On August 9, 2020, former president of Sri Lanka Shri Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the new prime minister.
Rajapaksa has completed 50 years of politics in July 2020. He was elected as the Member of Parliament at the age of 24. Since then, he has been elected as President of Sri Lanka twice and appointed as Prime Minister thrice.
The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old. India has given significant importance to the island nation under its “Neighbourhood First Policy”.
The India-Sri Lanka Commercial Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2000. The exports from India to Sri Lanka in 2016 were 3.83 billion USD and the exports from Sri Lanka to India in the same year were 551 million USD. Sri Lanka is one of the largest trading partners in SAARC.
India has helped Sri Lanka in the following ways
- Sri Lanka is one of the major recipients of development credit with a commitment of 2.63 billion USD from India.
- India helped to repair the Tsunami damaged Colombo-Matara rail link.
- In 2016, emergency ambulance service was launched with an assistance of 7.55 million USD.
- The National Export Insurance Account of Export-Import Bank of India signed an agreement to finance three water supply projects in Sri Lanka.
- In 2017 floods, India responded immediately by sending three ships with relief materials including inflatable boats, food supplies, diving team, water and medical teams for food relief efforts.
- Sri Lanka handed over the loss making Mattala Rajpaksa International Airport in Hambantota to India to pay back dues of China’s EXIM bank that had provided loans to the build the airport. The AAI has acquired 70% controlling stake in the airport.
- In 2019, India and Japan signed agreement to build the East Container Terminal at the Colombo port.
The following are the major irritants between the countries
- China: Sri Lanka has leased the Hambantota port to a Chinese firm for 99 years.
- Article 9: The Article 9 of Sri Lankan Constitution says that Buddhism is accorded the foremost place in the country. Also, it is the duty of the Sri Lankan Government to protect the religion.
- Terrorism: The Easter attacks have brought National Thowheeth Jamath with suspected foreign ties. It is a local militant Islamist group
- Fishermen Issue: The proximity of territorial waters in both the countries in Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits have created incidents of fishermen crossing the international border.
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