Colombo, March 1: The Indian Deputy High Commissioner Vinod K Jacob addressed the Indian Navy-trained Sri Lanka Defense Forces personnel on board Indian Naval Ship Sukanya in Colombo on 28 February. He said that training is the strongest and most enduring pillar of bilateral Defence cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.
Jacob noted that the Indian Defence Forces offer about 1500 training slots every year to Sri Lanka which are financed through a special program with an annual allocation of USD 7 million.
Training is imparted for cadets at premier Defense Institutes in India like National Defense College, Indian Military Academy, Air Force Academy and Indian Naval Academy. In addition, various service-specific training modules and staff courses are also offered.
Sri Lanka receives the maximum number of billets in Higher Defense Management and National Defense College Courses. The Deputy High Commissioner noted that it is a matter of immense satisfaction for India that some of these alumni have risen to the ranks of Service Chiefs of Sri Lanka.
Deputy High Commissioner Jacob remarked that India-Sri Lanka relations are excellent and form the highlight of India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.
While both countries are working to deepen engagement across the board, five areas are of particular significance in the immediate short and medium term. First is the potential for economic and financial cooperation by building on the Indian support to the people of Sri Lanka in 2022 to the tune of USD 4 billion.
He emphasized that focus could be laid on areas such as trade in national currencies, ease of investments and strengthening financial cooperation. Second, the two sides are working towards increasing air, ferry, digital and energy connectivity. Third, a new type of development cooperation partnership building on the existing multi-billion portfolio with special emphasis on vulnerable communities is required. Fourth, both sides need to enhance people to people exchanges, particularly in tourist movements. Fifth, it is essential to strengthen the cultural, religious, music, movie and sporting links for mutual benefit.