Unpacking the Menon visit
Posted on July 1st, 2012

Courtesy The Nation

Visiting Indian Defence Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon is reported to have insisted that Sri Lanka should sort its own problems, with India ready to help if requested.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Although we know that diplomacy is about saying the palatable and doing the distasteful on the sly, India being India especially, it is prudent for the Government to be mindful of sensitivities. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

This envoy of the Indian Government has also urged the Tamil National Alliance to join the Parliamentary Select Committee, thereby effectively snubbing that party for attempting to use India as an instrument to arm-twist the Sri Lankan Government into submitting to their (the TNAƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s) proposals.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  This too, is good, subject to the cautionary footnote, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”too much should not be made out of appearancesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  For example, the TNA can ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”concedeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ by accepting the PSC and the Government could thereafter get the PSC to come up with ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢13 Plus a la IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s preferencesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ItƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s good to be alert. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

A Tamil daily newspaper has quoted TNA leader R. Sampanthan saying that Menon had expressed IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s losing patience about a solution not materializing.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Now if it is Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s internal matter, then the timeframe should be Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s and not IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s concern.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  However, to the extent that the Sri Lankan Government accepts that there is a problem, then foot-dragging is something that cannot be condoned, either on the part of the Government or the main articulator of grievance, the TNA.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The TNA is yet to articulate substantiated grievance and the Government is yet to ask the TNA to do so.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Both parties have opted for the convenience of barb-exchange.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ThatƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s good politics, but bad statesmanship. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

As for IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”impatienceƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, quite apart from the fact that it smacks of interference, regional political realities should not be pooh-poohed by the Government.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  India has legitimate concerns insofar as the so-called ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Tamil problemƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ plays a role in Indian power configurations.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Indian politics demands those in power and those aspiring for power to use and abuse the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Tamil IssueƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ as a political football.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It is prudent for the Government to be mindful of these realities and play its cards without compromising its own political interest and more importantly the overall aspirations of all Sri Lankans. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 
To this end, firm steps should be taken to overcome the current impasse, and these should include calling the TNAƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s bluff by demanding a full statement on grievances, investigating their true dimensions and resolving for the same, with or without the TNAƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s involvement.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Perhaps whatƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s really telling is MenonƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s claim that India stands for a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”United Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Unity is something that is impossible to obtain through legislation. The word is often used by the TNA and other federalists in post-LTTE Sri Lanka when referring to a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”solutionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, for example, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”A solution within a united Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 
ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”UnityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ can be obtained in all kinds of political and constitutional formations.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  People can be united in a unitary state and they can be united under a federal constitution.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  There is nothing to say that either ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”unitaryƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”federalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ automatically produces ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”unityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

The obtaining of unity then is dependent on acknowledgment of anomaly (and this is not limited to ethnic issues), an even greater focus on commonalities and a consistent privileging of reason over emotion, fact over myth, lived reality over communalist exaggeration of grievance and the political expedience of inflating aspiration. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

As for ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”solutionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, the relevant parties should always keep in mind that all things have outcomes, and for this reason the following are musts: a) the citizens should be kept informed, b) what the PSC (or any other deliberating forum) comes up with must be treated as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”proposalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and subject to public appraisal, and c) the possible political fallout must be deliberated on because future generations would have to live with it and perhaps even die on its account.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The 13th Amendment, if anything, is a case in point where IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s arm-twisting and J.R. JayewardeneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s malleability produced a curse which wrecked political stability and produced a bloodbath.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

4 Responses to “Unpacking the Menon visit”

  1. LankaLover Says:

    What is the ‘problem’ to ask for a ‘solution’?

  2. AnuD Says:

    Now even the word reconciliation they have modified and say political – reconciliation.

    Land grabbing is a concocted story because Tamil believe that Sri Lankan govt and the army are controlling and occupying the Tamil homeland.

    Some TNA politicians say better living conditions are not enough and they want their rights. In other words, Tamils are special and they have tamil-specific rights.

  3. Marco Says:

    Menon is not the first nor will he be the last to be “invited”. Welcome or unwelcome.
    More foot dragging in bring in the heavy boots!

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    But Menon started singing a different tune AFTER his visit.

    Now he says, IT IS SL’S INTERNAL MATTER. Looks like someone had reminded him that during his visit.

    Next time when bloody Indians land here, we should protest. Large banners saying BLOODY INDIANS GET OUT! should be displayed everywhere they go. Their effigies should be burnt.

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