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Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Scapegoat for Political Games


By Swapan Dasgupta

Since issues and ‘causes’ are most often a fig leaf for other hard-nosed calculations, there is an understandable reluctance to take the formal pronouncements of political parties at their face value. This is particularly true of the Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu. Although the main Dravidian parties trace their political ancestry to the pre-Independence Justice Party and the anti-Brahmin social movement launched by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker, there is precious little in their present day actions to suggest that they are guided by lofty ideas. Having alternated control of the state government since 1967 and having become stakeholders at the Centre since 1996, Dravidian politics has conveyed an unmistakable impression of being guided by venality alone.

Given this backdrop, it is hard to completely discount the suggestion that the DMK’s dramatic withdrawal from the UPA last Tuesday morning—a move that has left the Congress completely at the mercy of two Uttar Pradesh-based parties who can barely tolerate the sight of each other—was guided by a touching concern for the plight of the Tamils of Sri Lanka. Had that indeed been the case, the DMK (which always had a soft corner for the separatist Eelam movement) would have exercised its clout to force India to join other Western countries in 2009 and press for a cease-fire across the Palk Straits. True, DMK chief M.Karunanidhi did go on a symbolic fast to highlight his concern over the military elimination of the dreaded LTTE. But it is an open secret that despite nominal appeals for restraint, New Delhi was not unhappy that the LTTE was roundly vanquished and its leader V.Prabhakaran eliminated.

Yes, there was some concern at the high civilian casualties during the final stages of the bitter civil war. At the same time, New Delhi, through its bitter experience of the IPKF misadventure, knew very well that LTTE showed scant respect for the Geneva Convention and other rules of military engagement. The use of civilians and particularly children as a human shield was a recurring feature of the LTTE’s military strategy. Indeed, the reason Prabhakaran’s last stand turned out to be such a bloody affair was precisely because the LTTE had gambled on the fear of collateral damage forcing the Sri Lankan army to stall. If Colombo refused to blink, it was due to a corresponding realisation that it was confronting one of the most brutal and fanatical armies ever raised. Those familiar with Ian Kershaw’s The End, a masterly study of the final five months of the war against Nazi Germany in 1945, will see parallels with what happened in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka four years ago.

Of course, the term ‘human rights’ hadn’t entered the vocabulary of international politics in 1945—a reason why the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Poland and erstwhile Czechoslovakia has been erased from Europe’s collective memory. In any case, the application of human rights to a regime that organised the Holocaust would have been laughable.

Likewise, the invocation of human rights to a dispensation that combined brutality with unwavering fanaticism and which controlled the Tamil areas through efficient intimidation seems as out of place today as it would have in Germany 1945. There has been a brutalisation of Sri Lanka ever since the civil war began in 1983. But the hardening of the Sri Lankan military—which used to be a ceremonial force—is in direct proportion to the blood-thirstiness of the LTTE. The efficacy and wisdom of Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka may occasion legitimate debate. But there can be no debate over the fact that the LTTE personified evil.  

The irony is that the pundits in New Delhi and the political class in Tamil Nadu are fully aware of the real face of the LTTE and even the danger it posed to India. It is relevant to recall the LTTE’s calculated, cold-blooded murder of Rajiv Gandhi during the election campaign of 1991. It is also pertinent to refresh public memory of the Congress Party’s dissociation from the United Front Government of I.K. Gujral in 1998 after the Jain Commission reported the cosy relationship between the DMK and LTTE. True, the imperatives of coalition politics may have forced the Congress to enter into an alliance with Karunanidhi’s party after 2004. But domestic expediency is no reason to forget the past entirely, particularly the unhappy chapters relating to the manner in which Prabhakaran did a Bhindranwale on a cynical regime.

There are a lot of forces and individuals who were responsible for Sri Lanka’s nightmare years. The Bandaranaike family cannot escape responsibility for triggering the process of ethnic polarisation in 1956; other Sinhala politicians cannot disown their roles in the marginalisation of moderate Tamil politicians; and even the Buddhist clergy had a role in stoking a regressive majoritarian outlook. But among those responsible was also India. Would the LTTE have emerged as a force had it not been for New Delhi’s covert support?

Finance Minister P.Chidambaram has sought to send a “resolute” message to Colombo. Perhaps President M. Rajapakshe could do with some softening. But will New Delhi show the same resolve in attacking China for its treatment of its Tibetan minorities? Is Colombo being targeted because it is a small player? Are the principles of ‘constructive engagement’ determined by the electoral calculations of Tamil Nadu? Let’s not make Sri Lanka a scapegoat for the political games we play at home. 

Asian Age, March 22, 2013

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cho Ramaswamy ALSO has been saying the same for many years.

DMK tainted by various scams saw one last opportunity by capitalizing on this Sri Lankan issue. Thank God BJP had the sense to say it was against such “country specific resolutions”.

No one is disputing Tamil civilians need to be taken care of. But LTTE also sacrificed a lot of Tamil civilians. After appearing to talk peace LTTE invariably struck back with unexpected violence & force.Many young children were FORCED to join the separatist movement. And there were fissures WITHIN Tamils of Sri Lanka.

Only when Cho Ramaswamy juxtaposed Kashmir & Pakistan’s meddling with this internal matter of Sri Lanka I understood better.

The sooner Congress & DMK go the better for us as Sethusamudram project also would be given a permanent burial.

Anonymous said...

Tamil Nadu politicians like DMK & many others periodically make the appropriate noises about "plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka".

One columnist asked the right question then in Cho's Thuglak.

Are people of Tamil Nadu not Tamils..why dmk & various others subject them to misery & various scams & then have the gall to shed crocodile tears about "plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka".

That columnist writing under the pseudonym 'Durvasar' is most politically incorrect & BOLD. Hence always faces a lot of unfavourable flak. But I like him very much as whatever he says is so true! On various topics right from Indians' besottment with charlatans , tawdry movies to contemporary marriages etc etc.

Right from the beginning he was totally unimpressed by the histrionics of Kejriwals & Anna Hazares.

Anonymous said...



Let me give another example.

Indian newspapers might do some cut & paste reports about “plight of Indian maids & Indians in Gulf countries”. At once Indians WITHIN India react without even bothering to collate all details by taking the convenient route of “blame it on ISLAM”.

Those unbiased Indians ( an endangered species) living WITHIN Arab countries & with no axe to grind know better.

Kollywood actresses uber rich were periodically visiting Gulf countries NOT by spending their money but the Indian expats calling themselves some women’s organization blah blah (there are lots & lots of such organizations with lots of infighting & ego hassles) bought their tickets. A couple of Indian maids allegedly undergoing lot of torture in X country would be “repatriated” with lots of photos of sweets eating by the two kollywood actresses. Quite famous celebs.

Indian women could boast endlessly to their friends in India about their proximity to the film stars by brandishing those photographs & claiming they were “doing useful social work”.

On further probing I found out those “repatriated maids” invariably came back to the same X country to work as maids. Indians seldom speak the unvarnished truth. It so happened one Indian Gentleman working in Indian Embassy was no worshipper of film stars. Without mincing words he said “those two actresses actually are BIG NUISANCE exacerbating a lot of problems further to Embassy Officials”.

Ravi K said...

Sir, I am really disappointed with your otherwise exceptional reporting and analysis.

You seem to confuse 2 separate issues, The first being that the LTTE was brutal and as you said

"LTTE showed scant respect for the Geneva Convention and other rules of military engagement. The use of civilians and particularly children as a human shield was a recurring feature of the LTTE’s military strategy."

The other is the treatment and abuses meted out by the Sri Lankan army to the Tamil population.

Your logic is that the LTTE's brutality cancels prematurely all claims of the tamil people with regards to human rights.

This logic is flawed and sets a dangerous precedent. Perhaps the same logic allows the US to justify its drone program in killing innocent civilians as after all the Taliban and Al Qaeda are brutal.

Your belief that "the application of human rights to a regime that organised the Holocaust would have been laughable." is unfortunate.

Human Rights recognition is not a strategy that is employed selectively, it should be the default requirement of armed conflicts by governments.

The Tamil people deserve their human right and justice independent of anything the LTTE has done.

Anonymous said...

Let me translate in English some valid points written in Tamil by an Indian Tamilian from Tamil Nadu.From the comments section in a popular newspaper.

It was LTTE that caused the deaths of a lot of tamil civilians than SriLankan Rajapakshe as alleged by all.

Apart from LTTE there were other Tamil groups which put forth their grievances & Rajiv Gandhi wanted to listen to them all & then work out an amicable solution by negotiating with SriLanka.

But LTTE was hell bent on carving out a separate State within SriLanka which no Indian including people of Tamil Nadu would ever approve of. The rest of the Tamilians were not asking for a separate Eezham. They were all eliminated by LTTE. Thus forfeited whatever sympathy it originally generated.

India as a nation has no right to fingerpoint at SriLanka. Why? Within India for decades Karnataka denies Kaveri waters & Kannadigas are notorious for their anti Tamil riots including arson & vandalism.

Keralites are very very clannish people & openly express their hatred towards people of Tamil Nadu. In many companies in Gulf countries it is Keralites who monopolize & the recruitment ads placed by them are empty charades. They ALWAYS bring in their own Keralites malayalis irrespective of their religious differences. This is VERY VERY TRUE. You will always find Keralite christians , muslims , hindus , atheists , agnostics , leftists sticking together burying all differences when outside India. Keralites monopolize professions like nursing , teaching , catering , secretarial jobs in addition to the rest. In all such respective posts they favour nepotism & backstabbing & treachery come very NATURALLY to them thwarting all opportunities for non Keralites.
Their churchian lobby is RUTHLESS & many tamil christians of Thirunelveli , Nagerkoil , Kanyakumari belt also join hands with them. In many labour camps they have already converted lots of blue collar Hindu workers to christianity. Christians belonging to Lebanon , Egypt , Europe etc etc DO NOT frown upon such evangelical chicanery. It suits their agenda.

WITHIN Tamil Nadu the same DMK , DK along with kollywood & many tamilians have launched VIRULENT attacks on all BRAHMINS systematically assaulting them physically cutting off their tufts , sacred threads & financially by INVADING THEIR HOLY TEMPLES. Looting all money collected inside Temples. Details are well known to all BRAHMINS.

DMK & DK were the cause of mass exodus of BRAHMINS from India to various other countries like USA, Middle Eastern countries etc etc.

When they are overtly pro churchianity & anti VEDIC they NEVER had any right to even step into any Hindu Temple. YET , Indian Establishment itself always abetted such unjust incursions & plundering since 1947 till date.

Anonymous said...

Indian history heavily & wantonly doctored NEVER talks about INQUISITION by Christians from Portugal & Spain.

Like idiots we Hindus still believe their propaganda on "christian compassion" & bollykolly movies ALWAYS have mandatory orphans adopted exclusively by christians alone & brought up sssso well with the same cloying "christian compassion".

So much so you find Goan christians living within & without India shouting at HINDUS along the following lines (sic) " ...you Hindus came to our country building your Temples when it belongs to us christians".

That is the reason I keep repeating only AHIMSAIC solution to this christian menace is to deport all these Indian christians of various states to UK , ITALY, Portugal, Spain, America etc outside India. There are too many churches in those countries to accommodate them. Lots & lots of Bibles to be thrust into their hands. Lots of money to give them free education , jobs & various creature comforts. Thus all of them can be UPLIFTED.

For us HINDUS OUR LAND & RESOURCES including water , flora & fauna and our HINDU TEMPLES remain free from their toxic influence. The burden of HINDUS gets lightened for effective governance.Once the numbers come down there would be no need for any corruption at all.

This way less aviation fuel gets burnt as evangelicals need not take to air travel. They can be free from STRESS & WORRRRRRYING as all the dispossessed & marginalised are within their own countries under their "compassionate" care.

No need for serving non vegetarian food calling it continental cuisine WITHIN India thus putting a decisive IRREVOCABLE end cow slaughter & various kinds of torture to animals & birds. We get a chance at last for the FIRST TIME to govern OUR BHARATH in accordance with OUR VEDIC DHARMA SASTHRAMS.

Anonymous said...

Indian history heavily & wantonly doctored NEVER talks about INQUISITION by Christians from Portugal & Spain.

Like idiots we Hindus still believe their propaganda on "christian compassion" & bollykolly movies ALWAYS have mandatory orphans adopted exclusively by christians alone & brought up sssso well with the same cloying "christian compassion".

So much so you find Goan christians living within & without India shouting at HINDUS along the following lines (sic) " ...you Hindus came to our country building your Temples when it belongs to us christians".

That is the reason I keep repeating only AHIMSAIC solution to this christian menace is to deport all these Indian christians of various states to UK , ITALY, Portugal, Spain, America etc outside India. There are too many churches in those countries to accommodate them. Lots & lots of Bibles to be thrust into their hands. Lots of money to give them free education , jobs & various creature comforts. Thus all of them can be UPLIFTED.

For us HINDUS OUR LAND & RESOURCES including water , flora & fauna and our HINDU TEMPLES remain free from their toxic influence. The burden of HINDUS gets lightened for effective governance.Once the numbers come down there would be no need for any corruption at all.

This way less aviation fuel gets burnt as evangelicals need not take to air travel. They can be free from STRESS & WORRRRRRYING as all the dispossessed & marginalised are within their own countries under their "compassionate" care.

No need for serving non vegetarian food calling it continental cuisine WITHIN India thus putting a decisive IRREVOCABLE end cow slaughter & various kinds of torture to animals & birds. We get a chance at last for the FIRST TIME to govern OUR BHARATH in accordance with OUR VEDIC DHARMA SASTHRAMS.