The recent resumption of air services on the Chennai-Jaffna sector along with efforts to have the recommencement of ferry services between the Northern Province of Sri Lanka and Puducherry or Tamil Nadu in the southern part of India has heightened the prospects of closer ties between the neighbours in the South Asian Region. This is at a time when Sri Lanka is trying to get back to normalcy after a turbulent phase of political activity and a deadly spell of economic crisis.
The process of recovery from the crisis has been made easier, thanks to a bilateral assistance of around $4 billion provided by India for ameliorating the difficulties faced by the people of Sri Lanka. The relief materials sent by India had included significant contributions from Tamil Nadu. India has shown time and again its interest in the economic development of the Northern Province, where Tamils constitute the dominant section of society.
Even on the day of the inaugural flight to Chennai from Jaffna on December 12, India’s High Commissioner Gopal Baglay offered Sri Lanka support for a project of expanding the capacity of Palaly International Airport in Jaffna. Notwithstanding historical and cultural bonds between the Northern Province and Tamil Nadu, the fisheries dispute in the Palk Bay has been an eyesore in ties. Even as there is enormous scope for collaboration between India and Sri Lanka in many areas, including infrastructure development, there are also challenges.
For the purpose of taking a holistic view of the situation, the Press Institute of India organised a webinar titled Reviving India-Sri lanka Ties – A Holistic View of Recent Developments on 27th December. Panellists included Prof Tissa Vitharana, Member of Parliament, Sri Lanka, and leader, Lanka Sama Samaja Party; Ayathurai Santhan, bilingual writer, and Premchand Fellow, Sahitya Akademi of India; V. Niranjan, coordinator, Jaffna Managers Forum; N. Sathiya Moorthy, policy analyst and political commentator; and T. Ramakrishnan, associate editor, The Hindu. After Sashi Nair, director, Press Institute of India, welcomed everybody, Ramakrishnan initiated the discussion and moderated.