25 August, 2019

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BJP And Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Problem

By Izeth Hussain

 Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

What does the BJP tsunami portend for Sri Lanka’s ethnic problem? I think we should first of all get our perspectives right on certain matters. Narendra Modi may have a ghastly record over the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Muslims, but haven’t there been men of power with even ghastlier records nearer home? In 2002 Modi made an injudicious speech, indeed one showing criminal irresponsibility, which led to anti-Muslim riots resulting in the deaths of 1000, may be more but not more than 2000. But over the years it proved impossible to inculpate him for anything more than that, and he has had a reasonable record in dealing with Muslims. I am not denying that he can justly be regarded as an anti-Muslim racist, Fascist, and a dangerous Hindutva bigot. My point is that we should not demonize him unnecessarily.

Consider by contrast the record of Sri Lankan men of power towards the minorities. Recently the JVP leader, in making an enlightened address to a Muslim gathering, referred to the fact that when 13 soldiers were killed by the LTTE in 1983, the bodies were not returned to their native villages for burial according to established practice, but brought to Colombo where they were buried with much fanfare. That inaugurated the July ’83 holocaust which resulted in the killing of about the same number as in Gujarat, possibly even more, and it inaugurated also the thirty-year war. The consequences were therefore infinitely more horrible than those of the Gujarat massacre. But, unlike in India where Modi had to face charges in Court, there was no attempt in Sri Lanka to inculpate the notorious racist leaders of the time, such as JRJ, Cyril Matthew, Lalith Athulathmudali, and Gamini Dissanayake. They were either directly involved in State terrorism or heartily approved of it. At the level of the people and the civil society there is a striking contrast between Indian activism over the Gujarat massacre and Sri Lankan indifference to July ’83. So, my point is that in dealing with Modi we should begin by assuming that he is just another leader with whom a mutual accommodation of interests should be possible, while bearing in mind the possibility that he could turn out to be a very dangerous person

We should also assume that the fundamentals of Indian policy on Sri Lanka remain unchanged.  The fundamentals are these: Sri Lanka by itself can never be a serious threat to India but it could be if it gets together with some powerful foreign country against India, and except in that eventuality nothing would preclude total amity and co-operation without India wanting to dominate Sri Lanka or exercise undue influence in any way. We all know that Indo-Sri Lankan relations went through a very troubled period after 1977 when India believed that JRJ was getting close to the US in a way that could be inimical to India’s legitimate interests. But apart from that – as I can attest from first-hand experience as a diplomat for 35 years – the fundamentals that I have mentioned above applied fully.

I cannot go into details in this article, but I will mention one fact that illustrates those fundamentals. After the Sino-Indian border war in the early sixties the relations between the two countries deteriorated very badly, but the special relationship built up between Sri Lanka and China as a result of the Rubber-Rice Pact of the early ‘fifties continued to flourish, and we continued to maintain very  friendly relations with India at the same time. There was no demand, no pressure at all from India to distance ourselves from China. The reason was that there was no military dimension at all to our relations with China, nor was that being threatened. The case was otherwise with the very friendly Sri Lanka-US relations after 1977: it could, at least in theory, have acquired a military dimension in the context of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

But of course there could be other reasons – apart from our ganging up with a foreign power against India – that could spoil our relations with India. The possible establishment of a sphere of influence by India could be one of those other reasons. It is a striking fact that Western countries which had anathematized Modi for years, even refusing him a visa as in the case of the US, have rushed forward to invite him to visit their countries. There could be several reasons for this, including the fact that India is clearly emerging as a great power and Modi, with his Hindutva ultra-nationalism deeply ingrained in him for decades, could well turn out to be anti-Western. Furthermore this potentially dangerous person is going to have his finger on the Indian nuclear trigger. So, common sense would indicate that the West should try to palaver him into good behavior. We must also bear in mind that the Western Governments’ enthusiasm for human rights, unlike that of the Western peoples, is largely though not entirely bogus. Otherwise they would have anathematized JRJ and his brutal racist gang, not Modi, as the former were far more clearly guilty of genocide against a minority.

I believe that the abrupt Western volte-face towards Modi can be best understood by contextualizing it and seeing it in relation to the inevitable emergence of China as a super-power. The West and Russia would like to establish India as a counter-weight to China. In recent times  there has been what looks like an over-assertiveness  by China in regard to its claims in the South China seas. That could be taken as the sign of a new aggressivity on the part of a young super-giant that is flexing its muscles, or alternatively it could signify a desire to establish a sphere of influence, which is not essentially the expression of an aggressive drive. Likewise I see Russia’s position in Ukraine not as the expression of an aggressive drive but as an attempt to establish an internationally recognized sphere of influence. It has to be expected, in my view, that in a new world order – which is still at an inchoate stage – the new dominant powers will want to establish their spheres of influence. Consequently, if the West wants India as a counter-weight to China, Sri Lanka will come to be regarded as belonging to India’s sphere of influence. That would not necessarily mean that Sri Lanka will be Finlandized – meaning that our foreign policy options will be limited by India – or that we will be subject to Indian hegemony. I believe that we can have as much independence as we want provided we don’t gang up with a foreign power against India. I believe further that China itself will come to recognize Sri Lanka as belonging to India’s sphere of influence.

The BJP tsunami can be seen as part of a global process of retribalisation, of going back to ethnicity as the basis of the nation. It is true that in its election campaign the BJP emphasized economic development and played down the Hindutva ideology, but the tsunami sweep of the election victory shows that the mass of the Indians are not averse to that ideology, while a  very substantial proportion enthusiastically support it. In the West the process of retribalisation seems to be a complex phenomenon with a dual focus: a retrogression to ethnicity and a looking outward to a wider unit, a combination of tribalism and universalism. The Scottish nationalists, for instance, would want both an independent Scotland and membership of the EU. This combination of tribalism and universalism seems to have been a characteristic of Scottish nationalism right from its inception, as can be seen in the writings of the great Scots poet Hugh MacDiarmid. But in India the Hindutva ideology represents a retrogression to tribalism without any universalist aspect to it at all. We have seen the identical process at work in Sri Lanka since 2009, where it has wrecked the peace and brought off a masterpiece of ethnolunacy by creating a Muslim ethnic problem. What masterpieces might be wrought in India by the Hindutva ethnolunacy, we can’t tell at the moment.

We have to deal with Modi as with any other leader with whom a mutual accommodation of interests might be possible, but we have to be wary because his record shows that he could be a dangerous person. On the ethnic problem India cannot insist on anything more than 13A, which means that we have to try to reach an understanding on land and police powers. I won’t go into specifics, but emphasize one point in conclusion. The habit that our leaders have of making and breaking promises is something that we Sri Lankans have come to accept as a fatality. But it could be dangerous in the international arena. Modi, we must remember, is not the same as that Oxbridge product, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

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Latest comments

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    .
    What’s going to happen in next election in 2019?

    Can Modi win again? Does he need Tamilnadu votes?

    Rajapakse’s have a friend in Modi’s govt – Subramaniam Swamy.

    On the other hand, Sonia and Co. is watching how Rajapakse’s ignoring them and getting close to Modi.

    Once the first-year honeymoon is over, we’ll see the real colours.

    :-)

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      aratai

      “Rajapakse’s have a friend in Modi’s govt – Subramaniam Swamy.”

      Subramaniam Swamy has no friends.

      He is an Hindian who is dying to be part of the establishment. Indeed at times he thinks he alone is the establishment.

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      aratai,
      Who cares about India. If they are friendly to SL its fine if not so be it. India has more problems to solve at own home before bothering about a bunch of tamils in Sri Lanka. If you are talking about MR he will be on until the people of SL vote him out.

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      Dear Izeth Hussain

      RE: BJP And Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Problem

      Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Problem is called Para-Sinhala “Buddhist” Para-Monk Mahanama Imaginations in the Mahawansa in the 6th Century CE, problem

      Before 6th Century CE, there was no Ethnic Problem.

      There were Buddhists, there were Hindus, three were animists and there were the Native Veddahs, the original inhabitants the Land of of Native Veddah.

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        amASSiri the altar boy, wait till you get your special treatment…

        • 3
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          Moda-kolla, ela kolla, aka moda kolla and avatars,

          Did you return to Habaraduwa? A Monk in Habaraduwa gives proper education. Looks like you were able to take Bus 134. Ask Jim Softy “Thatha” and Lorenzo “Bappa” to give you candies, and “Mung Kavum’

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I

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      Up to now SL Govt was directing India using China and Pakistan card. There were no true friendship between Sonia & co and the current regime. Both were together against LTTE and Tamils. They were together in the genocide of Tamils. Now, SL Govt need Modi because there is no Sonia & Co. The fear is well expressed through greetings, acceptance of invitation, condemnation of Indian Consulate attack in Afghanistan etc. etc. The Modi’s invitation to SAARC leaders is nothing to do with current regime. It is a diplomatic procedure. Modi is not a fool to ignore Tamil Nadu or go against TN in order to protect MR regime. Modi do not need Tamil Nadu votes or TN Govts support to make decisions but he needs united India than genocidal SL.

  • 3
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    I don’t know why this author is using dirty words such as tribalism and ethnolunasim to describe nationalism which is quite natural and good.

    Sengodan. M

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      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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      Many ‘educated’ guys are product of western thinking … and they are used like monkeys by the west to propagate the western culture as against all other cultures using words like ‘tribalism’ to ridicule eastern cultures … Anglo Saxons are the ones who practice  tribalism to the extreme but without any protest against it by the people like this writer … 
      Examples are many —coalition (US, UK, CANDA)  against Muslim countries like Iraq/Afghanistan/Arab, Behavior at UN as a block, Looking at the problems in the world with same eye and releasing media handouts using same words ‘concerned’, ‘very concerned’, …

      Writer’s back kissing and servile attitude towards anything western shows at the end … “Modi, we must remember, is not the same as that Oxbridge product, Dr. Manmohan Singh.” 
      One dictionary defines Oxbridge as “upper class intellectual life in England, as felt to be under the influence of Oxford and Cambridge universities”.
      Then, India is surely better off with Modi than Dr.Manmohan Singh against this writer’s wishes …

      Izeth’s tribalism with Muslim brotherhoods can not be hidden … 
      ” We have seen the identical process at work in Sri Lanka since 2009, where it has wrecked the peace and brought off a masterpiece of ethnolunacy by creating a Muslim ethnic problem.”
      Muslim ethnic problem  is not a creation .. Various incidents happened due to the actual problems created by a group of Muslims against the country and it’s people. Look at the some of the problems created …

      Forcing to eat Halal food to all Srilankans, 
      trying to construct Muslim churches at every corner of the roads including  at the places very very close proximity to budhist religious temples  like Dambulla, Rise of very very extreme brand of muslim across Sri Lanka in last few years which was suppressed by the LTTE terrorism for decades, 
      Collaboration with LTTE rump to destroy the country internationally even-though Muslims were at the receiving from LTTE….

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        the irish bulldogs are the worst and the poms are any day better because they are caring and have a great sense of humour. Even a Chinese villager who cannot speak English know their English nursery rhymes- nothing like the anglo Saxons when it comes to children stories. The Irish are known as drunken laggards playing with no smoking even in own home while they drink and destroy.

  • 0
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    Birds of a feather flock together.

    Muslim genocidire Modi joined Tamil genocidire Mahi.

    Tamils are doomed. Muslims are doomed.

    Modi is trying to be the new Emperor Asokan. It was Emperor Asokan who made SL a Buddhist country. Before that it was a Muslim country. First Muslim Adam lived in SL.

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    Chingalams love Modi.

    Now BBS will have wings.

    Modi will punish Tamils for not voting for him.

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    !!I am not denying that he can justly be regarded as an anti-Muslim racist, Fascist, and a dangerous Hindutva bigot.!!

    NaMo was in office for 3 days for the first time and AlCIAd orchestrated the riot.

    Izeth Hussain you are just a tamil speaking religious terrorist like Taliban.

    Why don’t you and family go live in Saudi Arabia your mecca/ bin lardens home??

    If the hindus of India don’t defend their land can we get Muslims who have slept with the europen politicians defend their land??
    Havent you scumbags taken over Pakistan and bangala both belonging to hindu?? Kashmir is still the property of Hindu maharaja.
    What SL needs to do is nalli-cut the muslims and India to follow.

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    Nice touch Mr Hussain to recognise the plethora of racist leaders who, since independence, have acted with impunity against our defenceless minorities, with the sure confidence that there will be no case to answer to anyone, within or outside our blessed island. Mr Hussain has started us off with the odious Cyril Mathew, JRJ, LA, and GD. In the current fashion of drawing up lists, what other names can be added to these? Don’t forget that Sirimavo referred to her 1971 JVP bêtes noires as ‘another race unlike us’ and showed the legendary Sri Lankan leader determination to ‘wipe them off the face of this island’.

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      Spring Koha – I didn’t know that Sirimavo had referred to the JVP as “another race unlike us”. Could we have the details – where, when, and the relevant part of the full text if possible?

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        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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        Mr Hussain: This was said en-passant during a discussion at the end of April 1971; uncharacteristic, by our normally placid Prime Minister who felt hurt and betrayed by what she saw as the intransigence and ingratitude of the then JVP leadership. Nobody batted an eyelid; an indication of a strong empathy of those who heard it with the plight of the Prime Minister. Unlike today, nobody cared to make a big deal of every utterance and run to the nearest gossip columnist. I do not care to name names, except say that most of that small gathering are sadly no longer with us.

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    Dear Mr Hussain, of-course your long experience allows you licence to fantasize on these matters but the fact is that Modi and his coterie have the balls of a beast nestling in their oily brown hands; and that beast will react with no predictable direction to their squeezes. All the astrologers from Dondra to Delft cannot call this one with certainty. I say to Mother Lanka, fasten your seat belt and try not scream during the ride.

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    To Hussain, ‘Hindutva ideology in India represents a retrogression to tribalism’ is ‘Hindutva ethnolunacy.’ Amazingly however, the man continues to be totally deaf and blind for Ansar-ut-Tawheed like terrorist group that has links to al-Qaida who released a video calling for militant organisations across the Middle East and south Asia to attack India and Indian interests overseas because ‘Muslims of India are suffering today under the occupation of Hindus.’ Typical of a Muhammadans.

    Then he talks about a “masterpiece of ethnolunacy [in Sri Lanka] by creating a Muslim ethnic problem.” Again Hussain has never seen or even heard of those attacks by Wahhabi and Salafi tawheed thugs on traditional peaceful Sufi Muslims of Sri Lanka in person and their properties and their numerous mosques. Man is also deaf and blind to Sinhalas concern on tawheed’s projects such as halal, billa and breeding to be the majority. I say, this fellow is also a Salafi just like that Peace and dove man, Zakir Naik.

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      Perhaps on plea by terrorist Ansar-ut-Tawheed of India, at least three gunmen opened fire on the consulate from a nearby building in Herat. Though Indian diplomatic staff escaped unharmed consulate building caught fire. Looks like there will be more attacks planned on Hindu Indians in the near future.

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      What good did Izeth Hussain think will be achieved by his malicious attack on the new Indian PM except to vent the usual Muslim hatred of the disturbed on a Hindu political leader. Hussain has for a long time tried to be one more spokesman for the local Muslim community. But for all we know the offer has not been acknowledged. Hussain exceeds all decent boundaries calling the Indian PM “fascist, dangerous and a Hindutva bigot” at a time the civilised world has closed ranks in offering courtesies to the new Indian leader. Is Hussain aware Shri Modi has included into his Cabinet Dr. Najma Heptullah – grand-niece of a most respected Indian Muslim leader Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and cousin of the Hollywood star Aamir Khan.

      While Hussain rants and raves fellow Muslim countries Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Maldives have welcome Shri Modi employing civilised and polite language. What a strange creature this Hussain is for after calling Modi all vile names he adds “we should’nt demonise him” Who is Hussain trying to fool? He may, at best, please a few more twisted Muslims local minds with these adjectives. But that will be at the expense of other communities calling him irresponsible and foul-mouthed. Most Sri Lankans, the President included, will not share his generous prejudice.
      Pakistan’s liberal Nawaz Sheriff will have nothing to do with Hussain’s venom of “this potentially dangerous person” nor with the strange comparison “going back to ethnicity as the basis of the Nation” In fact PM Shariff broke ranks with the Army and anti-Indian Fundamentalists in his country, including the Taliban, by risking his all in going to Delhi for the inauguration – a move that has all the hallmarks of bringing the two neighbours closer than ever before.

      Backlash

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    At times we blame America. At times we blame Israel. Now Modi.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=nnNevzucIKs

    Why blame others, blame ourselves.

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    How many Indian soldiers did the poor innocent Gujaratis kill, to get massacred in thousands by the Hindu extremists on Modi’s watch?.

    In any case the ex Politicians , whom the writer has named as the culprits of the 83 pogrom all belonged to the one and only UNP ,

    But who are in bed with the UNP now?.

    Aren’t they the same people who got into power by exploiting the poor victims of UNP inspired and directed racial riots ?.

    Isn’t it the same people who molly coddled Mr Prabakaran and kept their parliamentary seats all along while Prabakaran and his merry men went about killing many thousand times more Sinhalese and Muslims than the poor victims of 83.

    Aren’t they the same people even to date who won’t allow the inhabitants to live in peace and harmony.?..

    Isn’t the same UNP which is now conspiring with Mano Ganeshan to get the JVP to join the TNA UNP.alliance and topple the regime with the US , British and Canadian help?.

    How ironic is to see the UNP with Tamil blood on its hands joinigg hands with the JVP which has Sinhalese blood.

    And to top it all, the arch enemy of the US, before the Jihadis, the JVP now seems to be under control of the US.

    That is the growing perception among the great majority of the population when they see things like the recent picture in the local press where the UNP leader was seen planning strategy with the US Ambassador Lady in Colombo , after his intensive training course in how to topple the Rajapaksa Regime.

    These are are issues that the inhabitants are concerned, not what Modi is going to do to them.

    And Modi can’t be that stupid to hurt Srilanka and take on Chinese , when he has work cut out on his own turf.

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    It makes interesting reading. Izeth says:”We have to deal with Modi as with any other leader with whom a mutual accommodation of interests might be possible, but we have to be wary because his record shows that he could be a dangerous person”. Modi rigorously trained himself to be an Indian politician from his youth. He leads a party reputed for being relatively free of corruption. Modi can be ruthless. Bensen

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    Absolutely Right Izeth,

    Our own racist Modyas “such as JRJ, Cyril Matthew, Lalith Athulathmudali, and Gamini Dissanayake.”

    were collectivity far more Moda than Modi.

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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    It is going to be an interesting fight modi vs moda.

    One thing we can be sure of from now on is that the manmohan shield of srilanka from western thrusts is permanently removed from now on.

    Earlier srilanka could rely on 3 giants to shield it from western pressure china,india and russia.

    Now it is reduced to two.Even if modi does nothing against srilanka,the very fact that he will not to anything to help srilanka is a plus point for the tamils.This is the first important fact that srilanka has to take into consideration.Can it replace this giant india with another giant to shield it from the west?Only one available with that stature is japan.japan has interestingly shown that it will not toe the western line by abstaining on the vote against srilanka and also making a lot of criticisms of the western approach to srilanka.Worth a try by srilanka to replace india with japan and firmly move away from south asia to east and south east asia where the bhuddhist countries are.However srilanka has to be care ful when playing this traditional game of ping pong playing one against the other because japan is the deadly enemy of china due to world war 2 and territorial disputes.

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