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01 October 2023

Lanka projects to be reviewed by India next week

By Correspondent

When Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris visits India next week, the two countries are expected to review the status of projects undertaken by the larger neighbour in the island nation, Live Mint & the Wall Street Journal reported.

He will be in New Delhi for the meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission, an umbrella body that looks at various areas of bilateral cooperation from science and technology to agriculture.
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and his Sri Lankan counterpart Prof. G. L. Peiris will lead the delegations of both countries which will also mark the first interaction between the two after the former was named foreign minister in October last year replacing S. M. Krishna.
India has been engaged in reconstruction and development projects in the north and the east of the country, since the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009, areas that were the main theatres of the three-decade civil war that ravaged the country.
Rebuilding rail roads in the north and the east, setting up several vocational institutes, repair and construction of schools and houses and, supplying inputs of agricultural renaissance are among the projects undertaken by India.
To bring the minority community into the national mainstream, India has been pushing the Sri Lankan administration simultaneously to introduce political and democratic reforms.
It was the feeling of alienation among the mainly Hindu Tamil community that sparked the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka in 1980s.
The creation of a separate state carved out of Sri Lanka’s north and eastern provinces with traditional Tamil majorities was the demand of Tamil separatist groups.
After the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the chief of the Tamil Tiger militant group, the war officially ended in 2009 but, since then the Sri Lankan government has been accused of human rights violations, especially during the last stages of the war.
Due to the sharing of close cultural ties between the Sri Lankan Tamils and India’s 62 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu, the issue of the handling of the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka has become a sensitive issue in India.     
There have been strains recently over India voting in favour of a motion censuring Sri Lanka at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva though the relations between both countries have traditionally been close.
After the vote taken last year, a review of Sri Lanka’s record is expected in March in Geneva.
A person closed to the developments on the Sri Lankan side said, “This issue has not been discussed with India yet”.
When Sri Lanka increased the excise duty on imported cars last year there was strains on economic side as well.
The move does not single out firms from India – largest trading partner of Sri Lanka – but affects them most because they account for 95 per cent of the auto market in the island nation.
The increase influence of China – India’s strategic and economic rival – in the island nation has become an issue of worry for India.
With the most notable infrastructure project, the $1.5 billion port at Hambantota in the Southern Province, the world’s second largest economy has been involved in many projects in Sri Lanka.


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