Posted on June 2nd, 2011

By Nimal Fernando

This piece begins, as it must, with a bow and a huge thank you to Malinda Seneviratne for saying it like it is in his comment in these columns last week, and even more, for spreading awareness and keeping the ever-present danger of Indian designs on the front burners of all the elected representatives of Sri Lanka.

To the eternal credit of sections of the Sri Lankan media, some (make that a few) politicians and a watchful citizenry, the manipulative posturings of Indian leaders and the Indian grand plan, under which Sri Lankan humiliation would’ve been boundless, was always kept front and centre of the biggest national concern.

Few commentators have chosen to call this particular spade
— regional thuggery — a shovel. Kudos to Malinda Seneviratne for so doing. Some of us have watched in disbelief, despair and disgust over the decades as some of the heaviest hitters among our politicians pussyfooted around the problem …

Our present head of state, now into his second term in accordance with the people’s will, is decidedly not among that discredited bunch. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has displayed his sound judgment, pragmatism and, most important of all, all-encompassing patriotism in the alliances he has made and the goals he has chosen to pursue.

In fostering an old friendship with China, he is bringing to fruition cordial ties that were initiated by the founding father of the SLFP, Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike. It is Sri Lanka’s great good fortune that Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike kept her husband’s foreign policy on course, even as she reinforced the basic tenets of Non-Alignment.

Sri Lanka, under President Rajapaksa, continues to benefit from that statecraft. It is debatable whether President J.R. Jayewardane, nearly wilting under Indian pressure, chose not to take the old ties with China to a new level simply because of the Bandaranaike connection …

India has had, continues to have, and will have a problem with Tamil Nadu … Tamil nationhood … secessionist sentiments at al.
The central government, however, and all the big guns in the Congress Party will learn in time, (hopefully soon) that Sri Lanka cannot be an element in balancing this particular equation.

While it is important that age-old cordial relations remain and are safeguarded, it is vital that the needs/fears of this giant neighbour are never allowed to dictate/colour Sri Lanka’s policies, both domestic and foreign.

In any case, the bad old days when large (very large) nations rode rough shod over their smaller neighbours are over. Cuba is a case in point: despite all the muscle-flexing and subtle — even sloppy! — attempts at regime change by past American administrations, Castro’s Cuba is still standing. And effecting popular change by a timeline of its choosing.

In whatever world forum one wishes to choose, from regional groupings to the United Nations — which seems to be losing its way more frequently than before — Sri Lanka boasts a phalanx of friendly nations led by soon-to-be superpower China.

It was but recently that the Rajapaksa administration put two European pretenders to greatness — France and Britain — in their place during the final sprint to the end of the ethnic conflict.
In every decision that reflects national priorities, a nation can stand its ground with grace and with no offence to anyone.

A politically savvy populace and an ever-vigilant Maha Sangha will watch the coming months and years carefully for any signs that, leave alone sovereignty, even Sri Lankan dignity is never compromised in the resolution of minority grievances.

An overwhelming majority of Sri Lankans and the nation’s many well-wishers worldwide will be hopeful that the present administration treads carefully in its dealings with India and all other players, both domestic and foreign, in addressing the ethnic issue.

A great many might argue that this or any other administration has no mandate to go about giving assurances and explaining positions to India or any other nation or grouping about decisions it takes based on a modern Constitution which incorporates universal human rights and the rights of minorities.

They might be vociferous about — or silently register their feelings at the next election — the need for a louder reiteration of home truths — much in the Malinda Seneviratne tradition — such as this myth about traditional homelands and unworkable boundaries …

It was the late Lalith Athulathmudali who had the guts to say out loud in the mid-eighties that mindsets must change from talk about ‘traditional homelands’ to Sri Lankan lands where citizens could settle wherever they wished.

It is a given that the majority community will never accept a situation where the nation’s integrity is compromised to satisfy the unjust, Sisyphean demands of a minuscule part of the population.

The homeland issue will become a non-debate only when it comes to pass that all Sri Lankans live all over Sri Lanka.
It might be a good exercise to take a representative group of bellyaching Indian and European lawmakers and sundry NGOs on a tour of Dehiwela, not far from the the heart of the commercial capital, where all Sri Lankans — a majority of them Tamil! — live in harmony, thank you …


  1. AnuD Says:

    I hate to read the words like minority grievences, in relation to sri Lanka.

    It is we who give prominance to these words.

    I havn’t seen any, except one or two from Canada may be, or tamil web site ever writing that Sinhala people suffered or they have problems too.

  2. Ramanie Says:

    Very true AnuD! Sick of hearing of Tamil grievances, Tamil sob stories, Tamil thuggery, Tamil racism and Tamil terrorism. The Sinhalese have never had fighting chance in this country to air their grievances or even to talk about what their lot in life is- the airwaves are full of only one thing- it’s all about this aggressive, ambitious, unjust, treacherous miniscule minority!

    Well said Nimal! Well said Malinda too!

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