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India-Sri Lanka Ties Hostage To Tamil Parties – Analysis

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By Shastri Ramachandaran

India’s neighbours are not necessarily its friends. They can hardly be called India’s allies. In regional and international forums, more often than not, they are ranged against one another. History, geography, religion, geopolitics, uneven development, competing ambitions and much else account for this state of affairs.

As a result, bilateral relations have their ups and downs and can be warm or chilly, euphoric or troubling. Even so, over the decades, the South Asian countries have learned to live and let live, regardless of the problems at home and across their respective borders.

India - Sri Lanka Relations
India – Sri Lanka Relations

The striving is to maintain friendly relations, a climate conducive for talks on matters of mutual interest and to prevent any situation from reaching breaking point. However, Tamil Nadu’s political parties, despite being an integral part of coalition governments at the Centre for long years now, do not seem to have grasped this elementary aspect of diplomacy.

The Kazhagams – Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, Karunanidhi’s DMK and Vaiko’s MDMK – do their best to vitiate India’s relations with Sri Lanka. The sideshows staged by these parties against India-Sri Lanka cooperation and against dignitaries (and ordinary citizens) from the island republic would be handy to illustrate a tract on “How to lose friends and alienate people”.

It is bad enough that New Delhi is not good at making friends of India’s neighbours. It is worse when the DMK and AIADMK push their sectarian agenda in external affairs and foment hostility to cultivate ill will.

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit September 19 to 22, 2012 was yet another occasion for the Kazhagams to put up their predictable ‘tamasha’ (spectacle) of protests – in the name of championing the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The frontline performer this time was MDMK general secretary Vaiko.

President Rajapaksa, who laid the stone for a University of Buddhist and Indic Studies in Sanchi, held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi. Doubtless, devolution of powers to create conditions for Sri Lanka’s Tamils “to live with dignity and respect”, elections in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province and the political plight of Tamils after the LTTE’s defeat in May 2009 were discussed between Singh and Rajapaksa.

A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and Indian fishermen being attacked by Sri Lankan navy were among the items on the agenda of the two leaders, who also met without their aides.

The significance of the meeting goes beyond the issues discussed because, one, it was the first meeting between the two heads of government after India voted against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in March this year. Two, this was the first meeting to deal with a range of substantive issues after June 2010. Three, Sri Lanka’s human rights record comes up for review at the end of this year. Four, New Delhi is keen to address the unrest among Tamils by pressing for their political rights. (In contrast, the Kazhagams appear to be interested in whipping up sentiment solely for political mileage in Tamil Nadu).

New Delhi has to make amends for the blunder of voting with the US against Sri Lanka in the UNHRC. Whereas the DMK and AIADMK keep targeting Sri Lanka as part of their petty one-upmanship games against each other. Their posturing has provoked attacks on innocent Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting Tamil Nadu. AIADMK chief minister Jayalalithaa objected to Sri Lankan defence personnel being trained in military institutions in India. Karunanidhi sought to outdo Jayalalithaa by saying that Sri Lanka cannot be considered “friendly” – because it allows China to execute defence projects in Jaffna.

It may not occur to the DMK and AIADMK that their posturing may be driving Sri Lanka (away from India) into the arms of China. If these parties persist in their unfriendly campaign, Sri Lanka may be forced to not only hand over more projects to China, or even Pakistan, but even start sending their defence personnel to these countries for training. Then the fat would be truly in the fire.

Sri Lanka is in a zone of Indian influence and is of enormous strategic value. India is Sri Lanka’s preferred partner and the one country from which it would like all help. Instead of creating conditions that make Colombo approach Beijing or Islamabad, it is high time the national parties make the DMK and AIADMK see strategic sense

These two regional parties are not being just perverse. They are being irresponsible and hurting India’s strategic interests. One would have expected that with stints at the Centre, they would acquire an understanding of India’s larger national interest, strategic stakes and global role. Far from that, as their role and power expands at the Centre, the Kazhagams’ worldview seems to be shrinking into even narrower confines.

The writer is an independent political and foreign affairs commentator. This article in DNA is being republished by arrangement with the writer.

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4 thoughts on “India-Sri Lanka Ties Hostage To Tamil Parties – Analysis

  • Avatar
    September 29, 2012 at 11:44 am
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    The author is aan idiot as he should know that Sri Lanka cannot be trusted. During the last Indo-Pakistan war sri Lanka openly supported Pakistan by allowing its fighter planes to be refueled in Sri Lanka. They would do the same in future war with China. Then India will not get any help from Tamils. Southern flange of India is now open to Chinnese invasion. In order to take revenge one murder some Indians are justifying the killing of 140,000 innicent civillians

    Reply
    • Avatar
      September 30, 2012 at 11:49 am
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      Selvi Jeyalalithaa should invite the Chinese and Pakistani leaders and start a Spring to have an independent Tamil Land instead instead of under the Indian Union that is full of corruption, mockery, political lynching and slavery mindset.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    September 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm
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    Shastri Ramachandaran’s analysis is completely wrong and he is trying to mislead the world (Eurasian)readers. I am sadden having read this article, it seems the author is still living in the ‘dark ages’ or is he trying to cover up the crimes committed by Srilanka on the Tamils, where India was complicit in their crime. He should know that the Srilankan Sinhalese never liked, but hated the Indians as a whole, whether they live in the south or north of India. The present Indian government had not understood the SriLanka’s hidden agenda. It got India to fight its dirty war(Racial War), now they don’t want any help from the Indians and are hiding behind ‘Chinese Kimono’ for all their needs. There are plenty of evidence to support that Chinese relationship goes back to 1950’s and growing strong because no questions being asked and are able to dodge UN security council and the UNHRC. Jawaharlal Nehru was snubbed by John Kothalawela & SWRDB in 1950’s. Indra Gandhi and her Advisor Parthasarathi was shunned by JRJ. Rajiv Gandhi was clobbered by a navy personal at the guard of honour in 1987. India’s recent cause in the decay of its strength lies with the present Congress leadership and its puppet PM. It is sad and is a shame on the Indians for allowing their corrupt government to continue. Mumtas Banaji has just shown the lead, Yes Karunanithi had failed the Srilankan Tamils by not being able to stop the war in 2009. Credit must be given to AIADMK and Vaiko’s MDMK and the communist party along with other small parties. They have shown the Indians and the world what is going on is genocide of Tamils in Srilanka. AIADMK & other parties were in order to ask to remove the Srilankan Army personnel’s who came for training. India should be cautious because Srilankan Army and other forces now account over 300,000 and have bought more than needed sophisticated weapons from China and Russia and have stock piled. India needs to help solve the festering Ethnic Tamil political issue immediately with the help of the USA & West, if it needs to stop the Chinese threat of a foot hold in the Tamil provinces as well, closer to Indian boarder.

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  • Avatar
    September 30, 2012 at 11:43 am
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    Sri Lanka never practiced true democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law since independence from the British.

    Sri Lanka under the successive Sinhala Apartheid Buddhist regimes have been committing crimes against humanity and state terrorism.

    As the colourful Indian leaders including Indra gandhi and MGR aided and helped the Tamil Tigers to protect the Tamils from State terrorism and Sinhala hooliganism. Unfortunately India is under Italian Sonia Maino supported by the malayalee mafias and corrupt politicians. Selvi Jeyalalithaa’s call to declare Rajapaske as a war criminal and take him to the ICC in line with the global Human Rights organizations, Tamil Diaspora, Desmond Tutu, several prominent global leaders and NGOs to have an transparent international independent investigation of human rights abuses and war crimes against the Tamils in Eelam. India needs leaders like Narendra Modi and Selvi Jeyalalithaa to be objective, apply rule of law, end corruption and end mockery.

    Hundreds of thousands of Tamils were disappeared, brutally murderd in cold blood, raped and tortured and this Indian UPA regime with the Malayalee mafias are entertaining the alleged war criminal regime. The Tamil Daispora is exposing the Indian UPA collaboration to the global leaders and they are party to the war crimes and human rights abuses.

    If anyone think that the UPA regime is in the best interest of India, it is absolutely wrong. This is the most corrupted regime in South East Asia and India is looted by the mafias and Rajapakse knows how to corrupt these politicians and the malayalee mafias with money, gifts and sex. These guys don’t care whether China or Pakistan in their backyard as they are only interested in looting and corrupt practices.

    Indians UPA regime’s activities are confirming that the research report of the London School of Economics, England released this year that India will never become a super power; Shame on the Indian politicians who still have a slavery mindset!

    Reply

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