16 August, 2022


“New Symphony In Play”; Hindi Amiriki Bhai Bhai

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi (NM), addressed a joint session of the US Congress in Washington recently. US lifted a visa ban, imposed on NM in 2005 after Human Rights groups accused him of not acting to save Muslims in his state of Gujrat during Hindu Muslim riots in 2002 when he was Chief Minister, after he was sworn in as Prime Minister. Since then, US President Barak Obama and NM have met with each other seven times, unprecedented in Indo – US relations. NM, in his 45 minute address, which bewildered many due to the heavy regional accent, was yet received by a packed Congress with several standing ovations. The speech was full of praise for America. NM echoed thoughts of a former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpajee by referring to US as “natural allies”. He went on to state, “In the fall of 2008, when the Congress passed the India US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, it changed the very colours of leaves of our relationship. We thank you for being there when the partners needed you most. You have also stood by us in times of sorrow. India will never forget the solidarity shown by the US Congress when terrorists from across our border attacked Mumbai in 2008”. NM concluded stating, “In my final thoughts and words, let me precise that our relationship is primed for a momentous future. The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations for the future are firmly in place. In the lines of Walt Whitman, the orchestra have sufficiently tuned the instruments; the baton has given the signal. And to that, if I might add, there is a new Symphony in play.”Narendra Modi addressed a joint session of the US Congress June 08 2016 | Pic His FB

India, since independence, has a track record of aligning itself with big and powerful nations depending on its own circumstances. It was the first Asian nation to extend diplomatic recognition to Communist China on 01 January 1950 followed by the symphony Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai (India & China are brothers). The two countries went to war in 1962 over a territorial dispute. It then entered into a Friendship & Co-operation Treaty with Russia (then Soviet Union) in 1971 under which Russia was obliged to defend India in case of any external aggression. It also provided India with the protection of a nuclear umbrella. In December 1971, Russia dispatched a nuclear armed flotilla from Vladivostok to counter the US 7th Fleet moving into Bay of Bengal and several British naval craft sailing into India’s western coast during the height of the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The symphony therefrom was Hindi Russi Bhai Bhai (India & Russia are brothers). For all intent and purposes, the current symphony would seem to be Hindi Amiriki Bhai Bhai (India & America are brothers).

India had been seeking admission to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

MTCR is a voluntary association of 34 countries. The group aims to slow the spread of missiles and other unmanned delivery technology that could be used for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks. The regime urges members, which include most of the world’s major missile manufacturers, to restrict exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500 kg payload at least 300 km, or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction (WMD). Countries desirous of membership must obtain concurrence from existing members. Rules relevant to nuclear commerce are decided by MTCR members. Membership will eventually enable India to trade in nuclear equipment.  India is being allowed to retain its missile arsenal by US. With the support and blessings of US, India’s membership is expected to materialize formally, possibly as early as July.

US has continuously blocked membership for China on grounds some Chinese companies are secretly supplying technology to North Korea.

The 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) defines “nuclear weapons states” as those that tested devices before January 1, 1967. India first tested May 18, 1974. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) controls access to sensitive nuclear technology. The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country’s negative vote will negate India’s bid. The NSG looks after critical issues relating to the nuclear sector. Its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership in NSG will enable India to make its voice heard in the area of nuclear commerce and the ability to sell nuclear equipment. China, who is a member of NSG currently oppose India’s admission.

The question to be posed is if India has earned the right or deserves a place in key decision making world bodies and forums. It would qualify on a criteria based on such para meters as world’s second largest population, largest democracy etc. However, what also need to be factored in is if India has behaved as a peaceful and responsible nation since 1947.

From a regional perspective, India’s quest for a place at the top table at international forums including permanent membership in the UN Security Council is bound to make some of its immediate neighbours uncomfortable. Relations with Pakistan, let alone being cordial are nowhere near satisfactory. The two countries have fought four bitter wars since 1947. Repeated efforts to jump start Indo – Pak relations have failed so far for varied reasons which cannot be assigned to any one country. Pakistan fear Indian membership in NSG will eventually give India an increased amount of material for its military nuclear programme and thus further increase a nuclear arms race in the sub-continent. Relations with other South Asian neighbours too have been contentious. Relations with Sri Lanka were poor for decades after India supported a terrorist group seeking a separate state in Sri Lanka. Relations have improved since January 2015 with the change of government in Colombo. Despite warming of relations, India, in a high handed manner has so far refused to address the issue of Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters with total disregard to international maritime law. The current government in Sri Lanka has remained mostly silent for sake of good relations. Good relations do not mean passive and silent acceptance of diktats from big neighbours. It could easily change with a change of governments. Landlocked Nepal dependent on India for all its supplies transported overland via India have had supplies cut off on several occasions when it acted against the wishes of India. A crisis developed recently due to objections from two minority communities to the newly passed constitution. It resulted in unruly mobs blocking parts of the Indo – Nepal border which contain entry / exit points between the two countries. India too objected to the constitution and played a role in the disruptions. Not too long ago, Indian troops stormed into Myanmar without the consent of Myanmar authorities in pursuit of Indian terrorists, violating Myanmar’s sovereignty. Indo – Bangladeshi relations over the years have gone through the unilateral diversion of the Ganges water by India at Farakka Barrage and other waterways, Land, Border, Maritime and Boundary disputes. India is presently unhappy with developments in Maldives, especially with what some observes term as a ‘China tilt’ in Maldivian foreign policy and the political turmoil and rights restrictions since the ousting of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

India’s efforts to foster closer relations with neighbours unfortunately contain a coercive factor which is seen by some neighbours as Indian hegemony. Despite public back slapping during meetings of leaders especially since the advent of the Modi government, development of institutional relations with South Asian neighbours on a long term basis remains remote. India is selective in efforts towards improving multilateral cooperation within SAARC. One such instance was its refusal to permit Sri Lanka to raise the issue of the violation of its air space and territorial integrity in 1987 at a SAARC summit. Indian Air Force transporters accompanied by fighter jets dropped food and medicine in Jaffna. India claimed it was bi-lateral issue whereas SAAC was a multilateral forum. For example, it would be unthinkable for Germany to violate small Belgium’s air space and for the issue not to be raised both at EU and NATO. Trading figures with most neighbours are lopsided and stacked in favour of India in billions of dollars.

India’s hegemonic stance in no way helps good neighbourly relations. It must embark in a path whereby discontentment on the part of the weaker neighbours need be addressed in a just, fair and equitable manner on a long term basis. Towards this end, it needs to make compromises, which may at times be unfavourable.

India has to demonstrate its suitability to sit at the top table of UNSC, MTCR, NSG and other important world bodies by abandoning its hegemonic stance. It must adopt a more balanced and accommodating doctrine on a long term basis towards its smaller and weaker neighbours. Then and only then can it legitimately claim a place as a world leader.

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  • 3

    “”“New Symphony In Play”; Hindi Amiriki Bhai Bhai”

    why not unlike wall street -Zubin Mehta

    Terror Incubated In India’s Neighbourhood’: PM Modi To US Congress.
    (Hugo Swire says the same)
    Grateful To US For Backing Nuclear Suppliers Group Bid, Says PM Modi The US has expressed its support for India’s candidature to the 48-member elite Nuclear Security Group,

    One of the largest applause lines in Mr. Modi’s speech was his reference to the 3 million-strong Indian-American community, which is often cited by both governments as a natural bridge.

    According to a Gallup survey conducted earlier this year, more 70 percent of the U.S. public has a positive impression of India, a score on par with Israel’s traditionally-high favorability rating. This is the latest indicator of how decisively American perceptions about the country have shifted in a relatively short period of time. Not too long ago, India was widely regarded as the very epitome of what the term “Third World” meant – decrepit, destitute and pitiable.

  • 4

    Prof. Jayaweera said “NM, in his 45 minute address, which bewildered many due to the heavy regional accent, was yet received”
    According to Jayaweera who could read other’s minds. US congressman confused & puzzled understanding the Indian leader’s English speech with heavy Gujarati & Hindi accent? Do you know you are insulting US congressman having a tiny brain like your? I believe you don’t know, but most of US congressman know that Modi speaks more than 4 languages..And they know they could speak just one language except few who speak Spanish there. . And again do you know, by any chance, if you are well known and respected person in the world, you would be sued for insulting US congress for above foolish comment… ,p>

    Do you know Katchitheevu island was under India until 1974 and India recognized SL ownership in 1974 on conditional agreement on fishing rights? It was a disputed land from 1921 … a complex issue..

    Do you also know even average Sri Lankans identify T56 assault rifles? Because it is so common but lethal weapon.. and the cheapest weapon used in SL and most of third world poor countries.. Africa, Syria, Afghanistan, everywhere…

    Who manufacture and licensed to manufacture T56???? China… Do you know China allow Bangladesh to manufacture T56 too, so it got much cheaper and flowing freely all poor war torn countries like Sri Lanka? How inhumane is this ?

  • 0

    Mr. Jayaweera, body language and clever positioning in things like seating matter a lot to political observers. You can see how President Sirisena was seated the same table as President Obama at a recent international banquet. Not even CBK who desperately tried to get recognition nor MR got that sort of treatment. That is “sending a message” in a subtle way.

    You saw how Obama embraced Modi last time. These are subtle gestures but highly relevant gestures as to who is placed where on the totem pole of importance or recognition. I do hope President Sirisena has good interpreters when he travel because he is the only President of Sri Lanka who is terribly uncomfortable speaking English. The fact that he does not know English does not matter considering Japanese, Korean and so many other leaders follow the same pattern IF he has great foreign policy advisors and good interpreters and a good Foreign Minister like Kadirgamar.

    So as far as SL is concerned, its SURVIVAL depends on open trade with EU and USA. So if it does not fix the local issues and address the concerns by these global entities, it is likely to be punished again. It cannot sell its Jungis and Bras to China or India. India whether we like it or not, can be arrogant at times and it wants ECTA to dominate SL like how it dominates and controls Nepal; but that may benefit SL too. So right now because of China, India and USA seen their mutural self interests coalescing into one comprehensive policy. In 1987 Rajiv Gandhi shoved the IPKF down SL’ butts and made sure that the critical clause of “Trinco shall not be used in any manner inimical to India” was included. THAT was the key. The UNP idiot twit leaders who veered towards the US and thought they could join ASEAN were taught a lesson. “You better toe the line boy; we are INDIA we hate and suspect the US, so you better not screw with our interests with VOA spy stations and US ships in Trinco” was the line back then.

    Events move so fast in geo political board games. When India opened out its economy and started sending people to US(gosh there a millions of Indians now in US and they are minting money being doctors and academics etc) and trade because the currency it realized that partnering with US was in its best interest.

    MR overplayed the China card but you can see that after lots of China bashing including ludicrous statements even by the smart Harsha who accused China of being the economic hitman of Asia, they see that US and EU are not throwing aid and billions after Jan 2015. Their cash comes with strings. But TRADE is the key so SL has no choice but to be pliable vis-a-vis human rights, and war crimes if it is to survive. But at the same time a virulently anti Communist guy like RW(probably a carry over from JR and his own father who was at one time very closely linked to the US) has had to eat humble pie and visit Beijing for handouts. EU is SL’s biggest export market and then it is US.

    Right now, US and India want to corner and encircle China. But SL, if it plays its cards right can be neutral, and allow warships of all those nations to drop anchor while not being hostile towards anyone. Survival depends on that. But if RW is foolish to allow open access to the 7th fleet then it will surely be an invitation to global islamic jihadis like ISIS to harm them and SL as well. So many intricate details that need to be addressed by our leaders. I give a plus and a thumbs up to RW and MS in how they have so far managed foreign relations.

  • 3

    Mr Ratwatte

    Even though nor relevant to my piece, let me share my views of issues raised by you.

    I certainly do advocate the need for good relations with USA, EU, India and the rest of the world both for sake of trade as well bi-lateral relations. Despite being an island nation, we cannot live in an island.
    Former President Rajapaksa did the right thing in showing the door to the British and French Foreign Secretaries who stormed into Colombo in April 2009 to negotiate an exit pathway for the LTTE leadership. Where he went wrong was in not moving to repair relations immediately after 18 May 2009, as a matter of priority.

    It must be borne in mind, ground situation in Sri Lanka today may have been totally different from what it is today if not for offensive weapons provided by China and Pakistan. Export of such weapons was banned by US and EU early in the conflict. By turning to China, former President Rajapaksa did what any sensible leader would have done in similar circumstances.

    Postures, gestures and body language notwithstanding, unrestricted trade with any nation or block of nations is unhealthy. It leads to blackmail and domination at some point, as observed in the withdrawal of GSP facility and ban on Sri Lankan fish exports by EU nations. As you say, since EU and US are already our biggest markets, perhaps Sri Lanka should look at new markets for its ‘Jungis’ and Bras in Africa and South America in order to prevent further dependence.

    Sri Lanka currently face three major foreign policy issues besides the UNHRC Resolution which the MS+RW+MS trio in their infinite wisdom decided to co-sponsor. They are EU suspension of GSP facility, ban on Sri Lankan fish exports and poaching by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lankan waters. Whereas announcements have been made on lifting the ban on fish exports, it is yet to materialize. Restoration of GSP facility is limited to press statements by UNP leaders. Indians will not even discuss the poaching issue at bi-lateral meetings.

    The success of the foreign policy chartered by the present trio during last eighteen months need be assessed based on successfully resolving these issues in Sri Lanka’s favor besides foreign aid / FDIs from US and EU block. So far, not much evidence of success can be seen other than in President Sirisena’s seating arrangements and loads of free advice. Goodwill alone is insufficient.

    It also results in the need for regular visits to Beijing by our current leaders.

    • 1

      Dear Rajeewa Jayaweera,
      You are complaining of bulliying by Western countries, when you are continuing bullying Tamils in Srilanka. Your contentious issues like UNHCR resolution, EU suspension of GSP facility, fishing export ban and poaching by Tamil Nadu fishermen are repercussions of bullying of Tamils, as a divine retribution. If the war against LTTE was fought in a civilised manner, there would not have been a UNHCR action. If the human rights of Tamils were upheld, suspension of GSP facility would not have taken place. If Kachchativeu agreement of 1974 is implemented fully, where Tamil Nadu fishermen were allowed to rest and repair the nets, there will bo no cause for accusation of poaching. It is the deaths of 500 innocent Tamil Nadu fishermen by blood thirsty racist Srilanka Navy which is haunting Srilanka and will certainly devour the Srilankan pride. So without trying to find fault with others, please get the Sinhalese community to grant justice to Tamils. Otherwise you will have to sell dry fish and jungies to Pakistan and China and live on manioc and cunjy as what happened to Sinhalese prior to 1977.

  • 0

    Dr Gnana Sankaralingam

    I believe you have mixed up the two issues.

    My self and the many like minded concede the Tamil community have been wronged. Such wrongs need be addressed.

    We are of the opinion, every Tamil terrorist was a Tamil but not all Tamils were terrorists. We contribute to the theory to the need for equal status for all non-terrorist Sri Lankans with the predominant use of Tamil language in the Northern Province and a part of the Eastern Province.

    However, these are issues to be addressed by the people of Sri Lanka (by that I mean Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and other small communities) and not India, EU, USA, persons of Sri Lankan origin domiciled elsewhere or UNO.

    Minorities have been persecuted not only in Sri Lanka but globally. The Indian formula to our issue is unacceptable. Muslims in India are persecuted notwithstanding their much bandied secular Constitution. Should Pakistan consisting of Muslims of the same creed intervene? Rohingyas in Myanmar are persecuted. Should Bangladesh invade Myanmar? Muslims in Thailand and Philippines are fighting for autonomy. Should Indonesia intervene? Hitler invaded Poland to intercede on behalf of several thousand German speakers of German origin in the Danzig corridor. The whole world condemned the invasion and that was the commencement of WWII. My piece was written in that context.

    I will refrain from commenting on your other points as I feel that is your emotions speaking without the benefit of your intellect.

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