India - Srilanka Relationship IAS Target

India - Srilanka Relationship

17 Feb 2020

Category : International Relations

Topic: India - Srilanka Relationship

Cultural Relations

The Cultural Cooperation pact signed by the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka on 29 November 1977 at New Delhi. It forms the basis for periodic Cultural Exchange Programmes between the two countries.
  • The Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo actively promotes awareness of Indian culture by offering classes in Indian dance, music, hindi, and yoga.
  • On June 21, 2015, the First International Day of Yoga was celebrated at the iconic ocean side promenade Galle Face Green. Every year, cultural troupes from both countries exchange visits.
  • India and Sri Lanka commemorated the 2600th year of the attainment of enlightenment by Lord Buddha (Sambuddhatva Jayanthi) through joint activities. These included the exhibition of Sacred Kapilavastu Relics in Sri Lanka that took place in August -September 2012. During the exhibition, approximately three million Sri Lankans paid homage to the Sacred Relics.
  • The Indian Gallery at the International Buddhist Museum, Sri Dalada Maligawa, was launched in December 2013.
  • According to an announcement made by the Prime Minister during his trip to Sri Lanka, a Festival of India in Sri Lanka was launched in November 2015, with ‘Nrityarupa’, an amusing dance medley from different parts of India performed in Kandy, Colombo, and Galle. The theme of the Festival was "Sangam": a confluence of cultures of Sri Lanka and India.
The India-Sri Lanka Foundation was established in December 1998 as an intergovernmental initiative. It aims towards the enhancement of technical, scientific, educational, and cultural cooperation through civil society exchanges and enhancing contact b/w the younger generations of the two countries.


Tourism creates an important relation between India and Sri Lanka. GoI formally launched the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme for Sri Lankan tourists on 14 April 2015. Soon, in a goodwill gesture, the visa fee for eTV was sharply decreased. In 2015, of the total tourist arrivals, 316,247 were from India constituting 17.58% of the total number of tourist arrival to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan tourists too are among the top 10 sources for the Indian tourism market. In 2014, around 200,000 visas were allotted by the High Commission and other posts in Sri Lanka to facilitate travel b/w India and Sri Lanka.

Joint Working Group on Fisheries

  • Both the countries have agreed to establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries and hotline b/w their Coast Guards to address long-standing issue of fishermen from Tamil Nadu.
  • These mechanisms seek to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issues.
  • Terms of reference of the JWG:
    • Possibility of joint patrolling.
    • Framing procedures for returning fishermen arrested by two sides.
    • According to Tamil Nadu govt, the sufferings of Indian Tamil fishermen is a direct result of ceding Kachchatheevu to Sri Lanka and sacrificing the traditional fishing rights enjoyed by Indian fishermen.

Indian Community & Diaspora

The People of Indian Origin (PIOs) comprise Sindhis, Memons, Borahs, Gujaratis, Parsis, Malayalis, and Telugu speaking persons who have settled down in Sri Lanka and are indulged in various business ventures. Though their numbers approx 10,000 are much lesser as compared to Indian Origin Tamils (IOTs), they are economically prosperous and are well placed. Each of these communities has its organization, which organizes cultural and festivals events.
The IOTs are mostly engaged in either rubber or tea plantations and the younger generation has been migrating to Colombo in search of employment. A fair number of IOTs living in Colombo are indulged in business. According to Government census figures (2011), the population of IOTs is around 1.6 million. Trade and investment have enhanced and there is cooperation in the fields of education, culture, development, and defence. Both countries share a broad understanding of major issues of international interest.

India-Sri Lanka Defence Relation

  • India provides defence training to Sri Lankan forces.
  • New Delhi and Sri Lanka have long history of security cooperation.
  • A trilateral maritime security cooperation pact was signed by India, Maldives and Sri Lanka to improve anti-piracy operations, surveillance and reducing maritime pollution in Indian Ocean Region.

Defence Exercise

Mitra Shakti India and Sri Lanka joint Military military exercise
SLINEX India and Sri Lanka joint Naval exercise

LTTE and Sri Lankan civil war

The Indian interference in the Sri Lankan Civil War was the deployment of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka intended to perform a peacekeeping role. The deployment followed the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord between India and Sri Lanka of 1987 which intended to end the Sri Lankan Civil War b/w militant Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists, principally the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the Sri Lankan military.
A goal was the Indian Peace Keeping Force wouldn’t be involved in large scale military operations. However, after a few months, the Indian Peace Keeping Force engaged the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in a series of battles. During the two years in which it was deployed, the IPKF fought numerous battles against the LTTE. The IPKF started withdrawing in 1989 and completed the withdrawal in 1990.

India’s intervention in Sri Lankan civil war – right or not?

Indian involvement in Sri Lankan civil war became predictable as that civil war threatened India’s “unity, national interest and territorial integrity.”

Threat came in two ways

  • On the one side, external powers could take advantage of the situation to establish their base in Sri Lanka thus posing a risk to India
  • On the other, the LTTE’s dream of a sovereign Tamil Eelam comprising all the Tamil inhabited area posed a risk to India’s territorial integrity.

Nearly three-decade long armed clash b/w Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE came to an end in May 2009. During the clash, India supported the Sri Lanka Government's rights to act against terrorist forces. At the same time, it showed its deep concern at the plight of the mostly Tamil civilian population, stressing that their rights and welfare shouldn’t get enmeshed in hostilities against the LTTE.

13th Amendment

On July, 21, 1987 the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement was signed between Sri Lankan, President J.R. Jayewardene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which stated the devolution of powers to the provinces. Hence on November 14, 1987, the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Provincial Councils Act No 42 of 1987 to institute provincial councils. The amendment seeks to create provincial councils in Sri Lanka and enable Tamil and Sinhalese as national languages while preserving English as the link language.