Indo – Sri Lanka Relations follow an Inverse Power Law
Posted on March 12th, 2013

R Chandrasoma

A  great power – real or fancied – greatly fears a competitor at its doorstep. The beligerance of the USA during the period of the Cold War is best explained as a consequence of this fear of ursurpation by other powers – near or far. The Soviet empire during its hey day was driven by similar fears and  behaved like a thug in Eastern Europe. Today, the rising superpowers in the East “”…” India and China – have similar hang-ups and look suspiciusly at their neighbours. The latter feel the heat of these rising luminaries and are justifiably apprehensive. Let us look more closely at Indo-Sri Lanka relations in the light of this paradigm. A self-confident and prosperous Sri Lanka is an unwelcome development for our great neighbour because it diminishes the might and status of the local overlord. A powerful Sri Lanka reduces the status of the hegemon of the region and is seen as a ‘threat’ not in terms of open conflict but in the more subtle world of pride and premiership. It follows that the future relations between India and Sri Lanka will be less that cordial given the growing politico-economic clout of Sri Lanka and the rising fissiparous tendencies in the Sub-Continent.

This ‘distancing’ of a once inoffensive neighbour and attendent fears follow what mathematicians call a ‘Power Law’. As Sri Lanka improves it international standing and ecomomic clout, the fear reaction of India – and its hostility to our country – will grow more that proportionately. The tendency to intervene and the over-reaction to strictly domestic affairs of our country will grow exponentially with the passing of the years. This assumes, of course, that India’s might will grow pari passu with that of significant powers in the region. All the evidence suggests otherwise – that the Nehru-Gandhi Model of spiritual greatness in an independent. viable and world-leading Indian nation has gone with the wind. It is craft and subservience to the West that guide Indian politics at all levels today. It is also the fear of neighbours upstaging it that drives policy – the primal fear of Pakistan is now supplemented by great forebodings arising from a rising and resplendent China. Sri Lanka is not in the same class as these formidable adversaries of lomg standing. Yet the psychology that underpins Indo-Sri Lanka relations follows that Power Law that we referred above  – the decline of cordiality in inverse proportion to the well-being of the neighbour. Some sympathy must be expressed for the existentialist worries of India as it now finds itself gripped in a pincer with a threatening Great-Power presence in the East (China) and a volatile Muslim behemoth in the West. Is it surprising that it fears events in a nation on its southern border even if the latter is conspicuously obsequious in dealing with its mighty neighbour?

In the light of what we have said above, let us re-assess the ‘shape’ of the Indo-Sri Lanka relationship in the last decade or so. The 1970’s and ’80’s through the 90’s were tragic years for our country with insurrection, bloodshed and social chaos engulfing our poor homeland. Our neighbour did not clamour for order and sanity – it found the chaos and instability of a strategic neighbour greatly to its benfit. The Indian supremo Dixit breathed down JRJ’s neck while terrorists underwent training in Mother India. The wholesale reversal of this dismal scenario “”…” greatly to the good of our country “”…” left the Indian strategists in some disarray as sturdy independence in Sri Lanka forebodes ill for its pretentious neighbour to the North. Thus arises the paradox of a humble Sri Lanka being goaded into submission by a great neighbour that has lost its “ƒ”¹…”rudder’ in navigating the stormy seas of contemporary politics.

3 Responses to “Indo – Sri Lanka Relations follow an Inverse Power Law”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    This is called Finlandisation and is a global practice.

    India is Finlandising Sri Lanka.

    India’s cordial relations with Sri Lanka inversely relate to the level of peace and development in Sri Lanka. The more peaceful the island is, the worse the relationship between the two countries become. All the Indian dealings can be reconciled in that model. India is actively undermining Sri Lanka’s stability.

    Chinese military presence in the island can deter this threat. India goes to extreme lengths to avoid any real or even remotely possible confrontation with China which will guarantee security of the island. There is a more sinister reason why China must be engaged in Lankan defence. As stated by a Chinese defence strategist in 2009, China strives to disintegrate India using existing separatist movements including Tamils in Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kashmir, West Bengal, Punjab. Unless China is constructively engaged in Lankan defence, this move will destabilise Sri Lanka too.

  2. Nimalsiri Perera Says:

    Agree with Dilrook on this.
    China will be the next super power. We, a small island nation need a super power to be stable and prosper. Singapore first took USA as their protector. We have 1 choice , that is China, whether we like it or not.
    We should not be afraid of declaring this, rather than ” oh ! India is our best friend ” nonsence.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    India’s best hope is what it offers to the whole world in terms of Spiritual understanding. That is a growing presence in North India, but the South lags behind in real understanding.

    Tamil Nadu is stuck in ancient ideas such as Caste, (unfortunately tied to the Hindu religion). That is a real problem for Sri Lanka. Unless and until TN revives into new spiritual thinking that is engaging the North, Sri Lanka has to be cautious with India (Delhi), and not depend on sincere Indian support.

    Who wags India ? Cairn Oil (British), owns 70% of the vast Indian oil reserves in the Rajasthan desert.

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