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Modi's Indian Ocean Diplomacy

Having made a breakthrough, Modi should now build a strong partnership with Sri Lanka in achieving long-term national interests of India. Such an approach will have to accommodate the voices and sentiments of its federating units, but not get blackmailed by the latter. 

 

 He was the first PM to travel to Jaffna, the capital of the Tamil-majority Northern Province. And he was the first to embellish his trip with carefully-crafted gestures, like praying at a Bo tree sacred for the Sinhalese majority, participate in inaugural ‘pujas’ while handing over houses to members of the Tamil minority.

 

The three island-nation trip that  took Prime Minister Modi to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka in mid-March may well mark the beginning of  India's long overdue maritime awakening.

 

In his address to parliament, Prime Minister Modi appealed to the government, and to the country, for “an early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and going beyond it”.

 

New Delhi accepts that India can less afford its past passivity regarding its maritime backyard. Tangible evidence is Narendra Modi's three-nation Indian Ocean tour. 

 

Calling it his “bias” of empowering states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a forceful pitch Friday for devolution of powers and resources to provinces in Sri Lanka, a key demand of the island’s Tamil-dominated northern and eastern provinces. But in careful calibration, he underlined that the unity of Sri Lanka was “paramount”.

 

The politico-legal construct is whether a previous government’s agreement can be disregarded by a later one.  The two statements together  result in an interesting cocktail of political and diplomatic confluence. The construct that follows Sino-Lankan relations make that beverage an ominous potable for Sri Lanka.

 

India has remained for long at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean and it cannot afford to be there forever. It should take the lead to change the way its maritime neighbours judge the country. That intent must be backed up with prompt time-bound action.

 

India’s efforts to counterbalance China’s forays into the region cannot go unnoticed writes Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy

 
The Canadian Tamil Congress applauds Prime Minister Modi for his personal commitment to resolving the issues faced by the people in Sri Lanka, particularly the Tamils in the war-torn North and East.
 


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Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
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Title: Reporting Pakistan; Author: Meena Menon; Publisher: Viking/Penguin Random House; Pages: 340; Price: Rs 599

 
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