India’s perceived responsibility to protect Sri Lanka

The statement released by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs on the recent meeting of Sri Lanka and India in New Delhi unfortunately re-establishes the fact that India persists with its one dimensional and unethical policy platform on Sri Lanka in spite of the shattered, short sighted, destructively emotional legacy of many Indian prescriptive initiatives.

India being a major player in Asia and the giant neighbour of sovereign Sri Lanka, geo politically is expected to play an active role and also use its strong influence on SL-India relationship based on mutually accepted principles. However, India should stand and weigh the pros and cons of her perceived priorities even at this stage as many of India’s prescriptions have been lethal to Sri Lankans. If the Indian Foreign Policy formulators are humble enough to re-visit their unenviable prescriptions including the ones thrust upon Sri Lanka without giving any considerations to democratic institutions including the Parliament of Sri Lanka, India should be able to have a more balanced approach and also to have a good, strong and stable friend at her Southern tip.

Similar to the proverbial white man’s burden in guiding the destiny of the coloured in the world, India illogically has taken upon herself the role of care taker of Sri Lankan Tamils who are an integral part of Sri Lankan populace. The services provided to Sri Lankan Tamils by the Sri Lankan Government is no different to that provided to other ethnic groups such as the Sinhalese, the Muslims etc. Apart from the racist demands of the LTTE terrorists and some Tamil politicians in claiming an exclusive Eelam to fulfill their separatist dreams, the majority of Tamils have accepted that fact that their future depends on the peace and prosperity of the Sri Lankan nation. Hence, India should review its stand on post-War Sri Lanka emerging from the ruins of post-Vaddukodai Tamil politics.

When India urges Lanka to adopt ‘genuine (sic) reconciliation ‘investigate allegations of “human rights” violations, including early return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) to their respective homes, early withdrawal of emergency regulations, restoration of normalcy in affected areas and redress of humanitarian concerns of affected families one is compelled to go back to 70s and 80s when the Indian mediation was the most potent force in Sri Lankan politics. The Indian Minister Chidambaram articulated the Indian position by backing the TULF going against the political realities, history and demography insisting that Sri Lanka MUST take political as well as legal and administrative steps to meet the Tamil grievances.

 We are now in 2011 and history has proved beyond any doubt that India’s direct interference resulted in the near destruction of Sri Lanka and that the Indian solution took us into deeper trouble.

Recognizing the fact that India should act as a genuine friend without any malice, the current Sri Lankan situation provides an excellent opportunity to exchange constructive ideas and plans for strengthening of relationship and bringing stability to the region in keeping with SAARC principles.

The burden of providing space to all Sri Lankans including the Sri Lankan Tamils should be the sacred task of Sri Lankans who have faced immense vicissitudes arising from short sighted polices both internal as well as foreign.

Meantime, we consider it very important that Sri Lanka utilises the services of experienced learned specialists rather than depending on raw politicians to formulate her regional diplomatic relationships.

Ranjith Soysa
Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka( SPUR)

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