Colombo Telegraph

India’s Direction, Modi’s Strivings And Impact On Sri Lanka – Part ll

By S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

Continued from Part l of 3.3.2014

Financial Muscle

Economic muscle taking multiple forms is needed for favourable decisions. More in war and yet more in peacetime relationships and negotiations. It is not farfetched to say that US’s financial resilience and industrial capacity for aircraft manufacture – combat and support – had a decisive impact on World War ll. She accounted for 303,000 of 790,000 produced for the war. Of her production, 39,000 supplemented UK’s 131,000. Whatever be the high tech nature for future wars, economic stature will be the tilting factor. For this reason US and India will be getting closer with UK and Japan not being outside this company. The US India Nuclear Deals of this century signal this collaborative platform.

China’s Ascent

Political consolidation and military stability under Mao, have lent themselves to the programme of economic resurgence that Deng was able to launch. The very dynamic of her economic growth and social expectations have compelled the pursuit of her strategies internationally. Among many have been, prospecting for  sources of raw  materials, consolidating them for the  long term  and securing the supply routes  for sustained delivery.

As China’s economy grew exponentially, so did her insatiable appetite for materials from resource rich nations of the world. For security of supplies she has a beautifully crafted ‘String of Pearls’, which when stretched reaches Australia in the South East and extends to Venezuela and Chile in the Far West. For her needs of oil and gas, iron and coal, metals and minerals there is hardly a country that is left out in any of the continents.

The corollary of production is markets, which too she has secured skillfully. Two way flow needs some control over sea lanes. In the Indian Ocean, ports and road infrastructure being built by China are not mere development structures. Among them are ports of Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, in Burma and Chittagong in Bangladesh. India too would need countervailing pearls and this will make Indian Ocean an active theatre. Hambantota and Trincomalee may evoke more than concern for India.

China’s sights are far, movements immeasurably upwards and time sense remarkably long term. She has achieved all of them through a benign appreciation of the host countries’ needs, providing them through development, investment and technology. Above them all was the imperturbable gestures in her diplomatic approaches. Confucius has given her Analects and Tsun Tzu The Art of War. Deng’s sagacity has offered a few. Among them; “Hide our capacities, be good at maintaining a low profile, never claim leadership”. Perhaps as a lubricant, he also said “Make some contribution”. To the writer a very transparent one such was BMICH. Closer home, the percipient may see through the translucent and the opaque.

Challenge Facing India

India is placed in a context today where she has no choice but to follow the same trajectory as China. India’s outlays too would require similar orders of magnitude; in billions now reaching to trillions in due course. To make it affordable a no nonsense formidable government has to be in place with all productive capacities except population in top gear. More than Arthashastra, Deng’s wisdom may help India win friends and influence neighbours.

The gravity of India’s problem can be assessed when comparisons are made with China, her integrated nationhood, well consolidated supply sources, enviable economy and commanding position in bilateral and multilateral relations. When the reasons for China’s ascendancy and growing influence are probed, it becomes apparent that her economy growing phenomenally in tandem with her political stability and unity of command accounts for it.

Currently, how do the two nations compare? In economic performance, China is higher in every respect. GDP 4.5 times, per capita income 2.4 times, foreign reserves 11 times, FDI 6 times, iron and steel consumption 9.5 times, cement 7 times, energy consumption 3.6 times and container traffic 14 times.

The two World Wars, had Germany’s psychological urge of primacy at their fount. Germans were intelligent enough to know that resources and markets could be secured by ways other than by war. What the great powers are doing since the war for economic success has been this.  The latest to be carving out a niche with intellectual resources and economic muscle is China. To India next in line, adroitness can be the resource.

India’s Impact On Sri Lanka 

Resurgent Tamils

Renascence of Tamils culturally and linguistically has been there for more than a century. The stirring poetic lines of Bharathi were at the fount of resurgent Tamil nationalism. They have suffused their political consciousness. A later poet, who 50 years ago was TN’s poet laureate wrote “Tamils are of one mind, though they may appear in multiple forms”.

Abysmally ignorant of the Tamil mind deriving its sustenance from millennia old thoughts of the greats, those not well inducted can only engage in infantile chirp. To them, mostly less educated and markedly non-Tamils from North of Tamil Nadu and South Sri Lanka, there was hardly any reading of Tamil history or politics. Little do they appreciate their mood or aspiration or growing unity and militancy. To them, hoops of iron which bind the Tamils are no more than of polls worth. Tamil Nadu has centuries old connections with Gujarat and Modi as a politician understands the aspirations of Tamils.

The profoundest transformation of Tamil Nadu has been in the last five years. The turmoil of last March has changed political equations. Parties not sympathetic to the Tamil cause in SL are on the brink of extinction in TN. Congress is yet ally less. So is DMK. BJP will get a footprint this year and a strong presence

if the Tamil issues are resolved.

Indian Ocean and Sri Lanka

To what degree is Sri Lanka sensitive to India’s concerns about Chinese presence in her sphere of influence? Will SL weave them into her policies in her headlong plunge into the Chinese orbit, with the depth to which the latter would fathom the implications?

India’s reference five years ago to strengthening strategic partnership with US is indication enough. “India has a special role in the Indian Ocean Region” is additional buttress of the direction. “Rights of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority community must be protected” is more than a hint of concern induced by ethnic   affinity of Tamil Nadu. Allusions by a few to Germany’s interest in Sudetenland   Germans   and what   followed in September 1938  by way  of   annexation of Sudetenland may revive disquieting memories. However a graphic repeat of history is not among workable propositions as the world of foreign relations has changed considerably.

For a party that has scored over two incumbency features of indecisiveness at home and effeminacy abroad, inaction is no option. Successive Congress governments ever haunted by the spectre of China had given more than a wide berth to Sri Lanka for over half a century. In the last five years India had lost her image when miniscule Sri Lanka bent her to the latter’s commands. An Indian politician said like an elephant scampering away at the hiss of a mouse.

William Gladstone as Prime Minister of England declared, “My mission is to pacify Ireland”. Modi may be prone to setting about pacifying Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan Tamils at the very beginning of his term as Prime Minister of India. Assertiveness with Sri Lanka to resolve the gnawing issue of the Tamil question would claim priority attention to shake it off India’s back. The problem of TN fishers becoming a perennial one and Kachchathivu remaining a festering sore, display only fear psychosis. Through decisive action, India is more likely to move all three out of her way and to settle down to nation building in order to secure a place under the sun for herself.

Away With Thirteenth Amendment

This much touted contrivance thrust upon the beleaguered Tamils has plagued the country and more grievously the Tamils for a quarter century. It was engineered as a bilateral enterprise not to resolve issues but to compound them. To this day, the Amendment is the most telling example of ‘legislation without representation’, a principle against which the American colonies had fought so valiantly.

As is known the Tamil MPs were forced to resign from Parliament under the Sixth Amendment. They resigned and went into voluntary exile.  North East SL was invaded by the Indian army, people were kept in thrall and Tamil voice was stilled. Denied the occasion to so much as express their views, no sign of opposition was seen or perceived in North East Sri Lanka. The Thirteenth Amendment incubated in darkness and hatched in secret was incorporated into the supreme law of Sri Lanka. Doomed to fail it did fail and sealed the fate of the Tamils. Now all Tamils honeycombing the globe, having turned vocal and assertive if not aggressive and demanding are fighting for justice. Their voice has reached White House and Capitol Hill, Downing Street and House of Commons, Washington and Geneva. Tamil Nadu has made its power felt in Chennai and Delhi.

Veering from the horrors that the Congress government of India perpetrated by thrusting 13 A on a hapless people, a NEW DEAL by way of restitution of their rights and freedoms, is expected of the BJP and the resoluteness of Modi.

Recoiling against marginalization, Tamils wanted to stave off the full force of decimation; politically, economically, educationally and in employment. Rights over life, liberty and pursuit of happiness have been banished. Right to land and to justice have also vanished.

Usher In Two Unit Devolution

Thirteenth Amendment has brought the Tamils nothing and led them nowhere. Let it also vanish yielding place to a Two Unit arrangement where they are equal in all respects, in no way subordinate. The North East for minorities and the rest of the country for the majority with both having full plenitude of power within a united nation, shall be the anchor principle for negotiation. Central powers and relationship with the units are easily specified.

Not for nothing have nations gone in for regional power sharing. Favouring conciliation over conflict, they did so. There was never a proclivity for disintegration that impelled them to search for such arrangements or to adopt them. The world has too many nations to cite for success; Switzerland, Malaysia, Germany, Canada and USA to name a few. With interminable debate and nit picking, SL only sank into the mire. In a mere 50 years, we buy a Singapore $ at 103 times the price. In 10 years the price will be Rs 200 to a $ while yet prating that it was achieved by not dividing the country by granting autonomy to the North East. If the Gordian Knot is cut, there is scope for a revamp.

If India under Modi’s leadership contemplates such devolution, Tamils will be better placed than Sudetenland Germans in 1938. To Tamil Nadu and for India it will be a far greater proposition than to have an unfriendly neighbor acting in cohort with a mighty power in her immediate backwater. An ulcer in the Island affecting all Sri Lankans, Tamil Nadu and India. There cannot be a more welcome development than  the promise of peace for all on either side of Palk Straits.

Concluded

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