Integrated Country Strategy | Daily News

Integrated Country Strategy

For Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in India - 2021/2023:
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Part I:

Mission Strategic Framework

Sri Lanka and India enjoy a close bilateral relationship spanning millennia, and across a wide spectrum of areas. Over thousands of years, this relationship has evolved into a partnership in which the strategic interests of both countries play a vital role. Even with the inherently asymmetric nature and despite special and differential treatment regimes, there is no lack of strategic content in the relationship between Sri Lanka and India.

The intervention in the conflict in Sri Lanka where India lost about 1300 soldiers, India’s commitment of billions of dollars as development assistance and grant assistance to Sri Lanka, the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, cooperation extended through training of Sri Lankan military personnel, undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships to Sri Lankan students, as well as Joint Statements issued on the occasions of state visits of the leaders of the two countries, are but a few examples that amply demonstrate the breadth and depth of the strategic partnership enjoyed by the two countries. India is also among the top five foreign investors in Sri Lanka.

In recent years, the Indo-Sri Lanka bilateral relationship has been increasingly dominated by a transactional approach. This is a consequence of the changes in the geo-political equilibrium in the region, that have resulted in a growing trust deficit.

Although this development might, at times, be perceived as a setback, this transactional aspect can be channelled towards building confidence and, utilized as a means to bridge the trust deficit. If viewed in this way, this process could help reset this vital bilateral relationship and lay the foundation for an even stronger and enduring partnership between the two countries.

Further, as democracies, Sri Lanka and India have much in common. By enacting universal suffrage in 1931, Sri Lanka is Asia’s oldest democracy. India adopted universal franchise in 1950 and is the world’s largest democracy. Being both essentially multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural countries, Sri Lanka and India have much in common. The sharing of their similar experiences is an ongoing process.

Given this backdrop, the overarching goal of the Diplomatic Representations of Sri Lanka in India should be to contribute to the process of continuously maintaining the momentum of the existing partnership, by creating multi-faceted platforms for strategic level dialogue and cooperation, with the ultimate objective being the elevation of the partnership to a special relationship; one marked by inter-dependence, mutual respect and affection.

While this overarching goal is being pursued, it is equally necessary to deepen people-to-people contacts between the two countries. It is these two key aspects that form the crux of this strategic framework, and, the Mission Goals and Objectives.

While certain key tasks for implementation have been identified under each Mission Objective, further specific key performance indicators will be developed, as the Strategy is implemented.

Mission Goal 1: Elevate the existing close bilateral relationship to a strategic level through increased interactions at political level.

Mission Objective 1.1: Strengthen the bilateral relationship through regular exchange of high-level political visits between the two countries and enhance cooperation with India at multilateral and regional level.

MissionObjective1.2: Enhance cooperation at Parliamentary level; boost Parliamentary diplomacy.

Mission Objective 1.3: Expand Sri Lanka’s footprint at state level and promote greater interactions between Sri Lanka and the states of the Indian Union considered important, from the Sri Lankan perspective. Enhance exchanges at Provincial Council and local government level, following appropriate protocol.

Mission Objective 1.4: Resolve the long-drawn issue of externally displaced persons.

Mission Objective 1.5: Convene the Indo-Sri Lanka Joint Commission as well as other bilateral Joint committees on various sectors on a regular basis with a view to streamlining their work. Look at new areas of cooperation, including through the India-Sri Lanka Foundation, Kalinga Lanka Foundation etc.

Mission Goal 2: Bolster foreign investments as well as earnings from exports. Achieve significant export growth and increase foreign exchange earnings, with the ultimate objective of increasing productivity, employment generation and international competitiveness to uplift the living standards of the people in Sri Lanka, with a view to achieving the macro-economic targets set out for the period 2020- 2025, in the Government Policy framework document, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”.

Mission Objective 2.1: Increase Indian investments in Sri Lanka and facilitate ongoing large-scale economic development and investment-driven projects.

Mission Objective 2.2: Increase exports from Sri Lanka and expand Sri Lanka’s market share in India.

Mission Objectives 2.3: Promote outbound travel and tourism from India to Sri Lanka.

Mission Objective 2.4: Promote technology innovation, capacity-building, product development etc. for inclusive economic growth and development in Sri Lanka.

Mission Goal 3: Expand collaboration in the fields of strategic cooperation, defence and Indian Ocean security between Sri Lanka and India.

Mission Objective 3.1: Work toward the development of mechanisms that enhance political level strategic cooperation in the fields of defence and security.

Mission Objective 3.2: Facilitate bilateral joint military exercises, study tours, and increased high-level military exchanges.

Mission Objective 3.3: Secure relevant training berths offered by India’s Ministry of Defence and establish and maintain contacts with India’s Paramilitary and Police Forces, with a view to securing additional training opportunities for their Sri Lankan counterparts.

Mission Objective 3.4: Recognizing the multi-faceted nature of Indo-Lanka defence cooperation, take steps to further strengthen the Office of the Defence Advisor, in the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi.

Mission Goal 4: Further enhance cooperation between Sri Lanka and India, particularly in the fields of culture, education and science & technology, to promote Sri Lanka’s interests.

Mission Objective 4.1: Promote Buddhist ties with India.

Mission Objective 4.2: Promote Hindu exchanges between the two countries.

Mission Objective 4.3: Project Sri Lanka’s culture, traditional art and heritage in India through cultural exchanges highlighting shared historical connections between the people of the two countries.

Mission Objective 4.4: Promote exchanges of religious leaders, pilgrims and scholars through the Buddhist circuit, the Ramayana, the Murugan and the Shiva Shakthi trails, as well as the Vailankanni trail in South India.

Mission Objective 4.5: Obtain enhanced training and educational opportunities in India for Sri Lankans, including those from the plantation sector,by increasing the number of scholarships from the Government of India (ICCR) and other private universities of repute.

Mission Objective 4.6: Strengthen technological and scientific cooperation between Sri Lanka and India under the framework of the India – Sri Lanka Joint Science & Technology Committee.

Mission Goal 5: Project a more positive image of Sri Lanka in India through public diplomacy initiatives, with a view to reaching out to the people of India and strengthening people to people contacts.

Mission Objective 5.1: Foster networking between scholars, archaeologists, journalists, writers, filmmakers, dance troupes etc. to promote goodwill between the peoples of the two countries.

Mission Objective 5.2: Engage with prominent Indian media, prominent personalities of influential foreign media outlets based in India, opinion and thought leaders and influencers, to generate enhanced awareness with regard to Sri Lanka. Organise media tours to Sri Lanka.

Mission Objective 5.3: Mark the 80th anniversary of the establishment of official relations between Sri Lanka and India, the centenary of the first visit of Gurudeva Rabindranath Tagore to Sri Lanka and the 75th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, by organising appropriate activities.

Mission Objective 5.4: Utilize social media platforms effectively to promote Sri Lanka and project a positive image in India.

Mission Goal 6: Enhance connectivity between Sri Lanka and India.

Mission Objective 6.1: Facilitate the increase of air connectivity between Sri Lanka and India.

Mission Objective 6.2: Facilitate the increase of sea connectivity between Sri Lanka and India.

Mission Objective 6.3: Facilitate electrical grid connectivity between Sri Lanka and India.

Mission Objective 6.4: Facilitate digital connectivity between Sri Lanka and India.

Mission Goal 7: Promote Sri Lanka’s interests in protecting its ocean resources.

Mission Objective 7.1: Engage with Indian authorities (Central government, relevant state governments and other stakeholders) for a mechanism acceptable to all sides for the resolution of fisheries-related issues.

Mission Objective 7.2: Engage with Indian authorities for setting up a training centre for a marine disaster task force.

Mission Objective 7.3: Promote joint research in fisheries as well as in other marine and mineral resources.

To be continued

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