Feature Article

It is not mere corruption, but militarisation of corruption in South Asia

[TamilNet, Monday, 22 August 2011, 05:02 GMT]
“Military forces across South Asia are flexing their commercial muscles to create ventures that rival private firms and threaten to militarise civil society,” says a New Zealand Herald article, Saturday. “In Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, defence chiefs have interests in everything from airlines to sugar factories, banks to bakeries, from power plants to ports. Investments worth billions of dollars are controlled by a military elite that is eclipsing civilian bureaucracies and, in some cases, corrupting the services,” the article by Rahul Bedi said. TamilNet commentator responded by saying that as militaries in South Asia don’t hesitate now to commit even genocide to protect corrupt states, the current anti-corruption uprising in India needs to be more inclusive and Tamil Nadu should enlighten peoples of India on the need to integrate the struggle of Eezham Tamils with it.

Further comments from TamilNet political commentator:

The daring large-scale genocide committed on Eezham Tamils by Colombo in partnership with New Delhi, the aftermath featuring militarised structural genocide, military guaranteeing land-grab, military’s direct involvement in economy and New Delhi locally and internationally backing the entire process in the island for its gains, have for the first time set a new paradigm in South Asia in militarising state corruption.

The USA is responsible for initiating the paradigm through the test case of Sri Lanka and China would be happy to see the paradigm succeeding as its suits its own ideas of state. Establishments in Pakistan, Bangladesh and even in the tiny Maldives have become supporters of promoting the test-case process in the island.

Earlier, corrupt politicians were seeking the protection and collaboration of only the police and the bureaucrats. Today, corrupt establishments in South Asia have evolved to domestically deploy the military and to commit even genocide.

Therefore, breaking the backbone of internationally militarised corruption and state cum corporate terrorism operating in South Asia is breaking it in the test case of Sri Lanka.

The contribution of Tamil Nadu will be universal if it could put the case of the independence of Eezham Tamils in proper perspectives to the masses in India, as a paradigm-making case in the struggle against corruption.

* * *

Progressive sections in the other parts of India have realised the deep dimensions of the corruption crisis.

Four months ago, Shuddhabrata Sengupta writing in Kafila (that has the motto “Run from big media”) said that “ if, as a society, we were serious about combating the political nexus that sustains corruption – we would be thinking seriously about extending the provisions of the Right to Information Act to the areas where it can not currently operate – national security and defence.”

In his article dated April 9, “ At the Risk of Heresy: Why I am not Celebrating with Anna Hazare,” Sengupta viewing the current enthusiasm in India as a middle class dream, and with all personal respect to Hazare, reminded peoples of India: “lets also pause to consider that it’s not as if others have not been on hunger strike before – Irom Sharmila [in Manipur, a Northeast frontier state in India] has been force fed for several years now – but I do not see her intransigence being translated into a tele-visually orchestrated campaign against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The impunity that AFSPA breeds is nothing short of a corruption that eats deep into the culture of democracy, and yet, here, moral courage, and the refusal to eat, does not seem to work.”

* * *

Interestingly, The Hindu on Saturday has raised the same issue.

“Even as Hazare's anti-corruption crusade gained momentum with hundreds courting voluntary arrest, in another part of India, a protestor who has used a similar tactic, of going on an indefinite fast, continues to be ignored by the rest of the country and by the political leadership,” The Hindu article “The Other Half - Another India, another protest,” by Kalpana Sharma said.

The Hindu article cited the following from Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor of the Imphal Free Press, writing on August 15 the Independence Day of India.

“On the eve of the India's Independence Day, Imphal is acquiring the look of a war front. The scenario is not too different in other townships in Manipur as indeed in much of the Northeast. It has almost become a ritual every year.

“Various militant organisations would call for a boycott of the celebration of what is arguably the biggest and most important day in the country's history and in response the provincial governments would virtually stage flag marches to demonstrate the power of the establishment and push its way without being deterred by any threat whatsoever. Uniformed gun totting security personnel are on every corner of the streets frisking people, stopping motorists, checking their vehicles, questioning them etc.

“As expected, even a week before the big day approached, Imphal already began wearing a deserted look, especially after sunset. People return home early so as not to be accosted by security men and go through the humiliation of being made to stand on the side of the roads to be frisked and questioned like potential troublemakers.

“The ordinary people are supposed to be mere bystanders in this war game, but every time tensions escalate in moments like this, they have no choice than to be prepared to be the undeserved casualties, and sometimes become statistics of ‘ collateral damage', the well known sugar-coating aimed at making civilian killing and harassment seem like necessary and pardonable fallout of a conflict.”

The people in Tamil Nadu have every right to demand The Hindu an explanation to its chronic shortsightedness on the New Delhi-abetted genocide of Eezham Tamils, vicious support to the Rajapaksa regime and encouragement to India-partnered corrupt ‘development’ in the island, without allowing Eezham Tamils to politically decide their development for themselves.

"Engage more with Sri Lanka,” and try to get control over ‘development’ amidst state militarisation and genocide, to achieve justice for Eezham Tamils, envisages another recent article in the The Hindu by M. Ramesh on last Wednesday.

What a difference in the outlook of The Hindu when it comes to the Eezham Tamils!

* * *

Media writers long known for their corruption demonize the uprising in Tamil Nadu for the independence of Eezham Tamils as a pan-Tamil threat or “ultra-nationalism”.

A website writer on Friday, positively advertising for a political hoodwink of Eezham Tamils undertaken by a Congress parliamentarian in Tamil Nadu, made an alarm that “ultra-nationalists” in Tamil Nadu target the Congress.

People of Tamil Nadu have to widen the perspectives of their struggle for the righteous independence of Eezham Tamils in such a way fitting into the larger questions that threaten South Asia, to make their struggle appealing to all the peoples of South Asia. Because, the corruption of genocidal dimensions in the establishments, directed by a few individuals, advised by people of mercenary culture and deploying the power from military to media, can be broken only by the combined power of the masses.

The Eezham Tamil diaspora has to carefully understand the scenario in deciding the directions of its endeavours.

Thirumurugan Gandhi of the May 17 movement of Tamil Nadu rightly observed that there can be corruption in revolutions too.

* * *

The Following are excerpts related to Sri Lanka from Rahul Bedi’s article, “Armed, dangerous and building their own empires,” appeared in New Zealand Herald, Saturday.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is South Asia's most militarised country with 8000 defence personnel for every one million citizens. After defeating the Tamil Tiger guerrillas in May 2009, the country opted to involve its bloated military in a range of commercial activities.

Instead of downsizing its 300,000 strong defence forces after the bitter civil war ended, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration has encouraged their involvement in selling vegetables, running travel agencies, hotels and highway restaurants and collecting garbage in the capital, Colombo.

The army builds houses and, for last year's Cricket World Cup, erected one stadium and renovated another.

On the northern Jaffna peninsula the army has converted a mess into a 22-room luxury resort. The Sri Lankan Navy runs ferry services and tours for whale-watchers.

Disturbingly, the island's Education Ministry plans on sending fresh graduates to military camps for three-week leadership courses where they will be given instruction in English, leadership skills and social etiquette.

The authorities justify this by claiming that army camps are the only places where a large body of students can be accommodated but analysts warn that it is a move fraught with "militarising the seat of Sri Lanka's higher education".

Analysts and NGOs question defence involvement in commercial ventures claiming it could lead to Rajapaksa's administration using the military to perpetuate its rule as in time it would be too hard to separate from national economic activity.

Related Articles:
14.08.11   India answerable for both genocide and structural genocide o..
10.06.11   Eezham liberation is geopolitical priority for Tamil Nadu: T..

External Links:
Kafila: At the Risk of Heresy: Why I am not Celebrating with Anna Hazare
The New Zealand Herald: Armed, dangerous and building their own empires
The Hindu: The Other Half - Another India, another protest
The Hindu: Engage more with Sri Lanka


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