By S. Sivathasan –
The eyes of the Tamils long transfixed on Geneva are changing direction to Delhi. From a wish to the real and the realizable as some may have it. From investigation to a solution is the glimmer, may be to yet a few more. From a slow track to a fast one some others may call it. The shift is occasioned by a sharply visible sea change in India’s political sense. From unclear to clear appears the path of progress.
What is foreseen is not a prosaic transfer of state power from one political formation to another but a change of persona of India. To merit great power status, which the world expects of India, she has unshakeable imperatives. Firm governance at home and robust policy abroad. On these twin planks, legitimacy for governance is being sought by Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) and its larger version National Development Alliance (NDA). Herein lies the compulsion to target an absolute majority. The recent alliance in TN could signify eight additional seats for DNA. Fifty more days for the time of reckoning are long enough for subterranean surges to surface.
Jashwant Sinha a former foreign minister and finance minister of India made a stirring speech for 46 minutes in Chennai on March 20th2014. He came exclusively to participate in a Human Rights event at the invitation of Vaiko. Therein he made a scathing attack on the weakness of the Congress regime in its tenure of two terms. When Vaiko urged spirited action to redeem the SL Tamils, the PM had cited India’s powerlessness. The helplessness of India that Manmohan Singh referred to, Sinha said is going to end within three months and within three months the situation is going to change dramatically. Not because we are going to send troops into Sri Lanka but because a strong man will occupy the chair as PM. The tenor of the speech conveys a mood of assurance.
He added, the tragedy of Sri Lankan Tamils is one of the greatest tragedies of our times. It didn’t take place when Vajpayee was Prime Minister. That is the courage and determination that we are going to show again. The world will realize as will Sri Lanka that a regime change in India is not merely a regime change but a complete change in the personality of India.
“I have said earlier too, all that we have to do is to whisper in the ears of Rakapakse please listen to us as the previous regimes of Sri Lanka have listened to us and if you don’t, be prepared for the consequences. Just that” he warned
“The Prime Minister is talking about demilitarization. In my speech in Lok sabha one year ago I made seven points.
1. Please urge the Government of Sri Lanka to withdraw its army from the Northern Province.
2. Let them sincerely implement the recommendations of the LLRC.
3. Let them implement without any further delay the provisions of the 13th Amendment and more.
4. Let an impartial inquiry be held into the charges of genocide and atrocities against the civilian Tamils by the Sri Lankan forces during the Eelam War and it should be absolutely impartial inquiry and with people outside Sri Lanka so that the truth comes out.
5. Let there be a clear commitment on the part of the Sri Lankan Government that the guilty shall be punished suitably.
6. Let India not merely vote in the human rights council (HRC), let India take the lead in drafting the resolution of HRC.
7. Finally and most importantly let India convey to other nations in our neighborhood and to the world at large that any undue interference by them in the affairs of Sri lanka or in India-Sri Lanka relationship will not be acceptable to India. Just tell them whether it is China or Pakistan or Japan or any other country. Tell them your interference in Sri Lanka is not acceptable”.
Jashwant Sinha invoked the parallel of America’s Monroe Doctrine (MD). The essence of it adumbrated in 1823 was that, interference in the sphere of influence of the US in North or South America will be treated as an act of aggression. It would therefore warrant US intervention, was the warning. European powers were thereby cautioned or obligated to respect the American sphere of interest.
If the Americans can live with the Monroe Doctrine (MD) in the southern hemisphere of the US, why can’t we have our own doctrine in South Asia? Sinha challenged. It may be recalled that in Nehru’s view, US had secured itself from foreign aggression under MD. The Indira Gandhi Doctrine (IGD) embodied the identical idea and issued the same warning decades ago. Its obsolescence today provides for a reissue as the Modi Doctrine (MD) for present times.
Why are we scared that China will interfere in Sri Lanka. No foreign policy is conducted out of fear. We can’t be scared of China all the time and say they will replace us in Sri Lanka. How will they replace us in Sri Lanka? He queried. If Sri Lanka doesn’t listen let us take an armada. Not with guns but with roses. We will go peacefully. Let the world watch, but let them also realize that we mean business. We shall not allow our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka to be trampled upon anymore. That is the message that must go out loud and clear.
I only hope that one year from now when we assemble here to celebrate human rights day, things will be different. In Vajpayee’s time there was not a single step that Sri Lanka took without taking India into her confidence. My impression now is that Government of India has lost all her clout; that the Government of Rajapakse is not willing to listen to Government of India. With what face will India tell him to do justice to Sri Lankan Tamils when they themselves have been complicit in this genocide. That is the weakness. That is why Man Mohan Singh cannot look eye to eye with Rajapakse. Therefore right down the line, India’s diplomatic position has been weakened.
Sinha commenced his career in the IAS. Politics came later and he held two important portfolios of Foreign Affairs and of Finance. Both Modi and he, ripe in experience and brimming with confidence that a powerful mandate would endow, will give the lead to the officials. The latter are sure to follow the tradition ‘we do not advise our Political Masters’. They will have their say and those in governance will have their way in the best of pragmatic administrative traditions.
The PM and FM will certainly give the lead from the beginning of their tenure, taking the cue from Nehru “either you decide or the horse decides for you”. Those who nourish thoughts that South Block will derail the new government will have their solace unfulfilled. Once in the thirties, a few industrial magnates like Krupp and Thyssen gave Hitler a memo about state support for big industry. He threw it to the ground and trampled it under foot saying that he had not struggled in the streets all his life to serve their interests.
The emerging scenario is that wishfully and most optimistically India and Sri Lanka would consign war and destruction to the past and place a political settlement in position. BC talks in the 57th year of the last century and successive versions have continued for 57 years with no results. The region would look forward to terminating it. The coming course is beginning to cast its benign shadow. So some think.