Strategic importance

  • Sri Lanka located at the southern tip of peninsular India is strategically important for India in the most comprehensive sense.
  • The strategic importance of Sri Lanka was well realized by Britain for the security of both British India and the Indian Ocean and they developed a major naval base at Trincomolee on the eastern coast.
  • This island nation lies astride the major sea lanes of communication from Europe to East Asia and the oil tanker routes from the oil producing countries of the Gulf to China, Japan and other Pacific countries.
  • In the military sense it is important to the United States as these same sea routes are used for transference of naval power from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf.
  • India too has a vital strategic stake in Sri Lanka for her own security interests. An unfriendly Sri Lanka would strategically discomfit India.
  • Sri Lanka is also strategically important to India in terms of her Indian Ocean strategy and in terms of networking of partners for her aims of establishing an Indian Ocean Rim Community.
  • For the Indian Navy, it is important as the switching of naval fleets from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea and vice versa the fleets have to take a round of Sri Lanka.
  • exposure to China’s Belt and Road Initiative through terminals in the Port of Colombo and the Port of Hambantota, both of which have attracted Chinese investment. China is one of Sri Lanka’s key trading partners.
  • Deepwater ports with the capacity to accommodate large vessels.



Strategic opportunities are always fleeting ones and so is the case of India forging a strategic partnership with Sri Lanka. If India dithers because of domestic politics compulsions, China is waiting in the wings to fill the vacuum. The Chinese strategic encirclement of India would then be fully complete and India will have no one to blame but itself.