30 October, 2020

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India’s Direction, Modi’s Strivings And Impact On Sri Lanka (Part l)

By S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

India’s Direction 

Impending Regime Change and Election

Come May and it is for sure that a new regime with adequate strength for stable governance will be in power. As certain is Modi as Prime Minister. Very seldom has an unfolding future election yielded a clear and precise result so well in advance. Congress, loitering in the seventy seat range is now an orthodoxy among forecasts. Group of eleven putting on a brave Front can’t last till even the day of count. With support surge having their effect on alliances as nominations approach, BJP going beyond 280 and NDA above 300 are the writer’s estimate now. The country needs to deliberate only on the challenges before the new government and India’s direction till 2050.

India and Manifesto 2009

Two great nations of Asia; India and China, proud of their past and conscious of their future mission are among the dominant powers of this century. India has the burden of history and continuity of her cultural traditions to temper her conduct in modern times. For good or ill she is also weighed down by her religious heritage. There are besides democratic norms imposing restraints on her political progress, economic transformation and social reorganization. When all such strands weave a complex fabric, the speed at which the developed countries have advanced and are progressing, places very great challenges on present India. The strain is still greater since rising expectations signify the spur for the future. In this situation the Bharathiya Janatha Party and Narendra Modi are being called upon to deliver, where China has advanced in resolving such issues over a period of six decades and more.

What India sees as incumbent on her part to do domestically, internationally, regionally and with specific reference to Sri Lanka were spelt out in the BJP Manifesto of 2009 – Manifesto 2014 is under preparation. They were:

“A resurgent India must get its rightful place in the comity of nations and international institutions”

“Will strengthen the India US strategic partnership”

“India has a special role to play in the Indian Ocean Region and will pursue this vigorously”

“The political, economic and human rights of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority community must be protected by the Government in Colombo”

In a matter of three months, the above ideas quite explicit even as they are will begin to take definitive shape, when the nation’s mandate is sought and obtained. Political elements and the established bureaucracy are likely to fuse their programmes. In the current year itself they will cast their shadows long enough to spread across this decade and beyond. Centre-state relationship will see a new dimension with states coming into their own. Charting their course is a responsibility for BJP.

Modi conveyed this conviction in the first among his rallies in Tamil Nadu. He has reiterated it by saying that no longer should there be a rule from Delhi by the Prime Minister and the cabinet, but governance in consultation with the Chief Ministers from the States.

Metternich called Italy of mid nineteenth century a “geographical Expression”. The same was applied by historians to Germany prior to unification. India of twentieth century too was similarly termed. Banishing this impression fully, drowning disparate pulls not through over-centralism, but through recognition of state rights and advancing towards unity by making federal principles real are tomorrow’s compulsions for BJP and for the Prime Minister.

A Place under the Sun

Bertrand Russel wrote some decades ago that in much of German philosophical writings of the nineteenth century can be seen the lament of a great nation denied a place under the sun. When the BJP invokes ideas of a resurgent India getting her rightful place, overtones of the same mindset are strident and clear. In the twentieth century Germany’s political motivations, fueled by economic considerations used war as the means to satisfy a strong emotional impulse. India similarly placed is denied the option of war in a world that has changed profoundly.

Historical parallels cannot be exact. Yet comparisons can be made. The speeches and writings of great Indians of the twentieth century will show that India has had an enviable past and it is the duty of modern India to replicate it for the future, to reach enviable heights. Nehru was able to have a glimpse of her “Majesty of soul”. Any leader of the future will be unwise to overlook it.

Bismarck and England

Bismarck the prodigious German leader, dominated Europe’s politics for three decades. Never a war on two fronts was an overarching consideration of his policy in war and peace. Not antagonizing England during the wars of unification in eighteen sixties and not alarming her subsequently by building a mighty navy were cardinal principles with him. He wouldn’t compromise on it and resigned the office of Prime Minister even after a long tenure with Kaiser William ll. To Hitler too, no war on two fronts and due assessment of England’s concerns ran through his strategies. Disregarding the ‘two front’ constraint in attacking Russia in 1941, spelt disaster for him.

It is not India that will be assailed by two front anxieties, but her not so large immediate neighbours. In their liaisons with other large powers, they have to be mindful of India’s concerns. Sri Lanka on account of her strategic location and dalliance with China with overtones of antagonism towards her neighbor, might have already appeared on India’s radar. Modi’s accession will definitely call for a new relationship.

Indian Ocean Region and India

To England the English Channel was England’s Channel. To India and to Indira, Indian Ocean is India’s Ocean. How much importance does she attach to this concept? In Nehru’s perception, India’s seaborne trade was at the mercy of whichever power that controlled the Indian Ocean. By extension “Her independence itself rested on it”. To KM Panikkar the reputed historian, “India’s lifelines are concentrated in the Indian Ocean, where she has a coast of 10,000 km”. It was with much reason that Nehru picked him as the first Ambassador to China who literally saw the fall of KMT China and the rise of the Communist one. Perhaps it was for him to read China’s mind in the Indian Ocean.

Much earlier he wrote forcefully “No industrial development, no commercial growth, no stable political structure unless India’s shores are protected”. What appears in the BJP Manifesto is very striking. “India has a special role in the Indian Ocean Region”, runs a strident statement. This needs to be read with “Strengthening strategic partnership with US”.

No Sino Indian confrontation is likely to be feared in the next few decades. China as an ever rising economic power with escalating global influence will certainly be factored into the discernments of India and US. In foreign relations, China and India have followed a course not dissimilar to America’s trajectory in the nineteenth century. Hibernation, consolidation, growth and international foray at Versailles in 1918.

Pacific Rim of Asia apart, Indian Ocean Region, South Asia along with India and Sri Lanka will draw attention as among the principal theatres of action.

India and US

Immediately after the India China war of 1962, Rajaji made a serious remark though with a touch of humour. When China attacked India, half of Nehru’s foreign policy was blasted. When he accepted American aid, the other half was also destroyed. Man Mohan Singh’s parting shot in his recent retirement speech was that his iconic achievement in his ten year term as PM was the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. A remarkable statement since he rates it higher than his great contribution of modernization through economic liberalization in 1991. Obviously he was alluding to the portents of the Deal and how adroitly he steered it through.

Modi’s Strivings 

Primary Efforts

Taking off from where Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh left, will mark Modi’s efforts at making India a major power of notable consequence. National integration in domestic affairs and “Conduct of foreign relations out of courage, with elan” as Jashwant Sinha said in a recent Lok Sabha speech, will be the flavor of his principal initiatives. When aggressively pursued they will make a difference to India. In this context should be seen BJP’s stance of a “Strategic Partnership” with US. Alongside comes a thawing of coldness with Modi and cultivating a nearness to him, with initiative from US.

Though no state has separated since independence, the number of states has increased from 14 in 1956 to 29 in 2014. If non-proliferation is ensured in future, it will be an index of due attention being paid to economic imperatives and nationalistic sentiments of the states. Balancing simultaneously the pull of States to move away from the centre while evolving the push for unity, will be the immediate and paramount concern. In short, political consolidation with all its implications including the evolution of a strong party securing the allegiance of more than half the nation and two-thirds of the intelligentsia. No mean challenge to the governing party, its leader, organs of state and popular institutions.

Economic Status

Among nations as with individuals, making wealth is primary. Three Tamil (Indian) poets said: This world is not for those without wealth. Those who are indigent are scoffed at by everybody. The first duty of the poverty stricken is to acquire riches. Holding with Plato, before practicing virtue, India has to make wealth. It was Nehru’s lament that Churchill couldn’t have made that remark about Gandhi if India’s status had been different.

With appropriateness Modi has mobilized at the beginning of this year itself a team of economists of renown to map out strategies and development plans. He himself participated at a discussion for 9 hours at a single stretch. Signals are clear down the line. UNCTAD forecasts that by 2050, India will be 3rd in the world in GDP. This is poor comfort when her per capita is a modest $5,060 in PPP terms by that year when China will reach $17,759 while Singapore will touch $84,405. When India’s per capita ranks low how much would a population of 1.6 billion permit to be used on armaments or defence? Modi has perforce to set India’s sights higher, for a rightful place in the comity of nations and in international relations.

Laying the foundation for higher expendable surplus and containment of the population at around 1.3 billion seem mandatory Himalayan tasks before Modi.

To be continued …

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Latest comments

  • 1
    9

    The writer says, “UNCTAD forecasts that by 2050, India will be 3rd in the world in GDP”. However, there is doubt whether India will remain in one piece until 2050, the chances are that it would disintegrate, Tamil Nadu leading that process.

    • 7
      0

      No. Tamilnadu is quite happy to be part of India. It may ask for more and more autonomy but will never separate. India will become a show case of unity in diversity.

      Sengodan. M

      • 0
        7

        Sengodan,
        You wrote three sentences and all three are b.s.
        Tamilians in TN wants their own country and would never be happy without achieving it.
        TN would be happy with greater autonomy provided this greater autonomy allows the separation.
        India is a showcase of unity in diversity as long as US allows it to be so…
        US keeps it intact only because it needs a big country to balance ever strengthening China … Why US could it with ease? Because India is the lap dog for US interests in the region … Ofcourse they never use the word ‘dog’ … Instead it uses the word ‘friend’… History repeats …. Remember how US used Pakistan for their interests in the region .. They used Pakistan to control India which was leaning towards Russia .. After extracting all the things US wants from Pakistan, US abandoned Pakistan letting it bleed from Taliban, economic misery and all chaos ..
        For long time, India did not produce any statesman … No local patriotic leadership … So it ended up as a lap dog of US in the region … Nobody in the region respect it now … SL had the highest respect for India in the region and it is evaporating so fast that India would soon be the most hated country in SL… India unlike China has not identifed the true friends from fakes … Or the role it has to play to make this century ASIAN…
        Instead, it is playing the lap dog of uncle Sam, the ugly American …

        • 4
          0

          Tamilnadu has benefitted a lot by remaining a part of India and almost every Tamil knows it and appreciates it except for a handful of extremists. Tamilnadu becoming a separate State will certainly make the whole region including Tamilnadu most vulnerable. What the Tamils there need most is greater autonomy and not separation. They are bound to achieve greater autonomy over a period of time. I suggest you read the second part of Sivathasan’s article as well.

          Sengodan

  • 5
    0

    lal:

    Would that mean SL, too, is facing imminent disintegration? After all, it is SL, and not India, that is facing international heat, including in the UNHRC.

  • 1
    0

    To-Fukufuku-Simba, This is for you, for your comment a few days back about Modi, Enjoy!
    ‘The political, economic and human rights of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority community must be protected by the Government in Colombo’

    Modu is a criminal. he shouldbe be india’s leader but to chase Jarapassa fast Manmohan Singh govt must go.

  • 5
    0

    How is India weighed down by its religious heritage as Sivathasan claims? It is Hinduism that unites what is otherwise a diverse country. The BJP will win because Narendra Modi, a member of a ‘backward caste’ appeals to both the ‘backward castes’ and to the emerging new urban middle classes including in Tamil Nadu, especially the educated youth tired of the corruption and inefficiency of the ruling Congress cartel.

    China, unlike Sivathasan’s rosy read, is itself riven by internal faultines – the Muslim Xinjiang as witnessed in recent under reported terror attacks and the perennial problem of Tibet not wanting to be part of the People’s Republic.

    As to Lal’s Sinhalese wish that India disintegrate, he better beware of his dear Sri Lanka which like Ukraine is more likely to implode given its internal faultlines that external powers would exploit.

  • 1
    9

    Mr. Sivathasan;

    However much you are certain about a BJP win in the May general elections in India, you should have taken precautions not to look like a fool on the day after the elections.

    If you know about random sampling procedures applied for public opinion polling in advanced literate countries, you should have been very skeptical about the results of polls done in a a highly illiterate country like India. Did you pay attention to the sampling error and sample size of the polls you studied to derive your totals for an unprecedented BJP victory more than two months from now?

    Reading between the lines, I inferred from your essay that you are a keen supporter of the Hindu nationalist extremist BJP, whose platform includes supremacy over the Indian Ocean and subordination of Sri Lanka to the level of an Indian puppet. You seem to be delighted that B JP would give greater autonomy to states thereby enabling Tamil Nadu to interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka to create an Eelam that serves India’s will.

    Moreover, you are writing this commentary in the guise of an impartial columnist writing for a “free” online web newspaper published overseas to escape censorship. What most people don’t know is that the newspaper is run from an address in Toronto (and you should know who is behind it) with a server in the Netherlands.

    No wonder that all the Tamil intellectuals, the darling columnists of the venerable editor of the Sunday Island, have flocked to the Colombo Telegraph, the Trojan horse.

    Now, Mr. Sivathasan, if I am wrong, please challenge me. But let me tell you that public opinion polling is a very dangerous game because it is very fickle. You are very naive to think that public opinion would remain the same until the election day in May.

    You want to spread the falsehood that the Congress is a spent force so that you would lull the illiterate voters in the subcontinent to support extremist Hindu nationalism with the ultimate hope of dividing Sri Lanka through Indian intervention.

    Lastly, let me congratulate you for writing your essay in exemplary English–a facility that most contemporary Sri Lankans, both Sinhala and Tamil–lack. My dispute is with the content.

    • 4
      0

      “Hindu nationalist extremist BJP”

      Oldest and Historically Hindus are born there are no converts

      to be nationalist in the selective world media sense.(^‿◕)
      of course the dalits have become muslims and buddhist christian and that makes the Hindu think secular but never with dagger on both hands like Sonia Gandhi Congress Rhaul the muslim and Robert the Goonda.

      Why Did Biswal Add Corruption To War Crimes Charge Sheet? (@_@)

      ~゜・_・゜~  Graft India = Graft Lanka ~゜・_・゜~ 

      NDTV: Kurshid Says: Our policy has, never to be country specific.

      However, Indian Congress I, has sponsored training of terrorist in Baluchistan and Northern Lanka.

      Lankan Bribes, it takes two to tango!

      Born in Parkistan Manmohan,& Kurshid the Muslim and together they wear the Turk/Mughal Hat/Toppi and spin for Rajapakse’s that never die until 31st May.

  • 2
    0

    We Indian Tamils are very happy being Indians.

    However if Tamil Nadu were ever to become independent with its own Army, imagine the poor state of Sri Lanka? … Would Tamil Nadu be silent allow Sri Lanka to kill 40,000 + civilians in few weeks? Think again … Tamil Nadu is more powerful than Sri Lanka in all aspects (Economics, Power) and Tamil Nadu will become the staging ground for Tamil Diasora. Looks at history, Tamil Kingdoms have always dominated Sri Lanka ..we consider Ceylon to be our backyard.

    Tamil Nadu becoming independent is the worst case scenario for Sri Lanka!

    • 0
      4

      There were no Tamil Kingdoms in Sri Lanka. There were invaders, looters who came from Tamil Nadu, who were kicked out by the Sinhalese. Tamil Nadu will separate from India, but her neighbours Kanataka and Kerala are already at loggerheads with the criminals running Tamil Nadu will put them in their place. Any attempt by Tamil Nadu to harm Sri Lanka is a pipe dream, as the terrorist VP found out the hard way. If you really believe 40,000 Tamils perished, you wouldn’t talk this way, or were they half-baked terrorist combatants from Tamil Nadu?
      By the way; per capita income, life expectancy, literacy in Tamil Nadu are lower than in Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu is a squalid dump!

  • 5
    0

    Sri Lanka Tamils also happen to be Hindus. SO who would BJP/RSS and Modi support? Sinhala BBS or Hindu Tamils ?

  • 3
    3

    Mr.Sivathasan:

    ” With support surge having their effect on alliances as nominations approach, BJP going beyond 280 and NDA above 300 are the writer’s estimate now.”

    Don’t count your chicken before they are hatched. Just remember what happened to BJP in 2004 & 2009. But this time round it is different but you are being over confident about BJP going past the 270 mark required to form a Government on its own.
    All the reliable predictions are that BJP alliance will get a maximum of 200 and Jeyalalithas third force will get 150 and in a recent report her chances are described as follows. She will either be a King Maker or a Queen Herself.

    India is a Nation with great potential but she has been let down by corrupt and inept politicians. In my view Sonia has no place in Indian politics and especially to be at the helm. Rahul is a Joke and he is trying to win power on sympathy vote with no real talent. Congress has no Potential Leader in the making and that gives BJP a realistic chance to take India to the forefront and that is not easy. Chinas march towards World dominance has peaked and the Economic bubble has burst. That gives India the Opportunity to claim her rightful place as a World Power and that has to be achieved in partnership with Europe and US. Indian Ocean might be Indias Ocean but it is too vast for India to Patrol on her own.

    Modi and Jeyalalitha have proven track record of how to run the Economy and both are tough Leaders who are not prone to corruption. Congress have tried to stick dirt on Jeyalalitha on a number of occasions but the Courts have always thrown it in the Bin.
    They also have a vested interest in strengthening the powers of the States to have a say in the running of the Country as they both come from states outside of the Hindi belt.

    I am hopeful that the Country will vote for Modi and Jeyalalitha and usher in a New Era of Economic Prosperity and Tranquility and bring MR to justice.
    There are decent Sinhalese who are crying out for help to bring Sri Lanka back into the League of Civilised Nations and India owes it to them and India is the only Country which can make it happen .

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