The India Sri Lankan history can be traced back to
1983 when a civil war in Sri Lanka broke out. The cause of the war was conflict
between 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 presence
in administration. Tamils held major position in the administration because
they were educated in English and only the masses educated in English could
pursue higher education and hence get better jobs.

Sinhalese started a movement of nationalism and a
constitutional provision to popularize Sinhalese as the language and Buddhism
as the religion of the country. As the discrimination rose, an organization
known 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 with
rising Tamil militant separatism in Sri Lanka. It was believed that the state
government 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 a
result India directly intervened in the civil war in conflict with the Sri
Lankan government. Since LTTE was funded by the Indian state government, India
began to supply food and medicines through sea and air routes.

India and Sri Lanka entered into an agreement known
as the peace accord to let provinces of Sri Lanka practice autonomy of
operations and as a result Tamils lay down their weapons. Furthermore, India
was supposed to send a peace keeping force (IPKF) to enforce disarmament and
ensure regional cooperation. Since the agreement was signed by Indian and Sri
Lankan government, many people in the LTTE group started opposing the leader
elected by the Sri Lankan government. Not only this, the LTTE group also
stopped on giving up their armaments to IPKF.

All this led to a break out between the LTTE group
and the India Army. The Indian government then decided to disarm the LTTE group
by force. Operation Pawan was launched during this time. It is during this
operation that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. The Sri Lankan government started
supporting LTTE group and provided them with arms to fight with the Indian
army. It is during this operation that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. After two
years India withdrew IPKF as it failed to defeat the LTTE group.

Ever since then till the year 2009, India and Sri
Lanka 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 and
organizing rehabilitation programs.Osantha N. Thalpawila (2014) in the journal (Journal
for Social Sciences, Volume -2, Issue-1) mentioned that in the first three
years after Indian independence, relations between India and Sri Lanka were
cordial and understanding. It is only after the civil war in Sri Lanka that the
relations between both the countries deteriorated. It is only after the end of the civil war in Sri
Lanka i.e. after 25 years in 2009 that relations between India and Sri Lanka
became better when India extended help to Sri Lanka in the form of
rehabilitation and reconstruction of the war affected areas.The reason of the improved relations can be quoted
from the essay on relations between India and Sri Lanka written by Sohini
Pradhan. In her essay she has mentioned that in 2009, Prime Minister, Manmohan
Singh, announced a grant of about Rs.500 crores as a relief and rehabilitation
for Sri Lanka.  Emergency medical units
have also been established for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and
approximately 50,000 IDP’s were treated. Even agricultural implements were
supplied to the relocated families so that they could earn their livelihood. S.M. Aliff (2015) in his paper, published in the
Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies discussed
about the issues prevalent in the period from 2009-2014. The various problems
were fishing, China involvement, mutual mistrust and suspicion etc. India’s
diplomacy in this respect was also of no use. The issue of greater China’s involvement with Sri
Lanka posed a major threat to the Indian government. They decided to strengthen
their relations with Sri Lanka. Geethanjali Nataraj and Richa Sekhani in their
article, a new era for India- Sri Lanka relations, published in 2015 mentioned
that to improve the relations between the two countries four agreements were
signed. Both the countries promised to cooperate on peaceful use of nuclear
energy. The recent agreements agreed on by both the countries focuses on
knowledge and resource sharing etc.

Talking about the current relations existing between
the two countries, Maturi Srilatha (2016) in her research paper titled India
and Sri Lanka political relations in The International Journal of Multidisciplinary
Advance Research Trends, has mentioned the relationship between the countries
has been marked by close contacts at high political level, cooperation among
various fields such as research, education and growth in the fields of trade
and investment.          After
the relations improved in 2009, the Indian Defense Secretary, Mr. Pradeep
Kumar, visited Sri Lanka in 2010, and discussed various topics in regard to the
military strengthening, naval exercises, strengthening coast guard services
etc. All this assured Sri Lanka of better defense infrastructure. It became a
common belief that India was strengthening its relations with Sri Lanka in order
to balance growing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka.          As a
part of Maritime Silk Route policy, China built Hambanthota port. The construction
of this particular port was supposed to be done by India but China won the bid
and constructed it. Construction of the port was a major achievement for Sri
Lanka as Hambanthota area was struck with poverty and adverse conditions.
However, it became prosperous after the port construction.         There
had been concerns about illegal fishing by Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan
territorial waters. International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) has been made
to demarcate the territorial waters of both the lands.         The
defense secretary defined his motives of Sri Lanka being a prosperous neighbor to
India during his visit to Sri Lanka. This visit brought in a lot of trade and
financial deals. Deals including infrastructure development, education and
onset of ferry services were also discussed and signed.         Talking about the political relations
existing in the year 2010 onwards, India being the only close neighbor of
India, Sri Lanka will always first ask India for any kind of assistance. This
also means that India’s security will not be compromised in any manner. This
became all the more clear when Sri Lanka denied refused to sign a defense pact
with Pakistan.             Coming to relations between the two countries
as of today, there are high levels of various kinds of exchanges happening
between the two countries. The priority of FDI from India is Sri Lanka. After
the free trade agreement between the two countries, India is the largest trade
partner of Sri Lanka and it accounts for second largest trade partner among
SAARC counties for India. From the year 2013 to 2014 the trade between the countries
grew by almost 25%.         To
further improve the relationship, India and Sri Lanka signed a nuclear deal in
2015. With our current PM in power the relations are expected to boost further.
Narendra Modi during one of his initial visits offered direct flights among
various 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 sum
it up, it is beneficial for both the countries to have great relations with
each other for obvious reasons. The first one being the closest neighbors. Both
the countries are dependent on each other for a considerably large amount of
trade. Sri Lanka enjoys a lot of benefits in terms of economic development by
keeping good relations with India. Many scholarships for education, infrastructure
for improvement of economic conditions, defense power for protection of the
country are provided to Sri Lanka by India. The countries have nothing to lose
while being on good terms with each other.

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