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Integrated Country Strategy

For Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in India - 2021/2023:
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa receiving the first consignment of ‘Vaccine Maitri’ vaccine from Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa receiving the first consignment of ‘Vaccine Maitri’ vaccine from Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay.

[Part IV]

Mission Objective 4.2: Promote Hindu exchanges between the two countries:

Both India and Sri Lanka share a common heritage of Hinduism.

Key Tasks for Implementation

(1) Ceremonial handing over of the sacred stone from the Sita Amman temple in Sri Lanka to the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

(2) Seek opportunities for Sri Lankan Hindu religious leaders and scholars to visit India, and interact with their Indian counterparts.

(3) Active participation by Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions in major local religious ceremonies.

Mission Objective 4.3: Project Sri Lanka’s culture, traditional art and heritage in India through cultural exchanges highlighting shared historical connections between the people of the two countries:

Sri Lanka Diplomatic Representations in India should endeavour to actively project Sri Lankan culture, art and heritage beyond the usual art circuits of the major metropolises of India. The most practical way to organise cultural shows and performances is for them to coincide with major events like the National Day celebrations, Vesak etc. Moreover, the Diplomatic Representations may actively support and facilitate the participation of Sri Lankan artists in events organised by the Government of India and other important cultural entities in India. The focus should be on projecting our common roots. Organisations like the Kalinga Lanka Foundation would be useful means to achieve these objectives.

Key Tasks for Implementation

(1) Celebrate major Sri Lankan cultural and religious festivals such as New Year and Vesak with the participation of Indian nationals, through/ at the Diplomatic Representations.

(2) Organise two cultural events per year in the cities where Sri Lanka Missions are located, or, in other major cities, with the participation of Sri Lankan artists and performers (they could coincide with major events like the National Day celebrations).

(3) Facilitate participation of Sri Lankan artists including from Provinces in cultural events, art exhibitions etc. organised by entities in India.

(4) Encourage and facilitate cultural events organised by the Sri Lankan student community in various cities across India.

Mission Objective 4.4: Promote exchanges of religious leaders, pilgrims and scholars through the Buddhist circuit, the Ramayana, the Murugan and the Shiva Shakthi trails, as well as the Vailankanni trail in South India:

Apart from the tourist or pilgrimage aspects of the Buddhist circuit, the Ramayana, the Murugan and the Shiva Shakthi trails as well as the Vailankanni trail could be utilized to foster exchanges at the level of religious leaders and scholars.

Key Tasks for Implementation

(1) Facilitate visits by Sri Lankan Buddhist leaders and scholars to the Buddhist circuit, including that of Odisha, in India.

(2) Facilitate visits by Indian religious leaders and scholars to the Ramayana, Murugan and Shiva Shakthitrails in Sri Lanka.

(3) Facilitate visits by Sri Lankan Catholic leaders and scholars to the Vailankanni trail in South India.

Mission Objective 4.5: Obtain enhanced training and educational opportunities in India for Sri Lankans, including those from the plantation sector, by increasing the number of scholarships from the Government of India (ICCR) and other private universities of repute:

In order to increase the number of scholarships that are provided to Sri Lankan students by the Ministry of External Affairs of India under the aegis of the ICCR, a concrete proposal has to be made through the Ministry of Higher Education of Sri Lanka (the nodal agency in Sri Lanka) to the ICCR through the High Commission of India in Colombo. This can, thereafter be followed up by the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi with the Ministry of External Affairs of India. A similar request for enhancement of slots for the ITEC scheme of the Ministry could be made along with concrete substantive reasoning for seeking such enhancement, to the Indian High Commission in Colombo. This, too, will be followed up by the Sri Lanka High Commission with the Ministry in New Delhi. The Sri Lanka Diplomatic Representations can also approach individual private universities of repute in India under their respective consular jurisdiction, with a view to securing scholarships or fee concessions for Sri Lankan students.

Key Tasks for Implementation

(1) The High Commissioner to meet with the Director-General of ICCR with the objective of enhancing the number of scholarships provided by the Government of India to Sri Lanka, including to underprivileged students from the plantation sector.

(2) The Head of Mission/ New Delhi, and Heads of Post in Chennai and Mumbai to meet with Vice Chancellors/ Heads of Institutions of reputed private universities in the states under their consular jurisdiction, with a view to increasing the number of scholarships provided to Sri Lankan students, including those of the plantation sector.

(3) Proactive dissemination of information on the availability of higher education opportunities in India, amongst the general public in Sri Lanka.

(4) Maintain a database of Sri Lankan students studying in the states under the consular jurisdiction of each Mission.

(5) Promote and facilitate MoUs between Indian and Sri Lankan universities for exchanges of students and faculty.

(6) Enhance cooperation with the South Asia University in New Delhi as a centre of excellence.

Mission Objective 4.6: Strengthen technological and scientific cooperation between Sri Lanka and India under the framework of the India – Sri Lanka Joint Science and Technology Committee:

Enhanced cooperation in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, IT, engineering etc. would prove beneficial for Sri Lanka. India being a leading manufacturer of pharmaceuticals with its own, homegrown COVID-19 vaccines could prove to be advantageous for Sri Lanka, if pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities could be set up in the country. India has some home-grown IT majors; establishing commercial links with them could prove beneficial. Studying the ‘Digital India’ initiative of the Government of India would be of importance in this regard. The vast expanse of India throws a major challenge to the production of crops with varied soil, environment, precipitation patterns, etc. A robust agricultural scientific approach has been instrumental in growing crops throughout the geographical expanse of India. Also, the country in the past several years has had an effective disaster management system in place to deal with natural calamities, such as cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Sri Lanka can immensely benefit from Indian experiences in these fields. Since the world is moving towards achieving SDGs by 2030, studying the Green Energy Concept of India and drawing from it would be beneficial to Sri Lanka.

Key Tasks for Implementation

(1) Coordination with relevant agencies regarding the implementation of projects as per the agreed minutes of the meetings of the India - Sri Lanka Joint Science and Technology Committee.

(2) Seeking avenues of cooperation at state level in the areas of science and technology and agriculture.

Mission Goal 5: Project a more positive image of Sri Lanka in India through public diplomacy initiatives, with a view to reaching out to the people of India and strengthening people to people contacts.

Overview:

In addition to cultural diplomacy initiatives, public diplomacy initiatives are very useful in enhancing Sri Lanka’s image in India and to strengthen people-to-people contacts. In this regard, continuous engagement with the Indian media and influential journalists of foreign media outlets based in New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai would be helpful to create a more positive image of Sri Lanka, as well as to combat any disinformation campaigns and reports inimical to Sri Lanka. In the same vein, the Sri Lanka Diplomatic Representations in India must endeavour to build contacts in prominent think tanks and in the academia, with a particular focus on establishing contacts with emerging, young influencers throughout India. Establishing close contacts with emerging young influencers would contribute towards enhancing the profile of Sri Lanka in the eyes of the future decision-makers in India. In addition, the Sri Lankan Missions are to endeavour to establish contacts, particularly with political researchers who write articles on Sri Lanka in these think tanks, as they reflect the thoughts of the intelligentsia and influence the political posturing of the government of the day. Further, it would be imperative to foster greater people- to-people contacts at all levels.

Mission Objective 5.1: Foster networking between scholars, archaeologists, journalists, writers, filmmakers, dance troupes etc. to promote goodwill between the peoples of the two countries:

It is important to build networks between think tanks, scholars, archaeologists, journalists, writers, filmmakers etc. of the two countries with a view to promoting goodwill between the peoples. This would enable the creation of groups which would promote positive images of each other’s countries.

Key Tasks for Implementation

(1) Coordinate exchanges between associations of journalists, writers and filmmakers.

(2) Facilitate visits by Sri Lankan journalists, writers, filmmakers etc. to interact with their Indian counterparts.

(3) Explore avenues for establishing Sri Lanka and India Chairs at universities in the two capitals, in particular, the pursuit and follow-up on the proposal to establish a Sinhala Language Chair at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

(4) Maintain a database of scholars, archaeologists, journalists, writers, filmmakers etc.

(5) Seek the possibility of building contacts among the museums, universities, archaeological departments of the two countries and promote joint excavations by archaeologists of the two countries to foster historical connections.

(6) Seek the possibility of securing internships for Sri Lankan journalists in Indian media establishments and vice versa.

(7) Seek the possibility of obtaining films/ tele-series that are beyond the popular stream, particularly from individual states, for screening /telecast in Sri Lanka.

Mission Objective 5.2: Engage with prominent Indian media, prominent personalities of influential foreign media outlets based in India, opinion and thought leaders and influencers, to generate enhanced awareness with regard to Sri Lanka. Organise media tours to Sri Lanka:

Constant engagement with the media, opinion and thought leaders as well as influencers, is extremely important. This could be both informal as well as formal.

Key Tasks for Implementation

(1) Head of Mission/ Post to give six media interviews (both print and electronic) per year, i.e., an interview once every two months.

(2) Organise annual media familiarization visits to Sri Lanka for reputed Indian journalists who cover the region.

To be continued


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