The Sri Lankan government has resisted all international pressures so far but delay in reaching a political settlement with the Tamils may force India to impose a solution.
Indian policies towards Sri Lanka aim at establishing its influence in the Tamil population.
Unlike its interventionist policy towards Sri Lanka in the 1980s, which maligned India’s image in the Asian region, the Indian government during the civil war (2009) and postcivil war (May 2009) period has adopted a non-interventionist policy towards Sri Lanka aimed at establishing its influence in the country, particularly in the Tamildominated Northern region.
The Indian External Affairs Minister, S. M. Krishna, made a detailed statement in parliament in August 2011, explaining the primary focus of the Indian government’s non-interventionist policy during the post-civil war period in Sri Lanka. He stressed that the Indian government’s main objective was ‘to ensure the welfare and well being of Sri Lankan Tamils, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and to assist the development of Northern Sri Lanka.’
The Indian government has been emphasizing that the Sri Lankan government needs to take urgent and ‘expeditious steps towards genuine national reconciliation including early return of internally displaced persons to their respective homes, early withdrawal of emergency regulations, investigations into allegations of human rights violations, restoration of normalcy in affected areas, the reduction and ultimate elimination of high security zones, accountability for missing persons and redressal of humanitarian concerns of affected families.’
The Indian government has also been pressing for the introduction of a new system of institutional reforms by the Sri Lankan government, including a devolution package for the Northern region. Recently, commenting on the lifting of emergency laws by the Sri Lankan President on August 25, the Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr. Krishna, in his statement on September 4 in the Indian parliament cautiously welcomed the step and hoped that this will be ‘followed by effective steps leading to genuine national reconciliation in the country.’
Indian policy towards Sri Lanka is mainly influenced by two developments. First, the Indian government is concerned about the increasing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka. China has emerged as the largest lender in Sri Lanka - $1.2 billion in 2009 and $821 million in 2010. As part of its non-interventionist policy, in the post-civil war period, India has also been concentrating on providing economic assistance, grants and loans for relief, rehabilitation and development work in Sri Lanka. The government of India in June 2009 announced a grant of Rs. 500 crore for relief, rehabilitation and resettlement work in Sri Lanka, especially in Northern Sri Lanka; it announced the construction of 50,000 houses mainly for IDPs. Under the Line of Credit of about U.S. $800 million the Indian government is involved in major infrastructure development initiatives, such as railway line restoration projects in Northern Sri Lanka; rehabilitation of the Kanakesanthurai harbor; joint venture project at Sampur south of Trincomalee harbor; restoration of Duraiappa stadium; construction of cultural centre at Jaffna; vocational centers at Batticaloa and Nuwara Eliya; and petroleum exploration in the Mannar Basin.
India has also assisted in the demining process in Northern Sri Lanka. In order to facilitate its efforts for financial and developmental assistance, India has opened two new consulates, in Jaffna and Hambantota, besides a consulate in Kandy and its High Commission in Colombo. As observed by Sri Lankan analyst, Sergei DeSilva Ranasinghe in his article published by
Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna with his Sri Lankan
counterpart G.L. Peiris.