(A old letter written by CRI editor Amarnath Govindarajan to an influential voice of Indian Right. He is also an individual who CRI deeply respects)
I have just read …….op-ed on the SriLankan issue. As you would have guessed I’m rather saddened at the basic premise of the op-ed’s argument.
Towards the ethnic chauvinism of Dravidian political parties and the murdering ways of LTTE we share the same disdain. Manmohan is not a man with either honor or courage to run a government as it should be run is also something we agree upon. Therefore the Dravidian charade of arm twisting the Prime Minister and his pretension of having ‘succumbed’ to coalition compulsion receives the same amount of derision and distaste from me as it would receive from you. In-fact in a couple of blog-posts written months ago I have called out the immense harm caused by the shrillness and sheer maliciousness of Dravidian parties when it comes to the Sri Lankan issue.
There is, as you say, a large cottage industry of human rights ‘activists’ seeking to make a living out of the conflict – there are also the remnants of the erstwhile LTTE trying to make themselves relevant by their restless lobbying in the West. Then there is the eminent possibility of the West which is indeed desperate to find for itself a role in the Sri Lankan conflict so it may pursue its own interest in the region. These are observations on which I’m in complete agreement with you. Regarding the nature of the conflict economy that was nurtured by the LTTE, the activist’s cottage industry or the insidious nature of Western interventions in all your observations you have indeed been more than correct.
It is true that in discussing Sri Lanka we cannot avoid criticism of the LTTE, Dravidian parties, the NGO’s or the West. But to have totally avoided any discussion of the plight of the average SriLankan Tamil in both pre-LTTE and a post-LTTE environment is slightly disappointing.
You are right that both the Sinhalese and Tamils had reason to be happy when the LTTE was eliminated. The Sinhalese populace was certainly elated of their victory over LTTE. The Tamil happiness, on the other hand, was born out of a sense of relief from the fact that of the two tormentors of Tamils in the island one had been eliminated.
Whether India should or should not have supported a resolution against Sri Lanka is certainly open to debate considering international fora are astro-turfed for insidious purposes. Some may rightly argue that such issues are best addressed in bilateral forums. Some may, as I have, point out the futility of India’s efforts over the last three years.
But these are matters of detail. The larger question is whether India must pursue devolution of power in favor of SriLankan Tamils, and this is what I believe your op-ed misses to address. It appears to me that in your well justified anger towards the usual suspects you refuse to even acknowledge the basic truth of the conflict which is that a Sinhalese majoritarian persecution has caused immense harm to Tamils. It is true that the Dravidians, the LTTE and the NGO’s have to share a lot of blame but why such a glowing tribute to Colombo? The civil war was not the making of the Tamils or the LTTE alone.
That the West should not be allowed to interfere is a very valid argument but to claim that there is no problem is Sri Lanka is very sad. I’m sure a careful observer like you would not have missed the eight rounds of talks President Rajapakse himself had with the leaders of Tamil National Alliance. Now, we hear the President has also set up a Parliamentary Select Committee to discuss devolution and re-settlement. If the problem was non-existent the President of Sri Lanka would not have bothered himself with such ‘peace talks’.
What some of us in the Right find very saddening about the op-ed is that together with another piece in ToI the perception it creates is that thought leaders on the Right appear to be condescending if not unsympathetic to SL Tamil interests.
I have friends in coastal districts of TN who work with the Sangh. One of their frequent complaints is that the Right political ecosystem has failed to stand up for the Shaivite Tamil Hindu in the islands – this would not be so much serious if it were not for the Church actively looking to gain influence with the Tamils. They say the Right has in-fact facilitated the Church to hijack the agenda by choosing to focus more on criticizing LTTE than spending energy on promoting Tamil interests. It was this sentiment that found space in recent RSS statements on issue.
Of-course I’m nobody to sermonize leading commentators such as you – my age would probably be slightly less than your experience in the news industry. I’m probably wrong on some points, maybe I’m entirely wrong. I have shared here some of the thoughts that came to my mind when I read the op-ed. I’m sorry if this is too preposterous.
(Photo Courtesy-FP Blog)