30 March, 2020

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Factors Behind India’s Decision

By Sumanasiri Liyanage

Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage

As The Hindu Newspaper has reported, the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has informed the Lok Sabha that India is “inclined to” vote in favour of a resolution on Sri Lanka [submitted by the United States of America] if it meets ‘our objectives’ with regard to the future of ethnic Tamils. This is definitely a victory for the US and the political parties in Tamil Nadu, but a severe blow for Sri Lanka’s hope to defeat the US Resolution in Geneva. As things develop, now it seems the resolution would be passed by the UNHRC. India’s decision to vote for the US resolution gives room for a suspicion that the US consulted India prior to its decision to submit a resolution on Sri Lanka to the UNHRC. Both the domestic politics as well India’s recent inclination towards the US appears to have led Indian government to come to such an unexpected decision. Although the proximate cause of this decision was the protest by the politicians of Tamil Nadu, the decision cannot be explained only by the protest campaign of the Tamil Nadu representatives. This article intends to examine the factors behind India’s decision. It is interesting to note that the Indian Prime Minister makes some qualification in his speech that gives the impression that its decision is not final. He told the Lok Sabha that India was yet to receive the final text of the draft resolution moved at the UN Human Rights Council. This suggests that India may make an attempt to dilute the resolution when it comes for voting.

In both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the representative of Tami Nadu irrespective of their party affiliation pressured the central government to support the US resolution. It was somewhat hilarious that the Tamil Nadu Communist Party also asked India to vote for the US resolution. The discussion on Sri Lanka took place at a critical conjuncture. The Union budget was presented to the Indian Parliament a couple of days ago. It has proposed to increase indirect tax significantly. Railway budget proposed to increase rail fare that led Tinamural Congress to force Railway Minister to hand over his resignation. A withdrawal of DMK from the ruling coalition at this stage would be disastrous to the government. This signifies that Indian federalism has now begun to operate at a different level so that the Union government has to change its course of action because of the pressure of the states ruled by local political formations. Although it is not possible to establish a link, it is interesting to note that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa gave go ahead to Kudankulam nuclear plant on the same day when the Prime Minister informed the Lok Sabha that India would vote for the US resolution.

Secondly, India has every reason not to vote in favour of Sri Lanka because the behaviour of the Sri Lankan government in the post-war period.

Secondly, India has every reason not to vote in favour of Sri Lanka because the behaviour of the Sri Lankan government in the post-war period. The Mahinda Rajapaksa government has given so many promises to Indian authorities that it would implement fully the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the measures will be taken to make necessary changes to the Constitution to make 13th Amendment fully operative. In some instances, the representatives of the Sri Lankan government talked about 13 +. However, since May 2009, the Rajapaksa government has been trying hard to avoid making power-sharing operational. The Governor of the Eastern Province is continuously disrupting the activities of the elected Provincial Council. The election for the Northern Provincial Council was not held. Democratic political activities in the country in general and in the Northern Province in particular are suppressed. There is no news about Lalith and Kugan, who were arrested a couple of months ago. The government has broken promises given to the Sri Lankan people and to India. Hence, Indian decision can be interpreted as India’s revenge for the Sri Lankan government leaders’ broken promises.

Thirdly and sadly, India’s decision signifies that India cannot emerge in the near future as an independent actor in world politics as this decision has proved that India remains a subaltern in the Indian Ocean Region to the US. Instead of taking lead role on regional matters, India has voluntarily decided to play second fiddle in regional affairs. How do we explain this? Sometime back when President Barack Obama visited India, many middle class Indians made god out of him. Manmohan Singh government’s priority has been to make India an economic power. Hence, a nuclear deal with the US and the West is portrayed as critical. Similarly, India seems to think that the US support is crucial in order to obtain a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. India became a prominent and respectable Third World power when it adopted an independent non-aligned foreign policy. It appears that India’s foreign policy has changed significantly during the last decade or so. India’s hands-off policy vis-à-vis Sri Lanka was not just a response to the failure of the IPKF mission and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, but a continuation of its changing priorities. India’s acceptance to play a second fiddle in the Indian Ocean Region may be response to the emergence of China as world super power and China’s growing role in the India Ocean.

We all know that the US is not concerned with human rights or democracy. As Tariq Ali has correctly pointed out the US is violating basic rights of many peoples in the world. The Obama syndrome is, according to him, characterised by surrender at home and war abroad. As Cho S. Ramaswamy, the editor of the Tamil weekly Thuglak and a former Rajya Sabha member, puts it, US Resolution on Sri Lanka is to divert attention from Israel. The US used veto power at the UN Security Council a couple of months ago over the resolution on illegal settlement by the Israel government. Recent killings of civilians in Afghanistan are the latest example for its new imperialist strategy. The US has decided to submit a resolution not because it is concerned with human rights or the rights of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, but primarily because of its displeasure over Sri Lankan foreign policy.

India’s decision to vote for the US resolution can be portrayed as its failure to play pro-active role vis-à-vis Sri Lanka since May 2009. It has refused or failed to exert adequate pressure on Mahinda Rajapaksa government. India could have justifiably forewarned Sri Lanka that it would submit a resolution at the UNHRC in 2012 had Sri Lanka failed to take definite action for the resolution of the Tamil national question. The absence of such forewarning represents a lacuna in Indian foreign policy. The result: to become a subaltern to the US in world politics. Its repercussions on SAARC and its future are yet to be seen.

The writer teaches political economy at the University of Peradeniya

E-mail: sumane_l@yahoo.com

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    Excellent article by Prof. Liyanage. India is definitely flexing her muscle her; there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the USA consulted India before pushing this resolution. Rajapakse’s willingness to get cozy with China has not helped matters either. What is China’s human rights record? But more importantly, China and India are rivals. Surely, India cannot appreciate Chinese warships docking in Hambantota Port and performing clandestine spy missions. Or the fact that China has invested so much money and capital in SL. There are also issues arising from the war. India’s support for SL during the final stages of the war was contingent upon the Sri Lankan side finding a viable political solution to the Tamil Question, e.g. a solution based on devolution of power from the Center. Instead of moving towards decentralization, however, the opposite has occurred since 2009. The Center has strengthened its hand. This is an extremely dangerous development, and is the primary reason why India is supporting the US resolution.

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    *flexing her muscle here

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    Agree with the prof.

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    Prof. Sumanasiri was one of the people who heralded the Arab Spring with a trumpet blowing, glorifying it as if it was something as wonderous as the French Revolution itself. We didn’t buy any of that because we know what happened after the French Revolution and what it brought forth. Conversely, just look at the pathetic state of the Arab region today. Region is on the boil, weapons will get sold, puppet governments installed, resources will be robbed, unipolar balance of power will get dragged on for just a while more. Muslim lives will get destroyed.
    In spite of that, we have to agree with at least 65% of the things Prof. Sumanasiri has to say in this instance, although most of it is stating the glaringly obvious – like India being the US toy. Prof. is polite. He calls it subaltern.
    Here’s the other side. As much as some people fear the lack of support coming from India, there is another group that is hoping like crazy that India would not vote for Sri Lanka. They believe it is the best thing that could happen to Sri Lanka for the past 1000 years. Go figure!

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    Observer,
    On whose side are you on?Or to put it this way,do you feel like a kite without a string?Last time the Tamil Tiger terrorists paid back India by bumping off Rajiv Ghandi.This time who?Observer any idea?India becoming a permanent member in the UNSC is wishful thinking.I am sure that the observer will spend quite a few sleepless nights imagining the day India will give the terrorists,Ealam on a platter.As far as Srilanka is concerned the resolution is a non event.There will be no office in Colombo for Navaneethem pillai to stare at the Indian ocean.Still we are studying the LLRC.We will make a report about it to HCR next year.Till then my boy have patience.Whats going to be the situation of PM Rudrakumaran?I am sure Observer is bloody exited.Keep on licking the stinking boots of the Yankies on all fours!Observer when are you planning to make your grand entry into Ealam?We are all looking forward in giving you a rousing welcome at “Velupillai International Airport”Hope the NGO $$$”Kakkas” also will join you.Oh!we’ll make sure that a wheelchair made in USA will be at hand for ole Doc Brian.No Chinese wheelchairs,we don’t want to have the ole Doc croaking at the airport in such a festival mood.Observer pl send plenty of Ealam flags.If your arrival doesn’t materialize we could at least use your Elam flags to replace toilet paper!Oh,Observer i am sure that you wouldn’t want to have a guard of honor,remember Rajiv Ghandi in 1987.I don’t want to see your silly skull been cracked because we need your theatrics at CT.When are you going to wake up from that stupid dream of yours, Ealam?If i were near you i would pour a bloody bucket of ice cold water on you.Get up man,get up.Make your living.Uncle Sam is waiting for you to get his boots licked.

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    If we do not address the concerns of the Sri LankanTamils here and now, it is more likely that instead of asking for devolution of powers, the Sri Lankan Tamils will eventually demand India to annex the North and Eastern Sri Lanka into the Union of India, and India might genuinely sympathize with such endeavors. (Annexing in fact is not a bad thing only if the entire Sri Lanka becomes the 29th State of the Indian Union. ) It is high time to stop being arrogant and foolish.

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    The Sinhalese, inclusive of the Portuguese descent should bear in mind that if the Tamils and all other ethnicities are not treated as humans and equals,there is every likelyhood the NE being demarcated to the Tamils and other minorities for them to administer and will have a developed state of the art development in that Region, whereas the rest of the country being adnministered by crooks will always lag behind. Even the Estate Tamils will move to the NE and find better employment, without having to toil in harsh conditions. The result would be the Estates would go into closure as the Sinhalese will not be interested in that kind of hard labour. So good luck for this Nation!

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      Who is going to demarcate the NE for you?The Yankees and the Brits?What a shame that the great Dravidians don’t realize that they are being taken for a right royal ride!Pl get ready with the posters and “Pappa Baldi” to help with Obama’s and David’s election campaign.

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    Max, with all the faults of Yankees still in their system it is possible for a descendant of black slave to become the President of the US. Can a non Sinhalese or a non Buddhist ever imagine to become the Head of State in this Theravada Buddhist country where the doctrine boast of Tolerance? As I have repeatedly stated it would have been a posibility if the proper Sinhalese are allowed to decide for this country. But not with the Portuguese Sinhalese to decide. Look at the last King of this country, a Malabar. It is no wonder our headache is not the Tamils, but you Portuguese descendants who are making life impossible for all.

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      What a shame that wonderful human being “velu”left us so early!If not,he was so popular that he would have become the head of state of this island.So now it seems that your problem is that a Tamil should be the head of state of this island.No problem.How about you?But still you need to get rid of that Sinhalese name.For starter come up with a Tamil name on CT.Make sure that your name is proceeded by
      Your Excellency”.By the way any news of your buddy Doc Brian?Pl don’t forget about those faked pirated smuggled DVDs!

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    Max, I fail to understand your reasoning. What I meant was not VP to be the leader. But any other Tamil, Burgher or Muslim as a Sri Lankan. We saw the opposition for people like Lakshman Kadiragarmar to be appointed as PM and how S.L.Gunasekar cried being removed from Sihala Urumaya. Your Portuguese blood will not qualify for you to be a Appuhamy ever or a proper Sinhalaya.

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    Gamini,
    Just being inquisitive,whats your true name?Hope it will be a real Tamil name unlike mine.About myself having Portuguese blood may be true after all,considering my appetite for booze.With Portuguese blood running through my veins,i am sure that you wouldn’t call me a Sinhala racist but an independent Analyst.
    You stupid if not for the Tamil Tiger terrorists murdering Kadiragamar,he would have become the first Tamil president of Srilanka.

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    Max an Independent analyst? Anything but. On your own volition you are drunk all the time. Possibly explains your cantankerous attitudes. You claim, had LK lived he would have been the President. We saw how MR arranged bus loads to come to Colombo and protest when there was speculation of LK being appointed as PM.Whom are you trying to bluff?? Why don’t you go back home to Portugal seriously. Whether I am a Sinhalese or Tamil does not matter as we both have existed for centuries in this Island till you buggars arrived.

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    As a neutral party i am trying to help you buggers into making peace.Rajapkse says that he is prepared to forgive you buggers provided you stop licking the toes of the suddas as well as promising not to get involved in drug trafficking and credit card fraud.I am delighted to inform you that employment as pimps are reserved for you guys at tourist resorts.

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    Sri Lanka has paved the way for those ill qualified to judge us (the US) to do so as we have failed to put our own house in order. We have to be mindful that the Tamils are our own people, and not someone else’s. Many agree that the people of the North and Est who are left behind need the basics to live and this has to be assured. These are not the powerful diaspora groups, who are politicking out there. They need a living, safety and security, housing and a means to educate their children. This is not seen to be supplied so far. Unlike in Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu do not have proper schools except maybe a few. On my visits to the North I don’t see these issues being addresses. Great article Prof Sumanasiri

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    If only the SL govt had agreed to implement the LLRC recommendations within a specified time frame, this humiliation at the UNHRC would not have taken place. From their desperate, aggressive and abusive stand, it only proved that there was never an intention either to be truthful or to implement a meaningful reconciliation process.
    Prof. Liyanage’s second point, made above, is honest and clear.
    Many countries gave us leeway on the last occasion at the UNHRC as that was too soon after the war ended. But today, having seen what had gone on for 3 years, they were not so tolerant. We were clearly told: “No more lying; just implement your own promises or we may have to do it for you.”
    It is us, Sri Lankans, who now have to face reality.

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