Feature Article

'Belated and wanting musings from India'

[TamilNet, Monday, 09 March 2009, 08:29 GMT]
While the Establishment in New Delhi is frantic in its attempt to eliminate the liberation force of Eezham Tamils but at the same time by hook or crook insinuate itself into the Tamil masses in order to show a semblance of success before the elections, a section of Indian academics and writers come out with belated and wanting musings urging India to work for a federal solution, writes a political analyst from Colombo. "Some of them may have good intentions, but they fail to see the sharp divide and limited option – genocide or Tamileelam – created by the Indian abetted war. Whatever they now write could serve as a lead to the next government, if there will be changes, but time is over for the present Establishment to achieve anything meaningfully," the analyst says further.

The English translation of the analysis continues:

Writing on India's constrains and policy to be followed in an article ‘China Fuels Sri Lankan War’, published in Japan Times last Wednesday, Professor Chellaney of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, said:

“With an ever-larger, Chinese-aided war machine, the conflict is set to grind on, making civil society the main loser. That is why international diplomatic intervention has become imperative. India, with its geostrategic advantage and trade and investment clout over a war-hemorrhagic Sri Lankan economy that is in search of an international bailout package, must use its leverage deftly to promote political and ethnic reconciliation rooted in federalism and genuine interethnic equality. More broadly, the U.S., European Union, Japan and other important players need to exert leverage to stop the Rajapaksa brothers from rebuffing ceasefire calls and press Beijing to moderate its unsettling role.”

While there could be truth in what he has written about China’s money and weapons, Prof Challaney completely overlooked the fundamental flaws in India’s policy that were primarily responsible for taking the crisis outside of the region, inviting countries like China to poke in their noses.

An anti-liberation and pro-oppression policy will always fundamentally erode the moral standing of the foreign policy of any country, whatever short-lived successes it may bring in.

A major failure of the Indian policy was its lost clout with the actual fighting force of Eezham Tamils and the folly of attempting to eliminate it.

In fact, the policies of an extra-parliamentary Junta that was handling Sri Lanka from New Delhi did many times more damages to Indian interests than the millions of money and loads of arms from China.

Prof Challaney’s article at least hints that India now should not or cannot continue competing with China in giving arms and money to belligerent Colombo and should look for alternatives.

But to what extent the alternative he is suggesting, i.e., ethnic reconciliation rooted in federalism, is a feasible alternative in the given nature of Sri Lankan state is doubtful. Time is over for those experiments and Indian policy makers need to think of alternatives not insisting on a united Sri Lanka if balance of power manifesting real ethnic reconciliation has to come in the island.

Prof Challeney who advocates ‘ethnic reconciliation rooted in federalism’ needs to see the realities of state in Sri Lanka: several decades of Tamil struggle and sacrifices making India and Colombo to concede only a non-federal devolution under the 13th Amendment in 1987 and two more decades of brutal war yet not seeing a full implementation.

How does he expect the working of federalism in the present context of Sri Lanka? Federalism works only among willing partners, not among ethnicities who for decades were made to fight by governments including that of India.

Reconciliation may come, but only after some kind of separation first, and after recognition of the self-determination of the Eezham Tamils.

Another gray area in his analysis is the decades old competition between America and India in the domination of South Asia and its implications in resolving the crisis in the island of Sri Lanka.

How India’s hurried initiative for the half-backed 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka accord itself was impelled by the competition between US and India and how Colombo manipulated it to the discredit of India and to the accord and ultimately to the oppression of Tamil liberation struggle are open secrets today.

The Eezham Tamils as a society are always sensitive to India’s security concern. It is considered as of their own by them.

India needs to take one step ahead of others in genuinely attending to Tamil aspirations. Failure will boomerang more on India than affecting Eezham Tamils.

But whether the present Indian Establishment has time and will power to mend its ways is the question.

Whoever comes out boldly to perform the much-needed surgery separating the warring nations will have better stakes for their interests in the island.


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