Chapter 16. International Relations Notes for UPSC Mains

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Sri Lanka

India and Sri Lanka

  • Economic
    • FTA
      • Said to be heavily in favour of India
      • Is being renegotiated
    • 500 MW Sampoor thermal project approved
    • Development of Oil Storage facility And infra in and around it
    • Talks for Rajapaksa Airport –
      • Was built by chinese finance as part of obor
      • India is undergoing negotiatio to buy it arguably to counter Chinese Hambantota Port
        • Issue – Has been labeled as the World’s Emptiest airport
    • Colombo Port is crucial for Indian trade
      • Can handle larger vessels
        • Road, Railway and Air connectivity between each other
  • Strategic
    • Coastal Radar
    • China – Colombo port project worth 1.5 billion $ to be scrapped
  • Political-
  • Cultural
    • Ramayana tourist circuit , Bond of Buddhism
    • Modi invited as Chief guest in the Vesak day celebrations
    • Nalanda University participation
  • Scope
    • SEZ in Trincomalee proposed by Lanka
      • Also oil tanker farm in the region
    • India offered IT park setting in Lanka
    • SAARC satellite


  • LAND of Tamils still occupied by military. Mysterious disappearance of people
  • Fishing right issue– indian fishermen fishing in srilankan water with hazardous equipment claiming traditional rights over the Palk Bay area.
    • Banned Bottom Trawling – nets that go up to the sea floor and capture anything In its path without discriminating – Includig corals
    • Use device like MUKHOTA that warns fishermen when they cross bordersa.
    • Other measures – like mechanised trawlers that help in deep sea fishing, joint patrolling, demarcating areas, phasing out bottom trawling rather than completely banning it
  • Dispute over Katchatheevu island
  • Trade issues- the signed FTA is complained to be heavily in favor of india.\
    • CEPA
    • Has been stalled
  • Pact for TRICOMALEE port still not signed
  • China factor –
    • String of Pearls, Chinese submarine, Aid, Infra ,
    • Hambantota – 70% sale to Chinese Firm
      • Counter – Treaty says that it can’t be used for millitary purpose
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Millitarisation in Tamil Region in Sri Lanka

  • Done initially to ensure that LTTE does not rise again
  • However, since then the army has taken over all activities in the region
  • Also, the continued high turnout of Tamils in every elections reaffirm their faith in democracy
  • In contrast, it is the presence of millitary that is harbouring the walls of dicontent between the 2 sides
  • Efforts by Sirisena’s govt
    • Presidential Task Force on Reconciliation headed by the former Prez Chandrika Kumaratunga
    • Gradual release of land held by the army
  • Efforts little, need to fasten it to for the best of Sri Lanka, and the Tamils in particular

Green Shoots

  • Democracy and Federalism
    • Unity govt in place
    • TNA has been given the leader of opposition
    • New constituent assembly
      • Substantial chunk also to TNA
      • The new constitution also rekindles the hope of democracy and true federalism
  • War crimes
    • Closely wotking with UNHRC
    • 6 years since civil war ended
  • China
    • 1.5 billion dollars port project in Colombo to be suspended
    • Similarly most Chinese projects to be re-examined
    • China won’t be allowed to park nuclear submarine
    • Fishermen issue has been recognized as a livelihood and humanitarian issues avoiding any rigid stand spurring out of jingoism. Fishermen bodies on both sides have resumed negotiation.

History Tamils and India

  • Tamils are mostly indentured labourers who were taken by the british in rubber plantations
  • Problems
    • started after independence in 1948, when the Citizenship Acts meant a Majority of Tamils became stateless & Sri Lankan govt sought their repatriation to India
    • Sinhalese – only official language
    • Quota System that discriminated against the Tamils
    • Military repression – Vicious cycle
  • By subsequent agreements India & Sri Lanka acknowledged that Indian Tamils were joint responsibility of India & Sri Lanka
    • A fixed no of Tamils will be repatriated back
  • But, soon civil war like situation broke down
    • Jaffana, the stronghold area of LTTE saw, a blockade being imposed
    • This led to greater demands by Tamil community for intervention
  • India was also disturbed by growing Chinese and American presence and seize of the Tamil cities
  • In 1987, India airlifted relief to Jaffna in 1987 along with Indian and Foreign Journalists
    • Sri Lanka realised its mistake and the Blockade was lifted
  • Shortly after India Sri Lanka accord signed in 1987
    • Deployment of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF)
    • 13th amendement passedd in the constitution
      • Political
        • Colombo agreed to devolution of power to the provinces,
        • creates Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka for greater autonomy in north.
        • Merge Northern and Eastern province
      • Millitary
        • the Sri Lankan troops were to be withdrawn to their barracks in the north
          • Did not happen in reality
        • LTTE were to disarm
          • Did not happen in reality
      • Cultural
        • Sinhala and Tamil as the official language of the country and English as link language.
  • Problems to Troop deployment
    • LTTE more familiar – Guerrilla warfare
    • Indians soldiers Sandewitched
      • Resented by Tamil community in India
      • Resented by Sinhalese who did not want foreign troops in the country
    • Support from Other countries to LTTE
    • Slowly, the govt in Power in Sri Lanka changed
    • And the new President called for Withdrawal of Indian troops
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SRI LANKA Political System

New System 20th Amendment  

  • Earlier proportional representation (PR),
  • the proposed scheme marks a combination of the First Past The Post (FPTP) and PR. Of the total number of 225 seats, it had been decided to earmark 125 seats for FPTP and 100 seats for PR.
  • Again, 75 seats out of 100 would be filled through members representing electoral districts while the remaining 25 seats would be set apart for the national list.  

Sri Lankan political system: Basics-  

  • The government of Sri Lanka is a semi-presidential system determined by the Sri Lankan Constitution.
  • The President, directly elected for a six-year term, is head of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces.
  • The President’s deputy is the prime minister, who leads the ruling party in Parliament.
  • The President appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers responsible to Parliament
  • The election occurs under the Sri Lankan form of the contingent vote.
    • 2 tier system
    • Voters give a preference order of candidates
    • If any 1 gets the absolute majority of 1st choice, then he is elected the winner
    • Else, the top 2 go into the next round
    • Pros
      • Rule of absolute majority & not the simple majority of FPTP
      • 2 level – gives time
      • Followed in advanced countries – US, Mayor elections in London,
      • Elaboration required
    • Cons
      • Very Expensive for a country like India
      • Illiteracy high -difficulty in ranking
      • Also, can be easily used to mislead
      • Loophole – Tactical voting
      • Elaboration required

19th amendment to reduce the presidential power & limiting the terms. Paving way for parliamentary democracy. The immunity of president from judicial review will be removed

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