By Shenali Waduge
Let’s put things in perspective. Whatever Resolutions are brought, whoever votes against Sri Lanka, whatever embargoes are imposed, Sri Lanka will continue to rally round its valiant Armed Forces because they remain the only military to eliminate a terrorist movement. No country can diminish this achievement and we stand proud of our military no matter what.
No Indian Government is, has ever been or will be bothered to win the popularity contest of the Sri Lankan people. India has analyzed to perfection how the political system in Sri Lanka operates. Thus, what the people of Sri Lanka feel about India is immaterial so long as India can get its wishlists secured from the men holding office in Sri Lanka who easily succumb to every demand.
No previous government has given to India stakes in Sri Lanka’s strategic national assets as the present Government has done and records reveal how India holds stakes in every area of polity in Sri Lanka. What keeps things in balance so far is that the people of Sri Lanka remain gratuitous still towards the Government of Sri Lanka because of ending 30 years of terror. However that does not mean one needs to be blind to the need for astuteness in matters of national interest.
What if India votes against Sri Lanka again?
To answer this all we need to do is to look at post 2012 Geneva when India not only voted against Sri Lanka but influenced the votes of others too. The entire country came down hard on India and many in India expressed their dislike for what India did.
Yet, shamefully Sri Lanka’s Government continued to declare India as a “friend” of Sri Lanka and it was business as usual for India. We hope these actions don’t end up precedents adopted by every nation we deal with as we will soon discover we are living in a country leased out to foreign nations and we can but wonder what the future will hold for its people!
Dangers of India’s stakes in Sri Lanka
India’s hold on Sri Lanka is overwhelming. Many of Sri Lanka’s key export crop factories are now in Indian possession, there is an undersea electricity line linking India and Sri Lanka another investment that spells great dangers in the future, worse still is the trade agreements that India has managed to clearly swing in its favor with Sri Lankan officials nonplussed about safeguarding Sri Lanka’s interest. This has led to a future scenario of Indian labor force flooding Sri Lanka and with Indian companies obtaining a good hope in Sri Lanka the question of employability for Sri Lankans surfaces – this should alarm Sri Lankan professionals and skilled workers who presently follow an appeasement mindset.
The build up to such a scenario is unfolding. Indians have a huge say in Sri Lankan media, it can influence politicians and public sector officers and even corporate sector officers. Indian personnel hold key positions in the private sector and are even representing Sri Lanka at international levels – who would have thought Indians would be promoting tourism in Sri Lanka and only a handful have read into these implications at a future date!
Sri Lanka’s strategic assets like Trincomalee port, Kankasanthurai, Palali airbase ensure India monitors air and naval aspects. Cairn India and Indian Oil control Sri Lanka’s power, energy and petroleum sectors effectively. Now comes the greatest betrayal of them all as India is well set to secure Sampur power plant as well.
India will manipulate Sri Lanka’s electricity using Sampur
Sampur is certainly the last straw and is a testing point for how sovereignty-conscious the Government is in ignoring the concerns made by its people. When the operational and maintenance cost is high, when more coal is required which means more cost why are we going ahead with Sampur power plant operation despite warnings by the experts?
It was the trade unions that stopped the Wickremasinghe Government from handing over 2/3 petroleum monopoly to India. If it did, India could have switched off petrol supplies every time Tamil Nadu starts its theatrics which would have affected our war efforts adversely. We are now faced with a similar situation where India in time to come will have gradual control over Sri Lanka’s power supply which can be turned off as and when India desires. Sri Lanka will be at the mercy of India – the damage would be irreversible. Have any of our legislatures even pondered over such possibilities?
Juxtapose this with a scenario like India demanding Sri Lanka’s implementation of the 13thamendment, devolution to the re-merged northern and eastern provinces and India would not hesitate to cut off our electricity if the Government did not give in to India’s demands. Even with the current stakes India can do much to jeopardize the country and its people. We continue to underestimate the lengths India can go to bring Sri Lanka to do as it sees fit. Have we not learnt our lessons? A country that armed, trained and financed the LTTE in the initial stages is capable of doing far worse things to our people. India has far more options now than the LTTE she created.
Who is advising the Government to give India so much leverage in Sri Lanka because the Government has not consolidated all the stakes that India holds to realize this extreme threat faced by the nation in time to come. The Government needs to seriously look at what India is capable of doing using these stakes that Sri Lanka has handed over to India and how detrimental it is likely to be both for the nation and its people.
Geneva 2013 – Result
Thus, if nothing detrimental happened to India’s interest in Sri Lanka following India’s vote against Sri Lanka in 2012, India is likely to repeat its performance because not only will its stake in Sri Lanka remain unchanged it would have secured a greater partner in the US – though India should think that the US is as good a friend that India has been to Sri Lanka!
So as things stand, it is unlikely India will be bothered about any reaction in Sri Lanka the event India does vote against Sri Lanka in 2013. India knows that despite voting against Sri Lanka in 2012, the Sri Lankan Government continued to maintain close political and economic ties with India and it was very much business as usual. So the 2013 Indian decision to vote against Sri Lanka is unlikely to make that much difference to India strategic leverage in Sri Lanka.
For this government, Foreign Policy appears to be nothing but appeasing and making deals. Our current government politicians have certainly landed Sri Lanka in a bit of a fix and what remains a worry every time we strike deals is exactly what assets of our country the politicians have agreed to compromise. Everywhere there is turmoil taking place, the root cause has been because Sri Lanka has been betrayed at the negotiating table by our very own. In considering this status quo it appears the dangers lie in people like the Ministry of External Affairs and the advisors on Foreign Affairs in the government rather than their counterparts!
Sri Lanka’s leaders are not elected to secure the interests of other nations compromising our own. Politicians know only too well that Sri Lankan leaders come to power and are removed from power only by the voters who constitute an urban nationalist block whose opinions gradually filters down to the villages over time. Hence the insignificance of the opinions of the INGO-backed Colombans. No foreign Government has been able to understand the dynamics of how these nationalists block of Sri Lanka function. This vote contributed enormously in bringing the current government into power
The country’s first executive president who claimed the only thing he could not do was to change a man to women and vice versa saw his power base rapidly collapsing and the country faced with anarchy with the loss of over 70,000-80,000 young lives for signing the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord. Similar fates have prevailed for every leader that governed against what was in the best interest of Sri Lanka. They all learned the political power wielded by the nationalists in Sri Lanka too late.
Sri Lanka’s leaders cannot reverse the supreme sacrifices that Sri Lanka’s military headed by a very formidable defense secretary has made.
It is still not late for Sri Lanka’s leaders to urgently re-evaluate their position and return to the path of securing the interests of Sri Lanka’s sovereign and territorial integrity without disappointing all the soldiers who sacrificed their and for our children for whom the future of Sri Lanka is of paramount importance.
The country will always support anyone who contributes towards the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.