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Dilemma of South Asia: Is India a friend or foe? A Sri Lankan perspective
27 July 2012
All Asians are children of the Himalayas – children born around a civilization that encompasses the mighty rivers of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Shanghai, and Mekong, etc, all supplied by the mighty mountains. There are two daughters: one on the west, mother India, and one on the east, the middle kingdom China. Both these civilizations have had a great impact on their neighbours, but between them there was an ever-binding relationship with an ethos of harmony and intellectual intercourse for thousands of years.
The best gift India gave China was Buddhism, best exemplified by Okkakura Tensin who said, "It was the compassion of Buddhism that elevates a lowly animal to the level of a human being that made Confucius China accept Buddhism". It was that humanity that exuded out of India that made her neighbours call her mother India. A nation of the Gandhis, Tagores, that earned the respect of its neighbours who were guided by India in their social and spiritual upliftment. Sri Lankans be it Sinhalese or Tamil originate from India. The Sri Lankans have a special relationship which is historically based on Indian philosophy, immigration, and so on. Has India changed, is she a step-mother to her children, her neighbours, and her own impoverished citizens, is a discussion all south Asians should address.
Sri Lanka and India: Historic Relationship
To understand the historic relationship, the basic question one needs to understand is 'who is a Sinhalese?' Sinhalese who are 75% of the population probably originate from west Asia, but over the years gradually accepted immigrants from India with open arms and integrated them into the Sinhala nation. This is best explained by the erudite Sinhala Minister C.P. De Silva who told a Tamil communalist G.G. Ponnambalam, "A few generations ago my family was Tamil".
The Sinhala language originated from the early Indian language Prakrit, but 50% of the words are now Tamil. Sinhala businessmen start their day by going and praying in the Hindu temple. Buddha is the ninth reincarnation of Vishnu. In spite of all the jingoism, Sri Lanka reflects a society that is truly Indian with a mixture of genes that encompasses the whole of India and enjoys the philosophy of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The Sinhalese in that sense is truly Indian.
Indian Hegemony and Western Influence
The greatest achievement of colonialism is the slavery of the mind. The west believes in the philosophy "Might is Right". From the day Vasco de Gama invaded the spice market in Calicut, subjugation of Asia has been by violence, unfortunately using Asians to kill Asians. The Javanese were used to quell the Sri Lankan uprising of Uva Welessa where poor Sinhalese were killed in thousands including all boys over the age of 16 years.
The spirit remains the same today. Funded by foreigners, jingoism propagated by the international media, a moral zeitgeist of a war against terrorism created and perpetrated by the same people with an economic policy of creative destruction, rules Asia. Divide and rule was the policy of the colonialists, the division they created by favoritism is still used to destabilize. The sole aim is destabilization, subjugation and exploitation. India knowingly or unknowingly plays a big part in the aspirations of the west pertaining to south Asia.
India has been crowned by the Americans as the regional power, best epitomized by Hillary Clinton who said the interests of the Americans and Indians were the same. Regular consultations are carried out with the Indian leadership which has been Obama-ised.
When he was elected he said "yes we can". We thought this was morality, non-violence, but what he meant was 'I will do one better than George Bush'. Now, innocent children and women are killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by drone attacks daily, and not one word do you hear from this regional leader (India).
Is it servility or is it that with the Americans, India can dominate and exploit the south Asians. Where is the humanity that India propagated to the world, the non-violence, the humanity? Is this because India is now led by an Italian catholic? Is the policy of India no different from the West's "might is right".
Destabilization of Sri Lanka: Indian effort
1. Training and arming Tamils
2. Direct political pressure through Indian high commissioner Dixit
3. Threat of invasion
4. Violations of air space of Sri Lanka and the dhal drops
5. Saving Prabahakaran during Vedamarrachi offensive
6. Alleged participation of RAW in the massacre of innocent pilgrims in Anuradhapura
7. The interference daily of "viceroy" in the form Indian high commissioner
8. Forcible insertion of 13th amendment in Sri Lankan constitution
The lesson we learnt from a great Indian, the Buddha, was that violence begets violence. Was it logical for India to have instigated violence in her own backyard? Was it not logical that this violence and sectarianism would finally engulf India? Ironically, it did end up killing the son of the instigator of this violence, Indira Gandhi.
Is it god's justice for the killing of innocent fathers, mothers and children and the agony it has caused to many a family. Is this violence at the behest of agents of foreign countries who had infiltrated the establishment? Recent revelations by veteran diplomat R.K. Nehru in the Frontline magazine on India-China relations indicate that possibility. India today is hated and mistrusted by both Tamils and Sinhalese. Prabahakaran and the LTTE have killed more Indian soldiers than Pakistan, India's greatest enemy.
Destabilization agenda of the West
1. India was aware that both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army were being armed and trained at the same time in Israel, as per the revelations of an Israeli dissident. (In fairness, it is said that when Indira Gandhi learnt of this from Indian intelligence, she warned President Jayewardene and had him expel the Israeli advisers in Sri Lanka. Both leaders were subsequently assassinated in circumstances that have never been fully explained).
2. The Sri Lanka Diaspora was encouraged to propagate the myth of discrimination and human rights abuse of the Tamils.
3. India allegedly sided with Western attempts to save Prabhakaran and his senior fighters in the critical end moments of the war.
4. The Catholic Church and World Council of Churches were involved in the insurrection and gave leadership to the movement both in India and Sri Lanka.
5. Refuges were created who could easily be converted to Christianity with ill-gotten money from ponzy schemes.
6. War crimes allegations made against the Sri Lankan Army; UNHCR ably supported by India to bring pressure on Colombo to subjugate the country and pursue policies detrimental to its citizens.
7. During the 1980s, the West via CIA agents gave warnings to Sri Lankans about Indian intentions with a view to create more distrust between the two nations.
Propaganda, Myths and the International Media
Reading through the international media about the discrimination against the Tamils one gets the impression that Sri Lanka is an apartheid state. The truth is quite to the contrary, as reflected by a Tamil economic migrant who said he did not know what discrimination was until he came to Britain! The Tamils live in the south in peace and harmony. They economically benefited by migration after the 1983 riots and their investments have fueled a housing boom in the Tamil residential areas in the south.
Tamil today is a national language. In the wake of the Arab Spring and problems in Syria, one needs to reassess the 1983 riots. It will not be surprising if this whole sordid affair was instigated from abroad and the blame thrust on the Sinhalese Buddhists who had nothing to do with it. Not surprisingly, the international media was present at the spot, ready to transmit to the world the riots as they happened, a privilege they did not offer when 75000 Sinhalese youth were killed revolting against an unjust economy perpetrated on them by the IMF and World Bank, and protesting against Indian hegemony.
It is interesting that Jayalalithaa became more vociferous against Sri Lanka after her meeting with Hillary Clinton. The crime of Sri Lanka was that at one stage she was 27th in the league of Quality of Life with the lowest GDP: a veritable thorn in the side of Western neo-colonialism.
Today, the propaganda machine is in full swing, War crimes, discrimination against Tamils, and a load of propaganda geared to achieve economic and political subjugation of this small nation. The truth is Sri Lankans want to be left in peace to get on with their lives with freedom. Foreign influence has perpetrated political violence, corruption and poor governance. If poor governance affects the Tamils, it also affects the Sinhalese.
Peace in Sri Lanka
For 30 years, thanks to our neighbour, 100,000 people were killed, many maimed and many forced to emigrate. India now is pushing the illegal 13th amendment on Sri Lanka to create a mono-ethnic northern province, whilst 60% of the Tamils are living in the so-called Sinhala areas created by the British colonialists.
Incidentally, the provincial councils instigated by the 13th amendment have become a white elephant costing billions of rupees, infiltrated by political criminals responsible for the epidemic of rapes, abuse, a legacy of the injustice perpetrated by India. The Sinhalese are being pauperized by an IMF-led World Bank programs which borrow in the name of the many and lend the money to corporates and businesses which are controlled by the remnants of British colonialism, mostly Christians and Tamils. There is a transfer of resources to the businessmen (wheeler dealers) at the expense of farmers and the real producers who work in conjunction with the foreigners. This is no different from India. Unfortunately the Sinhalese are not businessmen.
The human rights of the Sinhalese are blatantly abused by poor governance and they are being ethnically cleansed from economic centres. So it is ironic that India cares for the human rights violations of the Tamils but not the Sinhalese. This policy of division favouring the Tamils will only lead to balkanization of Sri Lanka and violence and destabilization of the southern front of India.
So, what is it that drives India - hegemony and subjugation, or the instigation of her masters in the West? Whichever way one looks at it, it is not in the best interests of the real India. Peace in Sri Lanka can only be achieved by good governance in all the institutions working for the welfare of the many. You cannot rid the country of the Sinhalese, Tamils or any other community or separate them. Nor will they ever agree to subjugation forever.
India-China relationship: Peace in Asia
Today India is part and parcel of American plans to contain China. It has pushed the Indian leadership to become the largest arms buyer in the world, a policy one can hardly justify when 300 million Indians are living on less than $1/day. The whole of India has to pay so that the rulers can wear the crown of 'Regional Power'. Does it make sense, is it moral, is a question every Indian must ask.
In the wake of B.K. Nehru's revelations (he was Indian ambassador to China in the 1960s), one needs to reassess the real Indo-Chinese relations. The media hype and political pressures that made Nehru decide to be obstinate on the border issue when the lines of demarcation was not clearly defined need analysis.
B.K. Nehru indicates that the Chinese proposals were a fair basis for negotiation. It would suffice to indicate a quote by Chairman Mao (CHINA by Henry Kissinger) just prior to the 1962 Indo-Chinese border war, "China and India enjoyed centuries of flourishing religious and economic exchange. China and India were not doomed to perpetual enmity, they could enjoy long periods of peace, but to do so China had to knock India to the negotiating table".
Hence, one must seriously scrutinize the vision of Indian foreign policy experts – was the establishment infiltrated by foreign agents or was it influenced by a colonial mindset? There is no justification for the mutual mistrust that has been created, or the jingoism promoted by the media. There will be peace and prosperity in Asia only be achieved when India and China review and regenerate the ancient relationship.
Failure of Indian Foreign Policy
Not a day passes without one hearing of an Indian official visiting Sri Lanka to dominate and influence the policies of the island nation. The "Ugly Indian" is in the minds of every Sri Lankan; so also in the rest of South Asia. In a neighbourhood where India is joined by an umbilical cord of religious, ethnic and philosophical ties, this is most unfortunate. The latest connection with the Americans in an anti-China front must certainly create an impression that the foreign policy of India is linked to the foreign policy of America. This is not in the best interests of India, the sub-continent, or for that matter Asia.
The author is a Sri Lanka national
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