in the journal (Journalfor Social Sciences, Volume -2, Issue-1) mentioned that in the first threeyears after Indian independence, relations between India and Sri Lanka werecordial and understanding. It is only after the civil war in Sri Lanka that therelations between both the countries deteriorated. It is only after the end of the civil war in SriLanka i.e. after 25 years in 2009 that relations between India and Sri Lankabecame better when India extended help to Sri Lanka in the form ofrehabilitation and reconstruction of the war affected areas.The reason of the improved relations can be quotedfrom the essay on relations between India and Sri Lanka written by SohiniPradhan.
In her essay she has mentioned that in 2009, Prime Minister, ManmohanSingh, announced a grant of about Rs.500 crores as a relief and rehabilitationfor Sri Lanka. Emergency medical unitshave also been established for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) andapproximately 50,000 IDP’s were treated. Even agricultural implements weresupplied to the relocated families so that they could earn their livelihood. S.M.
Aliff (2015) in his paper, published in theJournal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies discussedabout the issues prevalent in the period from 2009-2014. The various problemswere fishing, China involvement, mutual mistrust and suspicion etc. India’sdiplomacy in this respect was also of no use. The issue of greater China’s involvement with SriLanka posed a major threat to the Indian government.
They decided to strengthentheir relations with Sri Lanka. Geethanjali Nataraj and Richa Sekhani in theirarticle, a new era for India- Sri Lanka relations, published in 2015 mentionedthat to improve the relations between the two countries four agreements weresigned. Both the countries promised to cooperate on peaceful use of nuclearenergy.
The recent agreements agreed on by both the countries focuses onknowledge and resource sharing etc. Talking about the current relations existing betweenthe two countries, Maturi Srilatha (2016) in her research paper titled Indiaand Sri Lanka political relations in The International Journal of MultidisciplinaryAdvance Research Trends, has mentioned the relationship between the countrieshas been marked by close contacts at high political level, cooperation amongvarious fields such as research, education and growth in the fields of tradeand investment. Afterthe relations improved in 2009, the Indian Defense Secretary, Mr. PradeepKumar, visited Sri Lanka in 2010, and discussed various topics in regard to themilitary strengthening, naval exercises, strengthening coast guard servicesetc. All this assured Sri Lanka of better defense infrastructure. It became acommon belief that India was strengthening its relations with Sri Lanka in orderto balance growing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka. As apart of Maritime Silk Route policy, China built Hambanthota port.
The constructionof this particular port was supposed to be done by India but China won the bidand constructed it. Construction of the port was a major achievement for SriLanka as Hambanthota area was struck with poverty and adverse conditions.However, it became prosperous after the port construction. Therehad been concerns about illegal fishing by Indian fishermen in Sri Lankanterritorial waters. International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) has been madeto demarcate the territorial waters of both the lands. Thedefense secretary defined his motives of Sri Lanka being a prosperous neighbor toIndia during his visit to Sri Lanka. This visit brought in a lot of trade andfinancial deals.
Deals including infrastructure development, education andonset of ferry services were also discussed and signed. Talking about the political relationsexisting in the year 2010 onwards, India being the only close neighbor ofIndia, Sri Lanka will always first ask India for any kind of assistance. Thisalso means that India’s security will not be compromised in any manner.
Thisbecame all the more clear when Sri Lanka denied refused to sign a defense pactwith Pakistan. Coming to relations between the two countriesas of today, there are high levels of various kinds of exchanges happeningbetween the two countries. The priority of FDI from India is Sri Lanka. Afterthe free trade agreement between the two countries, India is the largest tradepartner of Sri Lanka and it accounts for second largest trade partner amongSAARC counties for India. From the year 2013 to 2014 the trade between the countriesgrew by almost 25%. Tofurther improve the relationship, India and Sri Lanka signed a nuclear deal in2015. With our current PM in power the relations are expected to boost further.
Narendra Modi during one of his initial visits offered direct flights amongvarious cities from Colombo. This has increased tourism by a great extent. In 2014,around 2,00,000 visas were issued by High Commission of India.
To sumit up, it is beneficial for both the countries to have great relations witheach other for obvious reasons. The first one being the closest neighbors. Boththe countries are dependent on each other for a considerably large amount oftrade.
Sri Lanka enjoys a lot of benefits in terms of economic development bykeeping good relations with India. Many scholarships for education, infrastructurefor improvement of economic conditions, defense power for protection of thecountry are provided to Sri Lanka by India. The countries have nothing to losewhile being on good terms with each other.