Sunday, May 10, 2009



The campaign in Tamil Nadu for the elections to the Lok Sabha, which comes to an end on May 11,2009, saw copious shedding of crocodile tears not only for the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils, but also for the cause of a separate Tamil homeland as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) of M. Karunanidhi put it or for the cause of an independent Tamil Eelam as the Anna DMK of J.Jayalalitha and other Tamil parties put it.

2. Of the various parties contesting the elections, only the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress (I) and the Communist Party of India (CPI), which are national and not regional parties, made a distinction between support for the plight of the Tamils and support for the cause of Tamil Eelam. They desisted from supporting the latter.

3. There has been a certain hypocrisy in the stand of both the DMK and the ADMK. The DMK, which in the past had made no secret of its sympathies for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and its leader Prabakaran, had at the same time refrained from supporting the demand for a Tamil Eelam. It had always given the impression of supporting the stand of the Government of India of canvassing for the political and economic rights of the Tamils in a unified, but not unitary Sri Lanka.

4.The ADMK had in the past strongly opposed the LTTE and Prabakaran as well as their demand for an independent Tamil Eelam. Jayalalitha’s abrupt volte face on this subject during the course of the election campaign and her coming out in support of the totally unwise suggestion for sending the Indian Army to the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka for facilitating the creation of an independent Tamil Eelam came as a total surprise. Taken aback by the change in her stand, Karunanidhi, who has shown a lack of consistency and lucidity on the Tamil issue for over a year now, came out with his own support for a Tamil homeland without explaining what he meant. The Sri Lankan Tamils already have a homeland in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. The question is what should be the constitutional status of this homeland. Should it become an independent Tamil Eelam as demanded by the LTTE or should it become a largely autonomous state of a federal Sri Lanka as demanded by other Sri Lankan Tamil parties and as supported by the Government of India since the days of Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister?

5. How can Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi come out in support of an independent Tamil Eelam or a homeland for the Tamils when none of the Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka except the LTTE has supported such a demand? Even the LTTE is now a party in its death rattle. The knee-jerk reactions on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue among the regional parties of Tamil Nadu and their vying with one another in showing whose heart bleeds more for the Sri Lankan Tamils and their cause show a calculation by all these parties that in the absence of any other major political issue of interest to the nation in general and to Tamil Nadu in particular during the just-ending election campaign the exploitation of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue might provide the magic wand to electrify the voters and get their support. Whether their calculation proves right or wrong, only the results will show on May 16,2009. But one has to note that outside the screeching headlines of the Tamil media, one has not seen any major outpouring of public support for any of the Tamil parties on the Tamil Eelam issue.

6.One gets an impression that the Tamils of Tamil Nadu are more concerned about their own plight than over the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils----caused by the rotten state of the infrastructure, frequent electricity shut-downs under the pretext of maintenance pauses, an administration which activates itself only a few weeks before the elections and then forgets the voters for four years, the political dynasty syndrome and a group of DMK Ministers in the Cabinet of Dr.Manmohan Singh who conducted themselves for four years as if India is Tamil Nadu and Tamil Nadu is India and as if Tamil Nadu is DMK and DMK is Tamil Nadu. The DMK Ministers held very important portfolios in New Delhi, but how many non-Tamil citizens of India had heard of them or seen them?

7. There are three aspects to the Sri Lankan Tamil issue:

(a). The humanitarian plight of the Sri Lankan Tamil civilians in the Northern and Eastern Provinces due to the ruthless use of air strikes by the Sri Lankan Air Force in the Tamil areas for the last three years and the use of multi-barrel rockets and artillery pieces given by Pakistan and due to the recent brutal use of the Tamil civilians by the LTTE as human shields in order to ward off its final collapse and maintain its political relevance after having lost its military capabilities. The Government of Dr.Manmohan Singh and all political parties----national or regional--- failed deplorably all these months to condemn the use of air strikes and heavy artillery of Pakistani- make against the Tamil civilians. The humanitarian problem did not start yesterday. It started three years ago when the Sri Lankan Armed Forces brought their aircraft and Pakistani-origin artillery into action, but not a single political party in India thought it fit to condemn it. They have suddenly become aware of the humanitarian plight of the Tamils a few weeks before the elections. If this is not hypocrisy and political opportunism, what then is it?

(b). The cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils, who have always been the objective allies of India. The Sri Lankan Tamil cause, which has the support of all Tamil parties in Sri Lanka, relates to a modification of the present unitary state of Sri Lanka in order to make it a genuine federal State in which the equal rights and dignity of the Tamils in the federal State are guaranteed. This cause had enjoyed the active support of Rajiv Gandhi when he was the Prime Minister. Many Tamils in Tamil Nadu, including this writer, had a legitimate grievance that as Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh deviated from the traditional policy of Congress (I) and failed to articulate energetically the Government of India’s support for this. His silence and ambivalent comments----if at all when he made some rare comments on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue--- were interpreted by the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sinhalese extremists in the Sri Lankan Armed Forces as indicating that the Government of India no longer supported the Tamil cause as strongly as it did under Rajiv Gandhi and that it could ride rough-shod over the rights of the Tamils without having to worry about any adverse reactions from New Delhi.

(C ). The cause of an independent Tamil Eelam. The LTTE is the only Tamil organization in Sri Lanka which supports it. Other Tamil parties don’t. Under Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister, the Congress (I) gave the impression of supporting it, but Rajiv Gandhi wisely removed this impression and came out against an independent Tamil Eelam and in favour of a federal Sri Lanka with the Tamils enjoying equal rights with the Sinhalese. After the expected death of the LTTE, this would have been a dead issue in Sri Lanka, but attempts are being made in Tamil Nadu to give a fresh lease of life to this issue purely out of electoral calculations and not out of any genuine interest in the future of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

8. Despite all that has happened till now, India still has many friends in Sri Lanka--- among the Sinhalese as well as the Tamils. There are many on both sides of the political spectrum in Sri Lanka who understand and do not misinterpret India’s interest in the future of the Tamils in view of the likely impact of the Sri Lankan Tamil problem on the Indian Tamils in Tamil Nadu. Based on this, the Manmohan Sigh Government could have worked out a comprehensive strategy for the future which would have convinced the Sri Lankan Tamils that India continued to care for them and would have, at the same time, reassured the Sinhalese that India did not wish ill of them and Sri Lanka.

9. The Manmohan Singh Government failed to work out such a strategy. Nobody knows what exactly is his strategy on Sri Lanka. ( 11-5-2009)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )


பத்மநாபன் said...

Dear Raman sir,

India is losing its trustworthiness and the Sonia Gandhi replacing the name of Mahatma Gandhi’s Nation and Ahimsa. Now there is no strategy and clear view on Sri Lanka as well as in the national security. Congress spoiled this country using its maximum strength of idiocy. Manmohan is not a politician. He is a professor and acting like a PM. He is a mouthorgan of Sonia.

A country like India still need to learn more and should not allow Nehru family to play game on our national interest. We should not engage foreign-born Sonia into this level. We should not allow economic professor to PM post. He is just for Economy… not for everything.

Manmohan is not having any strategy on Sri Lanka. He is simply listening only Sonia voice on this. Pranap and MK Narayan played game on Sri Lankan Tamils issue and mislead Sonia and Manmohan. This is again repeated story of stupid advice of Indian government officers same like advice of sending IPKF to Sri Lanka.

Raman sir… I am registering my views here… After May 16, there will be a reverse change on the approach of Sri Lankan issue from India. The current Sri Lankan government also will understand their stupidity of killing their own people based on Sonia’s personal betrayal.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

It is true that the two large political parties in TN, the DMK and ADMK are hypocritical. While BJP's stand is that Tamils must get equal rights in SL within a unified SL, the congress even though it says the same does not believe in it. In fact the Congress is not worried even if there is a genocide on Tamils or if Tamils are raped in concentration camps. The Congress's and govt of India's policy has been blinded by hostility towards one group, the LTTE. Tamils hope that the new govt would take a fresh look at the matter.

I agree with your view that a unified and federal Srilanka would suit India and the Srilankans of all communities better. But I have to point out that it really depends on a change in mindset of the Sinhalese. You must acknowledge that there are large hardcore racist Sinhala groups in SL which really take their inspiration from the Mahavamsa which is integral to the Srilankan Buddhist faith. When the belief of a people is rooted on racist material like the Mein Kampf or misinterpreted Quran or the Mahavamsa, is it possible to expect any reform in their societies? Is it reasonable to expect that they would treat the people of other faith with equal rights? I don't think the Sinhalese society would reform by themselves in the near future. They would reform only if their existence itself is threatened like it happened in the case of Japan.

If we are to wait for the Sinhalese to reform and accept a federal status for their country with equal rights to Tamils, we can only compare ourselves to the proverbial parrot that waited for the silk cotton fruit (இலவு காத்த கிளி).

V S Subramaniam said...

Dear editor

B Raman, Cho Ramaswamy and the likes have been regularly putting out such anti-Tamil venom for decades now. The adharmic revenge lust of the mantra chanting sectarians against the Dravida movement that usurped their power base in Tamil Nadu in the 60’s continues strongly. Though paying lip service to the Tamil cause, the hard hearted sectarians associated with South Block contributed to the success of the brutal SL genocide causing immeasurable sufferings to the Tamils. The common denominator is their faith in the irrelevant Bush terrorism doctrine. This doctrine dogmatically lumped even those fighting genocide, independence or other forms of injustice into the crude ‘terrorism’ category. Thanks, Mandela escaped being treated a terrorist. Though Obama/Hilary gave a decent burial to this street level view of ‘terrorism’ there are reputable counter-terrorism experts like the Ramans who continue to peddle such second hand wares to the unwary public.
Raman wastes more space to list (paddiyal) out LTTE’s faults whilst the wider humanity bemoans the more tragic brutality of the SL genocide. Perhaps the mantras of these sectarians do not reckon genocide amongst the list of adharmic acts. The sectarians mischievously laboursto separate the Tamil resistance/LTTE from the Tamil cause. Such logic comes naturally to those who encourage and are comfortable with the brutality of the SL genocide despite graphic heart breaking images carried widely by the unbiased sections of the media. These images have brought together the Tamils the world over bringing the Tamils the world over and the bulk openly identifying themselves with the resistance/LTTE. From the Tamilian's viewpoint the identity of the Tamil cause with the LTTE is at the highest point than at any time before. The anger and frustration of Tamilians has risen to a level that shoe throwing is becoming the symbol of hatred towards those who support SL genocide and continue to demonise LTTE the only viable and honest Tamil resistance.

Raman/Cho (according to his recent Tuglak’s survey) who for years claimed that the Tamil cause is a non-issue in TN politics are distressed that it is a hot issue in TN today. Raman’s ridicule of political groups competing to show support (whose heart bleeds more for the Tamil cause) borders on crude insensitivity to the sympathisers of the victims' sufferings of fellow human beings. Raman also demeans the Tamil voter claiming that they are more concerned with material (water and electricity cuts, poor roads and other amenities) and insensitive to the sufferings of fellow humans. Perhaps the mantra chanting has elevated these sectarians to higher plane of spirituality to become indifferent to such worldly sufferings. The hapless mainstream TN Tamilians join humanity sharing deep sorrow and anger over the sufferings of the brethren across the Straits except that the cloak and dagger South Block (Narayanan a public official whose has earned a reputation for blatant partisanship)mandarins support the adharmic brutality of the genocide. B Raman, Cho and the likes are sure to earn a place in heaven chanting the version of the mantras that support genocide.
V S Subramaniam

V S Subramaniam said...

Sri Lankan case is a classic ‘how to’ guide book on committing the worst human rights crimes and still escape criminality. The agony of the Tamils is unlikely to end as long as long as India effectively Delhi (Tamil Nadu excluded) is complicit in the genocide in SL. Initially covert but now is overt India uses various pretences to justify its complicity. Delhi killed off all the hard work on SL’s human rights crimes by UNHRC and other mandated Human rights groups at the May Council meeting.

The record of UNHRC and related Hunan Rights groups is impeccable. Its field work supported statements/reports produced successful prosecutions of the world’s most renowned human rights abusers/criminals. In SL’s case, the Human Rights groups report ‘unacceptably high’ civilian deaths. Though war crimes Delhi (Raman) a partner in SL’s crime quibbles over the civilian numbers killed in SL’s ‘no fire zone’ and the interning and ill-treating of civilians as prisoners of war. To divert culpability Delhi accuses the West especially the personnel of the UN and mandated Human Rights groups of using the ‘Eelam issue to embarrass the SL government and put its senior officers in the dock by disseminating unauthenticated high figures of civilian casualties’ not mentioning the savage SL’s attacks on civilians. Intense bombardment in the narrow India blessed ‘no-fire zone’, SL troops throwing grenades into bunkers where unarmed civilians were sheltering, and bulldozing civilians ‘into mass graves along with the dead’. Though leaks of graphic details of these crimes are effectively plugged the ‘human shield’ Tamils now liberated into the Vanni camps are sure to provide dispositions later to the dis-comfort of the offenders. TV images of the long marches to the camps of emaciated civilians vouch to SL's savage use of starvation as a weapon of war on unarmed civilians. After starving for days in live saving bunkers in the ‘no fire zone’ the interns are starved behind barbed wire camps. These acts fall within the war crime category. A well informed analyst cynically observed that SL crimes received praise in that Council meeting which also ordered an investigation into Gaza atrocities though SL’s crimes were easily 10 times worse; the difference; there were no cameras in the SL case for the world see.

The 'no fire zone' and the concentration camps were the brain children of Narayanan/Menon duo. These were for the massacres to occur in utmost secrecy without independent witnesses to frustrate potential SL war crimes proceedings. Tamil civilians in the war front trustingly moved into the India blessed 'no fire zones'not realizing tThey were actually well planned 'massacres zones'. Lurid pictures of the SL massacres are in the public domain worldwide, thanks to the internet. The Sunday Times Gothabhaya Rajapakse interview incriminates the Indian trio’s (Foreign Secretary, National Security Advisor and Defense Secretary) step by step liaising with the SL counterparts on the timing /details of the (May 16 to 19) massacres, including that RAW be involved in the capture and massacre of the Ltté leadership and the number of civilians casualties politically acceptable to Delhi. RAW's over flights gave precise co-ordinates of the targets and ground conditions for the massacres. Hence India had to act in the May UNHRC meeting prudently as it did. India viewed the West's SL war crimes initiatives in the UNHRC as a threat. The Tamils viewed that the west was acting perfectly morally exposing SL's inhuman crimes against unarmed civilians. An unabashed Delhi continuing to frustrate UNHRC’s pains to establish the criminality of the SL genocide will p[rolong the agony of the Tamils. Sri Lanka lost its membership in the UNHRC as an HR abuser almost exactly a year ago. SL’s success in the UNHRC this May is the result of India’s robust lobbying for SL for which the Tamils in their tens of thousands became sacrificial lambs. .