The many ways of helping Sri Lanka

Source: The post is based on the article “The many ways of helping Sri Lanka” published in the “The Hindu” on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations, Bilateral Relations

Relevance: India-Sri Lanka Relations

News: Recently, Sri Lanka’s economy has been hit by one of the worst economic crises in its history. In this context, India has tried to help out Sri Lanka in a number of ways

India’s Assistance so far and Sri Lanka’s Public Perception of India’s response to the country’s economic crisis

Till now, the Indian government has provided assistance of nearly $4 billion to its neighbor. The support is greatly valued by the various sections of Sri Lankan society like

(1) A Sinhalese farmer said that he has received a normal yield this time thanks to “the supply of chemical fertilizers from India.”

(2) A veteran Sri Lankan government official pointed out that even “certain fringe groups,” which are widely known for their anti-India rhetoric, have stayed silent when the rest of Sri Lankan society was “tremendously appreciative” of what India did.

Scope of more engagement

(1) In Sri Lanka, agriculture and allied activities are the priority areas where India can make a difference.

(a) In Sri Lanka, a considerable quantity of milk powder, dairy products, and other such products are imported. India’s National Dairy Development Board of India can help Sri Lanka in attaining self-sufficiency in dairy production. This would help it to save precious foreign exchange.

(b) Likewise, the poultry sector, which is also in a state of crisis, deserves special treatment. In this, India can help with veterinary medicines, and domestic production of maize used as feed. In this area, Indian agricultural universities can share their knowledge to increase both production and productivity.

(c) Further, agricultural machinery is another area where Sri Lanka needs a helping hand.

(2) Sri Lanka has faced problems on the energy front, which exploded into a major political crisis. Therefore, India’s participation in energy projects will be desirable.

(3) Sri Lanka’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have not achieved their potential for various reasons, one of which is the low adoption of technology, among others. India can help through its programs like the ‘Digital MSME’ and ‘RAMP’ (Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance) which can provide leads to the MSME sector.

(4) India can establish smart classrooms and modern computer labs in Tamilian areas. Indian universities can set up satellite campuses in Sri Lanka and so on.

(5) On the cultural front, India can arrange for greater numbers of Buddhist monks to visit places of religious importance here.

(6) The Indian government could extend liberal loans, share technical expertise or knowledge, as well as help Sri Lankans upgrade their skills in different areas of economic activity.

What should be the future course of action?

India must ensure that the proposed development program is equitably distributed in coverage. For example, The Northern and Eastern Provinces, where the Tamil and Muslim ethnic minorities live, and which were badly hit by the civil war, should be more focused on.

Sri Lanka’s political class and civil society should facilitate the success of the program. They should prevent the anti-India rhetoric of a few groups, which may go against these programs.

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