9:01 AM

500+ Sri Lankan defence officers will train in India this year

India is throwing open its elite defence institutions to over 500 Sri Lankan military officers and men of other ranks this year even as it advocates that Colombo should renew political efforts to end the bloody ethnic strife in the island.

The Sri Lankan defence personnel will receive training in prestigious institutions, ranging from Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairengte (Mizoram) to School of Artillery at Devlali (Maharashtra). In addition, they will undergoing specialised naval courses in gunnery, navigation, communication and anti-submarine warfare in top defence training centres across the country, according to Indian Defence Ministry sources quoted in a report in The Times of India today.

However, the report does not say if this lot of military personnel coming to India for training in several army institutions is in addition to the one thousand Sri Lankan officers and soldiers who arrive every year for military training in various army, air force and naval training institutions across this country.

India has been training Sri Lankan military personnel regularly at least for the past four decades.

The report said the premier Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun, is going to be running two "special courses" in 2008-2009 for as many as 100 "gentlemen cadets" from Sri Lanka.

In addition, 39 Sri Lankan officers will undergo courses at College of Military Engineering at Pune, 15 in School of Artillery at Devlali, 29 in Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre at Ahmednagar, 25 in College of Materials Management at Jabalpur, 30 in Electronics and Mechanical Engineering School at Vadodara, 14 at Military College of Telecommunication Engineering at Mhow.

Every year, India trains soldiers from several countries, ranging from Maldives, Mauritius and Mongolia to Botswana, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. But the facilities extended to Sri Lanka are far more than those offered to defence personnel from any other country. In any given year, there are more Sri Lankan defence personnel than those from any other country in the various courses conducted by the Indian defence ministry.