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The middle way between recognition of reality and striving for balance

by Dayan Jayatilleka

How do we describe our country, Sri Lanka, and how is our country described by others? As an island in the Indian Ocean, just south of or off the Southern shores of India. All descriptions of Sri Lanka are a variant of this because no other is possible. We are defined by our placing, and that placing is in relation to and proximate to India.

The unique importance of the Indian factor in Sri Lanka’s external relations is best evidenced in the fact that Sri Lanka is simply indescribable without reference to India.

The inevitable asymmetry inherent in the Indo-Lanka equation is similarly evidenced in the fact that India is easily describable without reference to Sri Lanka.

Our relation to India is almost unique. This is most easily understood with reference to another tropical island proximate to another big power: I refer to Cuba, ninety miles from the world’s greatest power, the superpower power or hyper-power as Fidel Castro puts it, the USA. Contrary to the romantic illusions of some on the Sri Lankan ultra-left, Sri Lanka is not to India what Cuba is to the United States.

Cuba is defined not only by her proximity to the USA. She is an island in the Caribbean, which consists of many others states and societies. Secondly she is a Latin American country, a country which is a member of the large family of Latin American nations. This is why Latin America was referred to by Jose Marti as "Our America". Thirdly, Cuba is a member of the Hispanic community, the community of Spanish speaking nations.

The USA is not the only America. There are two Americas, North and South; Anglo and Latino. There is however, only one India. Cuba has neighbors other than the United States. Cuba has family. Sri Lanka has none. There are no neighbors to the south of Sri Lanka or around it except for the Maldives, and a federation even with the Maldives is a non option because of the religio-cultural differences. Only the Indian Ocean surrounds us right down to Antarctica.

Unlike the Spanish language and Christianity which unite Cuba with Latin America, there is no other landmass in which Sinhala is spoken by a community. Buddhism, especially Theravada Buddhism is not practiced in any adjacent land area, the closest being Myanmar, Thailand and Indo-China.

Thus, in geographic and cultural terms, Sri Lanka stands alone, next to the giant India.

We have been constituted by our relationship with India in terms of migration, religious diffusion/transmission, as well as military interference and power play, incursion and resistance. We are defined by the dialectics of our relationship with India.

India inheres in the very fabric of our country, or to change the metaphor, Sri Lanka is an inverted and miniaturized mirror of India: the belief system of the majority in the Southern two-thirds of the island derived from the teachings of and is identified with the greatest son and sage of India, Gautama the Buddha, while the minority in the Northern third of the island shares the same language and ethnicity as those in the South of the Indian subcontinent.

Even if the Tamil factor did not exist, our relationship with India would be our most vital external relationship. However, inasmuch as the Northern part of Sri Lanka ethnically mirrors the Southern part of India and is separated only by a narrow strip of water; insofar as there exists a demonstrable and felt ethnic kinship between the Tamils of Northern Sri Lanka and those of the Tamil Nadu state of India, the relationship with India is a vital constituent of our management of our internal ethnic relationships, just as our relationship with the our own Tamil minority is intrinsic to the management of our larger and essential relationship with our sole and giant neighbor India.

Given the demographic reality of an ethnic group that cross cuts the borders of India and Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s Tamil issue is not only a domestic problem for Sri Lanka, it is a domestic problem for India as well. It is for Sri Lanka, an internal problem with an external dimension while for India it is an external problem with an internal (Tamil Nadu) dimension.

An unresolved problem with Sri Lanka’s Tamils can and probably will jeopardize Sri Lanka’s relations with India, while a bad relationship with India will deprive Sri Lanka of one of the instruments which can help safely regulate our relations with our Tamil minority.

Given our aloneness on India’s doorstep, we cannot afford to sustain a negative strategic relationship with India. For this reason too, we have to resolve our problem with our own Tamil minority.

Similarly, given the fact that the Tamils and Sinhalese have to live together on a small island, we have to resolve our problems, and for this we need India’s leverage; therefore we need good relations with India.

There is thus an existential imperative of dual co-existence: Sri Lanka’s co-existence with India, and Sinhala co-existence with the Tamils. Co-existence would be unsustainable and impossible, if it were to be purely on the terms of one or the other – India or Sri Lanka, Tamils or Sinhalese.

How then to coexist? What are good relations and how are we to maintain them? I would argue that it is by adhering to that crucial concept known to classical antiquity but which we inherited from India’s greatest philosopher and teacher the Buddha, namely the concept of the Middle Path, eschewing the extremes.

What are the extremes that must be eschewed? On the one hand, supine dependence, the posture of being a puppet of India or Tamil Nadu or utilizing India as a patron for the assumption of political power. On the other hand the posture of xenophobic bellicosity towards India or any of its constituent components.

The first posture of dependence stems from an underestimation of Sri Lanka’s strength and an overestimation of India’s in relation to Sri Lanka. It underestimates the internal factor and overestimates the external factor.

The second posture of inflexible hostility and confrontation stems from the overestimation of Sri Lanka’s strength and the underestimation of India’s. It overestimates the internal factor and underestimates external realities.

These extremes manifest themselves with regard to Sri Lanka’s ethnic question as well. One posture demands the acceptance by Sri Lanka of the Tamil minority’s and Tamil Nadu’s stand on the issue or the mechanical adoption of India’s internal political model.

This position overestimates the strength and resolve of the Tamils, (local, sub-regional and global) while it underestimates the resolve of the Sinhalese (especially the Sinhala Buddhists) who are an overwhelming majority on the territory of the island. It fails to comprehend that just as objective realities confer rationality on India’s claims to preponderance or pre-eminence in the regional space, and on the USA’s claims to leadership in the world, the same factors render rational the Sinhalese claim to pre-eminence on/leadership of the island. It fails to recognize that power relations on the island cannot but be asymmetrical.

The second extreme posture ignores India’s views of the island’s ethnic problem, rides roughshod over Tamil sentiments and aspirations and attempts to settle the issue unilaterally, on Sinhala terms, in keeping with the fears and prejudices of the Sinhala Buddhist majority. This posture stems from the overestimation of the Sinhalese and underestimation of the Tamils; an overestimation of the cultural core of the country and an underestimation of its strategic periphery. As Samir Amin points out, systems begin to unravel at their peripheries.

What then constitutes the Middle Path, in the intertwined, intersecting and interacting domains of Indo-Lanka and Sinhala–Tamil relations?

The Middle Path would, I submit, be constituted by and between two boundaries: the recognition of reality and the striving for balance.

The recognition of reality consists of grasping the statics and dynamics of the situation. The statics, constants or structural factors are those geographic and demographic realities of our location, marked by massive presence and absence – the presence of India and the absence of other neighbors and linguistic or religious kin.

The dynamics, variables or conjunctural factors are twofold. Firstly the recent surge of India’s power, making it an emerging global player in its own right, and one of the two main power centers of Asia, the continent projected as the rising planetary power. Secondly, the fact that if it is a choice between Sri Lanka and India, no other Asian or world player will risk its relations with India. The USA refused to do so in the 1980s. Today it is aligned strategically with India, while Russia, China and Iran all value their relations with Delhi. These will always put their own national interests ahead of India’s or anyone else’s, but they will certainly place their equation with India above that with Sri Lanka. Cuba had the USSR to help it balance off the USA. We have and had no equivalent. We had no US card to play in the 1980s and we have no China card to play today. Sri Lanka cannot hold out against the region’s superpower and world’s sole superpower, still less the crystallizing bloc of the two.

As for Pakistan, a close and true friend, we can only pray that it survives its present travails. Sri Lanka’s capacity to balance India off to some degree with our relations with the Islamic world, will stand jeopardized by the rising anti Muslim chauvinism of its smaller, racist and xenophobic political parties.

The necessary recognition of reality must surely include the basic calculus that a vulnerably positioned and solitary ethnic group which numbers 18 million (the Sinhalese), cannot take a stand which is hostile to or alienates 80 million Tamils, 1.5 billion Muslims, 2 billion Christians, and 1 billion Indians. The internal cannot be imposed upon nor hold out forever against the external.

However, the recognition of reality is a two way street. The tragedy of India’s experience with Sri Lanka in the 1980s, not to mention those of Russia in Afghanistan and the USA in Iraq, must surely remind the world community that no solution or model imposed from outside, devoid of the consent of the Sinhalese – a solid majority with a long continuous history, existence and consciousness— can stand. The external cannot substitute for the internal, nor can a minority for the majority.

The other boundary of the Middle Path is the search, ideally for synthesis but minimally for balance. This is a synthesis of or balance between the interests of India and Sri Lanka, and the Sinhalese and Tamils.

Balance is objectively feasible because the Sinhala preponderance on the island is checked by Indian preponderance in the region, and vice versa. Crudely put, the Sinhalese are a majority on the island but a minority in the sub-region, while the Tamils are a majority in the sub-region but are a minority on the island. The objective situation therefore is structured in such a way as to provide checks and balances. What we – all parties and players— have to do is to adopt policies and practices that reflect that objective demographic reality.

India’s is an ethnically multi-polar mosaic which is safely accommodated by a federal framework. Sri Lanka’s is an ethnically bipolar model, the bipolarity of which must not be aggravated — especially given the pull factor of the adjacent Tamil Nadu — by a federal system. The Sinhalese majority will resist this, as it has for half a century and as it fought separatism for a quarter. Conversely, a unitary system with no serious devolution of power, in a state that is non-secular and gives a privileged place to one language and one religion (the disallowance of Islamic attire in the schools in secular France in vastly different from it being done in non-secular Sri Lanka), cannot be imposed on the Tamil minority, which let us recall, is not a minority in the sub-region, has leverage upon New Delhi through Chennai, and on Washington DC through the Diaspora.

India cannot afford recrudescent Tamil Nadu separatism which thrives on the charge that New Delhi is insensitive to Tamil Nadu’s feelings for their ethnic kin in Northern Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu must not be viewed through the lenses of Sinhala racism. It is an important and influential component of the Indian Union, and when push comes to shove, carries far more weight than Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese, in New Delhi, Washington, Moscow and Beijing. If faced with a serious strategic choice, Delhi will choose Chennai over Colombo. It is up to Sri Lanka to prevent matters coming to that.

Sri Lanka needs to countervail and neutralize the anti-Sinhala extremists in Tamil Nadu and the Diaspora. It can do so only by satisfying at least the anti-Tiger Sri Lankan Tamils and the no less anti Tiger Tamil Nadu elite fraction of the all-India power-bloc. (This fraction is visibly represented by The Hindu newspaper grouping). This requires a threefold solution: a credible dedication to non-discrimination, the credible dispelling of any suspicion that Sri Lanka is attempting to dismantle, delay or dilute the full implementation of the 13th amendment, and a credible commitment to move beyond it (to 13th amendment plus) as chalked out by the APRC and permitted by the parliamentary balance as well as Constitutional rigidities.

Sri Lanka may soon — very soon — have to choose between a needless "draw" or drawdown in the war and devolution. As the Indian election draws near the price we have to pay will increase. It is far better to settle for the lower price of devolution, and a lower priced devolution, sooner. If there is a ceasefire of any sort before complete, total and final victory, the Tigers will declare a triumph (as they did after the IPKF left) and having regrouped , rested and re-armed (or been rearmed) launch a counteroffensive on our demoralized armed forces.

Even if we avoid such a scenario and as is probable, win the quasi-conventional war in this quarter, a bitter ethnic polarization and socio-economically ruinous protracted occupation is unavoidable unless sufficient political space is opened up at the periphery and our Tamil allies are truly empowered. Tamil (sub) nationalism cannot be contained by the status quo of the unitary, un-devolved, non-secular Sri Lankan state structure and concomitant centralist political culture.

The balanced solution of fullest autonomy within a unitary framework may be opposed by smaller extremist forces among the Sinhala majority. The grim reality though, is that even at their most disruptive and violent, these forces can do much less harm to the Sri Lankan state than a decision by India, under mounting Tamil Nadu pressure, to tilt against Sri Lanka, and a corresponding decision by India’s partner the USA to mount economic pressure Sri Lanka through multilateral institutions and agencies. Under the unlamented Bush administration there was daylight between the positions of the US and the EU. Under the new and universally welcomed Obama administration there may be no daylight between the positions of the US, EU and India.

(Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka is Sri Lanka’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. These are his strictly personal views.)

15 Comments

.
Too late DJ,

Sinhalese already know that they have lost over 25,000 Sinhalese youths in the last three years of war. Many thousands are injured too.
After all these sacrifices, you expect Sinhalese to share power?
If they cannot do it after 1983 riots (remember annexure c), they are not going to do it now.

Also note that all these "Stop the War in Srilanka" protests going on around the world are organized by non-LTTE'ers and attended by even anti-LTTE'ers.
:-)

Posted by: aratai | February 14, 2009 05:08 PM

I have lost all hope for this so-called democratic state that lacks human rights and holds no quarrels regarding the bombardment and slaughter of its own citizens. The government is conducting a military offensive with no considerations for the trapped civilians ,which carries a faint genocidal intent. If there is a god, these monsters that parade themselves as righteous saviors of their respective ethnic groups will meet their end befitting the crimes against humanity that continue today under their tactic approval.

As for the future of this nation, it is bound for bankruptcy and future internal conflicts as the people in power are resolved to solve the political problem with a military band aid.

Posted by: Nitharshan | February 14, 2009 10:02 PM

Bringing India in to this picture and telling "INDIA WILL NOT LET US GIVE THIS, GIVE THAT is nothing other than the Fox and sheep story. Nice try but we have passed that stage. Tamilians in Tamil nadu have awaken on this matter to hoodwink the Eelam issue.

The Current Genocide has opened the eyes of the world which was so drunk with the Bush's failed policy of War on Terror

Posted by: Nam | February 14, 2009 10:41 PM

Mr.Jayatilleka

Your argument is still couched in the racist line that you have been preaching lately. The Singhalese government’s ability to tilt the asymmetry is their favor over that of Tamils. If how the Singhalese governments are building up and institutionalizing this asymmetry is any indication, it can only crumple leave alone the fact the Singhalese have to think of asymmetry is already an indication of failure
Singales have no where to go but Srilankan is not a sane enough reason to suppress the Tamils. This line of absolute majority thinking coupled with paranoia is parts of the problem since last century. It is also precisely this that drove the country into a singular, unitary entity that it is today rather than a thriving multi cultural entity. It does not serve any of its people good enough. Your logic would argue that the Singhalese would settle for less to spite the Tamils as also another reason why Tamils should accept whatever is handed to them with out question. Similar to the nationalistic crap that Singhalese are feeding on, Tamil Diaspora is also now starting to learn their own version. All the Tamils that the successive governments have driven out of Srilanka , will come back to haunt this racist agenda. What is happening now in tamil diaspora community is not a one off event. It is a sustained transformation. You know it as much as I do that as soon as the current geo political cloud of outsiders in that region (that is in favor of the racist government) blows over, the struggle will be back in full force again. It will actually be brought back by the same forces and the Diaspora. It can never be eradicated the way you and your government are hoping for. Your recent racist ramblings lately only reinforce the belief why it will be lot sooner than later.

Posted by: Milthi | February 14, 2009 10:57 PM

Like using 'China card' or 'Pakistan card', Premadasa had to use 'Tamil card' to finally evict IPKF from Srilankan soil. If Srilankans had played this card in the right spirit of the game, they could have averted the whole ethinic crisis and all the disaster that had followed.Indians were also using the 'Tamil card' to armtwist Jayawardane. It is unfortunate that Srilankans started digging their own grave by precipitating Tamil crisis in their country.

Even now ,the way Rajapakse's are handling the issue, is helping Eelam cause to get internationalized and gain more acceptence than never
before.Diplomatically the Tigers have scored major victories. They have rallied the entire tamil diaspora behind them; they have gained full sympathy and support of Tamilnadu people; Many governments have started critisizing the killings of civilians,attack on press and banning international monitors and agencies. What is the Srilankan government is going to do with vast stretch of lands captured and lakhs of ciilians in their 'concentration camps'? is this going to be the end of war or victory?

Posted by: Ashokkumar | February 15, 2009 01:42 AM

The Middle Way/Path is in the recognition that CHANGE is the inevitable nature of Reality.
To recognise this is to be in Balance without striving.

If the heat that Mahinda's Goebels is feeling in the 'UN corridors' is anything to go by then it looks like the inevitable may soon arrive in Lanka - and no Hitler can stop it.

Good fences make good neighbours they say ... and all can live happiliy on the same small island side by side.

Posted by: N2 | February 15, 2009 01:52 AM

Whatever the merits and demerits of the PC elections concluded yesterday, it conveys a clear message to the ultranationalist JVP that has been making indecent noises with regard to MR's overtures to devolve power to minorities. It is more than clear that their own registered cadres in the province have come out to vote for them or they may have voted for the unholy alliance taken up by their song and dance about winning the war against Tamil terrorists.

In the meantime, the alliance is making an overkill of the alleged war victories, gagging the free media. It will be a matter of time before people realize the true extent to which the so called successes had affected their lives. Once the global recession catch up with the national mismanagement of economy, corruption etc. etc., the inevitable starvation hits them along with the collateral damages in terms of lives and resources coming into focus, the inevitable will start and anarchy will raise its ugly head.

Given the 'beyond two weeks amnesia' of the Sri Lankans and eventual decay of euphoria we do have a really ticking bomb.

The predictable reaction of the terrorists would be to go to plan B - engaging the administration in gorilla warfare for which no solution or remedy has been propounded by any mighty power of the world. Everybody knows the theoretical solution of course, that the cause of the ailment should be treated to eradicate the disease rather than treating the symptoms. In the case of Sri Lanka MR seems to have total faith in invasive surgery for the cancer that has spread throughout the system. In fact he has got himself into this mire because of his over-powering desire to save the alliance led parliament.

"The people are sheep. They like him (MR) enough to credit him with saving the nation . Thousands of people get killed, and everybody thinks they're next on the list. The president comes along, and he's got his six-guns strapped on, and people think he's going to save them." -- Borrowed from Ed Asner

India overcame similar situations like "Kalistan" war, "Misroum" and secessionism in Tamil Nadu by removing the discrimination and fostering national development. Look at those who are holding high positions in the central government of India. Most of them, especially in the sensitive positions beginning with the Presidents (current and past), Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Finance Minister you name it. They have inculcated a feeling of belonging to India and everyone feeling to be an Indian. So much so there is a phrase "YOU CAN TAKE AN INDIAN OUT OF INDIA, BUT YOU CANNOT TAKE INDIA OUT OF INDIAN". How true it is! In Sri Lanka if any non-Sinhala Buddhists aspire for higher position (it has now got into government service too) he is either tamed into submission by illegal and undemocratic means or goes out of existence! It is as simple as that.

The task for MR therefore is cut-out. He has to harness more than his resources and energy to counter-balance the situation and enlist the cooperation of everyone one way or the other in the south and go forward in building the nation and bring a feeling of belonging in each and every citizen. This is a big ask. As a pre-requisite, eliminating corruption, bribery,misuse of power, drug trade, under-world activities is absolutely essential. Almost impossible! But there is no alternative!!

Posted by: Kinglsley S.Angiah | February 15, 2009 02:49 AM

I think the "most likely" outcome has been left out of this report altogether...

The SL govt cannot give real devolution because the "smaller extremist forces" on the Sinhalaa side are, I suspect, extremely powerful...not in the sense of having seats in parliament but in the sense of influencing a large part of the armed forces.

Unlike the UNP govt in 1987, this govt cannot use the army to put down a extremist revolt in he south as the army has been motivated on the basis of a Sinhala nationlism (for perfectly understandable reasons) that is voiced by the JVP & JHU. Thus the only realistic solution is a skilful "facade": Try to fool India, the US & EU by holding elections for a Chief Minister in the Northern Province, but do not any actual power or responsibility. The JVP/JHU constituency can be taken to the North to prove that it is actually the army that is in control & that Sinhalese are being moved in, whilst Indian, US & EU representatives can be taken to meet the CM to show that devolution has taken place.

This is exactly what has happended in the East. Pillaiyan, just as Perumal did before him, is complaining that he has no actual powers. The difference in the North will be that politicians in Tamil Nadu will become aware of the differences between the facade of devlolution and the realities of military occupation and call in the favours they are currently doing for Congress (ie keeping a lid on things until the LTTE is destroyed).

Mr Jayatilleka pointed out in an article some months ago that the enduring dynamics of the politics of this island is the struggle between South and North; for some of the last 2 millenia (as with the last 22 years) the Sinhalese have had to struggle against the indiginous tamils but for most of the rest it has been against India. With the LTTE destroyed, the India govt can revert to the much easier game of gaining support in TN whilst at the same time maintaining influence over SL through threats & isolation rather than trying to balance TN anger with friendlyness to SL.

Posted by: Alex | February 15, 2009 08:06 AM

State Terrorist ... simple as that

Posted by: Tamil | February 15, 2009 08:26 AM

Recognition of reality:
SriLanka inherited the current political system from Britain. In other wards, it was imposed on us from outside.

Striving for balance:
The current war will strike the balance and both party will find out the border.

When DJ said "...no solution or model imposed from outside..." he (DJ) hasn't realised that he was throwing stone from within glass house. Because this is exacly what sinhaleese are doing to Tamils. I don't have to explain DJ how SriLanka became a unitary state.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2009 09:34 AM

Dr Dayan,
Now middle path budha and Bandaranaike!not Castro,Mao or Che"This is progress or opportunism!

You are making fantastic claims about geo-political realities.

India has solved her nationalities problems within her territory to a great extent,
The quasi federal system has satisfied the numerous nationalities living in India. However She had failed miserably to resolve her religious and caste problems, that were troubling India from pre- independence days.

She still faces challenges in Kashmir and the North East and also dalit problems throughout India.
Dr Dayan has now become a realist or neo-realist.
In the meantime I would very much like to know whether Fidel Castro,.Mao and Giap were realist as Dr Dayan?

He says that the Sinhalese were opposed to federalism for the last 50 years and separatism for the last 25 years.
We don’t know about the other Sinhalese,but a present day patriot-Dayan was a supporter of separatism even after Thimpu, until he resigned from the Varatharajaperumal administration 1989-90.

He implies that sinhala people will never support federalism.how he arrived at this conclusion is a mystery.

I want to ask him two questions
Q1 In 1956 the Sinhala people including Maha sanga were for Sinhala only,What is their present position?

Q2 In 1987 SLFP and JVP and Maha Sanga were against Indian imposed 13th Amendment. What is their present position?

Who would have thought in the 60s or 70s about the possibility of Tamil also being accepted as an official language.

The Sinhala people unlike Dayan Jayathilake are not xenophobic.

What they want is to safeguard their language, religion and culture. We have faith in the ordinary people not on the elites!
They will rise up to the occasion and build up a really united country.
A mutually acceptable solution is always possible. Therefore it is not necessary to approach this problem with preconceived notions and try to appease prematurely a section of the people!

Posted by: Sri | February 15, 2009 12:33 PM

Dayan is capable of pronouncing solutions to our continuing national anguish. The problem is in his present political reincarnation of trying to justify the untenable and unjust stand of the Buddhist Sinhala extremists, whose mantle has now fallen on to his bosses in the Rajapakse regime, DJ subjects himself to much criticism - valid and in place says I.
Some of the suggestions in his flow of thought articulated in this piece merits consideration. But such counselling has been offered before by many and thrown away - not due to lack of credibility - but by the unnecessary monster created by SWRD in the first place. History notes he could not free himself and neither could his successors both in the SLFP and UNP. The very religious-racial forces he recklessly harnessed to come to power are really the cause of all the bloodshed and deaths in the country from the 1950s. Alas! The LTTE was to show up very much later and in fact the creation of these unhealthy forces and all what they stand for.
To his credit, JRJ ignored the unwarranted pressure from Buddhist chauvinists. The latter was to later gang up with the Premadasa cabal to make things difficult for JR. Ranil too did not identify himself too closely with the Sinhala supremacist clique – despite his Kelaniya /Temple credentials - and weakly allowed himself to be thrown out by the scheming CBK with the help of this messy lot without a murmur or signs of a manly fight. The present weakening of the UNP and confusion began then. Says Dayan “given our aloneness (sic) in India’s presence we cannot afford to sustain a negative relationship with India. For this reason too we have to resolve our problem with our own Tamil minority” Absolutely right. Reams have been written along this path but the Sinhala side – goaded by its microscopic extreme wing - eventually conspired to kill the man who released the racial-religious genie from the bottle. Wisdom offered by many men of learning was contempetously rejected and sometimes mocked. You are right on target when you say ”given the fact the Tamils and Sinhalese have to live together, we have to resolve our own problems – and for this we need India’s leverage. Therefore, we need good relations with India.” Now, now – have’nt we heard this many times before?
But believe me if India was not there as a whipping tool what about the political fortunes of the JVP, JHU, Dinesh G, PNM et al? Why don't the Sinhala people realise this fraud even at this late stage? Dayan then goes to do what some academics invariably do when faced with difficult dilemmas. Confuse the issue bringing in various extraneous arguments - and he has done plenty here. Note he clubs Tamilnadu with the Lankan Tamils when he discusses a power-sharing arrangement. We all know Tamilnadu mentions this only because successive Sinhala governments have done nothing about this for nearly 30 years.The non-resolution of the issue is a headache to TN politicians and so they plead for the case of the Lankan Tamils. Nothing more. surely you are not a fool to think they want territory here. Here we have DJ well into the Rajapakse team and - though he realizes the way out is through the instrument of a power-sharing structure or Federalism, if you will – he cannot suggest this openly. If he does he is out the next moment with Wimal Weerawansa, Dinesh Gunawardena, the Gunadasa Amarasekera clique, the JHU cabal will show up at his door-step with placards “Dayan is a kotiya” And so he goes round and round to quote his own words in fear of the pressures of “the smaller extremist forces among the Sinhala community” Surely, it is the duty of Dayan, Rajiva W and other men of learning in the government to firmly tell Brothers Inc the time for vacillation is long past. After all, are we going to sacrifice the interest of 16 million Sinhalese because of the “pressures of the smaller extremist forces in the Sinhala community” or better still
the cabal mentioned above plus the political thugs going as monks in Parliament and that
invisible political power structure of the Mahanayakes in Kandy? You have to make the hard decision if you seriously wish to see “Tamils and Sinhalese to live together” In the confused state of your mind you say unable to reject the suitability of the shared option “India is an ethnically multi-polar mosaic safely accommodated by a federal frame-work.” Sir, Sri Lanka is no longer bi-polar thanks to the late Ashraff. We are now a bi-polar entity too. We should have, as you rightly say, “ settled long ago for the lower price of devolution.” That we did'nt is the cause of all the mayhem. so why blame the Tamils and the LTTE?
Your fear is that “the Sinhala majority will resist” an internal power-sharing agreement and therefore this option must be abandoned. Take your mind back to 1956 on the Language parity issue and 1948 when Plantation Tamils – citizens who were voting until then and had over 7 MP’s in the legislature – were de-franchised. “The Sinhala majority” adamantly continued to resist – but eventually had to give in on the first throuhg the intervention of the Indian army. Dayan, there is nothing sacrosanct about this unprincipled lot of Sinhala supremacists. The sooner they are put in place the better for the country in general and the Sinhala race in particular. Tamils have suffered too much for too long – in the loss of precious lives of many thousands, the loss of their homes, villages, agricultural land, fishing and just about everything else – they are not
in the mood to yield in to the Sinhala Buddhist political extreme now with the added strength of the Sinhala Buddhist armed forces. Many of them are pushed into considering separation not from the Sinhala people but from this racialist killer lot. It is unfortunate the Sinhala governments and people have failed to gain from the lofty teachings of the Buddha – "one of India’s greatest sons".

ISS

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2009 06:13 PM

Dayan

On a positive note, what has happened to you? You have come to some sense. This time you are different to that of what you were last week. It seems you too can change. Keep it up.

Govi

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2009 03:34 AM

Dear Dayan,

Everything you have said in your latest bit of writing makes sense, except that it is very limited. It limits us to South Asia and focuses our attention on India, curtailing our ability to develop a wider perspective and see for ourselves a greater global role. It also seems to have a certain Sinhala Centricity to it which while being understandable, may actually interfere with the perception of reality. I think that the perception of such a greater global role will actually put our internal problems and our relationship with India into their real context, making it possible for us to resolve these issues in a creative way.

The realist would not define Sri Lanka in terms of its proximity to India alone. The realist would quickly realize that the island is positioned in a pretty unique manner. It seems to be a kind of watchtower or some kind of platform set up right where it can sweep its eyes around a wide arch that would reach from the Western coast of Australia, along the Western coast of South East Asia and on to the Southern tip of the Eastern side of Africa - as far as land goes. It can also keep an eye on the whole of the Indian Ocean. It is home to the largest natural harbor in the region and its potential as a satellite base station has yet to be fully explored. There are muted whispers of large and exceptionally pure deposits of some vital metal on its eastern coastal areas. So India will come to be known as the landmass closest to Sri Lanka - the island that has already been called "The East Pole".

I will not go into the potential economic implications of this scenario. They are fairly obvious. It is obvious that India despite her size and resources is a blundering behemoth when it comes to strategy and organizational structure. Shes out of control, riddled with corruption and totally delusional as you can see if you watch how her institutions especially those of law and order work. Its the only place in the world where victims are viewed as the guilty and subjected to torture routinely, and where institutional records are routinely doctored in order to alter reality.

Indias nightmare is that of seeing its economy run on foreign capital raised and routed through the Colombo Stock Exchange and itself forced to raise capital for infrastructure development through this mechanism. The strategic naval presences in Trincomalee, the missile systems arrayed on the island in defence of this important market mechanism and the satellite systems controlled from the island, are the nemesis of India dreams of being a regional superpower on its own steam. The nightmare shows India to be a client superpower - a paper tiger more or less. There is worse to come. The process of getting here also involves the engineered resurgence of Buddhism along with the spread of Sinhala as a commercial dialect both of which are already underway. The ideological underpinnings of the Indian State will then be controlled from Sri Lanka - not by the rigid and conservative and Theravada that is preserved in Sri Lanka at present, but by a flexible and inclusive Buddhism generated by millions of practitioners in the west.

The realist then realizes what is going on. Ethnic identities are being manipulated in an effort to gain access to the island which of course would demand a seriously weakened economy and polity. The war has already driven out most of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Those left are hardly likely to be able to see what's going on, much less expose it. The Indian Tamils in the island as such a wretchedly poor lot that even India does not take them seriously as a strategic lever of influence. The Muslims may prove to be more difficult to handle. Pushed against the wall they may resort to Jihad, linking up with Muslim extremists worldwide. This Jihadi network will be the real problem of the future. The Tamil will be crushed as India realizes that they are the price she has to pay for her role as client superpower in the region.

Very well, so what does this mean in terms of a solution to the war? It means that a big stick is on the way, aiming for a couple of fat buttocks. Its the end of nationalism and the rise of an inclusive globalism. Sri Lanka will come to be seen as an important asset of the global economy and will be brought under the control of the heart of that global economy. I am pretty certain that the Rajapaksas will end up behind bars on charges of war crimes and corruption while Prabhakaran and his team will be lucky to receive such treatment. They are more likely to simply go missing during the fighting under cover of a media black out.
Dayan, I do not know what will become of you and Rajiva. You will of course be star witnesses in the trial. I cannot see what Rajiva will do - he will probably defend himself in a losing battle, poor fellow. I am sure that you will turn crown witness and point out that time and again you urged moderation and that your occasional outbursts insisting that the war must continue regardless of civilian deaths and suffering were necessary in order to preserve your credibility and position - a true Schindler I guess and you are positioning yourself for the role admirably well. I must say you are pretty cool as a strategist and this is getting pretty exciting. I only wish I were young enough to be able to see the outcome.

Posted by: Crazyoldmansl | February 16, 2009 07:03 AM

I sincerely hope the Indian Home Minister Chithambaram read DJ's this analysis to get his facts correct as the Indian election is around the corner. Particularly Chithambaram's recent statement did not contain full truth based on DJ's para : "However, the recognition of reality is a two way street. The tragedy of India’s experience with Sri Lanka in the 1980s, not to mention those of Russia in Afghanistan and the USA in Iraq, must surely remind the world community that no solution or model imposed from outside, devoid of the consent of the Sinhalese – a solid majority with a long continuous history, existence and consciousness— can stand. The external cannot substitute for the internal, nor can a minority for the majority. "

Why Chithambaram did not blame the Sinhalese Government of SL for the non implemnetation of the Rajiv-JR's pact ? or What would have happened if Rajiv was serioudly injured by the Sinhalese Naval officers's rifle blow ?

Posted by: M.Thiru | February 17, 2009 06:28 AM

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