By S. Sivathasan –
Reproduced is an exceprt of a 40 minute speech made by Narendra Modi in Chennai on April 13, 2014. This news item is from Colombo Gazette.
“BJP’s Modi puts Sri Lanka on Notice”
“India’s BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi says with Tamils living all over the world, including in Malayasia, Sri Lanka and Fiji, it should be a priority of the Indian government to take care of their well-being and he promised to do so if a BJP-led Government assumes power after the elections.
He said a strong and determined government was the need of the hour as small countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh were poking the country and they have to be met eye-on-eye and dealt with strongly, the Press Trust of India quoted him as saying at an election rally in Chennai today.
Playing the emotive issue of recurring attacks on fishermen, Modi charged that the UPA Government in India lacked the courage to protect the fishermen of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat who were being “harassed” by Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Making a strong pitch for the NDA’s six-party alliance in the state, Modi claimed it had emerged as the third alternative to the two major Dravidian parties and also a force to reckon with in the April 24 Lok Sabha polls”.
The above speech is reminiscent of Lord Palmerston’s eloquent words spoken in June 1850. He was then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, United Kingdom for a second term. In a historic five hour speech he was able to swing a hostile House to his favour with the suave use of words which ancient Romans would employ. What was the occasion for this speech?
Don Pacifico Affair
In 1847 the home of a British Subject , Don Pacifico a Gibraltan living in Athens was attacked by an anti-Semitic mob. The British government expressed ‘concern’ and did nothing else. Across the Palk Straits thousands of Tamil fishers are attacked and the ‘Congress government’ has expressed similar concern doing nothing more.
When Don Pacifico laid claims on the Greek government, Palmerston who was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs used the opportunity to blockade a Greek port in 1850. What made him do that? He subscribed to the view that “The real policy of England … is to be the champion of justice and right”. France and Russia got engaged in the dispute and it occasioned a condemnation in the House of Commons. In the ensuing debate, Palmerston pointed out that “A British subject ought to be protected everywhere by the strong arm of the British government against injustice and wrong”. He drew a parallel between the conduct of ancient Romans and the display of their might. They had only to mention, Civis Romanus Sum – I am a Roman Citizen – and nobody dare touch them. In like manner, any citizen under the protection of the British should walk the earth unharmed. It was to secure this end that Palmerston employed the strength of the British Empire.
What the neighbours of India are being treated to provides only an inkling of what is in store. Encapsulated in the words, “Civis Romanus Sum” is the concealed might of empires that were and a great power that is to be. Whatever the pearls, the strand that runs through is one, that is India has taken upon herself the protective mantle over small countries with Tamil or Indian population.
For the full enunciation of foreign policy it appears Modi’s alter ego will come to the fore as Foreign Minister. Here again the 7 point plan outlined by Y. Sinha with particular reference to Tamil centric Sri Lanka, has a far wider perspective. What is seen in embryonic form today will have a swift evolution. Monroe Doctrine for the US two centuries back and Indira Doctrine for India four decades ago will evolve into perhaps a more uncompromising Modi Doctrine in the months ahead.