22 September, 2020

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Unpacking The Menon Visit

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

Visiting Indian Defence Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon is reported to have insisted that Sri Lanka should sort its own problems, with India ready to help if requested.  Although we know that diplomacy is about saying the palatable and doing the distasteful on the sly, India being India especially, it is prudent for the Government to be mindful of sensitivities.

This envoy of the Indian Government has also urged the Tamil National Alliance to join the Parliamentary Select Committee, thereby effectively snubbing that party for attempting to use India as an instrument to arm-twist the Sri Lankan Government into submitting to their (the TNA’s) proposals.  This too, is good, subject to the cautionary footnote, ‘too much should not be made out of appearances’.  For example, the TNA can ‘concede’ by accepting the PSC and the Government could thereafter get the PSC to come up with ’13 Plus a la India’s preferences’.  It’s good to be alert.

A Tamil daily newspaper has quoted TNA leader R. Sampanthan saying that Menon had expressed India’s losing patience about a solution not materializing.  Now if it is Sri Lanka’s internal matter, then the timeframe should be Sri Lanka’s and not India’s concern.  However, to the extent that the Sri Lankan Government accepts that there is a problem, then foot-dragging is something that cannot be condoned, either on the part of the Government or the main articulator of grievance, the TNA.  The TNA is yet to articulate substantiated grievance and the Government is yet to ask the TNA to do so.  Both parties have opted for the convenience of barb-exchange.  That’s good politics, but bad statesmanship.

As for India’s ‘impatience’, quite apart from the fact that it smacks of interference, regional political realities should not be pooh-poohed by the Government.  India has legitimate concerns insofar as the so-called ‘Tamil problem’ plays a role in Indian power configurations.  Indian politics demands those in power and those aspiring for power to use and abuse the ‘Tamil Issue’ as a political football.  It is prudent for the Government to be mindful of these realities and play its cards without compromising its own political interest and more importantly the overall aspirations of all Sri Lankans.
To this end, firm steps should be taken to overcome the current impasse, and these should include calling the TNA’s bluff by demanding a full statement on grievances, investigating their true dimensions and resolving for the same, with or without the TNA’s involvement.

Perhaps what’s really telling is Menon’s claim that India stands for a ‘United Sri Lanka’.  Unity is something that is impossible to obtain through legislation. The word is often used by the TNA and other federalists in post-LTTE Sri Lanka when referring to a ‘solution’, for example, ‘A solution within a united Sri Lanka’.
‘Unity’ can be obtained in all kinds of political and constitutional formations.  People can be united in a unitary state and they can be united under a federal constitution.  There is nothing to say that either ‘unitary’ or ‘federal’ automatically produces ‘unity’.

The obtaining of unity then is dependent on acknowledgment of anomaly (and this is not limited to ethnic issues), an even greater focus on commonalities and a consistent privileging of reason over emotion, fact over myth, lived reality over communalist exaggeration of grievance and the political expedience of inflating aspiration.

As for ‘solution’, the relevant parties should always keep in mind that all things have outcomes, and for this reason the following are musts: a) the citizens should be kept informed, b) what the PSC (or any other deliberating forum) comes up with must be treated as ‘proposal’ and subject to public appraisal, and c) the possible political fallout must be deliberated on because future generations would have to live with it and perhaps even die on its account.  The 13th Amendment, if anything, is a case in point where India’s arm-twisting and J.R. Jayewardene’s malleability produced a curse which wrecked political stability and produced a bloodbath.

The Nation Editorial

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Hello Hello Malinda, its not just Menon who is losing patience about a solution materialising, we have LOST the opportunity yet again.
    MR can do all the “Commitology” he wants to but the world and us Sri Lankans are watching and waiting.
    Why are we waiting? Why are we waiting?
    MR will can bluff and bluff but sooner or later its coming home to roost.
    In the meantime you are welcome to write the “spin”

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      What opportunity have you lost? What are you waiting for? A solution will come but there is a lot to be done before that, otherwise it will either end up as Kashmir or even Varadharaja Perumal’s solution. TNA, if serious about a solution have to be honest. Sambanthan raised the national flag in front of Ranil but apologised to his people when Ranil left the scene, what a con artist Samba is! With people like them, how can you negotiate? At a time when unions are breaking up, Euro zone, Scotland etc and when Kashmir issue can’t see an ending, why would anybody wants to rush for a solution? When the demining is done, when the provincial elections are held in the North, the provincial government will have the opportunity to negotiate a better solution than the government initiating talks with LTTE-proxy remnants. It does not matter how long it takes, because the battered people in the North are not demanding a seperate country anymore, it is the demand of the proxy living in Colombo and London.

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        Rubert:
        (What a delightful name. It brings to mind all kinds of idiocy) Are you paid by the line for what you send to these websites/ Why don’t you send this unbelievable piffle to the newspaper of your masters, The Daily Noise? Or do they only pay you for taking up space in journals that are more serious (despite some of their contributors)?

  • 0
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    Why India is so worried about Tamils ? does not it say that Tamils are indian – people ?

    So, Indian people came to Sinhala – north and they have nothing unique to call that they are different from South Indians. Every thing that they quote or refer to are indian.

    Why do we give them any powers except treating them humanly.

    • 0
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      Jimsofty:
      Tell me your real name and I’ll tell you which part of India your ancestors came from!

    • 0
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      Jimsofty

      America is the global policeman and India is the South Asian policeman. We have no choice. It is very similar to the majority and minority. If things go like this, finally Sri Lanka will end up in the hands of India (North & East) and China (the rest). We Sri Lankans are digging our own graves by not being able to solve our domestic issues. We have invited all these foreign countries to meddle with our own problems. Still there is a chance for us to keep these leeches away only if we have the will to do it.

    • 0
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      Jimsofty asks:

      “Why India is so worried about Tamils ? does not it say that Tamils are indian – people ?”

      India does not give a damn about Sinhalese or Tamils. Their only concern is about their piece of real estate which is the whole of the island.

      Wise up stupid man.

      You say:

      “So, Indian people came to Sinhala – north and they have nothing unique to call that they are different from South Indians. Every thing that they quote or refer to are indian.”

      The island was not Sinhala.

      The Kallathonies came from North as well as the South of India.

      The first load of Kallathonies came from Sinhapura, Lala land in Venga. Incidently they were all criminal asylum seekers, descendants of people who practiced incest, bestiality and parricide, a unique culture still prevalent among the descendants of those Kallathonies.

      Please other than the above what is unique about the non Veddas?

      The religions, languages, culture, civilisation(?), technology, ………. even the mercenaries who helped to grab our land were brought from India.

      Above all your gene pool is polluted by Tamils and Sinhapurians.

      What is there to call unique and yours except the stupidity of Tamils and Sinhalese?

      I am bit thick, please educate me.

  • 0
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    This is the best example of a pot calling a kettle black. An immigrant calling others immigrants!

    Who are the Sinhalese? From where did they come? From where did Buddhism come? Both Sinhala and Buddhism came from India. You seem to be a total ignorant. Learn your basic history lessons first. The only SL history we learned in SL schools was the Sinhala forefather Vijay the grandson of Sinhabahu of Sinhapura came to the island with his people (Sinhalese) in a boat from India. Today, the Sinhalese and Buddhism are lost in India.

    India is worried because it is the democratic superpower in the South Asian region. Remember, once upon a time India was worried about the Muslim Bengalis because there were Bengalis in India as well, and so they helped to create Bangladesh. Similarly, Tamils have occupied and live in both India and Sri Lanka. Moreover, JR has already signed the pact (devolution) with India and MR has promised India that he will implement it. India is reminding him to fulfill his promise.

    Do not worry, you are not alone, there are thousands of ignorant like you.

    • 0
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      The above is a reply to Jimsofty. Btw, not only India, even America is worried.

      So, Indian people came to Sinhala???

      What a joke man, Indian people came to Sinhala – north

      So the Sinhalese welcomed them, gave all their Sinhalese lands to them and then simply packed up all their bags and went to the South???

      Then why are they trying to grab all those lands back from those Indians???

      If you have atleast a little pea brains to think, make use of it instead of making yourself a laughing stock in a public forum.

  • 0
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    In the wake of Sri Lankan government not implementing the Political Devolution to SL Tamils, not only the foreign countries such as US, UK, etc are interfering in our internal affairs but once again there is a growing support for a separate Tamil state (Eelam) among Indian Politicians, especially in Tamil Nadu. The Anti-Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) and Anti-Indian (congress) speeches made by Seeman and other Tamil Nadu politicians are not only extremely racist and ultra-Tamil nationalist but very dangerous (a threat even to India) and it is gaining momentum day by day. Now, the call for a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka by the Indians seems to be spreading once again to Sri Lanka. We know that the Tamil Diaspora never changed their stripes but the TNA which was ready to settle for a devolution such as the full implementation of the 13th amendment and a little beyond (13+) are now totally fed up with the Government’s inability to implement even what is already in the constitution. The speech of TNA leader Sampanthan shows that the Sri Lankan Tamils have lost their patience. Unlike the armed struggle (militancy-cum-terrorism) the repetition of non-violent campaigns with Direct Action will have full International support and sometimes direct interference. Once again are we heading back to square one (repetition of the past)?

    Unfortunately this internal issue was globalized/internationalized after the 83’ riots and the flow of Tamil refugees to India and the West. It is not an internal domestic SL issue anymore. Now we have to deal not only with India but also America and the Western powers. We have already seen our External Affairs Minister Hon. Prof. G. L. Peiris going to America with so many pages of plans.

    The only way to keep the foreign countries (International community) away and to shut the mouths of the Tamil Nadu politicians and keep India at a distance is to bring back the TNA to the table and implement the 13th amendment in full and show the world that the Government is committed in solving the ethnic issue. Further delay by the government in coming up with a Political Devolution may have adverse consequences.

    • 0
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      Well said Lakmal Herath, by distancing the TNA the govt. is inviting India and US to interfere in our internal affairs. The more and more we try to isolate the TNA, there is much more chances of the foreginers getting involved.

  • 0
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    i am unable to understand what the writer wants to convey.india and particularlyl tamil nadu will be concerned about the plight of tamils in srilanka.their legitimate demand of merger of north and east has not only been supported by india but also by other western countries.srilankan government has to be serious about 13th amendment it cant procastinate by referring the problem to psc or some other committee.when rajapakshe has absolute power why is he hesitating to implement 13th amendment more than that whenever indian leaders come and discuss about 13th amendment he issues statements denying that 13th amendment was ever discussed.this sort of cheap politics can be played only by rajapakshe not even willy jayawardane did so.i do hope that sinhalese realise that they cant keep on ignoring legitimate demands of tamils.

  • 0
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    menon or India to loose patience is Sri Lanka their property??? If so, come and get it.
    Those Sri lankans watching are those who will sell anybody including their kith & kin for gains.

    If the Majority in Sri Lanka are Indian origin, then India has to give into their request.
    SL is already in Indian hands but its One Country but TWO Systems.
    We Sri Lankans are not digging our graves just because Americans fancy.

    It is not political devolution as such but the West is pondering how get their CLAWS on Sri Lanka soil firmly. India is the answer but they have enough problems on their plate and finding difficult to devour leave alone the digestion.
    INDIA IS CURRENTLY SUFFERING FROM AN INDIGESTION.

    No ammendments, its a case of live and let live policy. Take it or leave it Sampanthan as your Tamils in Sri Lanka are okay with it.

  • 0
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    Velu/Ranjan?Lankan:

    If you decide the route of migration that way, according to the accepted science, we all are Africans. Because, we every one began from Africa.

    We Sinhala people never deny or denied that we had lot of influence fom India. Other than that,there is no where in India that Sinhala is spoken.

    On the other hand, so-called Sri Lankan Tamils have nothing unique to call them that they are a different unique Tamil group. Every thing that so-called “sri Lankan Tamils” have is South Indian.

    India is trying to be the regional policeman but India can not do that and, Instead, India has become a regional bully or a thug.

    The best that India can do is look after india itself from terrorists made inside the country, get rid indian violence against their own and give up the past and live in the present.

    • 0
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      First of all, learn some basic history about Sri Lanka when you come to these kind of forums. Writing like a complete ignorant will only make you look a damn fool. The Sinhala people, Buddhism, Indo Ariyan language (sinhala), culture, civilisation, technology,etc were all from India. Do not look at the past history in today’s context. Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language (from Pali/Sanskrit). Today Sinhapura, Sinhala, etc are not there in India but that does not mean that it did not exist in the past.

      We may all be from Africa but what we all know from our SL history books is that the Sinhalese came from India. When the Sinhalese themselves are immigrants from India you saying Tamils came from India sounds like a stupid joke.

    • 0
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      “On the other hand, so-called Sri Lankan Tamils have nothing unique to call them that they are a different unique Tamil group. Every thing that so-called “sri Lankan Tamils” have is South Indian.”

      The above is absolutely hilarious. Due to total ignorance, most of the Sinhalese like jimsofty repeat this like a parrot as if they are experts/scholars on Tamils. What do you know about SL Tamil? or any Tamils for that matter. What do you know about their similarities and differences? So far no body has done any research, analysis or comparison on the similarities and differences in the Indian and Sri Lankan languages (either Tamil or any other). Can you quote any book or Tamil writings that talk about the similarities and differences of Tamils of India and Sri Lanka? At least, have you discussed with a group of Tamil scholars to find out how they are similar or different?

      On the other hand, the Tamils have occupied and live in both South India and North Sri Lanka separated only by a narrow sea. The Tamils are Tamils and why should they be different? There are nearly 25 Arab countries in the mid-east region and they all speak Arabic language. Of course the Sri Lankan Tamils have several things very unique, Prabakaran was unique, LTTE was unique.

      Is it mandatory that that the Sri Lankan Tamils should have everything different and unique from the Indian Tamils to call them Sri Lankan Tamils? Whose stupid theory is this? When they are so close to each other why should they go for something different?

      All your comments are utter stupid, no sense at all. I hope at least you will learn something in the future.

      • 0
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        Kumar says:

        “I hope at least you will learn something in the future.”

        No chance, Tamils and Sinhalese are inherently stupid.

        You say:

        “What do you know about SL Tamil?”.

        I know that Tamils and Sinhalese came to my ancestral land by Kallathonies.

  • 0
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    Lankan

    If Tamils and Sinhalese cannot agree on their past then their future arrangements how to live in my ancestral land become a major question.

    My solution is that both people should be sent back to their respective homeland in India, let them continue the madness, fight it out, reach an agreement then come back and live amicably in my ancestral island.

    I am not hopeful.

  • 0
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    I am serious when I say that this and other websites should seriously consider NOT publishing material from the likes of Malinda Seneviratne who are simply propagandists for the government and do not produce anything resembling responsible or object material.

    Seneviratne is the Editor in Chief or something of a newspaper OWNED by the Rajapaksa family and to give him free space for his slimy takes on subjects when he will NEVER afford space to someone holding views opposed to his is beyond belief.

    I really would appreciate a response from those moderating this website, indicating their policy on providing space for those who are EMPLOYED by the government in their print-propaganda organs.

    • 0
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      Anti-Boru

      I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. –Voltaire

  • 0
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    CT….i think you should respond to ‘Anti-Boru’, whoever he/she may be! :)

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