South Asian Editorials

The Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka: And then there is Tamil Nadu

Jul 11, 2012

The southern Indian state can decide when New Delhi should reprimand Sri Lanka on speeding up reconciliation. It can urge the central government to send back the group of Sri Lankan airmen undergoing training in India. Whatever crosses the seas with New Delhi’s seal is dictated by the Tamil Nadu high heads, so much so that the predicaments Sri Lanka suffers at the hands of India is a pantomime where the strings of the Central government are pulled by Jayalaithaa and Co.

India is clearly divided when it comes to the matters sensitive to Sri Lanka. Delhi might try to take the diplomatic route; yet, the Tamil Nadu politicians, whose bait for votes is their stance on Sri Lankan Tamils in the North, may constantly contradict New Delhi’s approach.  Call it the evil necessity of a federal constitution, the central government cannot afford to write off the former in their bad books.  The result is, every time a matter concerning Sri Lanka arises, Delhi has to pacify its neighbour, surrender to the word of Jayalalithaa and ultimately contradict itself.

New Delhi, despite the brave face it tries to maintain, has clearly lost its voice.
In the outset, the statement by V. Narayanswamy, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office, that it is crucial for the Tamil Nadu political parties not to ‘whip up’ Tamil sentiments in order to maintain cordial ties between the two countries, is highly commendable.    At least he had the pragmatism to highlight the danger induced by politically motivated statements such as those of Jayalalithaa that can leave the protection of Indian Tamils who are involved in business ventures in Sri Lanka in jeopardy. 

Despite Jayalalithaa’s not-so-proverbial statements, Sri Lanka will assure the safety of the Indian industrialists in her soil, for the island nation has more pressing issues in her agenda than the lady in question; this is something the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and her predecessor should be grateful about.

Mr. Narayanswamy in his statement also said, the void created by incidents of this nature can leave China or Russia to get closer to the island nation which might serve as an obstacle for India to pervade its tentacles of power in the region.
Meanwhile, a Sinhala Weekly on its lead story last week revealed that Pakistan is willing to train the airmen who were unwelcome in Tamil Nadu.  Delhi dancing to the tune of Jayalalithaa may be one thing. But it cannot afford to let, Pakistan, of all countries, creeping into the space India was compelled to abandon.

As for Sri Lanka, when it politically loses its island-status, it needs to be mindful of the fact that, every internal matter becomes a multilateral misery and for better or for worse, sea is never a barrier.

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