Wednesday, July 28, 2010

India was sympathetic to the Tamil quest for equitable rights in Sri Lanka...!!!

July 28, 2010 Looking back at the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord
R. Hariharan

A post-LTTE look at the fallout of the 1987 agreement that led to India's direct involvement in the counter-insurgency operation in Sri Lanka.

It is 23 years since the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement was signed on July 29, 1987. The agreement is popularly referred to as the Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord, after its architects — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayewardene.

Unfortunately, the event is today remembered only for its unpleasant fallout after India unwittingly got entangled in a counter-insurgency war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from 1987 to 1990. After sacrificing the lives of over 1,200 of its soldiers, India felt cheated when President Ranasinghe Premadasa joined hands with the LTTE to send the Indian troops out of Sri Lanka before they had completed their job.

But India had an even worse experience after the troops were pulled out: in 1991, an LTTE suicide-bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi at the venue of a public meeting near Chennai. The killing, masterminded by LTTE chief V. Prabakaran, had more than a symbolic impact. It ended the popular support Tamil militants had enjoyed in Tamil Nadu. India scaled down its active involvement in Sri Lanka, and adopted a passive approach to the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. Prabakaran's strategic blunder ultimately cost him his life: Sri Lanka, helped by India, crushed the LTTE in the fourth round of the war in 2009.

The Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord was perhaps too ambitious in its scope as it sought to collectively address all the three contentious issues between India and Sri Lanka: strategic interests, people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka and Tamil minority rights in Sri Lanka. Its success depended on sustained political support from both the countries. So the Accord got sidelined when political leaders who were unhappy with the Accord came to power in both countries almost at the same time. As a result, the Tamil minorities, who had put their faith in it, were in limbo. These unsavoury developments have clouded the understanding of the positive aspects of the Accord. After all, it was the Accord that enabled Sri Lankan Tamils to gain recognition for some of their demands in Sri Lankan politics and in the Sri Lankan Constitution.

The Accord was unique as it marked a new beginning with respect to India's articulation of power, never exercised after India's war with Pakistan in 1971 that helped the birth of Bangladesh. India's Sri Lanka operation was more complex than the Bangladesh war on a few counts. The operation had to be carried out in an island-nation; this imposed severe strategic constraints. It was an unconventional war waged against a Tamil insurgent group with strong connections in Tamil Nadu. And, India's vague articulation of its military intervention in support of the Accord triggered an emotional backlash against it in both countries.

The focus of the Accord, signed in the waning years of the Cold War era, was undoubtedly strategic. It aimed to keep Americans from gaining a foothold in Sri Lanka. This was a departure from India's traditional policy that was fixated largely on two issues — the status of people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka, and the Tamil minority's quest for democratic rights. India's new-found articulation of military power in Sri Lanka, though halting and probably unintentional, sent a strong message to its neighbours and global powers. This was further reinforced in 1989 when India sent a military contingent in response to a request from the government of Maldives — another island neighbour — and crushed an attempted coup there.

India's military intervention also demonstrated the country's readiness to fulfil its commitments to its neighbours. Significantly, it delineated India's strategic zone of influence in the Indian Ocean region. Since then, India has expanded its real-time naval capability. This was seen during the December 2004 tsunami strike: an Indian naval ship was at the scene on the Sri Lankan coast within a matter of hours to bring succour to the affected people.

India's strategic strength in this part of Indian Ocean is now recognised by the major powers. Perhaps this influenced the U.S. decision to build its strategic security relationship with India. India's keenness to find a lasting solution to Sri Lanka's Tamil issue was again demonstrated during the international peace process in Sri Lanka in 2002. Though India was not actively involved in it, the sponsor-nations, notably the U.S. and Norway, regularly sought India's counsel during the implementation phase. It is a pity that India failed to use its influence to ensure the success of the peace process.

India's military foray into Sri Lanka also proved to be a unique learning experience for the Indian armed forces in conducting operations across the seas. It brought home the nitty-gritty of joint operations command for smooth overseas operations. Carrying out counter-insurgency operations that had political ramifications both at home and abroad highlighted the limitations of New Delhi's decision-making process. The absence of a structure at the top to coordinate political and security decision-making did affect India's campaign. These lessons have greater relevance for India now as global and South Asian regional strategic security architectures change rapidly.

India had consistently affirmed its support for a unified Sri Lanka and opposition to the creation of an independent Tamil Eelam. At the same time, India was sympathetic to the Tamil quest for equitable rights in Sri Lanka. Even the Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord had its roots in India's effort to give form and substance to it. The strong sympathy of the people of Tamil Nadu for their brethren in Sri Lanka was an important factor in shaping India's policy on this issue. Sri Lanka had to reckon with this factor in its strategic calculus in its three military campaigns against the Tamil militant group.

However, India's benign Sri Lanka posture after its ill-fated military intervention and gory aftermath enabled Sri Lanka to build bridges with India. Wisely, India also did not allow the frictions of the intervening decades to come in the way and reciprocated Sri Lanka's efforts. Both countries have adopted a win-win strategy to build upon the positives of their relationship. These efforts culminated in the signing of India's first-ever free trade agreement with Sri Lanka in 2000. As a result, India-Sri Lanka relations now have a unique status in South Asia.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President in 2005; his campaign focus was on defeating the LTTE and crushing Tamil separatism. The advantages of close relations with India came in handy when he decided to clip the LTTE's wings after the peace process of 2002 failed to make progress even in three years. Though India was not a significant arms-supplier during Eelam War 2006, it had helped train the Sri Lankan armed forces and provided valuable intelligence inputs on the LTTE's intricate international logistic and support network. Sri Lanka managed to dismantle this apparatus and crippled the Tigers, paving the way for their defeat. More than all this, the governments in New Delhi and Chennai together managed the tricky fallout of the Eelam war in Tamil Nadu and saw to it that things did not get out of hand. This thwarted the efforts of the pro-LTTE parties and supporters in Tamil Nadu to create a pro-Tiger upsurge.

As a result, the LTTE could neither use Tamil Nadu as a logistic and support base nor influence India's political decisions during the war. India's own bitter experience with the LTTE probably shaped its public posture during Sri Lanka's war. At the same time, perhaps India realised that it would be untenable to allow the LTTE, which had grown into one of the world's strongest insurgent groups, to operate as a loose cannon in its strategic neighbourhood. This was perhaps one of the reasons for India's hands-off attitude as the Sri Lankan Army relentlessly pursued and ultimately crushed the LTTE.

Unfortunately, India was unable to significantly influence the Sri Lankan government in the aftermath of war. Even a year after the war ended, a political solution to meet the Tamil minority's demands has not been evolved. Normal life has not been restored to a sizeable population affected by the war in the Northern Province. They are yet to recover from the trauma of war as the pace of reconstruction is not consistent with their colossal needs.

It is people, not treaties, which make relations between nations meaningful. Unless India makes a difference in the lives of the people of both countries, its relations with Sri Lanka will not address the broader aspects of strategic security. This is the important takeaway as we look at the Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord after over two decades.

(Colonel (retired) R. Hariharan, a military intelligence specialist on South Asia, served as head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. E-mail:

Comments to : Copyright © 2010, The Hindu

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tamil & Muslim students had opportunity for a close rapport with SINHALA ONLY Soldiers at the workshop! GIVE ALL SL CITIZENS EQUAL MILITARY TRAINING!!

Training Tamil students as future leaders

A student receiving her certificate from Brigadier Mahinda Mudalige

After spearheading the military operation to annihilate the LTTE, the Sri Lanka Army launched a campaign to mould the students to become future leaders of Sri Lanka.

The first of its kind - a Workshop on Leadership - was held in Batticoloa for 151 students in the district at the Batticaloa AGs Auditorium last week.

The topics of the workshop and the close rapport with Army personnel have made them understand that the true image of the soldier is different from what the defunct LTTE had painted in their minds.Organised by the 234 Brigade under the guidance of 23 Division commander Brig. Boniface Perera the 151 senior school prefects were given lectures on leadership qualities, type of leaders and team work. The Tamil and Muslim students had the opportunity for a close rapport with soldiers at the workshop.

" We all want to become good youth in future. This workshop helped me and my friends immensely. We did not know much about the world leaders. We were not guided to brush up our leadership talents. We thank the Army for organizing this workshop", student N. Vinitha wrote in her assessment paper.

Brigadier Mahinda Mudalige, 234 Brigade Commander said the workshop helped tap the inborn talents of the young students who had never been exposed to programs on leadership.

"There were very bright students. They had undergone immense hardships in their childhood as they were under the LTTE terror. They were backward and not taught to bring out their hidden talents of leadership", he said.

Brig. Mudalige said the Army needed to build up its image as the LTTE had brain washed children, youth and adults.

The 151 students and the 30 teachers who arrived at the auditorium looked at the soldiers with suspicion as they still had a distant rapport with the soldiers. Since their birth, the children in the East were taught by the LTTE that the soldiers were there to kill Tamils but the wrong impressions about the soldiers gradually disappeared after the East was liberated.

"The students said that the LTTE had taught them that the soldiers were brutal and as such to treat them as enemies of the Tamil people. By this way the LTTE had created animosity among Tamils. It is time to take action to reverse these negative thoughts and that is why we have decided to promote leadership programs among the schoolchildren", he said.

According to Brig. Mudalige, the program was a success and helped erase off the negative image to strengthen the relation with the Army.

The students were given the opportunity to address the gathering and entertain the audience to make them confident.

"At the beginning they were shy as they had not been given an opportunity to address a gathering. But at the end of the workshop they proved themselves that they could be the future leaders to represent their respective schools to carry forward their message. They were also given certificates", he said.

"We did not get a chance to talk to soldiers earlier as we were fear of them. The LTTE had blocked us from having contacts with the soldiers. We should thank the Army for breaking that barrier and making our lives peaceful.

This is an important workshop for us to learn leadership qualities", T. Thayani, said in her speech.

Lake House Copyright © 2010 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Today we are back in politics in the North with sad memories of the past but with full of optimism for our future..!!!

Time to work together

Excerpts of the speech delivered by Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister DEW Gunasekera at the Sri Lanka Communist Party’s 67th Anniversary held in Jaffna last Saturday

Today we are back in politics in the North with sad memories of the past but with full of optimism for our future. I do not propose to recollect that painful and miserable past during this healing and reconciliation period.

Although, our Party was formed 67 years back, its origin goes as far back as 1920s, the historic days of the Jaffna Students Congress, later Jaffna Youth Congress led by Handy Perimpanayagam. The birth of All-Ceylon Youth Congress in 1931 and the Sooriyamal Movement in 1933 and the LSSP in 1935 were further developments of the anti-imperialist struggle.

Independence struggle
Winds of the Great October Revolution in 1917 brought inspiration to the people of Asia and awakened them to the struggles for independence. Only a few know that it was Ponnambalam Arunachalam who first broke the news of the Great October Revolution to the people of Sri Lanka and he was accused by the British Colonialists for drifting towards Bolshevism. Ponnambalam Arunachalam in 1917, breaking the news of the Great October Revolution said “there is nothing to fear we are now in the company of friends”.

Minister DEW Gunasekera

Today we are here in the midst of our comrades and friends after a lapse of over 30 years – we were here last in 1976 when we put forward our candidate V. Ponnambalam at the by-election for KKS Seat. Since then the loss of precious lives, destruction to the property, economic ruin, prolonged suffering especially to the lower segments the Tamil society, emergence of cult of violence, collapse of national unity, emergence of underworld were all products and by-products of the war.

Lessons from history
I do not want to unearth those unfortunate events. But, they are facts of history which we cannot forget even though we can forgive. It is necessary to draw lessons from this history if we are to re-emerge from catastrophe and move forward.

We have missed so many opportunities offered by history and let us be determined that we shall not miss, yet again this golden opportunity. Absence of a national consensus has been the main cause of our failures in the past and even today. As far as our Party is concerned, we identified the national question from the very inception of our Party.

The concept of regional autonomy within a united Sri Lanka was introduced by our Party as early as 1944 based on a scientific analysis of socio-economic-cultural realities and also international experience.

The ruling bourgeoisie parties since independence failed to comprehend these realities and were carried away by petty-narrow political interests and privileges. They abdicated their historical responsibility in the task of nation building.

It was so in the case of bourgeoisie Tamil leaders in the North /Tamil Congress and Federal Party. They played a conservative and at times reactionary role in the realm of politics, prioritizing their tasks to their narrow class interests.

They opposed everything progressive and radical – Paddy Land Act, Nationalization of foreign interests, nationalization of transport, port, some even went to the extent of supporting the disenfranchisement of workers of Indian Origin and their citizenship rights.

They were identified with the reactionary politics. That is how they were distanced from the progressive forces and even from people in the South.

A change
The events of Black July of 1983, and the subsequent notorious amendment to the 1978 Constitution brought about a change in the political leadership of the Tamil people from the Tamil bourgeoisie to the right-wing petty bourgeoisie in 1980s. This was the turning point of history followed with a policy of blood and iron-chauvinism, terrorism, and separatism. The right-wing petty bourgeoisie sought refuge in support of reactionary forces abroad.

The Communist Party and of course the LSSP stood firmly by our political positions in support of the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Tamil people. We suffered defeat, setbacks in the political front. We were targets of attack from both the terrorists in the North and the chauvinism in the South.

Never embraced terrorism
The left-wing political parties in the North who opted for national unity, a democratic path of development, for a political solution within the framework of unity were all marginalized, eliminated or destroyed. Even the moderate bourgeoisie Tamil leaders were not spared.

Even we who gave support for the 13th Amendment were not spared both by the terrorists in the North and the chauvinists in the South. I must reveal and reiterate that the Communist Party lost 48 of its leaders at the JVP hands and six at the hands of LTTE.

Amazing and mysterious fact of history during the past 30 years is that the LTTE did not touch the JVP or JHU despite their venomous anti-Tamil and anti-Indian and anti-LTTE political positions.

Of course, history provides enormous evidence to the effect that the extremists of either side always nourish and nurture each other for their mutual existence.

Both in the North and the South, the chauvinists and extremists survived, thrived, and flourished at the expense of the Left movement and progressive forces.

The country thereby lost its balance, and sense of direction and an era of violence and destruction dawned.

The Party never embraced terrorism or violence as a means of capturing power. Our hands are not stained with blood. Our party has always been patriots as well as internationalists.

During the 67 years of our Party’s existence we have contributed much, in many ways for the cause of our people. Above all, we have enriched the social thinking of our people.

We have made our people more people enlightened, removing from their minds and thoughts, casteism, mysterious beliefs and obscurantism etc., We are proud of our contribution for all those rights of the people – political, economic, and social – that have been achieved through struggles of the Left Movement.

Now is the time for the progressive forces both in the North and the South to work together in the broader interests of our country and our people.

New economic centres
With the collapse of the Berlin Wall and subsequently the Soviet Union, many bourgeoisie leaders predicted the end of socialism and the eternal existence of capitalism. Within 20 years, the face of the world has changed again and continues to change profoundly.

The citadels of world capitalism, US and Western Europe are collapsing, faster than we expected. The Asian continent is leading the world economy – with two giants, China and India emerging.

The reawakening of Latin America with 13 Left-wing Governments has altered the political map of Latin America, thus isolating the United States. The democratization of Africa, has set in. Bridges are being built between China – Africa, Latin America – Africa, Middle East – Africa, Asia – Euro Asia, Russia – China – India. New economic centres, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and Argentina are emerging.

Power of the omnipotent Dollar is weakening. Around 75 percent of the world’s foreign exchange reserves today belong to the developing countries. One third of the world’s foreign exchange reserve is owned by China.

These are the new realities of the world developments – This is why the Western powers could not have their own way and their own on matters relating to Sri Lanka. This is what Prabhakaran failed to comprehend. The world’s Left Movement has revived.

Today, there is globalization of Left and progressive forces, the world over. So, the international and national political environment is becoming favourable to us. This is the time for the progressive and democratic forces in the North and the South to work together. Lake House Copyright © 2010 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Muththaiah Muralitharan: Folk hero and national icon...!!!

Muralitharan: Folk hero and national icon
Prasad Gunewardene

This tribute is paid to man who readily accepted and embraced the national bosom to be loved by all communities in his country. I have never met nor associated this young man. But, I have studied his elegance of the game he played, that had a sequence to his achievements to become a world figure. Therefore, I thought to pen this deserving tribute to this man who became a folk hero and a national icon in this country, once tragically flawed by a self induced communal division. He belongs to a special niche in the social firmament. This man with a mellifluous smile is world’s ace spin bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan.

This tribute will not speak much about his glorious achievements on the field. It will recognize the virtual legacy he leaves behind from a long innings he played for his country that brought glory. Muralitharan displayed to all, the true meaning of being identified as a Sri Lankan. That virtue bestowed him with a chapter not only in the cricketing annals of this country, but also in the contemporary social-cultural saga.

Thrilled after the magical spin. File photo

Muralitharan the bowler with much wisdom was named one of the Best Five Test cricketers by Wisden, the Bible of Cricket, at the age of 27. Just two years away from the fourth decade of his life, Muralitharan has decided to hang his boots though he has enough stamina to bowl a few more hundred overs to achieve that remarkable mark of claiming 1,000 test wickets. That shows this man is in no hunger or greed for records.

A product of St Anthony’s College, Kandy, Muralitharan is very much an outstanding figure of our times. His entry into the national level of the game signaled the advent of a new rebellious generation impatient to accept challenges on the field. By the time he entered the game at national level, the monopoly of the old established schools like Royal, S Thomas’, Trinity, St Peter’s and St Joseph’s had already been challenged with lesser known schools emerging with talent. The entry of former Sri Lanka skipper, Sanath Jayasuriya from St Servatius College, Matara, could be cited as the beginning of that process. Thus, the elitist hold was irremediably broken.

Muralitharan hailing from Indian origin Tamil background emerged into cricket from a comfortable middle class family. Therefore, he had the good fortune of playing the game quite comfortably on the field. He felt a little uncomfortable when he was targeted time and again by the ‘white cobbler’ breed.

He faced criticism from that breed at regular intervals which habitually looked down upon the coloured skin. But, a steady Muralitharan stormed such citadels and bastions of the established ‘white order’ of the game, known to be ‘god fathers’ of the oiled willow and the red leathered ball.

The callous attitude of the ‘white cobbler’ breed helped Muralitharan to become an emblem of the oppressed class in the Third World. Virulent attacks launched at the level of Prime Ministers of that breed, proved to the world that here was a man from a minority class in the Third World ready to accept challenges from the established old imperial hegemony imposed from historical times on the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Let me write here for record and future reference that Australia, itself a British colony was in the vanguard of slings and arrows aimed at this Sri Lankan spin bowler who was a challenge to Aussie spinner, Shane Warne. Muralitharan fearlessly faced all such illiberal instincts that demonstrated deep seated feelings and animosity against the coloured people from time immemorial.

Why did the British introduce cricket to its own ‘white’ colonies? The paradox was an attempt to civilize those heathen tribes who were beyond the law. Muralitharan’s patience and braveness proved to the ‘white breed’ that he came from a nation which had a proud civilized history that spanned over 2500 years. This world class spinner was aware that the moment a coloured man was in a position to outdo the white - bells, telephones, books, candles or any implement at their command would be thrown at him, contrary to the liberal democratic inhibitions, the whites preached as a daily prayer to the coloured people.

This demonic bowler, who shook the ‘white order’ and took the whole world by surprise, struggled to overcome his congenital turn of the wrist. The ‘white cobbler’ breed attempted to crucify him for that natural physical cause. The mealy-mouthed white gods of the game, time and again, miserably failed in such attempts. Stepping from success to greater success, Muralitharan displayed to the white breed that laurels and plaudits were not meant to be worn on the forehead, as rampantly seen in the West.

Muralitharan was a unifier on and off the field. He is a good example for all our Tamil political leaders. The ace spinner played a very long innings with a team as a member from a minority. He calmly faced all slings and arrows aimed at him from the ‘white cricket’ order. He forged unity waging a long struggle against the western hegemony of all types. He took victory and defeat in stride.Muralitharan has his heart in the right place. That is the true and authentic patriotism needed at this hour, when our nation has once again come under pressure from ‘white merchants’ of the world’s political black market.

Thank you for the colourful glorious innings for Sri Lanka. Well done, Muralitharan!

Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2010 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A state of destitution of any human being is traumatic and unfortunate...!!!

Children of the North who never knew their parents:

Govt does its utmost to find foster parents
By R. Krishnaswamy

A state of destitution of any human being is traumatic and unfortunate. But destitution of infants and children who have been either abandoned by their parents or separated from them under unforeseen circumstances with no kith and kin to take charge and care for them but left to grow in orphanages is heart-rending and distressing. A large majority of the children are those who were in the LTTE's "Senthalir" orphanages near Pudukudiyiruppu in the Mullaitivu District. They were there from early childhood having been separated from their parents under various unexplained circumstances. Mullaitivu being one of the worst affected districts of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, many of the children had lost their parents, family members, relatives and friends.

Some of the girls at the Vavuniya Kovilkulam Agilandeswari Arulagam on their way to attend tuition classes

Visiting three of the five orphanages in Vavuniya where over 700 destitute children were being cared for, we observed with a heavy heart to what unbelievable levels of misery and destitution to which the once proud, dignified and enterprising Tamil community of the North has been reduced by the LTTE terrorist outfit during the over last two decades. The children, many of them infants and some adolescents, were being cared for in the five children's homes in the heart of Vavuniya town run by charities, especially Hindu and Christian religious charities.

First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa is patron of one of the Children's Homes, "Siriliya Sevana".

About 52 girls are being housed in it and is being managed by the Northern Provincial administration under the patronage and directions of the First Lady. The home was declared open by her on 27th of June, 2010 and the plaque which she unveiled on that occasion is displayed at the building.

A two-page advertisement in a Tamil language daily a few days ago with 1" x 1" bust pictures of over 75 children in the age group of 2 years to 10 years seeking their identity from the public prompted us to visit three of the children's homes in Vavuniya.

A. Navaratnarajah, the Trustee of the Kovilkulam Agilandeswari temple who is also in charge of the Home with a six-month-old destitute child.

The advertisement was placed by the Commissioner of Probation and Child Care of the Northern Province. These are among the other children who had either been abandoned by their parents or separated from them under unforseen circumstances.

Governor of the Northern Province, Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri was good enough to give permission to the Sunday Observer to visit the homes together with an official of the Probation and Child Care Department. We visited three of the five children's homes together with Probation Officer R. Gokuladas and talked to some of the children, selecting them at random. We also talked to several young women who serve as baby-sitters, Sisters of the Christian Order and those in overall charge of the homes. Probation Officer Gokuladas told us that all children were handed over to them through the Courts and they, in turn, entrusted them to the orphanages for upkeep under their direct monitoring on a day-to-day basis.

In spite of every effort that they made it was not possible for them to trace the parents, kith and kin or relatives of a large majority of the children and they have been able to unite only a small number of them (86) with their parents. The probation office was paying only Rs.600 to each child per month while those in charge of the homes doing an excellent job, sending them to school, conducting tuition classes five days a week, Monday to Friday, providing school uniforms and clothes, all meals and keeping them happy and unperturbed, Gokuladas said. They are fully devoting their waking hours to the welfare of the children, he said.

Children below the age of 10 can be given for adoption to married couples. A request has to be made in writing to the Probation and Child Care office for handling the legal aspect of the such adoptions and final order has to be issued by the District Judge, Gokuladas said.

Lake House Copyright © 2010 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.