Mr.Raman, I read your interview to a Russian Journal on India’s Moment of Truth. I read it once. Then when I started writing an article about the International Community and the threat it poses to Sri Lanka in its development in to a modern State. I thought of reading it again and reflected on it.
Undoubtedly Sri Lanka has to go some way further to compare itself to India. But Sri Lanka though it depends on an agro economy, it has the potential to develop into a diversified economy if it could attain self sufficiency in its food, which drains much of the country’s assets. Sri Lanka with the population it has compared to India has a rich stock of human resources.
The Sri Lankans as a whole have the capacity to acquire technical skills, and there is still unexplored material resources which could be harnessed under a correct leadership to forge into advanced technology, which would be of enormous advantage to a small country like Sri Lanka.
Now more than ever before, Sri Lanka has the correct leadership in President Mahinda Rajapakse. The capabilities of the Commander of the Army Sarath Fonska, the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse have no doubt provided the essential victory over terrorism giving Sri Lanka the much needed peace, and the ability to divert savings on military expenses to open doors to diversify its economy. They have cleared the space necessary to enable Sri Lanka to develop into a modern State.
While tea, rubber and paddy are mostly in the South, paddy, and many agricultural products come from the North, and East as well. Tourism is a hitherto unexploited area to be developed in the North and East. Sri Lanka has still to explore the export of canned fish, making improvements to the fishing industry. There is a large foreign market for exotic fruits, and fruit juices. Therefore opening large scale plantations of fruits of all sorts would add to its export industry.
As you have correctly pointed out the Government of Sri Lanka under its President Mahinda Rajapakse has pursued “ an aggressive” foreign policy, going into areas that had been hitherto left out. Pakistan and China had always been good friends of Sri Lanka. Russia too had always stood by Sri Lanka. Iran, the Middle East and the former states of the USSR are new States with which Sri Lanka has opened diplomatic relations.
India has not contributed much to Sri Lank as a neighbouring state. It had rather an ambivalent relationship with Sri Lanka. India is a “pretentious” political partner which prefers to take side with the West rather than pally with the “poor next door neighbours “. India has adopted a cold standoffish attitude towards Pakistan, rather than one of being friendly and accommodating. I never understood why after the Mumbai terrorist attack India thought it fit to accuse Pakistan, even before the heat had died off.
The Present Sri Lanka Political leadership is friendly and cordial toward foreign states. Sri Lanka is more firm in its relationship with Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran and even with India. China, Pakistan, and Iran are more dependable friendly States of Sri Lanka. That may be one of the reasons why the International Community at the present crucial time is attempting to divide Sri Lanka.
India’s aid to Sri Lanka is half hearted, not dependable. It has already problem with its different States and more with Tamil Nadu. Therefore, India does not speak with one voice. Though India is seeking leadership in Asia, its weakness is evident. It has no firm authority, over its different States, being dictated to by one state or another, and lives in fear of a breakaway of States. That is the fault of its Federal Constitution.
Sri Lanka has a tradition of being friendly with India. It has also a cultural and a religious affinity with India. The tradition of friendship between the two countries strengthened in modern times with Shri Jawaharlal Nehru becoming the Prime Minister of India, while Mr. S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.
To what extent that cordial relationship exists today is doubtful. An inherent quality of Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse is his sincerity, and being faithful to his friends. His father too was a man of the people loved dearly by the people of the south. The Rajapakse family has inherited that inane human quality.
The President Mahinda Rajapakse’s determination to crush the LTTE is not for his dislike for Tamils. He is not basically a racist. He is humane, kind and open. He was ready to find a “terrain d’entente” with Prabhakaran, but Prabhakaran is not a man for dialogue. He is secretive, and is not ready to establish contact with any one beyond his immediate contacts, suffering undoubtedly from a chronic inferiority complex.
Even to you who has followed the terrorism in Sri Lanka it should be evident that terrorism has to end, for Sri Lanka to progress in all fields of development. Terrorism of Prabhakaran had come to a situation that it had to be a fight to the last where one should perish- “ a combat a mort.”
Though he is a clever war strategist, he has no political philosophy other than a call for an Eelam State for Tamils. He has not prepared a political cadre to take over the leadership after him. Prabhakaran was an idealist without a political platform . He was able to raise the racial sentimentality of the Tamil diaspora and the Tamils of the Tamil Nadu, but had no political vision. He was far too long in the business of “killing” to transfer his fanatism to a meaningful political end.
The President Mahinda Rajpakse has a profound political philosophy. It cannot be compared to the dream of a ruthless terrorist. It is wrong even to compare one with the other.
It was not after 2006 that the President Mahinda Rajapakse knew that he cannot depend on India. India had a different agenda. You know it Mr. Raman, the terrorists were taken charge of by the Indian intelligence Agency and trained as guerrillas in secret camps in Tamil Nadu. India had been plotting to divide Sri Lanka. IPKF came after the India began dropping” parippu” when the terrorists were on the verge of being eliminated by the Government Forces.
When thousands of soldiers of the Government forces were besieged in Jaffna, without transport to take them to safety, India refused to come to the help of the Sri Lanka Army. It was Pakistan, who came to the rescue.
As recently as in June,2006 the Indian Government not only refused to sell defensive military equipment to Sri Lanka, but also asked not to buy them from China or Pakistan. Therefore, how can Sri Lanka rely on India as a friendly nation to com to its assistance when it is in need. Pakistan had always stood by Sri Lanka when ever it was in need of help.
You cannot therefore say, “Thus, the strategic space for India in Sri Lanka is slowly getting reduced due to the increasing presence of not only China, Pakistan and Iran, but also the US”
Because India had distanced itself long time ago, leaving other political players to take the space left behind it.
You had not discussed these matters at the interview you had with the Russian Journalist.
Even since Dr. Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister in 2004, the Indian foreign policy has not changed much. India is now a leader state and its concerns seem to be less with its immediate neighbours, and more with the rich nations of the International Community.
I cannot understand why Mr.Raman says that, “ As a result of the victories of the Sri Lankan Army, there has been an increase in Sinhalese pride and chauvinism”. The chauvinism apart there is certainly a pride that the victories had been won by the sweat, blood, and lives of the Sinhala youth, and marvellous discipline of the army inculcated into it by the Commanders, ,and the political leadership. But beyond that it is a victory won for the country for all its people the Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and others to live in peace, and have the opportunity to develop the country.
When Tamil Nadu drove the central government into tantrums on the Sri Lanka issue, it was like a “cat on a hot tin roof”, not knowing what to do and where to run. The Federal Constitution of India is certainly a dangerous instrument when the States decide to challenge the authority of the Central Government.
It is certainly not the model constitution for Sri Lanka. There is no Sinhala extremism but there is the Sinhala common sense which would not accept a Federal Constitution on the Indian model.
I think it is also wrong to conclude that, “ Of all the Tamil organisations in Sri Lanka, the LTTE was the most motivated. Many of its young cadres, who fought ferociously against the SL Army, joined it long after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991”.
The LTTE you speak of was a killing machine, its determination was the “determination of Prabhakaran”. It was the fear that made its cadres fight ferociously. They had no clear political vision, and their cause was the cause of the “thalaivar” the leader.
Perhaps you regret not the LTTE leadership or the cadre “who had no role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi” but its potential and usefulness to India in future as a political strategic asset.
As much as you think first of the advantages that India could draw from the Sri Lankan situation, we think of finishing off with terrorism to divert attention for other projects vital for the development of Sri Lanka. Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse did not depend , as you say on Indian support (which was not forth coming) and ambivalence to destroy the capability of the LTTE for terrorism.
The Sri Lanka President provided wise leadership to his government and the armed forces and had the determination to pursue his object to the end. That was the reason for the victory over terrorism.
Any activity which is morally wrong, however it is carried out, has to end in failure. That , Mr.Raman, is a universal truth.