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The Mixed-Signals In Indo-Lanka Politics And Policies – OpEd

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By Shenali Waduge

The habit of giving mixed-signals in politics and policies is nothing new and politicians have used the art to perfection in drawing sentiments of the masses to gain their empathy while following a totally different version to what they give the people – playing to the gallery is what the meaning denotes. If it is the sovereignty of the country that is the key question then all citizens that desire Sri Lanka to remain unitary and sovereign desire and demand the revoking of the 13th amendment and with 2/3 parliamentary majority the next question is why is that not happening and instead quite the opposite is taking place with the very country that Sri Lanka’s citizenry is appealing to keep a wary eye upon is involved and taking part in every aspect of decision making in Sri Lanka with a regular influx of its people making their way into Sri Lanka for employment and residence as well. Why does our Government lie to us and how would it benefit by going against the wishes of the masses? Does the Government not believe that we are advising it in the interest of itself and the entire country?

India - Sri Lanka Relations
India – Sri Lanka Relations

When the TNA declared in 2001 that the LTTE was the sole representative of the Tamils, it placed ALL Tamils en masses as standing for everything that the LTTE did. How many Tamils cared to disassociate themselves from this declaration? This is the same TNA-LTTE alliance that India has invited for talks immediately after the visit of President Rajapakse to India when the Indians are well aware that LTTE killed scores of Tamils including prominent Tamils and the best Foreign Minister Sri Lanka has had Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar. Did we not advise the President to desist from visiting India just days after the humiliation suffered by Sri Lankan pilgrims? Did President Rajapakse have to go to India to be told by not only the Indian Prime Minister but also the State minister to treat Tamils with dignity and respect and to devolve powers? Would our advisors have urged the response to be “yes we will” without asking exactly what Tamils are constitutionally denied and exclusively suffering from? We have been dancing around something called Tamil National Question because no Sri Lankan politician or representative is able to convey there is no Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka primarily because politicians think that delaying responding to it is the best way for them to stay in power. Such selfish and self-centered attitude and approaches is directly contributing to and leaving room for people to inject all sorts of unwanted and unwarranted pogroms that is taking Sri Lanka further from peace.

How can anyone accuse Sri Lanka of “Sinhala triumphalism” when after 30 years of talks, ceasefires, endless deaths of lives with little signs of ever ending finally led to peace by militarily defeating the brute force of LTTE terror? Did we destroy nations like Iraq and Afghanistan just because of a single attack? Let people never forget that we suffered bombs and suicide missions happening almost every day for 3 decades. The TNA was in hiding for most of LTTE’s reign. It came out of hibernation only after LTTE’s demise and so foreign governments who went behind LTTE and now propping up the TNA who couldn’t take any decision without consulting either LTTE or India. This is clear in ITAK not contesting Eastern elections held prior to the demise of the LTTE but contesting the same province after the defeat of the LTTE! Despite politicians standing atop stages and hurling accusations against ITAK/TNA it is sadly all simply a show and politicians are merely fooling us while they all enjoy fleecing the nation that they should be protecting.

When India did the unthinkable by committing the ultimate betrayal voting for the US-backed resolution against Sri Lanka moreover influencing other nations to vote against Sri Lanka, our expectations of the response generated from the Sri Lankan government was poor in deed. It is these mixed signals that loose respect. Whatever differences Indo-Pak have India will never treat Pakistan the way they are currently treating Sri Lanka’s representatives and only we have ourselves to blame. There is no point in damage control or blaming countries and individuals after the damage has been done.

Thus, when Manmohan Singh asks President Rajapakse to devolve powers to the Tamils so they could live in dignity and respect these were the very words taken from his speech prior to voting against Sri Lanka. It is not that India’s intelligence has not told India or for that matter the UN, the western countries are oblivious to how majority of Tamils live when nearly half of them now live overseas and half of the remaining are living comfortably amongst the Sinhalese. If the rest are living in poor conditions it is good to see a comparison with some rural areas in Sri Lanka to gage the truth that it is the Sinhalese who are more in want of assistance. Nevertheless, the refugees rescued by Sri Lanka’s have been living as they have before their rescue because as far as Tamil caste system prevails these low-caste Tamils have to function according to a slave like mentality towards upper caste Jaffna Tamils. This is nothing that anyone can remove legislatively but has to come from Tamils themselves. If PM Singh is so concerned about the dignity and respect of Tamils without coming all the way to Sri Lanka he needs to seriously review Tamil Nadu state and demand statistics of how the Dalits are treated and do something about giving them respect and dignity whilst 20% of close to 70m Tamil Nadu people are illiterate (that is almost the Sinhalese population in Sri Lanka 15m)

We have now come to a point that having created history by becoming the only nation to defeat a brutal terrorist force militarily we should not be going begging for applauses. If countries or leaders do not wish to acknowledge the feat achieved it is their problem. Why do we need to worsen situations by keeping numb to accusations hurled at us. As representatives elected by the people we need to know how far our sovereignty our unitary status has been compromised or not simply because of the strategy of silence and we do not want to see that sovereignty getting compromised by our own people!

When we highlight the killings of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc we are only highlighting the hypocrisies that prevail – there cannot be one law for the rich and another for the poor. Yet, sadly that is what prevails. All current international resolutions are aimed solely at curbing the sovereignty of nations and allowing powerful ones to dictate so that they can plunder the wealth of nations that are poor but that houses rich natural resources which they cannot make use of for lack of funds.

We are made to feel indebted to India for Buddhism when Buddhism was neglected by India and realistically speaking Buddha was born in Nepal therefore we should be fostering greater ties with Nepal. Nepal and Bhutan both hate India and are slowly moving away from it.

If India wants to destroy the natural alliance in South Asia devoid of manipulations that Sri Lanka has given India throughout history, then so be it but what India needs to be clearly told by our elected representatives is that they are beholden to protect and preserve the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and that should not be compromised or belittled if India does not wish to honor its end. Let India be reminded that they are playing with fire by allowing Tamil Nadu to dictate the Centers policy. It is Sri Lanka that saved India’s sovereignty from been ripped by creating an Eelaam in Tamil Nadu for that is why LTTE prevailed with the blessings of the West. More than any eelaam in Sri Lanka what the West was seeking for was a present day Russia out of India bringing the West closer to attacking China. If India’s leaders do not wish to acknowledge this they are allowing India to collapse as the Soviet Union did because of M. Gorbachev and his Glasnot and Perestroika. It is clear that the West are keeping alive LTTE fronts like GTF, TGTE not for any love of them but to use their clout to get close to destroying India. If they succeed to separate Tamil Nadu what would be Sri Lanka’s future? We need to protect ourselves and our nation.

India is attempting to envelope Sri Lanka through forcing political and economic partnerships that will only lead to a large influx of Indians eventually taking over Sri Lanka. CEPA is just a smokescreen Indians are already working and residing in Sri Lanka – then why are our politicians shouting false slogans against India?

In the news were 2 suggestions that are worthy of mention. Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said the Center and the State government must take steps to grant citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamils living in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu almost 35 years – this suggestion is nothing new and has been floated ever since ITAK/TNA started running to India for advice. Similarly the concerns raised against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu which is just 250km from Sri Lanka’s northwest coastal town of Mannar raises Sri Lanka’s decision makers to wake up to this following statement “The safety aspect will be a part of the broader agenda for talks over cooperation in nuclear energy but we are already telling them that India will abide by all international conventions over nuclear safety at Kudankulam,” – there is no two words that this is likely to lead to strangulating Sri Lanka to signing over a dotted line without opening their eyes to the possibility that India plans to officially curtail Sri Lanka’s future nuclear exploration for its own energy needs. Nowhere is it written that Sri Lanka must run to India like the TNA to get its permission to sign any deals or agreements for any political, economic, social or other needs from countries other than India. We can well recall the faulty satellite radar systems given by India which resulted in loss of life and property as a result of LTTE attacks.

Be that as it may – as a nation we are not remotely surprised at any of India’s post-conflict actions because we have not forgotten India’s role in supporting the LTTE – that role envisaged training, militarily supporting, allowing Tamil Nadu to be openly used as a logistics and medical treatment base and even financially supporting a terrorist group that killed scores of Tamils which then demands PM Singh to answer how has the LTTE protected the dignity and respect of these slain Tamils – some of whom were prominent members of Tamil society including Sri Lanka’s best Foreign Minister Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar. Again we say any Sri Lankan Tamil not wanting to remain in Sri Lanka as a citizen of Sri Lanka are more than welcome to go to Tamil Nadu as people like Vaiko, Nedumaran are waiting with open arms.

It is time for politicians to mature and become leaders and statesman. We do not want to be fooled by one version when it means nothing other than agreeing to do the opposite with foreign concerns. Those who are advocates of the provincial council system are only those who are milking money from the state treasures and dishing out amongst friend and family. It is doing little good for the future of the country. Do these recipients really plan to remove the wealth of Sri Lanka and go live in foreign shores? When “regime change” is the chorus being sung is Sri Lanka not the safest country to be in? Why would anyone then want to milk Sri Lanka of its wealth when ideally as leaders and representatives they should be bringing up the country along with its people?

Kautilya or Chanakya the advisor to King Chandragupta in his book “Arthasastra” advocating a 6-fold crafty policy to interact with neighbors included co-existence, neutrality, alliance, double policy, march and war, policies that are followed strictly by India today …what we need to pick up from Kautilya is his own words …. “Your neighbour is your natural enemy and the neighbour’s neighbour is your friend“.

India is hated in Sri Lanka because it is interfering in the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and as long as it is clear India succumbs to Tamil Nadu racist chants we need not expect anything from India and increases our need to look for greater alliances and increase their stakes in Sri Lanka that will keep at bay foreign intervention.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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