The Indian Trojan Horse
Posted on April 8th, 2021

Sugath Kulatunga 

It is a consolation that the Government has decided to defer the resurrection of the Provincial Councils, until after a new law is approved by the Parliament. Meanwhile, 10 leading Venerable monks have strongly protested on the very idea of bringing back the Provincial Councils. It is noted that these same Venerable monks played a lead role in bringing this government to power. They have given five very cogent reasons why it should not be done. It is not necessary to elaborate on each reason adduced by the leading Buddhist clergy. But there are many more reasons why this white elephant should not be given a new life. Since the introduction of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, there had been an abundance of arguments against the Provincial Councils. At present, it is important to consider why it should not be done now and even in the future.

The contemporary pressing argument is pollical. In the recent past the government has had to face heavy flak on a number of slipups which the opposition has taken advantage of to hurt the popularity of the government. The non-identification of the ‘brains’ behind the Easter Bombing is harped on and is given a vicious twist and is made use of to swing the Catholic votes. Sugar scam has been taken to courts. Deforestation has accelerated despite action by the government. Now, a coconut oil fiddle is making ripples. Cost of living has affected the majority of the population. If there is no issue the opposition will create one. Even Viyathmaga which is facing ridicule for bad policies of the government has signaled alarm at the rapid loss of popularity by the government. People do not take a balanced view of problems against the global crisis of Corvid 19 and the achievements of the government in managing the pandemic. The government does not have an effective publicity system to counter misinformation and provide positive information. The legal system is not geared to tackle fake news. It is a truism in Sri Lanka that oppositions do not win elections, but the governments lose them.

It would be politically disastrous to hold Provincial Council Elections now, when the popularity of the government is not rosy at all. If the objective is to please the former SLPP PC members, it is not an astute decision as they are only the second-string leaders. The better candidates would have already contested the Parliamentary elections. There will also be a tussle for seats from the now desperate SLFP.

In relation to Provincial Councils, what is of paramount importance now is to recognize the heightened inflexible stance of India. One must not forget that Indian stance has always been narcissistic and self-centered. In his Discovery of India, Nehru had written that ‘the small national State is doomed’, and envisaged that Sri Lanka would inevitably be drawn into a closer union with India ‘presumably as an autonomous unit of the Indian Federation’; and Panikkar, also writing before independence, had averred that ‘the internal organization of India on a firm and stable basis with Burma and Nepal was the classic instance of the ‘buffer state’ from British times, buttressing the defense of India on its northern flank; Sri Lanka, on its southern flank, had long been considered by naval strategists to be an essential link in India’s security. Not surprisingly, the proclamation of the strategic unity of India and her regional smaller neighbors became the recurrent theme of Indian pronunciations on relations with these States. These prognoses were later discarded by Nehru and Panikkar, but they reappeared in some guise or another in Indian writings and pronouncements. Even after the modern South Asian states system had become a reality Ceylon was the essential pre-requisite to ‘a realistic policy of Indian defense’.

(https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/…/019_sdsc…)

The failure of SAARC to progress as a regional bloc – the only regional bloc to stagnate so far — is due solely to India’s pursuit of self-interest at the expense of its neighbors. India was a leader in the Non-Aligned Movement. In the recent past India has veered away from non-alignment. India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, said recently that non-alignment was a concept of relevance in a specific era and a particular context, though the independence of action enshrined in it remains a factor of continuity in India’s foreign policy”. The Hindu interprets this statement as” explicit an assertion as one is likely to get from our political leadership of an obvious post-Cold War fact: that non-alignment, as a foreign policy concept, is dead. Today India is more interested in the QUAD due to a shared threat perception with the USA, Japan, and Australia towards China and the objectives in the Indo- Pacific region.

The Big Brother attitude of India has been depreciated by all its neighbors. India has pressurized its smaller neighbors at all times to tow the Indian line. Nepal and Bhutan in the North are India Locked” and have to depend on transit access through India for international trade. In September 2015, Nepal’s popularly elected Constituent Assembly passed a new constitution by an overwhelming majority (more than 90% of the CA members), but some socio-political groups protested against some aspects of the new constitution in the southern region of the country. India supported these disgruntled groups of the south because it was not in favour of Nepal’s new constitution, India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar visited Nepal to pressure the Nepali political leadership and prevent its promulgation. This was when Such a direct interference in the internal affairs of an independent and sovereign country like Nepal can be argued as motivated by India’s hegemonic arrogance. By imposing the economic blockade, India wanted Nepal to forcefully amend the new Constitution. Historically, India has continued its interventionist and hegemonic policies vis-à-vis its neighbors through its intelligence agencies, most notable Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). (https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/joia/article/view/29085. India can apply similar pressure on Sri Lanka if and when disgruntled minority elements protest on the proposed new Constitution of Sri Lanka.

India has been lording over the tiny Buddhist country of Bhutan from the time of Indian independence. India considers Bhutan to be a buffer between hostile China and India. It was India that decided the foreign policy of Bhutan until the time of Man Mohan Sing when the restriction was relaxed, but even today India retains a high level of influence over the Kingdom’s decision-making processes.

There is the presence of the Indian Army inside Bhutan in the guise of a training school for the Bhutanese Army and as a unit of construction engineers.

Through a tripartite agreement and the Government of Sikkim Act, 1974, a dictatorial constitution was imposed on the ‘protectorate’ by the Government of India. The resolution, drafted by an Indian ‘legal expert’ and in hardly comprehensible legal terminology.

The modalities of Sikkim’s absorption certainly lacked the finesse and diplomatic sheen. It was a sneaky and cynical act of consummation of a process that had been going on ever since independence, a process marked by twists and turns and periods of lying low and edging forward.

The Government of India claims that the absorption of Sikkim ‘reflects the true aspirations of the Sikkim people’ as expressed through the Assembly. Certainly, this is a cruel joke played on the people of Sikkim. Like every regime that carries on its anti-democratic designs on another people, the Government of India does so in the name of ‘protecting and extending democracy’.

(http://www.darjeeling-unlimited.com/absorption.html)

In late 1980s this writer was a member of an ESCAP delegation, led by Minister Lalith Athulathmudali to China where the delegation had an audience with the then President of China, where he very nonchalantly said,’ we used to hear about a country called Sikkim, of which we do not hear any more.” He continued to say that the duty of big countries is to protect small countries and not swallow them. He warned Lalith that Sri Lanka had to be careful of its sovereignty.

The role of India towards Sri Lanka is derived from the perspective of India on its concept of lebensraum, that South Asia has a distinctive personality, and that India is not only the single successor of the British Raj, but also of this civilizational heritage has important repercussions for the way how Indian governments deal with India’s neighbors, particularly with Pakistan that also claims to be the successor state of the British Raj and the heir of this civilizational heritage. The narrative of Indian Greatness treats South Asia as a confined geopolitical and civilizational space with India at its core. India is the pre-eminent power, leader, and hegemon in South Asia and the Indian Ocean – a status that is given by geographical, historical, and cultural facts, and what happens in this geopolitical and civilizational space is of crucial importance to India (Mohan 2004a, Singh 2004b, 2009, Mukherjee 2005, Rao 2010c) (https://d-nb.info/1114735116/34)

It is in this background that India browbeat Ceylon on the citizenship issue, where despite the findings of the Donoughmore Commission and the Privy Council India drove a hard bargain to give citizenship rights to a large number of Indian workers. India went further and created a category of Stateless people without actively absorbing under Article 8 of the Indian Constitution, the Indian workers who did not qualify for Ceylon citizenship.

From mid-1983, on the instructions of Indira Gandhi, RAW began funding, arming, and training several Tamil insurgent groups. There was suspicion that RAW had a hand in the 1983 communal riots and the attacks on Sri Mahabodhi and Dalada Maligawa to provoke a Sinhalese backlash. Indian government support to the LTTE was not just to give a message to J.R. Jayewardene but to subvert Sri Lanka.

Indira Gandhi had even asked her British counterpart Margaret Thatcher to stop helping Sri Lanka with military advice (SAS help) to crush the separatist Tamil Eelam movement in the 1980s, according to newly declassified documents.

The role of R&AW is well described in the Indian Defense Review as Covert action capability is an indispensable tool for any State having external adversaries. Its purpose is not just the collection of intelligence, but the protection of national interests and the safeguarding of national security through deniable actions of a political, economic, para-diplomatic, or para-military nature. A State resorts to covert action if it finds that its national interests cannot be protected or its national security cannot be safeguarded through conventional political, economic, diplomatic or military means or if it concludes that such conventional means are not feasible.”

http://www.indiandefencereview.com/…/role-of-raw-in…/

In the use of R&AW in Sri Lanka there was no national interest of India to be safeguarded or national security to be protected. It was more the reaction of a show of power by a power-drunk dictator to teach a lesson to a tactless small nation leader. Hariharan a former Commander of IPKF has said that Her strong-willed leadership bordered on autocracy, and she focused on ends rather than the means to achieve them”.

https://www.thehindu.com/…/a-tale-of…/article3693348.ece

Both leaders had similar qualities and mindsets and their imperious actions had negative consequences in both countries.

An Indian political journalist of the Asian Research commented on Indian foreign relations in an article published in (https://theasiadialogue.com/…/india-and-the-mantle-of…/ ) an excerpt of which is as follows:

Since its independence in 1947, India has held its smaller neighbors, with the exception of Pakistan and Afghanistan, in a tight embrace. Not only has New Delhi exercised enormous levels of unilateral political influence in these countries, with a few it maintained lopsided treaty relations for many decades and still enjoys many one-sided economic and political arrangements. In the last seventy years, it has annexed one such neighbor (Sikkim); carried out military interventions in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Bhutan; coerced all of the neighbors with open threats of war at one point or another; and ham-fistedly interfered in their domestic affairs and civil wars. Almost all of these actions have gone without any notable pushback from other major powers. This geopolitical equation is a historical anomaly. Almost no other regional power has been allowed to exercise such a level of regional domination for so long on such a large scale. What makes the case more puzzling is the proximity of China. Logically, the smaller countries should have begun balancing against India long ago by developing evenhanded relations with Beijing and New Delhi.”

The present predicament of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the Provincial Councils is a direct outcome of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. The pathetic tale of the arrogance of the Indian HC Dixit, the abject surrender of the President and the Cabinet to the Indian proposals are well known. The 13the Amendment drafted by the two Indian Ministers Chidambaram and Natwar Singh had the same trademark of the resolution drafted by the Indian experts to absorb Sikkim. Dixit outmaneuvered the Cabinet and Parliament of Sri Lanka by getting Jayawardhane to cede the sovereignty of the country by an exchange of letters. This included the employment of foreign military and intelligence personnel, the use of the Trincomalee Harbor and any other port or the oil tanks, and even broadcasting, that were purely in the realm of domestic jurisdiction. India (the malicious fox Dixit) played on the quandary faced by Jayawardhane in confronting two insurgencies in the North and the South at the same time. He was more concerned with the JVP threat and wanted to shift the military from the North to the South and found a willing partner in Rajiv Gandhi who was also looking for an excuse for a show of force in Sri Lanka. But for the destructive JVP insurrection in the South, the conduct of JR would have been different.

Indian regional hegemonic doctrine was first enunciated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and followed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Gandhian foreign and security policies in the neighborhood are characterized by rigid adherence to realpolitik, aggrandizement of power, the assertion of hegemonic status and aggressive pursuit of self-interest with open defiance to established norms of global order.”

https://www.etd.ceu.edu shanmugasundaram sasikumar.pdf

This doctrine has been faithfully followed by every successive Indian government. The presence of China in Sri Lanka has given more resolve and urgency to this doctrine.

A leopard never changes its spots”

In the recent past the statement of the Indian Minister Jaishankar, that ‘India still sees the 1987 amendment — the constitutional basis for the provincial councils — as central to addressing Tamil political aspirations,” is significant. This stand was confirmed by the Indian representative at the UNHRC at the last session. He called for the full implementation of the 13th amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka”

The implication of these statements cannot be ignored. They also infer the amalgamation of the Northern and the Eastern Provinces. In both the strategic interests of the Tamil separatists and India, the Eastern Province with the Trincomalee Harbor becomes crucial. There lies the future threat to the National Security of Sri Lanka.

In the domestic scenario, the threat to the security of the island has not abated with the defeat of the LTTE. The measured statements of the elder statesman TNA leader R.Sampanthan’s speech at the 14th Annual ITAK convention ( May 2012) are significant. He does not hide the intentions of the Tamils. He said that The softening of our stance concerning certain issues, and the compromise we show in other issues, are diplomatic strategies to ensure that we do not alienate the international community. They are not indications that we have abandoned our fundamental objectives.” His statement made in 2012 that In the past, the United States and India stood against us. However, in the favorable circumstances that have now come about, the United States and India are to a great extent supporting our position” applies more to the current situation. He rejected the 13th Amendment and uttered the oft-repeated untruth that a national ethnic group has lived here for several tens of thousands of years, is now on the cusp of extermination.” He stressed that their expectation for a solution to the ethnic problem of the sovereignty of the Tamil people is based on a political structure outside that of a unitary government. Sampanthan mentioned unequivocally that devolution should go beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The new spokesman of the TNA Sumanthiran has repeatedly claimed for a federal solution. Now there is another champion of separatism in former PC Chief Minister Vigneswaram who distorts history and says A federal system is the only way out. The details can be worked out. But the fact that the Tamils, with over 2,000 years of continued history, [are] occupying definite areas of residence in the North and East needs to be accepted.”

The Provincial Council system is the Trojan Horse introduced by India. The powers given to Provincial Councils exceed the powers devolved to State governments in India. With the Provincial Councils, India has placed an enemy within. The issues are very clear. Sri Lanka has to be ingenious and dismantle this Trojan Horse before the hidden forces inside are released.

Decentralization and delegation of powers are essential management techniques universally practiced. The unit of decentralization has to be democratic and result-oriented. In this, national security has to be given the highest priority. It is a topic that needs to be examined in depth.

One Response to “The Indian Trojan Horse”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Although many years have passed since the Provincial Councils have been dissolved there has not been any hue and cry by the general population for their revival, and least by the populations in the North and East. It is obvious that these political constructs only served a few individuals and brought in an unnecessary middle level to the administration of a country that is only a third the size of Tamil Nadu. This is in spite of the fact that the powers devolved to these units of administration are more than those devolved to even the states of India eg Tamil Nadu. As if this is not sufficient the sessionist politicians of the North and East together with India seek even more power devolved including land and police powers!

    This is clearly a move to destroy Sri Lanka from the map of the world, leading one day not far in the future for the world to hear the saying repeated that ” we used to hear about a country called Sri Lanka, of which we do not hear any more”!

    One just need to imagine the situation in Sri Lanka with respect to drugs, contraband, arms and human smuggling in a scenario where power including police powers are devolved to the provinces. Provincial Councils are just a stepping stone to balkanize Sri Lanka and an invitation to Western Christian Powers to take a foothold in our motherland.

    What is most hilarious and unfortunate is that India does not realize that the eventual formation of Eelam is the stepping stone to balkanize India!

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