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Special lecture in New Delhi by LKIIRS Executive Director

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A special lecture on the ‘Role of Sri Lanka in South Asia and Beyond: Emerging new Contours’ was delivered by Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of Sri Lanka Executive Director Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne on 19 January at the Habitat Centre, New Delhi.  The special lecture was organised by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in New Delhi.

The initial welcome remarks were made by RIS Director General Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi and the session was chaired by former Indian diplomat Ashok Sajjanhar.

Dr. Panditharatne reflected on four emerging contours and Sri Lanka’s role in South Asia and beyond.  She identified these contours as; ‘Sri Lanka in the centre of the Indian Ocean gaining a South Asian geographic identity’; ‘In the past, Sri Lanka focused on political diplomacy but now more it is more focused towards economic diplomacy’; ‘Strategically non-aligned but cautious and actively engaging with regional powers’ and ‘Seeking to demonstrate that Sri Lanka follows regional and international norms.’

The presentation encapsulated the discernible shifts in these characteristics. She noted that these four developments in Sri Lanka’s foreign relations are nascent but generally positive. Pursued in combination, these developments would elevate Sri Lanka’s standing, while strengthening its neighbourhood relations Dr. Panditaratne added.

Dr. Panditaratne also noted in her lecture that Sri Lanka is being rebranded in the present context in order to aspire to be a major trading hub in Asia. Furthermore, she noted that Sri Lanka has been able to bring its Free Trade Agreements (FTA) into force, which in turn impacts positively to the rebranding process. She stated that economic diplomacy is given priority and that adherence to the rule of law and good governance gave a new face to the rebranding process.

At the end of the special lecture, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in India Chitranganee Wagiswara made special remarks referring to current developments in which she highlighted that Sri Lanka has to face many challenges. She emphasised that Sri Lanka is a resilient country and that it is developing the economy in order to play an important role as a hub in the region while pursuing political stability and promoting links with the international community. The High Commissioner also referred to India’s neighbourhood policy and the Sri Lanka – India linkages which contributes to closer engagement between the two countries.

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