Ranil Wickremesinghe is gearing up for his momentous visit to India as the President of Sri Lanka. This journey holds immense significance for Wickremesinghe’s leadership and carries profound implications for the Indo-Lanka relationship. However, this visit raises grave concerns, as Sri Lanka’s neighbour has a notorious reputation for exerting substantial influence over the island nation and even meddling in its internal affairs. India deserves credit for assisting Sri Lanka during its most difficult times, but it must also be held accountable for manipulating and wreaking havoc on the island nation to fulfill its insatiable desire for dominance.
The Congress-led government, in particular, shamefully financed and armed numerous terrorists, unleashing chaos upon this island. The consequences of their actions were severe, including the tragic loss of the Prime Minister’s life on their soil while he was in opposition. In the face of such evil, India had no choice but to distance itself from the terrorists disguised as “liberators” and stand alongside the Sri Lankan government in eliminating these despicable elements.
However, under the governance of Prime Minister Modi, many Sri Lankans hold hope that such heinous acts will not repeat, as he is known for his staunch opposition to the expired, nepotistic practices of old Indian politics. We can at least dare to dream and cling to that hope until we witness a new reality unfold.
One of the pressing issues that Wickremesinghe must address during his visit is the long-delayed local elections. Sri Lanka has been grappling with political instability, and by pledging to hold these elections, the President can demonstrate his unwavering commitment to establishing a robust and inclusive democracy. By initiating local elections in selected provinces, he could aim to quell political unrest and foster stability, which is crucial for the future of his leadership.
Bilateral talks cannot sidestep the customary focus on China, where Indian policymakers eagerly await the Chinese response to the highly anticipated debt-restructuring of the island nation, despite Wickremesinghe’s scheduled visit to Beijing in October.
The scars of the civil war continue to haunt Sri Lanka, and Wickremesinghe must take decisive steps to heal the wounds of the victims. Establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a significant stride towards acknowledging the grievances of those affected by the violence. By demonstrating his intention to initiate this commission, the President signifies his willingness to confront the painful history and work towards genuine reconciliation. This endeavour will not only bring justice to the victims but also contribute to long-lasting peace and unity in the country, provided it addresses the hypocrisy of Tamil politicians who continue to manipulate the sentiments of Tamils in the North and East while enjoying extravagant Colombo-centric lifestyles.
To bolster Sri Lanka’s governance and ensure efficient service delivery, Sri Lanka plans to introduce a similar system to India’s Aadhaar Cards. This unique identification system will provide every citizen with a distinct and reliable identity number, but concerns remain regarding who will hold the key to those massive data centres. Undoubtedly, this initiative has the potential to streamline administrative processes, enhance security, and promote transparency in the nation. However, it also brings potential risks not only to national security but also to the fundamental rights of citizens.
Furthermore, the President will emphasize the importance of strengthening the bilateral relationship by welcoming Indian investment and development projects in Sri Lanka, primarily focusing on the North, East, and Central Provinces. With the Adani conglomerate likely to take the lead in these projects, there is a remarkable opportunity for substantial growth and economic progress. Such collaborations paint a rosy picture, promising job creation, infrastructure development, and technological advancements that will benefit both nations.
India has urged Sri Lanka to accept the local currency for trading, and this will be another pivotal point of discussion during the visit. If the Sri Lankan monetary board displays confidence in this step, it could open doors for increased cooperation, trade diversification, and mutual prosperity. By nurturing a robust trade relationship, both countries stand to gain and create a solid foundation for long-term cooperation in various sectors. However, any such projects should deepen the interdependence of India and Sri Lanka while respecting the mutual sensitivities of both nations.
President Wickremesinghe appears to be a fortunate individual standing on a sinking ship, as India’s gaze remains fixated solely upon him. Nevertheless, the ticking clock serves as a constant reminder of the urgency. May you navigate these challenging waters with resilience and emerge victorious, Mr. President.