Generally a friendly relation has existed between India and Sri Lanka. However, the Sri Lankan civil war and inefficiency of the Indian government in intervening during the civil war marred this amicable relation. Both the nations have maintained diplomatic ties since Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948. A healthy bilateral relation was established by the then Prime Minister of India- Indira Gandhi and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka- Sirimavo Bandaranaike. An agreement signed on 29th July, 1987 between the then Prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi and the then President of Sri Lanka, J.R. Jayewardene to address three controversial issues: people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka, strategic interests, rights of Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. The Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord, as the agreement is popularly known, led to some unfortunate events. With the signing of the agreement India got engaged in a war with a separatist organization of Sri Lanka called, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. A special peace keeping force called the IPKF was employed to curb the LTTE. Around 1200 Indian soldiers gave their life fighting. Further, India felt insulted when Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, demanded for the withdrawal of the IPKF even before the completion of the mission. India’s sentiments received the hardest blow when Rajiv Gandhi was killed by the LTTE. The killing was masterminded by LTTE chief, V. Prabakaran. The incident led to withdrawal of support that Tamil Militants enjoyed in Tamil Nadu. India acted less actively in issues related to Sri Lanka’s Tamil Militants. However, the LTTE was finally crushed by the Sri Lanka with India’s support in 2009.
A free trade agreement was signed between both the nations in 2000. Since then the two neighbours have witnessed positive growth rate in trade. Further, both the nations being members of organizations like South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme, SAARC, South Asian Economic Union and BIMSTEC are making effort to strengthen commercial and cultural ties.
India has willingly cooperated with Sri Lanka for the latter’s development in areas of education, health, etc.