Last Updated : 02-09-2014 03:14

 
 

Growing Hostility In Sri Lanka: India’s New Challenge

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By: Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray
 
There is ample evidence that New Delhi’s ambitions of becoming a global power has met with fresh challenges in its neighbourhood. In recent times, Sri Lanka has radiated unnerving resentment at India’s attempts to secure the rights of the Tamil civilian population, victims of the Eelam war that vanquished the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
 
At one level, New Delhi is building pressure on Colombo not to take the bilateral relations for granted. National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon reportedly conveyed this during his June 29 trip to the country. Apart from being an influential neighbour, India is also the member of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) troika, which is scheduled to take up Colombo’s human rights compliance record in November. So Colombo is obligated not to displease New Delhi, which has already voted against it in the UNHRC in March 2012.


 
At the other level, India’s pressure diplomacy is on a weak footing. For the Mahinda Rajpaksa government, victory in the Eelam war that ended three years ago remains its only achievement. Even as the economic condition of the country has worsened and governance capacities weakened, official effort at projecting the President as a saviour has continued.Apparently, such a project runs counter to India’s push for the implementation of the 13th Amendment and the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and elections for the provincial councils. Not surprisingly, the Rajapaksa government has not moved beyond its ‘commitment’ to the above demands. 
 
Add to this, India’s own aid programmes in the past two years in Sri Lanka— $50 million under lines of credit and another $350 million under grants-in-aid — has not impressed the Tamils as well. They allege that whereas Colombo has vigorously pursued a programme of land grabbing and settling Sinhala civilians and the army in what used to be Tamil territories, the Indian projects such as building houses for displaced Tamils have progressed lethargically.

New Delhi has obvious reasons to worry. There has not been an opinion poll reflecting India’s image in Sri Lanka. But the reaction one gathers from the letters written to the editors of different newspapers and websites, the image isn’t much different from what the people of Pakistan think of the Americans—both among the Sinhalese and the Tamils.In Sri Lanka, India’s problem is unique in terms of finding an effective vehicle for implementation of its projects for the Tamils. While the ruling regime’s negative approach to the reconciliation and rehabilitation process is quite clear, the mainstream opposition too does not provide an alternative. Take the case of former army chief Sarath Fonseka. After being released from prison, he has assumed the role of an opposition figurehead and has called for an Arab Spring in Sri Lanka. Fonseka’s denial of human rights violations during the Eelam war is more virulent than the Rajpakasa regime. He, in fact, accuses the government of not having forcefully conveyed this to the international community.Within days of Menon’s return from Colombo, President Rajapaksa gathered the Sri Lankan diplomats to a workshop. Referring to the “changing functions of diplomacy” in view of the campaign by pro-LTTE diaspora in the West, the President called upon the diplomats to have a “readiness, willingness and capability” to “persuade others about the needs of Sri Lanka”. The message of “no change” Colombo is trying to deliver to the world is obvious.For New Delhi, there can be no alternative to a policy of sustained engagement with the Rajapaksa regime. Appointment of a special envoy to Sri Lanka is not a bad idea for the Prime Minister’s Office to consider.Courtesy The New Indian Express (Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray is an independent analyst based in Singapore and has previously been Deputy Director, India’s National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).) 
 

 
 

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Comments 

 
-10+19 # Rukshitha 2012-07-20 01:19
Leave our country and mind your own business, India. We`d rather support Pakistan than you tongue twisted enemies in friendly disguise...
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-1+2 # Banda 2012-07-22 10:37
A country faced with worse problems than us( gender based abortion, extreme poverty, caste based discrimination) trying to point it's finger at us. I say don't forget Rajive Gandhi !!!! Oh, by the way the Kashmiri baorder problem should not be forgotten too.I could list Muslim- Hindu riots and many more but India is having selective memory.
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-7+14 # Mr. B Wijeyasingha 2012-07-20 01:42
Since the war ended a new challenge has emerged. This time it is the state of Tamil Nadu verses Sri Lanka. The leaders of Tamil Nadu played a crucial role in supporting the LITE during the war, and now are playing a role in resurrecting TESO with a determination of creating Eelam. Sri Lanka cannot go the way of Pakistan and have an India centric foreign policy. New Delhi pays more attention to Jayalalithaa than her relationship with Sri Lanka. It is time for both nations to part. Sri Lanka needs to bring China and Russia into her sphere. If China & Russia are allowed to dock some of their navy in Sri Lanka's ports including allowing China to place her missiles on lands claimed for Eelam this would make the issue of Eelam a Tamil verses China/Russia issue. Sri Lanka can get anything she wants from these Security Council members and wean herself from Tamil dominated India.
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-4+11 # Bde S 2012-07-20 08:47
The caption should have read the otherway about. There is no hostility to India in Sri Lanka but there is opposition to som issues like Tamil Nadu's Tamil racism and pursuit of separatism and Indians poaching regulary en-masse on Sr Lankas territoial sea almost at its door steps. They are these attitudes that Sri Lankans oppose.
The challenge is from India not the othe way, There is so much goodwill for India sp.among the Sinhalese -Buddhists which India has failed to tap as a result of pursuing racist Tamil politics of TN.
It is as simple as that. One should be surprised at the mildness -almost absence of potest - over Tamil Nadu's provocations. f
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-4+5 # PRAD 2012-07-20 08:51
Government of srilanka should act to the betterment of its all citizens and not to please big naghbours or international community, Any government or party or leader who ignores wishes of majority srilanakan and try to import solutions made in India or West will be defeated. India or West must realize that solution must be acceptable to majority in order to introduce it to minority. Otherwise it will certainly fail under democratic system. Indian pundits can preach from New Delhi, but ground realities in Colombo is different. Lets make it practical and viable, not hypothetical.
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-6+12 # Asoka 2012-07-20 12:28
Never ever trust India. Grassroot level, each and every Sri Lankan should rally round against India. All the Sri Lankans knows how Parsi exprime minister, Rajiv Gandhi and her mother acted against Sri Lanka. Every Sri Lankans knows due to double standard Rajiv Gandhi received world's best guard of honour from Sinhalese Sailor and finally he received last restpect from EXLTTE because of his double standard. He deserved this and very fortunate for this to Sri Lanka nation.
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-3+12 # B S Perera 2012-07-20 13:48
India has no genuine worry about Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Its worry is how to placate and pacify Tamil nadu
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-0+1 # Mario 2012-07-21 18:34
If Lankans don't care for fellow Lankans, don't except a stranger to care for us..
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-5+7 # Doug 2012-07-20 20:06
Don't trust india and don't against them. Be smart.
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-2+3 # NAK 2012-07-21 09:37
Its not only the tamils whose human rights were denied or abused, Sinhalese and the muslims also had to face it but the call of the west and now india holding hands with them in the same call is not humanely right. Justice must be for all in same measure or not at all, Partial justice is no justice. The reason the Sinahalese and the Tamils alike resent India is now both has realised that India's interventions in this country is only for their interests and not for anyone else.
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-5+2 # Mumtaz.J K 2012-07-21 11:45
Indian have infested each every country in this planet,until recent they could not do it to Sri Lanka.Their aim is to drain the money and resources,sprea d their culture and bread like mossies. Sri Lankans have to be vigilant. India clearly stated their main concern is SL Tamils not Singhalese. Better to hand over the Northern ports to US or China than letting those suckers.
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-4+3 # Raja 2012-07-21 13:45
History shows that the Northern, Eastern and Hill Country regions had mostly, if not entirely, sinhalese nativess and even the place names were all sinhalese until the sinhalese natives were displaced gradually by the divide and rule plan of the colonial powers and Tamil labourers brought from India were settled, who tamilised these place names prior to SriLanka gaining independence. To compound this land grabbing activity, Tamils from South India were allowed to freely come by boat, by the Colonial powers for over 3 to 400 years and in recent times by the LTTE. So who is grabbing land from whom. Tamils who have come in this manner have now settled down in many parts of the country and they are most welcome to live peacefully in SriLanka as one nation, just like they do in Canada, Australia, Norway etc
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