Modi’s Sri Lanka visit: Mapping the road ahead

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recently-concluded visit to Sri Lanka did not generate any big bang commitments, but laid out an ambitious roadmap for providing more economic substance and strategic heft to this crucial bilateral relationship.
Mr Modi’s visit was rife with symbolism as well as substance, and emphasised on shared cultural relations and economic and security concerns to pave way for a long-term partnership.
The Sri Lankan visit ought to be seen within the larger rubric of the Indian Ocean Region diplomacy: China’s overtures to gain strategic in roads in India’s neighbourhood with economic investments, India’s new government pushing for dynamism in the economy, and India’s aspirations in a multipolar world. There has been a subtle shift in envisioning the region as well. While China pushes the Maritime Silk Road project, India’s ‘Mausam’ initiative, seeks to project soft power, and revive cultural linkages among the Indian Ocean littoral, showing India’s desire to move to a new regional identity (beyond SAARC), and ensuring a leadership role within it.

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