Sri Lanka Might Lose The Peace Dividend – Analysis

By Vikram Sood

Three years ago when the war was over in Sri Lanka and the LTTE was defeated, this writer had observed in a discussion with a Sri Lankan diplomat that winning the war was the relatively easy part; the more difficult part – of reconciliation and winning the peace had now begun. If this was not done well and quickly enough, the situation could deteriorate just as easily and may be even worse with repercussions beyond Sri Lanka. Fears in New Delhi are precisely these.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Today, the Tamil-populated Northern Province remains the most militarised and does not have an elected provincial council. The political process has not really begun. It is true that this is an internal political process, but as a neighbour, India would want to remain interested to ensure early reconciliation.

There are several opposing interests at work, Chennai against New Delhi, Colombo versus the Northern Province, Sinhala versus Tamils, Colombo versus the Tamil diaspora and Colombo suspicious of New Delhi. There are anxieties in New Delhi too that the pace that Colombo has adopted in reconciling is painfully slow and there is not enough desire to speed this or act in a manner that would bring satisfaction to the Tamils.

The recent shifting of the Sri Lanka Air Force technical personnel on training at Tambaram, Chennai to Bengaluru at the insistence of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was a result of her confrontation with her rival, M Karunanidhi the DMK leader. The AIADMK leader has also demanded that India should insist that Sri Lanka hold a referendum for the creation of Tamil Eelam. This is in direct conflict with the Indian stand for a united Sri Lanka. The demand that international action be taken against the Sri Lanka Army and politicians for alleged war crimes has also not gone down well in Sri Lanka. Colombo and the Sinhala population felt let down with India’s vote against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Commission.

Colombo’s slow response has resulted in rumblings within the Tamil diaspora and there are indications that the LTTE is getting a fresh lease of life. The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam formed just as the LTTE faced defeat, is now understood to be active in 12 countries. Another group, the Global Tamil Forum, is active in the UK and has been campaigning for an international investigation of war crimes. Possibly more such groups will begin to act together with Karunanidhi having revived Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation working with the Tamil diaspora. There is great danger that both the Tamil Nadu parties would, in competition with each other, exacerbate the situation.

New Delhi must stop viewing its foreign relations with Colombo from the Chennai prism alone just as it was a mistake to view our relations with Bangladesh through Kolkata’s priorities. Tamil aspirations in Sri Lanka are important but there are other abiding interests too.

In fact it is precisely this kind of talk about Tamil Eelam emanating from Tamil Nadu that would worry a smaller country like Sri Lanka and affirm suspicions in the minds of the Sinhala majority about the intentions of Chennai and New Delhi. We need to be building bridges, literally, across the Palk Straits not creating bigger ditches. These bridges have to be not just between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu but all the way up to Odisha inclusive of other southern states for the mutual economic and development benefit of the region.

Sri Lanka sits astride the Indian Ocean whose importance will grow in the decades ahead. So will Sri Lanka’s importance as China, the US and India become more active in the littoral and on the high seas, trying to protect their economic and security interests. While national reconciliation, rehabilitation and fulfilling political aspirations would be beneficial to Sri Lankans and Indians, the protection of India’s national interests are solely New Delhi’s concern.

These concerns will not be met through the dharma of coalition politics but through a stronger national concern that prioritises these interests over electoral compulsions. We cannot have a situation where our regional leaders want to run a foreign policy independent of the Centre.

The waters are choppy, there are obstacles and future turbulence is feared unless both New Delhi and Colombo act together with finesse and soon.

(The writer is a Vice President at Observer Research Foundation and a former chief of Research and Analysis Wing)


Enjoy the article?

Did you find this article informative? Please consider contributing to Eurasia Review, as we are truly independent and do not receive financial support from any institution, corporation or organization.


 

Observer Research Foundation

Observer Research Foundation

ORF was established on 5 September 1990 as a private, not for profit, ’think tank’ to influence public policy formulation. The Foundation brought together, for the first time, leading Indian economists and policymakers to present An Agenda for Economic Reforms in India. The idea was to help develop a consensus in favour of economic reforms.

18 thoughts on “Sri Lanka Might Lose The Peace Dividend – Analysis

  • July 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm
    Permalink

    If “the protection of India’s national interests are solely New Delhi’s concern” the article would not have written. Even for that matter ORB, your foundation is not needed.

    For Sinhalese rural community, Indian invaders are all Tamils, the (mis)concept which intellect overlooks. However, Ex-Minsister once declared that any response by India will prompt
    blood-letting of Indians…

    You are forgetting that there are stateless citizen of Indian origin still there. Many of them were repatriated earlier and languishing in India but enjoy all fundamental freedom. During the “anti-terror campaign” against Tamils, Upcountry Tamils (Tamils of recent Indian origin) whoever were arrested had been badly tortured and killed without any protests. So many were languishing in prison without any legal support. In a particular case, a domestic help was taken police station and this girl of innocence endured such torture to her shock, she attempted escape but caught and tortured severely. There was no word from Indian authorities, whatsoever because these people are so poor and irrelevant in the eyes of Indian government. Your ignorance only perpetuate oppression against our people here. These people endure discrimination and oppression much more than the Lankan Tamils. It was evident in a survey taken regarding federal solutions by CPA, upcountry people voted overwhelmingly more than the Tamils of Jaffna.

    When there was Indian Workers Congress that represented upcountry Tamils, they did not want to change their name Ceylon Tamil Congress but at the advise of India leaders it was agreed. Late Nehruji assured at this instance that “not a hair of any Indian will be touched by anyone…”. But PM Shastri gave in for Sinhala devised anti-Indian plan.

    Ceylon was under Madras presidency at one point of time. Many Sinhala Nationalist leaders (like JR, SWRD, Left leaders..)wanted Ceylon to become part of India for economic necessity. If Sinhalese wants it or not, Tamils cannot survive in the forced amalgamation of Tamil territory. When India was introducing State Reorganisation act, Ceylon went on the opposition direction and declared that Tamils do not have linguistics parity. Since then all discrimination was institutionalised.

    India is part of the International community and have many agreements, it has signed. India is seeking a seat at UN security council and thinking like a corner shop will not take you anywhere.

    As a regional super power, you have allowed yourself to be taught by China what is regional power. If your government cannot confine International and Regional agenda to Keralite South block cabal. As Regional power, India has much greater responsibility and Sri Lankans looks upon India for an early resolution.

    Reply
  • July 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm
    Permalink

    These Indians want to make Sri Lanka under their thump, by advocating all nonsense of non-existing Tamil grievances. India’s untouchables have been suffering from discrimination at the hands of upper caste Hindus for centuries, and they do not give a damned about that. Indians must realize that those manipulation days are gone and Sri Lanka must align with all the South and South east Asian nations to counter Indian expansionism.

    Reply
    • July 23, 2012 at 1:42 am
      Permalink

      Typical Lankan reply written in Lankan. If a dog can kill a cat why cant a pig kill a dog. Such nonsenses are plenty in the Sri Lnkan literature history culture and in every day life. They are full of this. Learn to focus on the issue that is being discussed and argue to that point. If American could do this once upon a time is some country why cant we do it.. This kind of talk. If you go on this argument human race would be eating raw flesh up to now as many Sri Lnaknas do

      Reply
  • July 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm
    Permalink

    Before the war they said, a war with LTTE is unwinneble. Therefore you must give 70% of its coastal belt and a 1/2 of it’s landmass to the terrorists to build a mono-ethnic, xenophobic roughstate to the most racist minority in the world . After the war they say the peace is unwinneble unless you hand over on a silver platter 70% of its coastal belt and a 1/2 of it’s landmass to them… to build the same mono-ethnic, racist, xenophobic roughstate which they failed to get through the war. it’s funny isn’t it?

    Reply
    • July 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm
      Permalink

      And you think Sinhalese will stop massacring Tamils, if you get the way you wanted..take my word, I am not a Tamil but Iam sure retribution will come from Tamils sice they are spread all over and well connected now.

      Reply
    • July 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm
      Permalink

      Mono-ethnic,racist,xenophobic?.Are you on drugs?.Read the history of Sinhalese chauvinism and oppression.

      Reply
  • July 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm
    Permalink

    Indian hegemony of all her neighbours is the rule. Why ? they are in her back yard. India is a world power Bull shit. How can it be when one third of her people a living on less than a dollar. The ruling class and the corporates have this great vision becoming a world power. The americans are misleading the fools they have managed to make india the largest arms buyer in the world. All these arms to fight whom? Pakistan> Sri Lanka, Security and well being of India depends on the upliftment of the 300 million poor. The arms will be used against them in any uprising, This is the morality of India. How can they advise Sri Lanka.

    Reply
  • July 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm
    Permalink

    Look at India’s record. Who trained and armed the LTTE? Who saved a trapped Prabhakaran in Vaddamaratchchi? Who provided a safe sanctuary to the LTTE cadres from alleged crimes? Who entered our air space illegally to drop food to humiliate rather than feed? Who tried to control the North/East by military force through the office of a bloated High Commissioner in Colombo? Who supported Varatharaja Perumal and his puppeteers to come to power and to declare an independent state? Who provided a safe haven to Perumal? Facts that are hard to forget in whatever diplomatic language it is couched. India needs a reminder.
    The headaches that Srilanka currently is suffering from as the UN human rights commission vote etc… was created by India,because it was India in the first place who created the Tamil Tiger outfit,to destabilise Srilanka,the Tigers whom the Indians created were not kittens,gradually they went out of their mentor & creator India’s control,& refused to listned to them,because they realised India was having ulterior motives the tigers too had other plans, their plan was after gaining a seperate state in Srilanka there next step was to train seperatist rebel terrorist in Tamilnadu in order to have a seperate state in India,if they had realised their first step of a seperate “eelam” state in Srilanka by now India would have been enjoying the fruits of their actions,which they exported to Srilanka,by the way of suicide bombings in Bombay,New Delhi,Kolkotta,etc…& the Naga’s would be claiming for their share of their pie,by demanding a seperate state for them,& the Sikh community embolden by the events would claim for a seperate “Khalistan”& the Kashmiris would by exploiting the situation would intensify their terrorist attacks by getting the support of the pakistani extremist elements,India would not be able to trust their own security forces officers as they come from Tamil, Naga,Sikh Muslim & various other communities,some countries call India the dog cage of the world,& today perhaps not Srilanka but it would probably India who would have had to face the UNCHR vote by killing innocent civillians while trying to put down seperatist elements,in Srilanka a proverb says “Do not poke your nose in to your neighbours internal family matters taking sides or else you would be despised by both,former indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was beaten on the shoulder with a rifle butt by a sinhalese sailor & killed by a tamil girl,as the saying goes “you reap what you sow”,very soon there will be photos appearing in news papers of the Srilankan President smiling broadly shaking hands with Mr. Manmohan Singh,but his mind would be wishing it was the chinese prime minister instead, China was always a trusted friend of Srilanka,the indians are worried about the basic facilities provided by the Srilankan government for the tamil war refugees in Srilanka,but they had to first put their house in order,there are millions of indians who die of hunger,& malnutrion,a french friend of mine described the bombay slums as the living hell on earth,the IPKF indian forces(worlds 4th largest army)came to Srilanka to try & finish the small group of tigers,they failed utterly & lost thousands of soldiers with a couple of high ranking officers, in the face of the other regional countries, the indian army was humiliated, they had to leave like a dog battered with its tail between its legs its reputation as a formidable force was shattered,Srilanka will finally have the last laugh.

    Reply
    • July 23, 2012 at 2:01 am
      Permalink

      Then why the hell is Sri lanka with India in everything and anything. You talk Sri Lanakn very well criticizing Bombay slums from Sri Lankan slums. Can an Indian tell you Hey dont take him seriously because he is a war criminal or thug or rapist – all this things Sri Lanka is famous for. IPKF fougt but didn’t commit war crimes rape murder loot used banned weapons.

      Reply
  • July 21, 2012 at 12:11 am
    Permalink

    I am pleased to read, and participate, in this discussion of an honest article by Vickram Sood, with sober and polished comments by Saroja, Kaputa, kolam, jan and PRASATIS. This contrasts with the many Web discussions I read daily, some descending to rather low levels.

    I agree that Sri Lanka must work very hard in the next few months if she is to materialise the peace dividend following the events of May 2009. But being a Sri Lankan of Ceylon Tamil origin now ‘settled’ in the UK (and still deeply concrened with the politics of SL), I find that most of the above writers including Mr. Sood have looked at Sri Lanka’s problems from the Indian viewpoint. SL’s (Eelam) Tamil youths took up arms only as a last resort. India did support them, not just for their benefit, but more for India’s. The LTTE used India as far as they could, but never took part in Indian politics, nor did they want their regions to be ever a part of India. They did not also ever support Tamil Nadu breaking away from the Indian Republic. India is indeed a very great country, practising ‘democracy’ pragmatically and honestly. But the Indian model will not suit Sri Lanka in-toto. Nor is a separate Tamil Eelam the ideal solution in today’s context. SL Tamils’ solution lies in a United Sri Lanka with democratic, provincial self-governments in the North and East, and an ‘equal’ say in the centre. It is MR’s GOSL government that has to to work very hard during the next months and years to deliver the final goods, by honestly reconciling witb the Tamil-speaking minorities, by holding elections in the NP soon, by coaxing the TNA into the proposed PSC, by ‘reforming’ the Constitution, by implementing LLRC’s important recommendations, by resettling the IDPs, by releasing all possible political prisoners, by demilitarising the NP, and so on, not necess- arily in that order. If and when all these are done, the peace dividends could/will be saved.

    Reply
    • July 21, 2012 at 3:00 am
      Permalink

      “United Sri Lanka with democratic, provincial self-governments in the North and East.”

      This will make the North and East residents (Tamils) the Kingmaker in the center. That is a problem understood by the Governing party and the Opposition.

      Reply
    • July 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm
      Permalink

      Indeed very interesting points written by everyone. It’s great to see people participating in discussions like this as we search for “acceptable” solutions to all “Sri Lankan” people which are mainly Sinhalas,and it’s minorities. The point we have always missed in our history is that everyone including you Mr.Mahadeva are inclined put the responsibility solely on the Govt. while I believe it’s the people themselves who have the ultimate responsibility of living side by side as brothers and sisters in this paradise island of Sri Lanka.. One last thing but no least, is nobody ever cares to ask the minorities to do their part to reconcile with the majority. To my knowledge (I often visit sri lanka) in majority areas there is enough and more space for the minorities to live, do busines and grow. But as opposed, in the minority areas it’s not the case because there are Tamilnadu style politicians who by playing the race and “discrimination” card hope to win elections and thereafter deprive the other communities of their rights in the north… This is the situation we must avoid if we are to achieve peace. North, like South must open it’s arms to the fellow Sinhalas then only there will not be mistrust. For a starter, I believe any political party using a “race” or “religion” as a party name or slogan must be banned from contesting. I hope I made my point.

      Reply
      • July 23, 2012 at 1:52 am
        Permalink

        Evry major Tamil school in North and east had a resident Buddist monk to teach Sinhala language during the British rule. The north and east had been opened to Sinhalese for many years for them to come and live but not to come and dominate and rule. It is pity you dont seems to understand your own nature. A Tamil can live in Sinhalese areas true ask him what he is going through in the schools buses trains market places parliament everywhere. Then you will know. If only Sinhalease can live as the citizens of your adopted country there will be no need for any solution because there will be no problems. So do your part that is where the problem is. A Sinhalese can never understand this because that is how they live.

        Reply
  • July 21, 2012 at 1:38 am
    Permalink

    if “winning the war was the relatively easy part” then why india cant win Kashmir .. why india could not defeat LTTe when the IPKF was in sri lanka

    Reply
  • July 21, 2012 at 11:23 am
    Permalink

    Chennai against New Delhi, Colombo vs diaspora…..etc etc. Moslems playing both sides. Douglas, Ranga and Karuna sucking Rajapakse Trinity. It is a cruel entertainment.

    Reply
    • July 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm
      Permalink

      It is a comic opera or ‘nadagama’ if only it wasn’t so bloody and so obviously crooked by both governments. Consequently the nett result has been the birth of rebellions where the primary fault lies with governments and crooked governance under PTA in both countries where anything goes. The Rulers have ALL and the people are left to pick up the crumbs and if they rebel there are ill trained armies who run beserk and kill and rape and plunder as they have done in SL in the past. And both governments do not want to be held to account on elementary human rights in the 21st century! All the airy fairy write ups are mere canards to boost the egomania of those in power in both countries with poor human rights records. It is time to get honest and start anew! Where is the so-called reconciliation 3 years after mass murder and rendering 300,000 refugees? It is a ploy to get loans and aid (like the 50,000 houses promised by India which will take another 5000 years to completion @ 50 house per year at the current rate)by SLG perhaps! The talk of reconciliation is a big CON to hoodwink innocent readers. The LLRC is proof. Else, SL will not be in this predicament surely and yet taking others for rides.

      Reply
  • July 22, 2012 at 1:33 am
    Permalink

    This auother need not worry about what to come next becaus of Tamil (Nadu) poltics.Let tamils in India to decide how to handle Colombo as it also part of India.

    What we have in Lanka is very simple problem with clear solution still possible but refuse to be considered by both Lanka and India.
    After the 1977 vote to create a sparation by 99% of tamil, a reasonable solution could have evaloved and could have saved many innocens, if the Lankan’s like PRASATIS not existed in the south.
    So, I see only way forward is to take these minds to task by war crime international probe which almost look unaviodable with Tamil Nadu polictics. Thank you for this article to point out what is going on in Tamil Nadu.

    If Indian central govemnent is a true democacy, then tamil nadu policts should also shape what is coming next.
    We all know Jeya at present will deliver the correct foreign policy towrds lanaka.

    Reply
  • July 22, 2012 at 5:03 am
    Permalink

    Shan, for your question the answer is this. if you want to eradiate annoying mosquitos, do you want to poison all the lakes and pools you see anywhere in the mosquito infected area, so that no other living thing can survive, that is exactly what Sri Lankan government did to to wipe out LTTE, and that is why most of the humanity orinented organisations are demanding “war crime” investigations . this kind of action India or US or UIK will not do “on their own Citizens”. This the real problem they face, do they want follow the path of “SL success”.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CLOSE
CLOSE