It is high time India gives up Kautilya tactics towards its neighbours and instead adopts the Asokan Foreign policy if she dreams to emerge as a powerful and popular nation.
Posted on June 19th, 2014

Dr Sudath Gunasekara President Senior Citizens Movement Mahanuwara 18.June.2014.

Kautilya who wrote his ‘Arthasastra’ the pioneering work on Statecraft in human history (500 BC -150 AD) said Ends justifies the Means” He also said in his Mandala Theory ‘every neighbouring State is an enemy and the enemy’s enemy is a friend.’

He also said the prosperity of the State needs new territory. The need to conquest other’s land by war arises from this.

Isn’t this the foreign policy adopted and pursued by all governments in India since independence? Governments have come and gone; but to me it appears that all of them have followed this Kautilyan policy towards all its immediate neighbours., though no annexation has been done yet. Take for instance Pakistan, Maldives Islands, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Kashmir, Malaysia and China? Unfortunately India’s relationship with none of these countries has been cordial.

In this process India obviously has paid more emphasis to these vicious Kautilyan strategies than the more fundamental objectives of the State viz Raksha (Protection of the State from foreign aggression),Palana maintenance of law and order within the state),  and Yogakshema (safeguarding the welfare of the people)  laid down in Arthasastra.Somepeople call Sri Lanka the ‘tear drop of India’. As I see, it is the tear drop caused actually by endless Indian aggression and intervention throughout history in our domestic affairs.  In the ancient days it was only south India that created headache for us with the exception of the singular north Indian invasion by Rama, noted in the Ramayana.

Though Rama invaded Lanka to rescue Sita, who was kept a captive by Ravana, the Lord of Lanka, he did not wish to acquire the Island as one of his new territories. As such North India never invaded or intervened with Kautilyan motives in our domestic affairs until Indira and Rajieve Ghandi arrogantly did it in 1997 for which dastardly act both the mother and the son had to pay the high price with their lives. Beside this event north India had been always our inspiration as well as benefactor.

Not only Vijaya the legendary founder of our nation came from North India but the very foundation on which the Islands civilization is based, that is Buddhism, was introduced by Asoka’s son Arahat Mahinda It is the greatest gift bestowed to us by the wonder that is North India. Even though over the millennia Sri Lanka has built its own unique cultural identity, therefore, it is far from reality for anyone in this country to try to completely divorce from the Indian imprint. We owe so much to it, as the spring of our cultural identity and the glory as The Sinhala Buddhist civilization”.

But the bitter story with regard to South India on the other hand is totally different. Right throughout history it had been the pain in our neck. Throughout history it was one of invasion, plundering, destruction and colossal devastation. The infamous Magha invasion of the13th century, the high watermark among all South Indian invasions, completely destroyed and vandalized and raced to the ground the unique and glorious Sinhala Buddhist civilization that had reached its zenith around the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa , over a period of 19 centuries. Sri Lanka has not being able to restore that pristine civilization destroyed by Magha thereafter, up to date. Thanks to the survivors who escaped in to the South west and the hills for survival we were able to preserve the spirit of that great legacy for posterity. Added to this historical cancer is the sad legacy of south Indian labourers brought by the British, to work in the newly opened tea estates on the hills left behind by hem when they left in 1948.

In spite of a continuous chain of invasions from 2nd century BC up till the 13th century, South Indian Chola barbarians failed to date to acquire this paradise island though they have been able to capture and rule parts of the northern part of the Island for short periods. Nevertheless they have not yet totally given up the dream of annexing this country to their virtual desert like territory. After all, the EELAM dream was concieved in the minds of South Indian Tamils. As such it was not an invention of Prabhakaran. The latter was only the cat’s paw that was used to realize a vicious south Indian objective. First they wanted to establish the EELAM in the north and east Sri Lanka and then to bring whole of Sri Lanka under the EELAM banner.

They knew it very well that they cannot do it in India. Thereafter using Sri Lanka as the launching pad capture whole of the Indian subcontinent with the goal of making the whole of India their EELAM.  That was their Kautilyan plan. The final objective was their Dream world EELAM Federation” as conceived by Appadorei way back in 1940s. Unfortunately they selected the wrong name for World Tamil Empire they had in their minds. Because EELAM is the direct translation of  Sihalam which means the ‘Land of the Sinhalese” None of the Indian politicians or the Kautlian brahamins have got this point. What is more important is unfortunately none of them have been able to comprehend the long term South Indian Tamil dream of capturing whole of India as the Land of the Tamils.

Both the South Indian Tamils and the so-called Tami diaspora spread all over the word know very well that they can’t begin this game in south India in spite of the presence of Dravida Munnetra Kazagams because of the 16th Amendement to the Indian Constitution. That is why they decided to begin it in Sri Lanka.

Coming back to modern India one sees a complete departure from the ancient approach, particularly the Asokan approach to its neighbours. Although Kautilya state craft was in vogue even at that times Asoka adopted a different foreign policy from his predecessor Mauriyans. Apparently after the Kalinga war and his conversion to Buddhism he won over all the neighboring countries by sending friendly Buddhist missions instead of waging war with them. He preferred what is called Dhammavijaya instead of dikvijaya. To that extent his foreign policy could be seen as a complete departure from the Kautilyan approach.  But Asoka is hailed as the most respected Emperor the world ever had, even by renound historians like H.G.Wels.  His diplomatic relations extended from Iran in the west to Thailand in the east and Afghanistan in the north to Sri Lanka in the south and he commanded a spiritual empire covering all these countries. Of course Asokas best friend was Devanampiyatissa the King of Lanka to whom he gave a part of his own name and sent his son Mahinda and daughter Sanghamitta as emissaries to establish the Doctrine. We hail this mission as the best gift we ever received from North India.

In spite of this rich legacy it is a tragedy that modern India as said before appears to have completely divorced from that noble Indian foreign policy and reverted to the Kautilyan approach. However going by the wonderful gesture Modi displayed by inviting all heads of States in the SAARC region for his inauguration ceremony one could take it as the dawn of a new era in Indian politics. Though we still have an element of doubt as to how he will act going by the blunt and hasty way he began with the President of Sri Lanka immediately after the swearing in, I still believe, as a man of different make, he might not follow the Kautilya approach of his predecessors with regard to India’s neighbours. If that happens, I am sure India under his leadership will augur a new chapter I Indian politics.

On the other hand if he also opts to follow the beaten track set by the Kautilyan bureaucrats it will ends up as a disintegrated cluster of weak and rival smaller states within India fighting each other surrounded by a ring of unfriendly and enemy countries all around it instead of a dominating India flanked by a ring of friendly countries.

What India, like any other big or powerful country such as America should not forget is that the age of conquest, exploitation and dominance in geopolitics is a thing of the past. Today it is the age of equality, dignity and justice that reign the world over. Today it is not the might but the right which matters in international politics.

2 Responses to “It is high time India gives up Kautilya tactics towards its neighbours and instead adopts the Asokan Foreign policy if she dreams to emerge as a powerful and popular nation.”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    “though no annexation has been done yet.” Dr Sudath Gunasekara Please do your homework. Sikkim was an independent (BUDDHIST) nation with her own ethnicity that is completely different from India. her own languages and her own religion (Vajrayana Buddhism). Under Indira Gandhi the people of Sikkim “suddenly” decided to simply give up their sovereignty and vote to join India. that is as believable as me claiming to be the king of England.

    No nation gives up their independence, least of all the nation of Sikkim. There was no need for Sikkim to suddenly vote unanimously to join with India unless New Delhi coerced that nation to do so. Yes India has annexed Sikkim, divided Pakistan and tried to divide Sri Lanka through military means. Now failing to achieve that she is trying the diplomatic route through the UN. The Times of India now has three separate articles on the backlash on Sri Lankan Muslims. Look under “World news” in the Times of India.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    I doubt Endia will ever change.

    We must guard against them. Then there are our “FRIENDS” in the region like Pakistan and Maldives that VOTE for SL at UNHRC, etc.

    But they too are FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS. Large number of their people ILLEGALLY come to SL and bring fundamental Islam.

    We have to guard against both.

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