23 October, 2020

Blog

Triskaidekaphobia & Indo-Lanka Economic Ties

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

One of the most unsettling international impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic is the rise of an anti-China coalition led by Trump’s America. In the Asian region India is the most powerful member of this coalition, and it is through India that US is trying to checkmate China’s regional challenge and her economic dominance through her One Belt One Road strategy. With mounting economic difficulties at home, as illustrated by Moody’s downgrading of the economy by three notches from B2 to Caa1, and pressure from the West, Sri Lanka has no choice but to keep its relations with China unchanged at present level at best, while boosting its ties with neighbouring India. This explains why Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew to meet Modi immediately after his victory, and why Mahinda Rajapaksa is now bending backwards and doing everything possible to please his Indian counterpart to seek more economic assistance. Economically therefore, Sri Lanka is too vulnerable a nation. 

Already, the country is in debt to India to a total of $960 million, and only recently the two central banks entered into a currency swap arrangement for $400 million.  Negotiations are now under way for another bilateral currency swap worth $1.1 billion. Lately, Prime Minister Modi has also promised $15 million to promote “Buddhist ties” between the two countries. A couple of months ago he invited Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka to visit Kushinagar, the new airport in Uttar Pradesh, the state from where Modi built his political capital by engineering a pogrom against Muslims, massacring 2000 of them in Gujarat in 2002. Modi’s India, through increasing economic ties under the “neighbourhood first” policy is tightening its hold over Sri Lanka. Behind India of course is US. GR-MR power cartel has no choice but to succumb to Indo-American pressures.      

Unfortunately, in this growing friendship, the long-awaited implementation of the 13th amendment is quietly being ignored by both parties, India and Sri Lanka. Among the rulers and their backers in Sri Lanka in particular, there is a growing triskaidekaphobia or fear of number 13, because of the perceived dangers of losing to Tamils by implementing the 13th amendment, which was originally inserted under Indian pressure. On the Indian side, why didn’t Modi, in spite of the betrayal by the Sri Lankan President, who undertook to implement that amendment but reneged after returning to Colombo, at least show some urgency or make its implementation conditional upon further economic assistance in his recent discussions with MR? Instead, his almost ethical advice calling GR-MR regime to address the “aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka, by carrying forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the 13th amendment to the constitution”, and MR’s dismissal of that advice but couching it diplomatically under a non-committal undertaking to “work towards realizing the expectations of all ethnic groups, including Tamils, by achieving reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people and implementation of the constitutional provisions” (Sunday Times, 27 Sep 2020), illustrates that Modi is prepared to downplay its implementation for the sake of gaining greater strategic and economic benefits to his country.

First of all, Modi’s own position as Prime Minister is not going to be affected even by an iota by sacrificing the interests of Sri Lankan Tamils. Tamil leadership at home expects Tamil Nadu to be the broker between Delhi and Colombo. But Modi had demonstrated at the last election that he could capture Delhi without the support of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is therefore no more a trump card to pressure Delhi by Sri Lankan Tamils.   

Secondly, Indian capitalists would be too happy to welcome Modi’s Indo-Lanka negotiations, if they open more opportunities for the moneyed class to enter Sri Lankan market, and acquire tangible assets through investment. Sri Lanka’s current economic plight and desperation for Indian economic assistance obviously opens a widow of opportunity for Indian recolonization. Why should the Tamil factor be allowed to be an obstruction to this imperial objective? Even geo-strategically China could be checkmated in the Indian Ocean with the assistance of America and its Western allies.  It would be suicidal for Sri Lanka to ignore this reality.  

Thus, with a disunited opposition unable to win the Sinhalese Buddhist masses to its side, and with “native informers” among Tamils and Muslims, who are prepared to work with the GR-MR power cartel, the 13th amendment is fated to be buried under the ashes of the current battle over constitutional amendments. This battle will be another win to the regime, unless the five Supreme Court judges decide otherwise. Of course, there is a referendum to go through even after clearance by the judges. To win that referendum GR is working overtime to maintain his populist image among Buddhist voters. His last visit to Haldumulla, one of the most backward villages in Uva Province, is an example of this populist exercise. The net losers are the Tamils. Perhaps, it was with this outcome in mind that GR said, soon after he was elected as President, that the solution to the Tamil issue is not devolution of power but economic development. How could Modi and his capitalists quarrel with that when development would open opportunities for Indian penetration and investment?    

A footnote to the Tamil problem is that of Muslims. If Tamils could be subdued, Muslims could be enslaved to please Modi. GR-MR equation works on a simple formula: harder they hit the Tamils stronger would be the support to the regime from Sinhala Buddhists, and harder they hit Muslims happier and more beneficent would be Modi. MR’s ban on cow slaughter, the celebrated One Law One Country mantra targeting the so-called sharia laws particularly in relation to Muslim marriage and divorce, controversy over madrasas and Muslim religious education, and the overall anti-Muslim sentiment nurtured by Buddhist supremacists, are all instruments to hit the Muslim community and cripple its economy. To the Tamils at least there is a vibrant transnational community that is prepared to voice their grievances at international fora. To the Muslims, there is none. The much talked about Islamic brotherhood and universal Muslim umma are just historical fictions without any practical benefits to Muslim minorities everywhere.

Thus, as Modi-GR-MR relations improve the two minorities stand to suffer. However, everything depends on how long would Sinhala Buddhist masses are prepared to put up with the economic costs of religious ethnic discontent kept burning by the current regime. With worsening economic difficulties arising out of a flat bottom, dish-shaped growth curve the regime will find it impossible to deliver its promise of “prosperity and splendour”. Of course, there is no time limit set to deliver this promise. However even to maintain the status quo will be a challenge within the current recessionary environment.  Indian generosity through currency swaps, moratorium on debt servicing and investment can only postpone the day of reckoning but cannot avoid it.  Without twin surplus in budgets and balance of payments over successive years, government will have no funds to invest in economic development. To raise government revenue through taxes and to increase exports while rationalizing imports will be a great challenge. Import substitution is no permanent cure and to borrow more is suicidal.  In short, the economy will remain the number one enemy of this regime.  The regime may fool some people all the time and all people some time, but not all people all the time.  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    I just had to read this to find out what “Triskaidekaphobia” means. No, it’s nothing to do with Indian double-decker buses.

    • 4
      2

      OC, I did the same?
      In a country filled with majority of people that get deceived by water snake to have carried that Fake relics to most respected Kelaniya viharaya, it ll be easy to promote and mislead by spreading the misfortune of “13 as an odd number”.They use all easy tricks in twisting the gullible mind set, but for how long? ??????????????

    • 5
      3

      Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera was cured of Triskaidekaphobia (fear of 13) when Indian High Commissioner gave enema (rear admission) to him.

      • 1
        0

        Sounds queer!

  • 5
    2

    The word Triskaidekaphobia has scared the hell out of Gota. He’s currently undergoing treatment for Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. … … …

    • 4
      0

      Gota suffers from Eikoridekamania (excessive desire for 20) and will get the works.

      • 1
        0

        At least CT is teaching its readers Greek now.

        • 3
          1

          OC
          Perhaps.
          But there us someone here who calls anybody that disagrees with him ‘stupid etc.’ who is out to sabotage CT’s project.
          *
          I searched and found that twenty is είκοσι (eikosi?) in Greek; and that icos(a) is 20 as prefix.
          I wonder how “Eikorideka” will make 20.
          There is a misspelling of eikosi as eikori followed by deka (for 10).
          So,is it “fear of ‘ten-twenty?”
          There is a saying in Tamil “தானறியாச் சிங்களம் தன் பிடரிக்குச் சேதம்” (the Sinhala that one does not know can damage the back of the neck) and there is a more crisp phrase that the Sinhalese use, “nodanna Demala”

          • 3
            1

            Or is is it twenty-ten?

            • 1
              0

              Something to do with the IPL ?

              • 0
                0

                Or half of it?

          • 2
            0

            SJ types:

            “But there us someone here who calls anybody that disagrees with him ‘stupid etc.’ who is out to sabotage CT’s project.”

            Stupid is as stupid does – Forrest Gump,
            meaning that a person should be judged by his/her actions

            CT has survived 10 years with all kinds weirdo’s typing in these forums, tried and failed sabotage by Gota and his goons, once banned by the state until Mangala intevened. in 2015.

            If CT continues with its current policies and practices it will survive another 5000 years, if the technology stays constant.

            Viva CT.
            Viva – long live!

            • 0
              0

              Native,
              5000 years? You are being optimistic. Some kids already don’t know how to use a rotary phone……

              https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ITy259PwkfU

            • 0
              0

              NV
              CT helped improve Rajapaksa vote bank.
              Non stop propaganda that Rajapaksa is two feet tall was the reason.
              What you are saying here is Sinhala Buddhists will thrive for another 5000 years.
              Viva CT

              Soma

              • 0
                0

                soma
                Aiyoooooooooooooooooooooo

                “CT helped improve Rajapaksa vote bank.”

                How many Electors did read, understood CT and then voted?

                Don’t be silly that you have influenced the elections by typing here in these CT forums.

                Even I don’t read and write for CT. I have a friend of mine to do it.

  • 6
    5

    Will USA allow India to be the Super Power in the Indian Ocean? What is the guarantee that USA will not balkanize India after using India to achieve their objectives.

    • 2
      1

      Eagle Brain Dead Blind Eye

      “What is the guarantee that USA will not balkanize India after using India to achieve their objectives.”

      Leave the worrying to Hindia.
      Do think your war criminals could stop Hindia being Balkanized by USA, Pakistan, China, Turkey, …. ?
      You are rest assured like the self destructive Sinhala/Buddhists the Hindians too are capable of single handedly destroying India .

      I am told you are entitled for some state benefits if you are a disabled person. Collect all your benefits under Food Stamp Scheme, Janasaviya Programme and
      Samurdhi Programme (some of them are being subsidized by Hindian cheap products and loans, grants, …) and get lost.

      If the Balkanization conflict creeps into this island, ……………………

      Don’t rely on SJ to bring in his Chinese imperial forces to save this island.

  • 2
    2

    The seemingly logical arguments of Ameer Ali has one crucial factor left aside. It was not Modi who was instrumental in having 13A inserted into the SL Constitution. It was Rajiv Gandhi. Arguing that 13A is not that important or urgent to Modi to balance the bilateral relations is a little slipshod, and for that reason not credible.

  • 1
    1

    13 is not a good number
    20 is also not a good number – 2020 the year of covid -19when the whole world came to a standstill.

    13A combined with 20A is a mixture of dangerous cocktail!

    Beginning of the end indeed

    • 1
      1

      …to add 2020 the year of Covid-19.

      so 13A, 19A, 20A – all spell doom for GR-MR

  • 3
    1

    “One of the most unsettling international impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic is the rise of an anti-China coalition led by Trump’s America.”
    *
    Any serious observer would know that the anti-China coalition led by US was there ever since China became a challenge to US hegemony.
    America whether Trump’s or anyone else’s has the same global agenda. Obama’s Pivot to Asia was the forerunner to Trumps ‘tariff war’ with China which well preceded the present Coronavirus problem.

  • 1
    0

    I have to agree with Amir Ali. Indians are only just playing lip service to the implementation of 13A and are just keeping it as a trump card to use, incase things go wrong but if things go their way economically and strategically , in the island, as usual the Eelam or Sri Lankan Tamils are expendable. The whole island is their economic colony not just the Tamil areas, which by the way is rapidly shrinking . Just look at their past history . They have always pandered to Sinhalese racism and betrayed the Eelam Tamils over and over. Tamil Nadu can create lots problems if they want to , irrespective of whether the BJP or Congress needs their votes to win , it is a powerful, key state , that is important to the Indian union, strategically and economically but looks like the Indian Tamil people their have lost interest and they now do not have powerful, strong charismatic leaders like the late MGR, Jayalalitha or even Karunanithi for that matter. They now have weak leaders and the Indian central government and the anti Tamils there know this. The racist war criminal Rajapakses and the Sinhalese racists and fascists also are aware of these factors , so will not do anything. If India was really serious 13a with its full land and police powers would have been implemented.

    • 1
      0

      As for the greater Muslim world community helping the Sri Lankan Muslims , Amir Ali again is spot on. They will not . Islam is a religion and the so called greater Muslim community consists of people who belong to different racial , linguistic and cultural groups and also belong to different Islamic sects and groups. Just because 99% of the Sri Lankan Muslims belong to one ethnic group and sect ( Tamil Sufis) does not mean the rest of the Muslim world is the same. These people will not care for these Tamil Muslims of Sri Lanka, they are already fighting amongst themselves in the name of race , ethnicity, language and the type of Islam practiced in other parts of the world and will not care two hoots for these converted Tamil Dravidian Muslims of Sri Lanka . The Arabs know they are not Arabs but South Asian converts and the Arab heritage is very minimal and even if they were they will not care. Look how increasingly the Palestinian Arab is getting isolated by other Arabs. Especially these Gulf Arabs who are instrumental in the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and brainwashing. The only Muslim people who cared for the Sri Lankan Muslims and protested are the Tamil Muslims of Tamil Nadu not even other Indian Muslim groups , even the Malayali Mapilla Muslims of Kerala , let alone the North Indian or Pakistanis.

  • 2
    1

    Wee-sekera is a classic example of a coward. He talked big against 13A but after India reminded him who the boss is, he went silent. Gota is same.

    Use 13A and Indian influence to bust 20A.

    20A reduces the effectiveness of 13A so 20A is inconsistent with 13A.

    • 2
      0

      G
      Even Modi talked big about “Chinese menace” to a home audience, but not a word in the UN.
      Watch what they do.
      Will India push hard on 13A?
      I doubt.
      Will the SL government yield even if there is show of an Indian push?
      I doubt.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.