A bridge to India – or keep the Hindian at arms length?
Posted on July 20th, 2015

By Chandre Dharmawardana, Ottawa, Canada.

Ex-diplomat K. Godage has recently written to the Island pointing out the strategic dangers of building a land bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka. KG has emphasized the threat to the sovereignty of Sri Lanka from such a bridge. The wars in Afghanistan feeding Pakistan with Jihadists, Muslim-Hindu and Sikh antagonisms etc., have made India a free market for arms, narcotics, and Jihadists. These too can travel freely over a bridge and add to Lanka’s existing problems. However,  such links are a favorite of free-market advocates whose main policy is promoting trade”. As KG points out, the idea was first tabled in 2002 by Ranil Wickremasinghe, the local Davos Man”, a name coined by the Harvard political writer Samuel Huntington. KG’s thesis merits further discussion regarding its economic fallout and other issues.

The Economic argument.

Open borders benefit the larger Industrial power. It could benefit a poorer neighbour if the latter has mineral and other resources, or cheap labour to offer. This is the case between USA and Mexico. However, even though there is a North American Free Trade agreement covering Mexico, USA and Canada, the Bush administration  built large fortified walls (not bridges!) against the flow of Mexicans into the USA. Large numbers of illegal Hispanics are an exploited under class in southern USA. The Hispanic population in the USA (legal and illegal) may exceed 20%, with a majority in some southern states speaking Spanish and little English.  Republican Presidential candidates like Donald Trump routinely use racial put-downs on Hispanics. Spanish is NOT an official language of the USA, and no Hispanic rights activist” has dared to ask for the US anthem in Spanish.  Contrast this  with the insensitive TNA-clamour for singing the Sri Lankan anthem in Tamil, just after a bitter clash of three decades.

Given a bridge tio India, Sri Lanka will be receiving impoverished, uneducated, unemployable south Indians speaking Dravidian languages. The existing racial tensions will become even more exacerbated. One has to hark back to the pre-1970s, when Kalla Thonis” came to the island, even without a bridge. They promptly acquired forged rice ration books in Jaffna and exploited the goodies of Sri Lanka’s welfare state. The rise of terrorism brought in another type of illegal immigration and arms transport across the Palk strait until May 2009.

In contrast to the idea of connecting Sri Lanka to India, what has actually happened since the defeat of terrorism is the linking of the Colombo Port to global markets, thanks to the regional free-trade agreements, and the new container facility in Colombo built with Chinese help. Colombo has now surpassed all the Indian and other south-Asian ports in the container volume it handles. Similarly, the BIA air-cargo handling has become a preferred global distribution hub. Textiles, footwear, Machine parts, electronics etc., from neighbouring countries like India, Vietnam and Bangladesh are brought to the center, sorted out by destination and then re-loaded on to cargo planes and ships. The Middle East, Europe, U.S. And Japan are the main destinations for the cargo. Japan’s SGI Holdings, Germany’s Deutsche Post DHL, APL Logistics, and other international companies have selected Sri Lanka over India, Thailand etc. This is because of Sri Lanka’s  strategic position, efficient customs and clearance services as well as its significantly cheaper shipping costs (see July 17, Nikki Asian Review).

Thus the thrust is not for a bridge to India, but in augmenting and developing alternative cargo facilities, e.g., as envisaged in the Colombo Port city, and in the Hambantota and Mattala projects.

Ecological impact.

The ecological impact of  a bridge in the fragile Palk strait environment is very serious. Of course, it is less serious than the Rama Sethu” plan to dig a deep channel in the Palk strait to allow container ships to by-pass the Southern route and follow the Indian maritime waters. The Rama Sethu project is disadvantageous to Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, successive Sri Lankan governments have failed to lodge their protests. Even concerned-neighbor” status was not accorded to Sri Lanka during or prior to the construction of the Nuclear Reactor in Koondamkulam (see my article in the Island, March 21st 2011,http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=21267), although it impacts directly on the safety of the Sri Lankan North.

The exploration for oil and gas in the region of the Palk straits and the adjoining Indian ocean should be abandoned. No small nation has successfully maintained its oil wealth and its sovereignty; the smaller nation has to pay suitable Kappan” (dues) to powerful oil consortia. Even Canada, dictated by the US, sells” its oil and gas to USA discounted by some 40%. It is better to leave the fossil fuels deep down in the earth and develop our solar energy resources, until Sri Lanka becomes a strong nation.

Health and Epidemiology

Sri Lanka enjoys a high level of public health compared to South India. While the WHO claims to have globally eradicated small pox, questions linger about India. Sri Lanka is free of many diseases that are recurrent and endemic in South India. The vast majority of the poor use public places as open toilets. Large numbers of people are slum dwellers who look for recyclables and food in garbage dumps in South Indian cities for their livelihood. The gulf between the rich and poor in India is extreme, and exacerbated by the draconian caste system in Tamil Nadu.

Road transport between the two countries will bring non-endemic species of microbes, parasites and sicknesses to Sri Lanka from the North. Even between between USA and Canada, boarder controls in regard to food stuffs, meat (esp. after the incidence of mad-cow disease) etc. are very stringent. The very lax law and order situation in South Asia is such that adequate border controls cannot currently be imposed.

In conclusion, at the moment, Sri Lanka will not gain from a land bridge to India, while it has much to loose.

By Chandre Dharmawardana, Ottawa, Canada.

14 Responses to “A bridge to India – or keep the Hindian at arms length?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    A DISASTER!

    SL should NEVER agree to this nonsense. Endia is trying to EXPAND.

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    India is Sri Lanka’s worst enemy. We should never trust the two faced, crafty bully. Indians wet their pants when Chinese are at their backyard. So Indians want Chinese out of Sri Lanka
    so they can use our country as one of their colonies. We will have no saying in our affairs. They will break up Sri Lanka to please TN tamils and the diasporats. That’s why we have to be with the Chinese. When you are with the Chinese all these bad rashes us, uk, india, germany, etc. etc. ets stay away. Chinese is the right antibiotic to get rid of these viruses!

    Traitor UNPartriotic party always dance to these viruses tune and will eventually break up Sri Lanka. Asinhalese (Sinhalese supporting UNPatriotic Party) please please please don’t vote for the traitor UNPatriotic party and save our motherland from division!

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    “When you are with the Chinese all these bad rashes us, uk, india, germany, etc. etc. ets stay away. Chinese is the right antibiotic to get rid of these viruses!”

    EXACTLY!

    We have to bring back the CHINESE, particularly the CHINESE MILITARY.

  4. Hiranthe Says:

    I do agree with Lorenzo. Chinese is the Antibiotic for these viruses.

    For that we need MR in the driving seat. We should work hard for that during this election!!

    If we miss this time, Runnil will proceed with this Bridge to Disaster and stop all other profitable projects.

    God save Mother Lanka!!

  5. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    LORENZO !! TOGETHER WE HAVE BEEN ON THE SAME WAVE LENGTH ABOUT MILITARY RULE. THIS IS THE CORRECT TIME, SRI LANKA AND CHINESE TOGETHER.
    A TNA PRADESHIYA BUGGER HAS RAPED 56 WOMEN. HIS DICKINSON NEEDS SURGERY BY THE ARMY.
    THE BOND FRAUD TRIO HAS TO BE, BEHIND BARS. THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN SHOT IN KOREA OR CHINA.
    CHINA SHOULD BE THERE TO DEVELOP TRINCO. LOOKS LIKE VISITORS ARE COMING TO SRI LANKA ON A RECCE.
    A TV PRESENTER INTERVIEWED THE PRIME MINISTER AND WRIGGLED HIS WAY TO NOMINATION. SICKENING EXPRESSION ON TH FACE. USES LOW BAD LANGUAGE ATTACKING MR.

  6. Independent Says:

    Hi all,
    I shall stop commenting until end of FOOLISH elections created by foolish work of just ONE God. I don’t want to make others suffer because of my action.
    May triple gem bless you. May you be happy and peaceful. May no harm come to you. May you attain Nibbaana one day.
    Let me go away to wilderness reminding all Buddha’s last words . Appamadena Sampadetha (Strive with diligence).
    -Nanda

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    SW,

    Lets give MR another chance. IF he again starts behaving like ENDIA IS MY RELATIVE, then something must be done by the army to takeover SL and save SL. IF RW wins and starts doing Endian contracts, then something must be done by the army to takeover SL and save SL.

    I think now MR KNOWS who the Endians are. He will not fall into it again. Endia lover BR is no more. So MR is clean now.

    More importantly, CHINA now KNOWS SL will collapse without China. So China will UP THE ANTE. Demand a navy base in SL and SL will be unable to reject. IF rejected, SL will go bust.

  8. Ben Silva Says:

    Building a bridge to India is extremely dangerous and bring the end of Sinhalese in Sri Lanka closer. The reasons are: Indians are greedy, powerful, with no sense of fairness, responsible for funding terrorism and destabilizing Sri Lanka. Indians will grab as much as possible in a greedy manner.
    As for MR he is a practical man, badly let down by Sinhala Buddhists. He has to balance the power struggle in a careful manner, as Sinhala Buddhists are not organised and apparently have no power. If the Sinhala Buddhists had any power, Sirisena would have not sold our national anthem and it would have been possible to remove the 13 A.

  9. Hiranthe Says:

    Trinco to Chinese will keep the Endians at bay!! ha ha.

    But MR expressed that he will have a balanced foreign policy and not repeating the same mistake..

    Keep the balance on the surface and give Trinco to China!!!

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Trinco should be an Industrial Port under GoSL. I think that would go hand in hand with the Industrialising of Lanka prog that MR has in mind.

    ———

    A railway line between Tamil Nadu & Lanka will be the final death knell for the private enterprises and agriculture in Lanka ! Indian businesses will further take over Lanka, muzzling Lanka even more. As it is, any GoSL cannot twitch a muscle re the Economy without the Tamil Nadu/Delhi seal of approval. What a life for Lankan business folk unless buying and selling solely with India. As it is Lanka buys sub-standard pharma from Tamil Nadu.

    A railway line from TN to Mannar will mean even more ILLEGAL MIGRANTS from Tamil Nadu and other areas. The Seetha Ellya and Seetha Gangula of the Upcountry area are being tied up with the Ramayana tale, that Queen Sita was incarcerated by Ravana in the Upcountry area and that is why the names Seetha Eliya & Seetha Gangula. The words Seetha means cold in Sinhala, and has no connection to Sita the Queen in the Ramayana. GoSL ought to name them as Seethala Eliya & Gangula, or some other name, or else these areas may in future be claimed as sacred to the Hindu religion ! Hoardes of tourists from Tamil Nadu etc will come to the Upcountry area to visit the Seetha Gangula & Seetha Eliya, and mostly illegal migrants too. Beware Lanka govt. you have been forewarned ! Let us never be caught napping again as before. Being proactive a must for concerned citizens of Lanka, particularly with claims for a Federal state for Tamils only being demanded by the TNA & the Tamil Diaspora.

    The CWC now working with the MR camp ought to be aware of all this and see to it and further troubles are not caused for Lanka through the Tamil folk on both sides of the Palk Sts.

  11. Ananda-USA Says:

    “The words Seetha means cold in Sinhala, and has no connection to Sita the Queen in the Ramayana. GoSL ought to name them as Seethala Eliya & Gangula, or some other name, or else these areas may in future be claimed as sacred to the Hindu religion !”

    Well said, Fran!

    Indeed, the name refers to the coldness of the water and not to Rama’s wife Sita. This is an attempt by Upcountry Tamils and Indians to control and conquer our upcountry also by establishing historical and religious connections!

    Given the THREATS to our National Security and Integrity, our MUTTS in the GOSL shouldd see both the Land Bridge to India via Mannar Island, and the Sita Gangula as TWO MORE thin ends of the Indianization WEDGE!

    We should KEEP OUR DISTANCE from India ….. as FAR AS POSSIBLE! There is NO MORE IMPORTANT A LESSON taught us by our RECENT and ANCIENT national history! Those who FORGET the LESSONS of HISTORY are CONDEMNED to REPEAT IT!

    WILL WE EVER LEARN?

  12. Lorenzo Says:

    Fran,

    Ultimately SLs will be left with VERY FEW OPTIONS to defend SL.

    I support ALL such options. I mean ALL such options.

    Endian parasites are trying to do what TURKEY did to CYPRESS – MASS colonization by externals. This is the same thing Endia did to ANDAMAN and NICOBAR islands.

  13. Fran Diaz Says:

    More on the Bridge & the two epic spiritual tales of India, the Ramayana & the Mahabharata.

    The Ramayana is an ALLEGORICAL Tale about spiritual growth. It is possible that because Lanka is shaped like the Head (Mind) and India is shaped like the Body (with the Heart), poor old Lanka was given Ravana as King !! The Heart area in the body (India) has the good King, Rama. People must realise that the tale is an ALLEGORICAL one. In Hindu Teachings, it is always the Mind vs the Heart.
    Fortunately, the second great spiritual tale out of India, the Mahabharata, leaves Lanka completely out of the tale. It is set in India itself, with Krishna as the God King, and the Battle (between Heart & Mind) takes place in an area called Kurukshethra, within India. The Bhagavad Gita is the core of this Great Tale.

    Apparently, those in India who love the Ramayana and take it literally, go on pilgrimages along the Rama Trail. The Trail includes Lanka. So if the story about Sita being incacerated in Lanka Upcountry is believed, then Lanka is in deep trouble.
    Some believe that merely reading or listening to the Ramayana tale will expiate them of ‘sins’.

    It is obvious that Ranil, when he proposed the Bridge earlier, didn’t know whether he was coming or going, as usual.

    2. All the more reason to remove the Tamil Language as a National/Official language of Lanka. Use English as the link language. It will halt illegal migration from Tamil Nadu.

    I am truly sorry that Lanka and India cannot be close neighbors in every sense of the words. SECURITY and TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY comes a strong first in Lanka.

  14. Ben Silva Says:

    To Independent,
    May the triple gem bless you and may you achieve Nibbana.

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