(June 14, 2010, 'Though the Tiger is no more and Lankan Tamils are cowed, Indian Tamils and Diaspora Tamils together can still pose a formidable challenge to Colombo. And their capacity to do so will remain so long as the problems of the Lankan Tamils are unresolved."
-Thisaranee Gunasekara evaluating the outcome of the IIFA-2010 Bollywood award ceremony held in June in Colombo.
Sri Lanka President visited India following the IIFA debacle and the Hindustan Times had to report "The Pro-Tamil group's protest against visit of Sri Lankan president Mahenda Rajkapsa turned violent on Saturday (June 12) when suspected pro-tamil activists blasted railway tracks, just before a passenger train was to enter Perani railway station in Villupuram district, some 70 km south of Chennai in the wee hours."
This news creates a picture of a Tamil struggle in which the Sri Lankan part appears relatively peaceful amidst miserable conditions of the war-affected community while the Indian section looks getting more militant than before in addition to its successful lobby politics that made the IIFA a great disaster for Sinhala chauvinist Sri Lanka government.
Tamil struggle poses to envisage in a broader spectrum of a struggle of world Tamils for a state. Being the heart of the Tamil polity, the Tamil Nadu with its 70 million Tamils naturally becomes the epicenter of the new struggle.
In a time the capitalist world is facing its worst economic crisis in the history, it is natural that the struggles against the system may restructure aiming outcome amidst a possible world crisis.
India is a nation threatened by a number of nationalist struggles seeking restructuring of geo-politics. Therefore, due to clearly understandable reasons, India cannot give way to the rise of the new wave of Tamil nationalism in Tamil Nadu.
One way of curtailing the trend is to find a sustainable solution for the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka. The island nation is the melting pot of the Tamil nationalism.
Thisaranee Gunasekara says "In a speech to a group of businessmen, on the first anniversary of the defeating of the LTTE, (Sri Lanka Army Commander) Gen. Jayasuriya said that “it is up to the government and the people now to fund the root cause of the problem and give a proper solution… I believe in the end a proper solution is needed” (The Straits Times – 11.6.2010).
"Unfortunately his words are likely to be unheeded, if not scorned. The Rajapakses will not deliver a political solution, because they do not believe in the existence of an ethnic problem, as the President himself had stated, publicly, time and time again. Disbelieving in the existence of an ethnic problem, they, logically, do not see the need for a political solution."
However, The Hindu reported Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Saturday that there are positive signals from Sri Lanka on finding an amicable and acceptable solution to the issue of Tamils, who are fighting for equal rights.
But Thisaranee Gunasekara contradicts this idea. She says "Not only will the Rajapakses not deliver a political solution; even the restoration of normalcy or a real improvement in the living conditions of the North-Eastern Tamils is unlikely to happen, except marginally and minimally. The fact that the 2010 budget sets aside Rs.201 billion for defence but only Rs.2 billon for resettlement demonstrates the very low priority accorded by the government to Tamil wellbeing. It also reveals the regime’s inability/unwillingness to see the nexus between development and security. Given such a militarist mindset, reconciliation is but a mirage, a delusion spun occasionally by the state media, for purposes of propaganda."
Thisaranee points out that Sri Lanka will swing like a pendulum between India and China to manage the situation and eventually the island nation can be the battleground of the cold war between the two super powers. But one point she forgets is that India is more important to China than Sri Lanka and another 1987-like scenario can re-emerge.
In 1987, J.R. Jayawardane, who was playing in between India and Western super powers keeping all its eggs in the West's basket was eventually betrayed to India by the West that he venerated and kept his all trusts. China never bothers about the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka. She will not wage war against India once India attempts to use its powers to solve the problem. The possibility of China advising Sri Lanka one day to give way to India is very high. In such context, it will be the end of the road for the game of the Rajapaksas.
Wihat is this game? It is none other than playing in others' soft corners permanently hoodwinking the world and sustaining the misery of the minorities of the island. Rajapaksas should be defeated in this game if Sri Lanka as well as the world polity needs to progress.
What Dr. Dayan Jayathilaka has to say is different. "When we antagonized India we could not win the war, but when we correctly managed relations with India, we won the war. If India had opposed us or not supported us, we may not have been able to win or withstand the Western moves to stop the war. There is a saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Every relationship is reciprocal. Sri Lanka has to reciprocate for India’s support," he says.
"We must bear in mind that we still need that support because, though the hot war has been won by us, a cold war continues against us in the global arena.
"We need India’s support to balance off those who are hostile to us or are influenced by the pro-Eelam trend in the Tamil Diaspora. India is our buffer with the USA. Delhi is under pressure to take a stand hostile to us, or to stop supporting us. That pressure comes from Tamil Nadu but not only from Tamil Nadu...from India’s civil society as well as some of India’s Western friends. If India stops supporting us, not even the Non Aligned Movement will defend us fully, because they take their cue from respected Third World states such as India." Dr. Dayan Jayathilaka adds.
In this context, the progressive elements of Sri Lanka must try their best to manage the conflicts as subtly as they can to achieve better results for the polity.
It should be understood that the attempts of a section of Sri Lankan business community and the left forces to mobilize people against India citing 'aggressive' nature of proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) etc. are indirectly promoted by the ruling elite to maintain their chauvinist base of the politics. Progressive forces of the Lankan polity should work to broaden the purview of the polity to enhance their ability to grasp the better and sustainable outcome instead of narrow, quick popularity.
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