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A Paradigm Shift in Relations?

N. Manoharan

Edited by Adluri Subramanyam Raju
Kalpaz Publications, Delhi, India, 2007, pp. 346, Rs. 690.00


India-Sri Lanka relations have witnessed a paradigm shift especially since the mid-1990s. The shift has taken place fundamentally in two key areas: politico-strategic and economic. Absence of Cold War hangovers, nonexistence of diplomatic irritants on the ethnic issue, and phenomenal growth in trade and investment ties were the principal reasons for improved bilateral relations. The book under review details the underlying causes for such a shift, how it happened, and the future problems and prospects. The 18 chapters are divided into six sections covering historical, political, economic, strategic, and social dimensions of relations between the two countries.   Some chapters stand out as highly informative. Nirupama Rao, with her hands-on experience as High Commissioner in Colombo, suggests various ways for improving the existing ‘win-win’ economic relations. P. Sahadevan, after analysing the existing policy dilemma in New Delhi, argues that ‘an ideal India [Sri Lanka] policy should combine “non intervention” with “active interest” in the conflict.’ In the analyses, however, Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and the resultant change in equation between India and the LTTE is ignored. Devraj brings out the pertinent point of ‘inhuman policies’ of Indian and Sri Lankan governments that converted Indian Origin Tamils ‘into a merchandise to be divided between the two countries in the name of good neighbourly relations.’ Manoj Soni’s observation that ‘India and Sri Lanka need to work on issues of convergence for the larger sake of South Asian resurgence’ is worth exploring. Indra Nath Mukherji’s conclusion that India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement ‘serve as a model worth emulating in this region’ is apt. In fact this point runs as a thread in many chapters. It is to be noted that the FTA between the two countries is a ‘win-win’ despite unequal markets with less complementarities. If this model is followed, it will undoubtedly propel SAFTA as a successful economic arrangement.   Apart from FTA, the juridical framework for the relationship is provided by other bilateral agreements like a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA), a Bilateral Investment Protection & Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) and agreements/MoUs on Air Services, Small Development Projects, Cooperation in Small Scale Industries, Tourism, IT, Space, Agriculture and Education, Fisheries, agreement on Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism & Prevention of Illicit Drug Trafficking, agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons. It is surprising that the book fails to address the framework in its entirety.   Subramanyam Raju’s ...

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