18 September, 2021

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A Sugar Quoted Caveat From India?

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Refined, sophisticated and articulate Dr Sashi Tharoo (ST hereafter), an accomplished and skilled international civil servant from India, was in Sri Lanka a few days prior the customary shut down for Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations. The official purpose was to deliver the key note address at Dinesh Weerakkody’s book ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe: A Life’. Yet, his address smacked of a veiled caveat to Sri Lanka of its dealings with China.

After serving the United Nations for 29 years, he returned to India in 2006. A member of the Indian National Congress, he was elected to the Indian parliament, Lok Sabha from  Thiruvananthapuram, in Kerala in 2009. He held the posts of Minister of State for External Affairs and subsequently, Human Resource Development in former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet. He currently serves as Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs.

Accolades for his speech in July 2015 were many, from both at home and abroad, including of this writer, for the impassioned speech he made during a debate at the Oxford Union debating society. The debate was titled ‘This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies’, which was put on by the world-famous debating society, the Oxford Union. In content, it was brilliant. In delivery, it was par excellence.   

ST spoke of the economic toll that British rule took on India (at the time of arrival of East India Company in the sub-continent, India in its current form did not exist but we will let it pass!). He highlighted India’s share of world trade of 23% when the British arrived (in 1614) which had dropped to 4% when they departed (in 1947). He attributed the decline due to India being governed for the benefit of Britain. He further stated, “Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India. In fact, Britain’s industrial revolution was actually premised upon the de-industrialization of India.” ST concluded his speech stating: “As far as I’m concerned, the ability to acknowledge a wrong that has been done, to simply say sorry, will go a far, far, far longer way than some percentage of GDP in the form of aid. What it required is accepting the principle that reparations are owed. Personally, I’d be quite happy if it was one pound a year for the next two hundred years, after the last two hundred years of Britain in India.”

ST’s key note address covered many facets of ancient and more recent aspects of Indo – Sri Lanka relations and cooperation. He waxed eloquent on relations dating all the way back to India’s sacred epic, the Ramayana, striking similarities of the Kandyan and Orissa dance forms not forgetting the historical bonds and ties of kinship and cultural affiliations of Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil community with their kinsmen in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. He referred to the growth in trade and investments, cooperation in the fields of education, culture and defense, frequent cricket matches, a broad understanding on major issues of international interest and a relationship marked by frequent and close contact at the highest political level.

He overlooked the absence of a visit to Sri Lanka by an Indian Prime Minister for 28 years between 1987 and 2015, including the tenure of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in whose cabinet he served.

ST availed of this opportunity to voice India’s concerns over China’s interest in the Indian Ocean region which according to him, “undermines India’s historical links and cultural networks built over generations and centuries.” The new Chinese ‘Maritime Silk Road’ initiative was compared with a previous Silk Road avatar undertaken by the celebrated Chinese Admiral Zheng He in the fifteenth century.  ST cautioned “those who seek to revive historical links might also wish to remember historical inequities”.

It applies equally to the one time Chinese invader and multiple Indian invaders who invaded Sri Lanka from 205 BC. The Yongel Emporer’s magnanimity and graciousness in restoring and returning to Sri Lanka of King Alakeshvara, imprisoned and taken to Nanjing by Admiral Zheng, was craftily avoided.

This writer, in a previous essay, wrote of most Indian statesmen, politicians, intellectuals and many others justifying India’s involvement in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, based on reasons of kinship between the 1.2 million Tamil community in Sri Lanka and 70 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu. ST too sang from the same copy book. He justified India’s continued engagement with Sri Lanka. “This is not a case of New Delhi interfering gratuitously in the internal affairs of its southern neighbor. India cannot help but be involved, both because it is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor geographically and because its own Tamil population – some 70 million people in the politically important southern state of Tamil Nadu—remains greatly concerned about the wellbeing of their ethnic cousins across the Palk Straits”.

However, India does not apply the same theory to the wellbeing of 4.8 million Indian Muslims in Indian occupied Kashmir and the concern for their wellbeing by 3.6 million Muslims in Assad Kashmir and 181 million Muslims in Pakistan, despite common land borders. Suffice to state, India need to manage its 70 million Tamil population in the same manner Pakistan manage its 181 million Muslims, when Kashmir is in turmoil.

“Mutual engagement is in the fraternal spirit that characterizes our friendship and history and in light of the values our nations celebrate and aspire to always uphold and reinforce” ST continued. Should not India practice such an ideal inclusively and not selectively?

Sri Lanka has no desire nor will it benefit in any way by undertaking any exercise detrimental to the security of India’s southern seaboard. Even to a layman such as this writer, that much is abundantly clear.   

The “Indian perspective of distinct warmth towards China and Pakistan” referred to by ST was, from a Sri Lankan perspective, is India’s own doing. It declined to sell desperately needed armaments to defeat a terrorist movement which India to begin with, had natured, housed, trained and armed.  Friendship towards helpful nations is best explained with the word ‘gratitude’ in the Oxford Dictionary and ‘aabhaar’ in the Hindi language. Nevertheless, the visit by Chinese submarines to the Colombo harbor in late 2014 was a monumental blunder of the previous Sri Lankan administration.

Indian politicians and intellectuals of the likes of ST need understand, notwithstanding the garlands, drummers and welcome pandals arranged at welcome ceremonies, ordinary Sri Lankans view India with extreme suspicion and resentment. A simple test would be a cricket match between India and Pakistan played in Colombo. There will be few locals cheering for the Indian side. Reasons for it are many, which are historical and more recent. 

Our history books contain details of repeated invasions of the island by South Indian kings in the ancient times. It is compounded by India’s involvement in the birth and growth of multiple Tamil terrorist groups in Sri Lanka, the Indo – Sri Lanka Agreement resulting in the arrival of IPKF and imposition of the 13th Amendment to our constitution in more recent times, confirmed in the writings of one time Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, JN Dixit. Compelling Sri Lanka to abandon Operation Liberation (Vedamarachchi) which may have ended the civil war in 1987 followed by India’s own Operation Eagle Mission 4 (Poomalai) is a case in point. There are many young persons born after 1987 who are now adults but feel no differently to their elders who lived through such ignominies. Key to this situation is India’s continued involvement in Sri Lanka’s national question. It may be argued, India of late has played a more subdued role. Nevertheless, the constant appeals by local Tamil leaders, the patient hearing given to them by Indian leaders including Prime Minister Modi and the perceived adjudicator role being played by India contributes to the theory of interference. Sri Lanka is a small island comprising of 65.5 thousand square miles and a population of less than 21 million inhabitants. Yet, India has diplomatic representations in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna and Hambantota besides numerous cultural centers. It has only three offices in London, Birmingham and Edinburg despite an Indian community in excess of 1 million living in UK. Most Sri Lankans view such acts by India with extreme distrust. Voting against Sri Lanka repeatedly during several UNHRC sessions despite its stated policy of not voting on country specific issues is yet another sour point. India’s total lack of interest in resolving the issue of South Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lanka’s Northern waters is confirmation of Indian high handedness when dealing with Sri Lanka. Whether called hard power or soft power, it is a projection of Indian muscle power.

The volume of bilateral trade, which stood at USD 4.6 billion in 2014 is heavily in favor of India. Indian share amounted to USD 4 billion as opposed to Sri Lanka’s share of USD 600 million. Sri Lanka’s small size and inability to produce / manufacture any item in required numbers to meet the demand of the huge Indian market is a factor. That is the very reason India should not brow beat Sri Lanka to purchase Indian helicopters and other such items, especially when more suitable and cost effective alternatives are available elsewhere. The import by the thousands, of inferior motor vehicles made in India such as the ‘Alto’ brand, not marketed anywhere else in the world, contributes substantially to the imbalance.

ST lamented of inordinate delays faced by Indian private sector firms due to Environmental Impact Assessment regulations which according to him, are applied on Indian firms. A leading local biscuit manufacturer once narrated to this writer of having invested in a biscuit manufacturing plant in India only to close it down after a few years. They found Indian regulations and bureaucracy impossible to work with. Several exporters from Sri Lanka complain of inordinate delays ranging from two to three weeks in clearing consignments at Indian ports such as Chennai and Mumbai due to various bureaucratic impediments. Matters are further aggravated due to long periods transporting cleared goods to large cities, due to poor transport logistics. These periods in transit at times drastically reduce a product’s shelf life thus negatively impacting a possible sale which results in financial losses.  Suffice to state, problems are faced by exporters in both sides of the divide.

Far from the role of security provider for littoral and neighboring states, it’s intimidating attitude has earned India, the coveted title of Regional Bully. India should think deep and hard of reasons for joint Nepal China military exercises last week, attended by the Chinese Minister of Defense himself. Indian meddling in Nepal’s constitution making on behalf of the Madeshi community having close ties to people in India, is a duplication of the Indian involvement in Sri Lanka.

India would do well to concentrate on the big picture, that of securing its security through friendly relations with its neighbors. On the other hand, if it persists on its current course of meddling in the internal affairs of neighboring countries related to minority communities with ties in India, it might choke of the strangle of its oceanic neck by a Chinese ‘string of pearls’, despite the claimed thick neck.

To conclude, to apply ST’s own words during the Oxford Union debate, the ability to acknowledge a wrong that has been done, to simply say sorry, will go a far, far, far longer way than all the housing projects, rail tracks and other projects in the form of aid and soft loans. What is required is an apology and accepting the principle that reparations are owed for the billions lost during nearly three decades of civil war. Only then could we think of walking forward, hand in hand.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Sri Lanka should take the polite yet unmistakable caveat carried by Dr Tharoor to heart and effect course correction before it is too late. 

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Latest comments

  • 4
    2

    It’s not Tamil or Sinhala new year !! It’s a Hindu new year !! The Srilankan governments policies towards Tamils forced them to take up arms !! Before 1947 there was no Pakistan!! Pakistan born with Indian independence!! Before Muslims invade and conquer India it was greater India !! Called Bharat !! Including Afghanistan!!

    • 3
      3

      It is NOT Tamil & Sinhala New Year!! It is Buddhist & Hindu New Year. Also Not all Hindus celebrate this only some. But for all Buddhists this is their new year!!!!

      • 3
        1

        New year is decided on the basis of Astronomy & Astrology. As per Astronomy, Sun is right above India at the time of new year and as per Astrology Sun enters the first zodiac house at this time. This was an ancient practice by Hindus before the birth of Buddhism. Therefore new year is a Tamil Hindu tradition which was adopted by Sinhala Buddhists. No other Hindus or Buddhists in the world celebrate this day as new year. Sikhs celebrate it as Vishaki, and Bengalese, Nepalese and Thais celebrate it as Spring festival.

        • 0
          1

          You must understand that the New year based on Astronomy was not in April in ancient times. It was before April and Sun was not right above India at that time. In another 100 years Astronomical new year will be in May. Therefore your argument is wrong.

          • 0
            0

            The Tamil calendar is a sidereal Hindu calendar used in Tamil Nadu, India It is also used in Puducherry, and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu farmers greatly refer to this. It is used today for cultural, religious and agricultural events,] with the Gregorian calendar largely used for official purposes both within and outside India. The Tamil calendar is based on the classical Hindu lunisolar calendar also used in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal, Odisha, Rajasthan and Punjab.

          • 1
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            It was according to western system before the current practice came into effect, that march was considered as the first month. That is why September though is the ninth month of the present day calendar has been denoted as the seventh (Sept refers to seven), October is denoted as the eighth (Oct refers to eight), November is denoted as ninth (Nov refers to nine) and December is denoted as tenth (Dec refers to ten). During the year, sun lies above southern hemisphere around December 21st, over the equator on march 21st and later on September 31st (Equinox – day and night equal) and above northern hemisphere around June 21st. This transit has not changed for millions of years, and Sun was above India always around mid April.

      • 1
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        Not all Hindus celebrate this it is the Tamil New Year, calculated according to the Solar calendar. The Sinhalese have copied the Tamil New year and now calling it Sinhalese New Year as the ancestors of most of the present day Sinhalese were Tamils

        • 1
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          If you analyse correctly, all North Indian Hindu festivals are based on Lunar movements, either full moon or new moon or midway (Ashtami, Navami, Dasami etc which follows the moon). All Tamil festivals are based on Solar movements – Thai Pongal when Sun enters the tenth house, New Year when sun enters the first house, Adi pirappu in Srilanka or Adi perukku in Tamil Nadu when sun enters fourth house.

      • 0
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        CD,

        The Tamils (including Hindus) follow the Solar Calendar whereas the Buddhists follow the Lunar calendar. The Sinhalese observe Hindu New Year Day, April 14, (according to Hindu Solar and not Buddhist Lunar calendar) as their New Year Day.

        Even today, if we visit any Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, there is always a Hindu Devale/temple with Hindu Gods inside the Buddhist temple. Many Sinhalese are still practicing Hindu religious traditions openly. For example, auspicious times is a Hindu concept, Buddhism has no concept of auspicious times. The Hindu element is patent in the lifestyle of every Sinhala-Buddhist. They pray with great piety to Hindu gods, perform rituals, break coconuts, tie the pirith noola, surei, do important things at auspicious times, light the khoodu for Bhairava, hang ash pumpkins in a newly built house to avoid evil befalling any member of the house-hold, carry kavadi, walk on red hot cinders, chant Seth and Vas kavi, etc. Even on poya days, Buddhists offer poojas at Kataragama to God Murugan, and offer poojas to goddess Saraswaty. All those deities (Devas) worshipped by the Sinhalese are Hindu deities. If you go to any Hindu temple (Kovil) in either Sri Lanka or South India, you will find all of them.

    • 1
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      The Sinhala New Year that the Sinhalese celebrate is borrowed from the Tamil Hindus. The Theravada Buddhist calendar is a lunar one. Each month starts with the new moon, peaks at the full moon and then wanes until the next new moon which signifies the start of the succeeding month. The first month of the Buddhist lunar year is `Bak`. The first day of the lunar month of Bak never falls on the 14th of April.

      On the other hand, the Tamil Hindu solar calendar by contrast follows the signs of the traditional zodiac and commences when the sun enters the sign of Mesha or Aries on the 14th of April each year. It is ironic that the Sinhalese now observe the Tamil Hindu solar calendar where the first day of the first solar month i.e. `Chitterai` falls each year on 14 April. This is the Hindu New Year. 14 April is also observed as the traditional New Year in Assam, Bengal, Orissa, Kerala, Nepal and Punjab. This is in keeping with their Solar Hindu traditions.

  • 9
    3

    “Sugar Quoted” ? Tharoor is going to have a hearty laugh.

    “He overlooked the absence of a visit to Sri Lanka by an Indian Prime Minister for 28 years between 1987 and 2015, including the tenure of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in whose cabinet he served.”

    What do you expect when a Lankan naval rating at the guard of honor tries to whack the visiting PM with his gun?

    While India has a lot to answer for its immoral roles at various times in Sri Lanka, including first encouraging the LTTE to fight and then the failure to protect Tamil civilians at the last stages of the war against the LTTE, Sinhalese like you should look in the mirror and reflect on how the repeated massacres of Tamils, rendering them refugees in their own homeland, and denying their history and belonging in Sri Lanka, allowed India to intervene.

    • 0
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      A convenient amnesia comes in handy for repeating a hackneyed excuse as a cause for the emergence of the LTTE,by ignoring how a succession of top heavy Sinhala majoritarian governments played an active role from 1948 onwards in that regard to ensure it’s emergence.
      Who gave ammunitions and guns to the LTTE ?
      Against whom did the LTTE use it?
      Dayan J will reply.

  • 10
    1

    The author of this article has done an exhaustive analysis of ST, the double face of the man, perhaps any Indian, to sing one song for the colonial master and another to neighbours to imply that they are Indian colonies.

    It is time that Sri Lanka take some action. Anybody visiting Thailand is should know the consequences of attacking the Royalty. Anybody visiting Maldives is made aware that no religious artifacts in the form of statues etc. are welcome. These speakers are got down for various ceremonial occasions should get one clear message. No INDIAN HEGEMONY, otherwise get the hell out of here.

    Must we get down chaps who look down upon us as guests to deliver keynote addresses? We made the mistake of even getting down the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi for some occasion. Yet he too did the same thing in yet another way. The list is endless. We too must use the famous rule of the colonial master “divide and rule”. Why not get some Pakistani scholars for starters? The Foreign Ministry should set the tone.

    Remember no amount of intelligent analysis is of any use. Starting from political leaders, both in Government and in the Opposition there should be one clear message. “WE CAN GET ON AS FRIENDS BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN A MASTER-SLAVE RELATIONSHIP”.

  • 1
    1

    I also believe that Britian stole lot of Indian ancient books and that contributed to some of their industrial development.

    • 8
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      jimsofty

      “I also believe that Britian stole lot of Indian ancient books and that contributed to some of their industrial development.”

      Many believe Sri Lankan state burnt books and ola manuscripts kept at Jaffna Library in order to prevent industrial development of the North East.

      You should have demanded Dutta Gamani, Mathews and the police serving at the time be charged. Where were you?

      Go demand the Portuguese state an apology and compensation for destroying temples, Viharas, where most ancient ola manuscripts were preserved. Without the ola manuscripts the industrial development of this country has been severely curtailed.

      We lost advanced knowledge of aerospace technology and technical know how to the west including how to produce/replicate Ravana’s Pushpak Vimana.

      May be the Portuguese stole the last prototype stealth aircraft.

      Champika Ranawaka believes zero was invented by Sinhalese, probably stolen by Indians, and sold to Arabs, then the Arabs sold the idea to the west.

      jimmy go after them.

  • 5
    2

    Dear Rajeewa,
    If we had just one “refined, sophisticated and articulate” international civil servant (By your own description) like Sashi Tharoor, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Instead, we had the boring and inarticulate Palitha Kohona, the malleable liar G.L.Pieris and the self-certified political genius Dayan Jayatillaka. Our largely dumb but literate (barely) population elects leaders of the same calibre as themselves. Anybody who speaks English properly or fails to worship the Mahanayakas is viewed with suspicion. Would such leaders be capable of selecting people smarter than themselves for strategic positions? So the results are as expected. India has thousands of Shashi Tharoor type people.
    Now to something you personally know nothing about:
    “The import by the thousands, of inferior motor vehicles made in India such as the ‘Alto’ brand, not marketed anywhere else in the world, contributes substantially to the imbalance.”
    This is a canard invented by Kulatunga Rajapaksa, the chairman of DSI, which itself is an indication of the quality of our” business magnates”
    All he had to do was look it up on the net. Maruti Suzuki exports to 125 countries, starting with Hungary in 1987.Currently, exports are 1.5 million units. When you talk about trade barriers in India, why not consider whether Sri Lankan incompetence is a major cause?
    Why not yalk positively, about businesses that have SUCCEEDED in India, such as Damro, which has outlets all over South India and is currently buying up plantations to meet Indian demand for composite furniture. Compare this with DSI, which cannot produce a decent tyre even with local rubber freely available. But Indian CEAT exports tyres from the former Tyre Corp. Management is the difference.

  • 5
    1

    Dr. Rajeewa,

    “…ordinary Sri Lankans view India with extreme suspicion and resentment.”

    You put it in a mild form. To put it bluntly, most of the Sinhalese hate India. What else they should expect for what they did to Sinhalese. Indira and Rajiv should rot in hell for trillion years for the crimes committed against Sinhalese.

    India use the Tamil connection as an excuse. Do they really care for Tamils in Sri Lanka. I do not think so. If they really care for Tamils in Sri Lanka, they should prevent Tamil Nadu guys coming to Sri Lankan waters. The funny thing is Tamil politicians used to run to Amma for all kinds of things but did not tell her to stop fishermen coming to Sri Lankan waters. The rumour is that she owned several trawlers. I do not think even Wellala politicians care for the plight of the low caste fishermen in Jaffna.

    • 8
      1

      Eagle Eye/SL Citizen/Dr Clean/50%/33.33%/….

      ” To put it bluntly, most of the Sinhalese hate India.”

      The Sinhala/Buddhists little islanders are self-hating Indians.

      Self-hatred:

      Hatred directed against oneself or one’s own people, often in despair.

      Actually its about your own low self esteem, in many cases cause for your mental disorder, a symptom of personality disorders – ie typing under various pseudonyms, …..

      Indians were the ancestors of present day Sinhala/Buddhists.

    • 0
      0

      You are correct.
      Hindi and are not only bothered about what happens to their own slaving in the tea and rubber estates in this country, but are also not bothered about the rape and corruption raging wild in Tamil Nadu.
      What the Indian Siva Sena and the VHP like it’s twin incarnations in SL like the BBS and PHU want is the vote of their respective country’s broad electorate to weild power and influence. That’s all.

  • 4
    1

    Mr. Jayaweera,
    ” A leading local biscuit manufacturer once narrated to this writer of having invested in a biscuit manufacturing plant in India only to close it down after a few years. They found Indian regulations and bureaucracy impossible to work with.”
    You have taken a one-sided view of India-SL trade, apparently based on the opinions of such “experts” as Kulatunga Rajapaksa (DSI), Samantha Kumarasingha (Nature’s Secrets) and M. Wickremasingha (Munchee).All these people have failed in their efforts to trade in India. But as I pointed out in a previous post, there ARE Sri Lankan exporters who have done well in India. Damro has outlets at every nook and corner in South India , but they don’t make a song and dance about it. Amante has factories in India and exports to third countries.Maggi coconut milk powder competes well in India with Thai products.
    About food exports, how is it that Happy Cow cheese (a European product) is 20% cheaper in Chennai than in Colombo?
    The problem is lack of imagination and/or competence on our side. If the Chairman of DSI doesn’t know the volume of Maruti exports, what can we expect?
    There is another angle to this. Some of these very same businessmen were involved with the Sinhala Veera Vidahana, an outfit which tries to violently curtail business competition from Tamils and Muslims.

  • 3
    0

    Mr.Jayaweera,
    “. The import by the thousands, of inferior motor vehicles made in India such as the ‘Alto’ brand, not marketed anywhere else in the world, contributes substantially to the imbalance.”
    Please don’t let your obvious prejudices lead you to make idiotic public statements. Read this:

    “Maruti Suzuki Exports hit 15 Lakh in 2016”

    First, we made excellence, quality, technology and reliability a Way of Life. Then, we took it to other lands and people. They too, were delighted and asked for more Maruti Suzuki cars.
    export

    Australia, Indonesia, France, even Italy. The next time you travel overseas, you’d be in for a pleasant surprise – the roaring motors zipping down the streets will be from the latest Maruti Suzuki cars. Today, Maruti Suzuki exports cars to over 125 countries. Among them are the highly competitive and mature European auto markets like the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and UK- a testament to our product quality and manufacturing capabilities maintained across all Maruti Suzuki cars. The industry has acknowledged our efforts in building and sustaining new international markets with the Business World International Business Awards 2012, in the Exports (Auto & Engineering) Category. Such consistent performance and its recognition by the industry, has always kept Maruti Suzuki in news.

    • 6
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      old codger

      “Please don’t let your obvious prejudices lead you to make idiotic public statements.”

      Come on old codger when did Rajeewa Jayaweera and Dayan Jayatilleka rely on facts, they type things as they go along without a complete fact check, – the idea is to make the readers (you)stupid and others to believe he is contributing to a substantial argument.

      Doing so he is trying hard to make his fellow little islanders feel good, great and glorified, … for achieving nothing. He could only do this by undermining India.

    • 0
      0

      Old Codger

      The Maruti issue is outside the context of this article. However, since you brought up the subject, let me clarify on Maruti & Suzuki. Suzuki owns a minority stake in Maruti & provides the technical support to build cars under license in India. Suzuki is a cheap brand & though it does make reasonably good SUVs & Crossovers, is targeted at the bottom end of the world car market. The Suzuki Alto is assembled in India by Maruti for Suzuki due to low labour costs in India to enable Suzuki to flog it as a cheap car in Europe & other countries. The better quality SUVs are not made in India, probably because Maruti can’t meet the build quality standards required in the targeted developed countries. On the other hand, Maruti is made under license with Indian sourced parts & obsolete Suzuki technology, therefore, cannot be branded as a Suzuki. The only Maruti I have seen in Europe was in Malta but could have originally been an old Suzuki 800 which is being kept alive with Maruti parts. The Maruti may be exported to SE Asian & third world countries like SL due to its very low price, where safety, comfort, performance/emissions, build quality & superior technology do not matter. It’s an absolutely rubbish product & will never meet the standards of the European New car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP).

      Unfortunately, due to exorbitantly high import duty in SL, the average consumer who is not entitled to privileges like duty concessionary permits, is compelled to buy these & other below standard products. It’s only due to the wisdom of successive finance ministers of SL who have made buying a reasonable car beyond the means of the average consumer that these rubbish products have a good market in SL.

      • 2
        0

        Raj,
        It was Rajeewa Jayaweera who commented on the quality of Indian cars.Therefore the issue is in context.
        The excerpt I posted was from the Maruti website. There is corroboration from independent sources about Maruti exports (1.5 million units in 2016). That you personally saw only one Maruti in Malta is not relevant.As its website says, it has been exporting to Europe since 1987. Where do you think all those cars in Hambantota port come from, and where are they going?
        Your claim that Suzuki owns a minority share is also false:
        “Maruti Suzuki India Limited, formerly known as Maruti Udyog Limited, is an automobile manufacturer in India.[8] It is a 54.2%-owned subsidiary of Japanese automobile and motorcycle manufacturer Suzuki Motor Corporation.” Suzuki keeps up quality AND sells cars in SL too under the Suzuki brand. Ask AMW if you want proof, and while you are about it, kindly ask them where the Renaults, Datsuns and Nissans they sell come from. They too are pretty coy about it because of people like you who still think that Indian goods are “low quality” . A hangover from the colonial mentality.
        ” It’s only due to the wisdom of successive finance ministers of SL who have made buying a reasonable car beyond the means of the average consumer that these rubbish products have a good market
        in SL. “
        Well, taxes as a percentage are the same for ALL cars. Marutis are not covered by the FTA with India, though even Kulatunga Rajapaksa thinks so.If taxes were lowered, these “rubbish cars” would corner the market, just like the “rubbish” Leyland and Tata buses.Value for money is what matters in the end, my dear Raj, otherwise bus owners would be buying Benzes.
        You can check whether better quality SUVs are made in India or not
        by simply flying there and looking at the Renaults, VW’s, Skodas, Hondas and whatnot crowding the streets.
        We are a third world country. Please do not take up snooty positions suitable for the First world.
        On a personal note, since you pontificate on “obsolete technology”
        I would buy a 1976 Renault 4 if I could find a brand new one today. THAT was a cheap, very basic and thrifty car with not even upholstery or window winders! Probably you have never heard of it!

  • 3
    0

    Rajeewa Jayaweera: ST is Shashi Tharoor NOT Sashi Tharoo.

    Shashi had been house-guest of MR – in fact Shashi had his last honeymoon as MR guest. Shashi never understood why liberation movements in SL sprouted – shows he learned nothing during his UN tenure.

    Rajeewa, you are again showing your anti-Indian mindset. Why?

    You are rubbing in “….. absence of a visit to Sri Lanka by an Indian Prime Minister for 28 years between 1987 and 2015…. ” Have you forgotten what happened on 30 July 1987 to Rajiv Gandhi in Colombo? Why did Manmohan Singh boycott the Colombo 2013CHOGM?

    Shashi once said: “No Indian nationalist leader ever needed to say: We have created India; now all we need to do is to create Indians.” Should you be working towards creating Lankans.

    Our politicians run to India to seek favors from Hindu Gods. Teach them that God cannot be bribed – with bribes.

  • 0
    2

    THANKS TO RAJAPAKSE REGIME WHICH WON THE FRIEND
    SHIP OF CHINA. NOW INDIA IS COMING TO SRILANKA ASKING TO PROTECT THEIR SECURITY. BEFORE RAJAPAKSE TIME HE INDIANS NEVER CARED ABOUT SRILANKA.

  • 4
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    Ranaweera

    “NOW INDIA IS COMING TO SRILANKA ASKING TO PROTECT THEIR SECURITY.”

    You aren’t kidding are you?

    “BEFORE RAJAPAKSE TIME HE INDIANS NEVER CARED ABOUT SRILANKA.”

    Seriously you aren’t kidding are you?

  • 3
    3

    To Agnos, Old Codger et-al.

    It would appear, some comments have been made after reading my piece but not ST’s address. By visiting the link http://www.ft.lk/article/608598/Dr–Shashi-Tharoor-talks-India-way-for-Sri-Lanka ,those who wish may enlighten themselves which would perhaps be useful to better under my piece.

    My comment “He overlooked the absence of a visit to Sri Lanka by an Indian Prime Minister for 28 years between 1987 and 2015, including the tenure of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in whose cabinet he served.” was in response to ST’s comment “In more recent years, our relationship has been marked by frequent and close contact at the highest political level”……

    My comment on difficulties faced by Sri Lankan exporters was in response to ST’s comment “One concern that many Indian private sector firms have expressed to me, however, is the extraordinarily stringency of your Environmental Impact Assessment regulations as applied to Indian firms. Kirloskar, for instance, has been waiting three years for environmental clearance of an irrigation project.” Hence the reason for qualifying my statement with “Suffice to state, problems are faced by exporters in both sides of the divide.”

    On the Maturi Suzuki issue, I have visited the company’s website, have verified details and stand corrected. The Alto 800 model has been exported since 2012. My apologies to the readers.

    That said, the present government, no sooner they assumed office in 2015 slashed import duty for vehicles with an engine capacity of 800 cc and below. At the same time, they foolishly increased import duty on Hybrid vehicles instead of maintaining existing import duty level, thus contributing to the reduction of the nation’s fuel bill beside more eco-friendly vehicles. It was payback time for Indian assistance in capturing political power.

    The purpose of my piece was essentially to point out, ST’s speech in Colombo was at variance to what he said at the Oxford Union debate.

    On the belief in some quarters of an ‘anti-Indian bias ‘ on my part, nothing is further from the truth. Some of my heroes are Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose. My issue is with attitudes and policies of successive Indian governments and some leaders since 1980, towards Sri Lanka.

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      Rajeewa Jayaweera,
      “”“In more recent years, our relationship has been marked by frequent and close contact at the highest political level”……””
      This is very true and you will never know because you have never associated with the foreign service of India and the selectors of foreign servants- always the senior most was sent as Ambassador to Sri Lanka- see their profiles after serving at Lanka –

      “The purpose of my piece was essentially to point out, ST’s speech in Colombo was at variance to what he said at the Oxford Union debate.”
      I was there that day.and it had to be because independent Ceylon decided to be a thorn of oppression on clipped wing Hindustan.

      “On the belief in some quarters of an ‘anti-Indian bias ‘ on my part, nothing is further from the truth. Some of my heroes are Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose. My issue is with attitudes and policies of successive Indian governments and some leaders since 1980, towards Sri Lanka. “”

      Bringing the dead back to life like a katta_adiya is sinhala buddhist culture- kakula ussla lassanai. Sleeping with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
      At the best of of Indian Universities they have no regard for any of the names you mentioned. The parting message from the HoD of my university at north India (he was a selector of foreign servants of India a winner of award for literature)
      There can never be another Mahatma Gandhi- we both smiled- surreal world.

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      Rajeewa: “….. Some of my heroes are Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose.”

      They were all secularists.

      We can talk big-brother exploitation till the cows come home. Were the Chinese angels? Benefactors or plain crude Shylocks?

      It is pity that India is embracing Hindu-bigotry. Few years back Yogi Adityanath as a CM is unthinkable. Modi says that “Indians” transplanted (inter-species at that). RSS, VHP are on the ascendancy. Godse is being deified. The cow-vigilantes are anti-Muslims in disguise. Rationalists are assassinated with impunity. Corruption is a way of life. The list of Indian ills is endless.

      Such social ills pervade SL too. Perhaps we need to address these. How will comparing Shashi’s lecture in Colombo and elsewhere help?

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        K.Pillai,
        “Such social ills pervade SL too.”
        Our social ills are known as ancient traditions. One is astrology.
        It’s about time that bunch of fakes, the State standing committee on Auspicious Times (yes, there is one!} is locked up. Imagine a Government sponsoring such a charade in this day and age!

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    Dear Mr.Jayaweera,
    ” On the Maturi Suzuki issue, I have visited the company’s website, have verified details and stand corrected. The Alto 800 model has been exported since 2012. My apologies to the readers. “

    Your apology is most magnanimous. I know you are far too intelligent a person to write such rubbish .I know the original source was Kulatunga Rajapaksa, the DSI chairman. I wish you would research into and write more on the successes like Damro (They are very reluctant to talk) instead of contributing to the protectionist “we are too small to compete” mentality of our exporters.
    I have a bone to pick about hybrid vehicles. A hybrid usually has an engine upwards of 1500 cc and is not all that much better in fuel efficiency than an 800 cc car. Add to that complicated and expensive maintenance, periodic replacement of batteries, and VERY expensive spares compared to a Maruti, it can be concluded that a hybrid is more of a drain on our resources than a Maruti. Eco-friendliness is a moot point with electric vehicles, though they are advertised as “Zero emission”. The difference is that the smoke doesn’t hit the pedestrians, the coal dust kills the poor farmer in Norochcholai!
    Of course hybrids and electrics are more comfortable than 800 cc Marutis, but we do live in Sri Lanka.
    About Dr.Tharoor, he is an opposition MP heading the Foreign Affairs committee. That’s something our governing circles could learn from, in regard to continuity of policy.

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      old codger

      “That’s something our governing circles could learn from, in regard to continuity of policy.”

      I am sorry, do we have a foreign policy?
      Who cares about foreign policy?

      Why do we need one if we don’t adhere to one?

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        ” I am sorry, do we have a foreign policy? “
        We have a secret weapon called DJ, don’t we?

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    Mr Jayaweera writes about a complex subject that has its roots in the fact that 99% of Sri Lankans come from ‘Indian’ stock, and over 70% worship a lapsed Indian Prince who supposedly chose our magical island to be the home of his message. (What was he thinking? Has he ever regretted it?) In many ways, Un-Buddhist India is to Buddhist SL what Un-Christian Israel is to the Christian West. In language, art, genetic make-up and looks and more, we are inextricably linked to our northern neighbours.

    Shashi Tharoor only teases us with his selective criticism. Poor UK now has to look after many more Indians than ever there were British administrators in India during the time of the Raj. Debt cancelled!

    Indians have harboured a visceral suspicion of Sri lankans ever since we escaped Mother India in shame, and morphed into the Sinhalese. The feeling remains mutual.

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      Spring Koha

      How are you?

      “Indians have harboured a visceral suspicion of Sri lankans ever since we escaped Mother India in shame, and morphed into the Sinhalese. The feeling remains mutual. “

      Hindians don’t give a toss about this island? To all intents and purposes, Hindians treat this island as the Sinhala state of Hindia.

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      At least the Sinhalese and Tamils agree that they are of Indian stock but the 9% Muslims still deny this obvious fact and keep on claiming that they are descended from Arabs/Moors and not from South India

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      I do not think that the contents of your last para has any anthropological validity considering the fact that the human species that occupy the various states in the land mass of what is now called India could be more different to the species in SL an island to it’s south, only a few odd nautical miles as the crow flies.
      But how is that India has sovereign and territorial interests over the Andaman Islands many thousands of miles away across the Bay of Bengal in the east which is populated with a different form of human species compared to that in the sub-continent?
      I understand that a majority among them speak Tamil fluently.

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      Spring Koha ,
      “”Poor UK now has to look after many more Indians than ever there were British administrators in India during the time of the Raj. Debt cancelled!””

      Como Esta Gibraltar??
      The day the Englishman learns to Reason England would Collapse.
      You could apply that ointment to the Islanders too.

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    Dim_Sum

    At highest political level means President and Prime Minister, not foreign service personnel (foreign servants is a new one!).

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      they are there to stay and are generally the best brains of the country unlike journos and ass lickers of Lanka.
      When a person is sick a psychiatrist usually request the client to look back into life so that he may cure himself (it takes 14 years of study to be a consultant 5+9 years even in the UK)
      Now look at Lankas diplomats from the time of independence.- shameful to say the least.Boasters like the English who apply psychological warfare tactics.
      Why was Dr Jaishankar (former ambassador to China and Washington fluent at Mandarin, English Hindi Punjabi) recalled from retirement- Because of cavity check at Washington and Modi goofy at Japan to war against China- he solved both issues without much hassle. For the first time in the history of India -Ajit Doval National Security Advisor(author of 36 books) and Foreign Sec think alike.

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      Rajeewa Jayaweera,
      BTW the sons of both Sashi and Jaishanker qualified in international affairs in the USA and are prolific writers for American news- posts.
      The wise read books and life itself;)

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      Pseudo Professional, “software development jobs”
      Even in the west programing language is not taught at university.
      Unless its Computer Science at IIT Kharagpur where Sunder CEO Google passed from.
      We learn programming at school as a hobby like middle class students of UK learn both Latin and programing from the time man went to the moon.

      Anyone who learns Computer Science at India does not sit those polls test that you quote because the job is prepared overseas (road to silicon valley) and others create software and sell in the market to make the billions(I won’t tell you where)
      Its India’s 180 billion dollar business from just 3 companies.
      How does India handle most of the back-office work in the world for the west and even sub-contract some bank e-mailing to Lanka?
      your country GDP is only 60 billion so don’t interfere or you may get nuked.

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      They may be unfit for software development jobs, but they seem to be excellent for CEO jobs in Microsoft and Google supervising the output of those whom you say are fit for software development work. In other words they can only be bosses and not workers.

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    Dim_Sum

    “India handle most of the back-office work”

    That is because Indians are good at things done from the back end !!!

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      You seem to be ignorant. Srilanka also touts for back-office work from the western countries, and handles some of them. Unfortunately for Srilanka, Western countries prefer to out source to Indian companies, as they are cheaper and more efficient than Srilankan companies.

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      You are Just Plain Stupid and Jealous mottaya,

      Only for talented and trustworthy people – so look away conmen of the world.

      A back office in most corporations is where tasks dedicated to running the company itself take place.Back office staff design the computer systems, maintain the databases, handle the company finances and seek out new talent.
      The front office depends on the support of the back office to function effectively.

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      Jurassic:
      What are we good at?
      Spending even more than what our wives and daughters send from the middle east / promoting Sinhala Buddhism while living on the earnings of Tamil women in tea estates?
      At least the Indians are good at back-end work.

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