India involves Sri Lanka’s rescue regardless of its China tilt. Will Colombo mend its methods now?

India involves Sri Lanka’s rescue regardless of its China tilt. Will Colombo mend its methods now?

With Sri Lanka going through a extreme scarcity of fertilizers after the import of chemical fertilizers from China was banned, Delhi steps in to hurry up provide of nano fertilizer to Colombo.

Representational picture. News18

“Sri Lanka dumps Chinese fertilizer and imports Nano Nitrogen liquid fertilizer from India,” screamed a Colombo media headline just a few days again reflecting the rising exasperation with China’s more and more high-handed conduct within the island nation.

The information merchandise referred to the soured deal of natural fertilizer imported from China final August, from Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group which had signed a contract for the provision of 96,000 tonnes of natural fertilizer and three,000 tonnes of powdered type of natural fertilizer. When the Department of Agriculture examined the imported cargo, it was discovered to include a number of dangerous bacterial species.

Another pattern offered by the corporate was additionally discovered to be contaminated. Following this, the Department banned all imports of fertilizers from China, and the agriculture ministry suspended the $63 million contract awarded to the Chinese firm.

As Sri Lanka was going through a extreme scarcity of fertilizers after the import of chemical fertilizers was banned, India stepped in to hurry up the provision of nano fertilizer to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka went forward with the import of three.1 million litres of nano liquid fertilizer from India, which have been examined and located to be freed from contamination.

The complete episode has irritated China. The Chinese embassy in Colombo condemned the check carried out by Sri Lanka’s National Plant Quarantine Service, which discovered the presence of Erwinia and different dangerous pathogens within the Chinese natural fertilizer samples. Sri Lanka state minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, mentioned that as now we will’t import fertilizer from China, we resorted to getting it from India. “China is questioning us as to why we are not purchasing the fertilizer from them,” he mentioned.

The natural fertilizer episode lays naked the seamier aspect of Sri Lanka’s shut relationship with China. Of course, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, addressing the Communist Party of China (CPC) and World Political Parties summit on 8 July 2021, complimented China for by no means attempting “to impose its own political views on the world” and by no means feeling “the need to manipulate the affairs of other countries.”

But the real-world behaviour of China with smaller international locations has been manipulative and intrusive. A latest Sri Lanka information report on this context headlined

“Canadian Energy Enterprise Accuses China of Hijacking Major Project in Sri Lanka” offers the seamier story of China’s state owned corporations’ conduct in compromising confidentiality agreements which forbade the usage of the work merchandise and proprietary data, to their benefit.

Close on the heels of India’s provide of nano nitrogen natural fertilizer to keep at bay fertilizer disaster, comes the report of Sri Lanka looking for a $500 million credit score line from India to pay for its crude oil purchases. It comes within the midst of the extreme international alternate crunch Sri Lanka is going through. The state-owned oil entity already owes $3 billion to 2 state-owned banks. In all chance, India will accommodate Sri Lanka’s request as oil scarcity can have a crippling impact on Sri Lanka’s financial system, already reeling underneath the affect of the COVID-19

pandemic. In this context, Sri Lanka is more likely to finalise India’s long-standing provide to develop the oil tank farms for strategic power reserves in Trincomalee. This challenge got here up when India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla known as upon the President throughout his three-day go to to Colombo within the first week of October.

Both India and Sri Lanka appear to be eager to ratchet up their relations which had taken some beating in latest occasions. India’s actual time assist in the wake of the container ship X-Press Pearl, carrying 25 tons of nitric acid, catching fireplace off Colombo port on 19 May, will need to have come as a second of reality to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on firming up pleasant relations with India. He most likely had a rethink on the best way India was sidelined in his coverage priorities. First got here the course correction he utilized to the forgettable episode of discarding trilateral settlement with India and Japan on joint improvement of the Colombo Eastern Container Terminal. India’s port infrastructure large Adani Group has obtained 51 p.c stake in a deal signed with Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings and Sri Lanka Port Authority to collectively develop the West Container Terminal on the Colombo Port.


Then got here the Integrated Country Strategy paper of the newly appointed Sri Lanka High Commissioner to India which had the President’s blessing. It speaks of elevating bilateral relationships to a strategic stage, bolstering international investments, boosting connectivity and increasing strategic cooperation in defence and Indian Ocean safety.

Many of the factors within the technique paper resonate with what Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had mentioned with the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister throughout his Colombo go to. In his conferences, he had underscored the significance India attaches to expeditiously taking ahead mutually useful initiatives, together with proposals to boost air and sea connectivity between India and Sri Lanka. He additionally reiterated India’s place on full implementation of the provisions underneath the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, together with devolution of powers and holding of provincial elections on the earliest. His go to to Jaffna is a robust reminder of India’s continued curiosity within the welfare of the Tamil minority.

The Foreign Secretary’s go to was adopted every week later by the go to of India’s Army Chief General MM Naravane. He met the highest management to underscore the significance India attaches to expeditiously taking ahead mutually useful initiatives. During his assembly with the President, General Naravane mentioned that India “highly expects” the soundness of neighbouring international locations for regional safety. Already, over 1,000 Sri Lanka military officers are educated yearly in India. According to the Presidential Media Division, a specifically designed coaching course for 50 Army officers will probably be offered to Sri Lanka within the close to future on the request of the Chief of Defence Staff and the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army. It is fascinating to notice India-Sri Lanka joint military coaching train Mitra Shakthi was being held throughout his go to.

In April 2020, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had mentioned the Quad meets India’s aspiration of turning into “a stabilising power”. He known as India’s current international coverage as “India Way” to deliver the nation’s capacities for world good to supply safety and connectivity and firmly coping with world challenges. India could be a “decider or a shaper” than “abstainer” on points like local weather change and connectivity. To be a stabilising energy, India must improve its relations with Sri Lanka to the strategic stage. The moot level is can India do it, within the face of aggressive promotion of Chinese pursuits, backed by financial and navy muscle? India has to, as a result of it has no different choice.

Colonel R Hariharan, former MI specialist on South Asia and terrorism, served as the top of intelligence with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka 1987-90. Views expressed are private.

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