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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Burning Lanka doesn't always work out well

By Swapan Dasgupta

Diplomacy, it has been said, essentially involves lying for your country. By that logic, there is likely to be widespread sympathy for the complete loss of face for India’s representative to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Just about a week ago, India’s envoy was busy engaging with the US and other countries on the draft of a resolution which, while paying token obeisance to Tamil victimhood, would not trigger a ferocious xenophobic reaction in the rest of Sri Lanka. The objective was laudable: to soften the blow on Colombo while accommodating some of India’s domestic concerns.

When he returned to Geneva for last Thursday’s crucial session, he was armed with a new brief: to impress upon the DMK and the global Tamil diaspora that India’s sympathies lay with those who have trying unceasingly to secure the partition of Sri Lanka.

It is fortunate that procedures prevented India from rehabilitating the LTTE before the international community. Yet, this cynical grandstanding, aimed exclusively at preventing Congress stalwarts from losing their Lok Sabha seats at the next election, made India a laughing stock in the region. The ire of Colombo will not be directed at the US which sponsored the resolution. Washington is too powerful and too remote for Sri Lanka to even attempt any meaningful retribution. The blow will fall on India which, ironically, was more than happy when the fanatical Tigers were militarily decimated in 2009. India’s economic and strategic interests in Sri Lanka will suffer and the beneficiary will be China. More to the point, India’s foreign policy will be perceived as wildly erratic and susceptible to sectional pressures, even of the disreputable variety.

It is mildly reassuring that this self-defeating misadventure in Geneva wasn’t accompanied by a resolution in Parliament pillorying Sri Lanka for “human rights abuses” and “genocide”. Mercifully there were enough MPs who prevented this needless bullying of a small country with which India has a deep civilizational relationship.

Nor are these links confined to the Jaffna Tamils and Tamil Nadu. The Sinhala people too look up to India as a pilgrimage centre for the land of the Buddha. And, to stretch the point further, the Sinhala people also trace their ancestry to Orissa and Bengal, the home of the legendary Vijaya who established the first Sinhala kingdom around 543 BC. Sri Lanka’s India connection is clearly not confined to Tamil Nadu.

And, if civilizational links determine diplomatic posturing, would the Government have dared contemplate a resolution attacking China for its assault on Tibetan identity? Why did Parliament contemptuously repudiate the Pakistan National Assembly’s gratuitous resolution on Afzal Guru? Consistency may be the virtue of small minds but wildly erratic conduct doesn’t behove a country that has pretensions of emerging as a global player.

There are times when it is politically rewarding to rise above sectional pressures and do what is in the larger national interest. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did precisely that in 2008 when he called the Left’s bluff over the Indo-US nuclear agreement. It was his resolute stand for a larger purpose that gained the UPA considerable goodwill and was a factor in its re-election in 2009.

That the UPA leadership chose to unsuccessfully placate the DMK which used the Sri Lankan Tamil issue as a ruse to sever an alliance that had otherwise become a liability is revealing. It suggests that there already weak central command structure of the Government has become almost non-existent. The Government gives the appearance of being a replica of the later-Moghul Empire where a nominal badshah in Delhi lacked authority and was buffeted by different regional pressures—a situation deftly exploited by the East India Company.  This incoherence has, quite predictably, affected India’s foreign policy—a field that is the sole responsibility of the Centre. Our think-tanks can pontificate endlessly over a foreign policy ‘doctrine’ and dissect the nuances and calibrations but the reality is cruel. India has lost its capacity to be a meaningful global player. Today, national security merely implies a game of transfers and postings.

Elections may be a year away but more than ever India needs a government with a mandate. And, if possible, a Prime Minister with clout.

Sunday Times of India, March 23, 2013


Anonymous said...

" India has lost its capacity to be a meaningful global player" because India instead of commanding respect demands it.

There is a proverb in Tamil which says you cannot expect a congenitally blind person to come up with a ROYAL GLARE.

Congress party has never understood federalism , probity , ethics , crime & punishment , Statesmanship above all Sri.RAM Himself.

We the people are to be blamed for looking up to them awestruck still.

For the first time only Sri.Narendra Modi has made the sceptical West to take a fresh look at resurgent India. Why only West Hindus like me had almost written off India.Vajpayee & Advani never impressed me.

Between China & India any country in this world would prefer CHINA as India fails miserably in several areas including committment & efficiency.

Instead of twirling its moustache belligerently a prudent India should focus on building cordial relations with China.

Anonymous said...

There is only one Indian who is very shrewd & a tad too smart.

Art of living SSSSRavishankar.

Not only does he preside over huge finances as NGO but also wields immense clout.Like the rest eats very very little.Smiles a lot. But off camera has a different visage. Has different soundbytes for different religions worldwide marketing his brand of secoolarism / hindooism whatever. Has done nothing at all to prevent any crisis. Once all the bloodshed & violence get unleashed followed by a numbing lull , SSSSRavishankar makes his grand appearance selling his hyperventilation as the only solution.

Indian idiots have never been able to see through this crafty charade.All are not Sathyajit Rays to come up with a brilliant 'Maha Purush'.

It is only an AMERICAN a normal AMERICAN who pointed out this trait among various other dubious ones in this SSSRavishankar.

He waited for Ramdev Baba & Anna Hazare to do all loud talking & baton blows. S..s...l..o..w..l.y crept in with not a crease in his shimmering white robes telling others " is my idea that has been stolen by Ramdev Baba & Anna Hazares".

A genuine Hindu Monk told me once in India charlatans cannot survive without political patronage. SSSRavishankar is smarter than the rest as he is close to all including Congress & BJP. A fence sitter.

He visited Sri Lanka after the wars distributing kumkum & holy ash along with his kriyas.

AFTER US Navy Seals were all incinerated by bomb blast in Afghanistan SSSRavishankar travelled to Afghanistan & Pakistan telling his "kriyas alone would turn them all give up violence".

Did the same with Iraqis.

When World Trading Center came down on 9/11 the same SSSRavishankar said :-

" While flying up in the air I somehow forgot to bless this WTC. Hence they came down.I could have easily prevented it."

Yet many Indians with qualifications like IIT, IIM, blah blah genuflect before him.

Anonymous said...


In this whole game which has just started, Pakistan will play both sides and perhaps emerge as the winner. It will fan Tamil nationalism in Tamil Nadu against "North" India for not coming down heavily against the SL govt, while at the same time establishing deeper relations with the SL govt. SL govt obviously would not be at a fault, considering both China and Pakistan have repeatedly stood by it at the time of need. India in the meanwhile will keep debating, complaining and whining.


Anonymous said...

Mr Swapan, You have conveniently stopped referring to specific photographic / video evidences which Channel 4 has exposed. It is not a Tamil channel.
It is strange that you do not find any fault with Rajapakse government, rather you would like to show your lineage to Singala community, unfortunately at the wrong time.
I happen to listen to your TV debate where you have expressed the same non-sense..Bengali..singala links etc. Only people without any sense empathy will say what you said during the interview.

Shaan said...

The fact is the blood links between Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils is more deeper than the links between Sinhalese and Oriya people. Genetic studies have established this. And modern Sinhalese as well as Tamils both trace their ancestry back to Tamilnadu also as the banished Prince Vijaya and his men married women from the Pandyan kingdom (as per the Mahavamsa) after they arrived in Lanka.

The present conflict is not one of origin. It is a conflict between cultures which originally started as a conflict between religions (Buddhism vs Hinduism). This conflict has its origins in Tamilnadu where the conflict between Buddhism and Saiva Hindusim was at its peak. Most Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus belong to the Saiva sect. The Buddhist Sinhalese viewed both Hindu Tamils and Christian Tamils as enemies (the Muslim Tamils kept themselves aloof). Monks joining the army is a common sight in Sri Lanka.

Tamils of Tamilnadu support the Sri Lankan Tamils not because of origin (Tamils of Tamilnadu origin are called as Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka) but because of language and culture.

I believe you have chosen to raise the wrong issue at the wrong time. The fact is approximately 30,000 to 50, 000 Tamil civilians were killed in the recent war. They died because the Sri Lankan army indiscriminately bombed and shelled the UN (and Sri Lankan govt) notified no-fire zone. The LTTE was also responsible as they did not surrender taking into consideration the huge number of people dying. But all the leaders of LTTE are dead now. Who will take action against the Sri Lankan army men and their political leaders who directed this massacre? The feeling in Tamilnadu is very much similar to what Bengalis felt when Bengalis were massacred in East Pakistan. India intervened in E.Pakistan as Pakistan was an enemy nation. Now the family in power considers all Sri Lankan Tamils as enemies, so they support the Sri Lankan govt which directed this massacre and continues to suppress the Tamils.

Anonymous said...

" ..., You have conveniently stopped referring to specific photographic / video evidences which Channel 4 has exposed. It is not a Tamil channel.
It is strange that you do not find any fault with Rajapakse government, rather you would like to show your lineage to Singala community, unfortunately at the wrong time.
I happen to listen to your TV debate where you have expressed the same non-sense..Bengali..singala links etc. Only people without any sense empathy will say what you said during the interview".

ABSOLUTELY in concurrence with Anonymous's comments above.

I have noticed all people of this world are clannish. During 1971 India OUGHT to have remained neutral as Pakistan had already become another nation along with this bangladesh.Indira Gandhi family is out & out muslimised & CORRUPT , power hungry. Bengalis of West Bengal full of COMMUNIST TERRORISTS joined hands with mujibur rehman just because he spoke fiery bengali.

I fully support Richard Nixon & Henry Kissinger who requested the wily devil indira gandhi with two different husbands for rajiv & sanjay to NOT interfere.

I have ALWAYS had the HIGHEST REGARD, GRATITUDE & AFFECTION for the unseen Tamilians of SriLanka for the priceless VALUABLE THIRUPPUGAZH HYMNS & various such divine TAMIL compositions & rich thought provoking , enriching ennobling secular Tamil songs of Kannadasan etc etc in COMMUNIST ATHEISTS populated GODDAMNED west bengal.

This is MY INVIOLABLE FREEDOM of thought.

DMK , congress , dk & apathetic hindi speaking people & bengalis have ALWAYS treated us tamilians with CONTEMPT. Ridiculing our curd rice , tamarind based cuisine & language. Add to that anti brahmin persecution.

COMMUNIST TERRORIST jyoti basu was shrewd enough to have only tambrams as his chief secretaries though. Why could he not resurrect ghosts of stalin , lenin , khruschev , ho chi minh blah blah to advise him???

Anonymous said...

Gorement of india with its expertise on collision politics has NEVER cared at all for Tamilians of SriLanka.

Tamilians of Tamil Nadu NEVER commanded my regard and love AT ALL.
They have always been sex crazy , besotted with tawdry movies , gluttony & dmk's atheism , rationalism , free railway passes , free houses owning with loans from banks & burping contentedly stroking their bellies & scratching their armpits.Cricket worshippers.And evangelizing frenziedly.

Exceptions prove the rule.

India as advised by Pataudi & various such apathetic faux samaritans sent shipload of aid , food & medicines to CUBA of Fidel Castro:-(( Who the same indira gandi clad in an apple green saree HUGGED & HUGGED.

Brutally INSENSITIVE india along with INSENSITIVE KNAVISH p.chidambaram escorted this TYRANT rajapakshe to Tirupathi Temple also.

Why should I care at all for such heartless scum of india ? And their deaths in bomb blasts , accidents , boat capsizings , food poisonings , RAPES ????