India-Sri Lanka Current Affairs

India signs Agreement to provide $318 million Line of Credit to Sri Lanka

India has signed an agreement with Sri Lanka to provide USD 318 million as line of credit for developing Sri Lanka’s railway sector. The agreement was signed between Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and Mass media, and Managing Director of India’s Export Import Bank in Colombo.

Background

In 2015, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sri Lanka he had declared a line of credit of USD 318 million for the development of Sri Lanka’s railway sector. That visit of Prime Minister Modi was the first standalone bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister since 1987.

The line of credit comes at the backdrop of increasing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean nation. China has made significant investments in Sri Lanka mainly in developing ports. Though China claims the investments are part of its Belt and Road Initiative that aims to link it with Europe and Africa via the Indian Ocean, the ports have the potential to be used as a base for its naval operations.

At present, Indian development assistance to Sri Lanka primarily focuses on improvement of infrastructure, livelihood development, education, healthcare, and capacity building. India continues to be a major developmental partner for Sri Lanka for nearly 40 years.

So far India has provided four lines of credit to Sri Lanka for developing its railway sector that totally amounted to USD 966 million. Sri Lanka has made used of these credit facilities to improve the southern and northern railway lines as well as for procuring the rolling stocks for the Sri Lanka Railways.

In addition, over the years Indian foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka has also increased rapidly.

 

 

 

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Prime Minister to attend UN Vesak Day Celebrations in Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Modi will travel to Sri Lanka to attend the Buddhist festival ‘Vesak Day’ (Buddha Jayanti) that commemorates birth, enlighten and death of Buddha. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to Sri Lanka since becoming the Prime Minister. ‘International Day of Vesak’ celebrations will be held in Colombo from May 12 to 14. As a part of the celebrations, International Buddhist Conference will be held in which over 400 delegates from more than 100 countries will participate. Vesak is the most important day in the Buddhist calendar. This is the first time Sri Lanka will host the festival.

Background

The Buddhist link between India and Sri Lanka dates back to 2nd century BC. During the reign of Emperor Ashoka, Buddhism was made as the official religion of India. Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitta is believed to have brought a branch of original Bodh tree to Anuradhapura. Theravada Buddhism is widely practiced in Sri Lanka.

During last year Vesak celebrations held in Lumbini, China taking advantage of strained relation between New Delhi and Kathmandu partnered with Nepal to celebrate Vesak. China has been aggressively pursuing a strategy of staking claim to the legacy of Buddhism to boost its cultural influence. India to counter China’s strategy has been actively engaging with South East Asian countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to showcase its heritage.

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