09 October 2011

India is cute!

India says that it doesn’t want to thrust policy down Sri Lanka’s throat. Instead, India tells the Government of Sri Lanka, ‘talk with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA); sort it out with them’.  ‘How very understanding and good neighborly of India!’ one might think.  Dig deeper and the bonhomie doesn’t really look inviting.
For years, the TNA was the mouthpiece of the LTTE and this is something that the likes of Sumanthiran are not comfortable to talk about.  For years, the LTTE was Delhi’s creature, armed, fed, funded and trained.  The LTTE was used by Rajiv Gandhi in his determined plan to ‘Bhutanize’ Sri Lanka.  The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) tasked with Bhutalization later found that Delhi’s terrorist baby had grown to be an incorrigible pest.  Spanking Prabhakaran was not as easy as was first believed.  Slaps were exchanged. The Bhutanists packed bags and went home.  Bhutanism did not die, of course. Prabhakaran did.  India helped, but not in a ‘friendly way’ but in a pound-of-flesh manner. 
Today, Delhi feels fit to conduct tuition classes to Sri Lanka.  Not all students listen and learn. Not all charges end up being pawns or teachers’ pets.  Some, like the TNA, have no choice perhaps, but what is clear is that the TNA is taking orders directly from Delhi.  Perhaps there’s a mouthpiece-need that has grown into party psyche and this is why the end of the LTTE left R. Sampanthan and his pals looking for another ‘big brother’.  Delhi, still in Bhutanization Mode, could not have been happier.  So when Delhi says ‘talk to the TNA’, Manmohan Singh is essentially saying ‘do as we say’. 
It is against this context that one has to assess the analysis offered by Dayan Jayatilleka in the Daily Mirror of September 29, 2011 (‘Defending and protecting Sri Lanka’).  For him India is ‘the single critical or crucial variable for Sri Lanka’.  Critical and crucial, yes.  ‘Single’, I am not sure.  We can always do with friendship and support, especially from our neighbours.  Dayan claims that this is what India has been, ‘friend’ and ‘supporter’, especially in international forums.  He adds that India’s friendship is important but not sufficient, that Sri Lanka also needs Russia and China.  Sri Lanka also needs others.  Then he turns it all around and says that other countries take their cue from India, reverting to the argument that it is India’s friendship that counts, nothing else. 
In an earlier piece, Dayan confessed that there’s a price to pay for such support as he claims Sri Lanka gets and could get from India.  He called it ‘concession’, implicitly admitting that the whole devolution-as-solution (to grievances that have nothing to do with territory, suffered by a community that is not territory-bound) is a sham but which has to be called ‘legitimate’ just to get ‘big brother’ to get ‘bigger brothers’ off our back.   Well, recent world history has shown that when big name thugs want to bully some nation, diplomatic niceties are unceremoniously deleted from the engagement equation.  It is not about truth, legitimacy, morality or righteousness. 
What Dayan is arguing for is pragmatism (albeit a pragmatism that is based solely on his assumptions, biases and preferred outcomes).  Put another way, it boils down to conceding ‘pound of flesh’.  What for though?  The legitimation of false claim and carving out an ‘ethnic territory’ from a swath of land that is not ethnically identifiable in terms of geography, history or demography!  We do that, it keeps Delhi happy and what do we have left in terms of dignity, territorial integrity and sovereignty apart from meaningless trappings?  That might be ‘ok’ for Dayan, but he cannot expect the people of this country to purchase such anti-intellectual and treacherous rubbish.   
Solid support from anyone is welcome; the only condition is a solid ‘something’ to the answer ‘what for?’  India can be pivotal in global machinations, no one disputes this.  Dayan lays out the challenges well:
‘We must certainly strive to countervail the mounting anti-Lankan opinion in Indian civil society and the media, militant opinion in Tamil Nadu and the lobbying of certain Western elements.’ It is in the ‘how’ of it that he errs.  He says, ‘We must secure Delhi’s support and swing Indian public and political opinion firmly over to Sri Lanka’s side. This cannot be done by purely verbal means but by policy reforms’.  So, we need to tailor policy reform to Delhi’s preference parameters?  Let’s suppose we did this.  What then is our status in the United Nations?  Client State of India?  India’s New Bhutan?  Would all our diplomats thereafter take a cue from Dayan and take policy directives from the Indian missions in countries they are posted in? 

A UN-based ‘top official of Sri Lanka’s firmest, most powerful international friend’ (according to Dayan) had told him ‘short of capitulating on or compromising its vital security interests, Sri Lanka must do what it takes to help its friends to help it’.  That’s a cute way of saying ‘do what Delhi says and Delhi will help you’. 
India is not ready for friendship.  It was and is ready for Bhutanization; if they can get it with guns, they would (tried, could not), if they can get it through their Sri Lankan pawns (TNA) they would, if they can use threat to get it they would and rest assured they would use any and every means at their disposal to obtain preferred outcome, including longtime agents adept at frilling submission as Utopia. 

If friendship has to be meaningful, ‘machination’ should be thrown out of the window.  If not, Dayan and others should stop using the word ‘friend’ to refer to pound-of-flesh associates.  That’s trade and not friendship.  Friendship is about honesty.  If India really wants to help Sri Lanka, that’s fine.  Friendship requires Sri Lanka to say it as it is.  Friendship requires India to point out flaw in conceptualization and/or inadequacies in information laid out.  Friendship requires decent, respectful exchange of views and is not about tuition teachers talking down to students.

Friendship aside, national dignity and sovereignty demands that Sri Lanka states its case and ‘case’ here must include relevant information about ‘grievances’ including how they have been inflated or constructed, the truth about demography, relevant archaeological evidence and historical account.  If Delhi’s ‘friendship’ is to depend on a summary tossing out of all this, then the relationship cannot be called ‘friendship’.  If the best we can do is to refuse to get bogged down in misnomers, then that’s what we should do.  Call a space a spade.  Pound of flesh friends are not friends.  They are bullies.  Dayan, perhaps, is not able to call a bully a bully given he is a diplomat, but then again he was not always one.  There is only one consistent in the man’s long history of political maneuvering: abject slavery to Delhi’s whims and fancies.  Tells.

Delhi is cute.  Dayan is cute too.  Makes a good pair. 


Reactions:

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stating so plainly what must be stated. As much as I respect and am grateful for Dayan's contribution in Geneva, he is wrong about India. It is Sri Lanka's unfortunate fate to have India as its big brother neighbor. We cannot change our geographic destiny. And, we should not act rashly like JR did, but we should not be servile in our relations with India. Let's start by calling spade a spade. Nicely.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stating so plainly what must be stated. As much as I respect and am grateful for Dayan's contribution in Geneva, he is wrong about India. It is Sri Lanka's unfortunate fate to have India as its big brother neighbor. We cannot change our geographic destiny. And, we should not act rashly like JR did, but we should not be servile in our relations with India. Let's start by calling spade a spade. Nicely.

profile said...

I agree. Friendship and honesty are always cognitive. there is no way that it is separable.

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