By Mano Ratwatte –
Modi’s new India
Let’s take a good look at a few recent Indian and Sri Lankan headlines. Senior BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy said “God does not reside in Mosques and churches which are only places of worship and God only resides in temples”.
There is an increase in the number of attacks on churches. In some places right wing Hindus have forcibly converted Muslims and Christians into Hindus at the threat of death. Muslim families in Agra and Christian families in Gujarat and Kerala became victims after Modi won. It’s important to note that these increases occurred after Modi became Prime Minister. In fairness, the scale does not compare to what Nazi collaborator Croatian Catholics did on a much grander scale during WW II when Jews and Serbian Orthodox Croats were forced to convert to Catholicism or face execution; nor to the savage level the ISIS Islamo-fascists.
Indian media and leading politicians including their FM Ms. Sushma Swaraj( a Punjabi Brahmin graduate from Punjab University, Chandigarh), who should be well versed with the atrocities Indian Hindus committed in Punjab against Sikhs during the Khalistani rebellion), expressed umbrage that Sri Lanka’s new PM made an indiscreet albeit a mild statement about a nation having a right to protect its borders?
Kudos to Mr. Wickremesinghe; all he did was state an obvious fact that all nations have a right to defend their maritime and land borders by any means necessary. Earlier this year, FM Ms. Swaraj made an insensitive racial slur about the people of the North Eastern States of India; She was speaking in Lok Sabha about the death of youth from Arunachal Pradesh, who was beaten to death in Delhi in a racial attack, said “people with flat noses are as much Indians as those with sharp ones”’ (chapti naakwale). If it were a politician in the US she would have to resign. Is this is the new Gandhian spirit of the Hindu dominated BJP?
Great Wall of India
India is almost done building the world’s longest 4000km border fence on their border with Bangladesh; it has cost billions of Dollars. It is dubbed as the ‘Wall of Death” by locals on both sides of the border. BSF has killed hundreds of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and got away with impunity. It has a shoot on sight policy on their long border with Bangladesh. In recent time Xenophobic attacks against Bangladeshis have increased in the NE states as well. BSF routinely harasses Bangladeshis and local Bengalis and detain them on the charges of aiding or sheltering illegal Bangladeshi migrants and smugglers. The biggest concern for India is the millions undocumented(illegal) Bangladeshi migrants in India. A number frequently reported in India media is closer to 20 million. Like Mexican and other Latin American undocumented migrants in the United States, their Bangladeshi counterparts are the favored scapegoats of the Indian Hindu right — blamed for unemployment, crime, terrorism, “low-key Talibanization,” and “disturbing our Indian sex-ratio statistics.” These Xenophobic attitudes are widely prevalent.
If any Sri Lankan raises concerns about illegal immigration, smuggling and poaching in post-war Sri Lanka they are howled out, being accused as being anti-Indian; poor Sri Lanka is an island. It cannot build a wall to stop Indian illegal immigrants( and heroin smugglers ) from coming to enjoy the post war economic boom. Almost all the heroin is smuggled in via the Palk strait. Why is okay then for India to actually shoot on sight hapless poor illegal immigrants then?
Why is the West silent?
It’s because it is India : a powerful nation with the 4th largest military in the world and a strategic partner of the USA in the war against Islamist terrorism. India has dramatically increased its foreign weapons imports by importing 140% more weapons between 2010-2014, than between 2005-2009.Its the 4th biggest importer of weapons. It has a huge domestic weapons manufacturing and assembly industry. Its traditional enemy is Pakistan but it fears China. The west will never raise issue if India commits excesses in the Muslim state of Kashmir or deal with rebellion in the 7-sister states with an iron hand. So while for the most part, all ethnic and religious groups live side by side in both nations, we should realize that it was not always the case. India is a friend but India will only look after Indian interests. China is a friend but China never interfered in Sri Lanka’ s domestic affairs.
India continues to be doubly afraid of China after its disastrous rout at the hands of communist China in the border war in 1962. It has border issues with China in Arunachal Pradesh and other N.E 7-sister states as well. It has long smoldering insurgencies to deal with in those areas and foreign travelers are prohibited from visiting those states without special permission. India has a very large military presence in those states. It also has a massive military presence in Kashmir and is not keen on arriving at any political settlement to that issue despite Modi’s ostensible holy pontifications.
Persona non grata in USA
Modi could not even get a Tourist visa to come to the US after his party and he were implicated in the violent pogrom against Muslims in 2002. It is very important to keep that in mind; it is not a coincidence that after his victory, attacks on Churches increased. It even prompted President Obama to comment on religious freedoms in India.
The visa on arrival reciprocity is welcome but in a world of global trade and free flow of goods and services, India is yet to reciprocate in providing employment opportunities in India for Sri Lankan citizens; the balance of trade is lopsided in India’s favor. Sri Lanka now has a burgeoning expatriate Indian population enjoying superior living conditions and salaries. They are living it up but are they being monitored closely for RAW infiltration and overstaying of their work visas? What is there to stop India from engineering incidents to intervene again? Modi’s statements about “13A and beyond” could be a warning of further interference. 13A was foisted upon Sri Lanka at gun point and will the “beyond” as well?
PM Wickremesinghe, President Sirisena and the new FM, must become well versed in Indian foreign policy action and domestic policies as well to be able to foment a cogent foreign policy writ that will look after Sri Lanka’s long interests and prevent India from fomenting separatist terrorism again. Be wary of Modi-fever.