Indra Mani Pandey. Remember the name. He’s India’s Permanent Representative in Geneva. He’s no novice in matters diplomatic, having joined the service more than 30 years ago. He would have been old enough even before that to know what’s what in Indo-Lanka relations, if he was inclined at the time to educate himself about international relations and in particular South Asian affairs.
So, to cut to the chase, when someone like Pandey says something about Sri Lanka, we need to take note. He has explained why India abstained on the vote against (yes) Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions and thereby has told us how India sees Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan issues and Sri Lanka’s future. We must thank him for being forthright: ‘we are grateful, Indra, for the honesty!’ The cheers stop right there, though.
Pandey waxes, not too eloquently: ‘India has always been guided by the two fundamental principles of support to the aspirations of the Tamils for equality, justice, dignity and peace and unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.’
Always? Really? Why then did India arm, train and fund separatist terrorists? Was that to strengthen unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty? India was clearly intent on destabilising Sri Lanka. Indeed India was a major part of the problem. And, thereafter, we had the problem-creator (or problem-enhancer, if you want to be generous) stepping in to resolve the problem. Indra is a funny guy, folks. India is a funny country, one might say, except that there is nothing funny about doing everything possible to prolong an unnecessary conflict, directly or indirectly paving the way to death, destruction, dismemberment and displacement of a magnitude beyond calculation. Three years before Indra entered the service, India stepped in to effectively bail out the terrorists.
Yes, the Indo-Lanka Accord. Indra knows or has learned about it at some point, for he talks of the 13th Amendment. More waxing sans eloquence: ‘While we have taken note of the commitments by the government of Sri Lanka on issues of implementation of the commitments in the spirit of the 13th Constitutional Amendment, meaningful devolution and the early conduct of provincial elections, we believe that the progress towards the same remains inadequate.’
Right. Here goes. The 13th Amendment was imposed on Sri Lanka at gun point by India. Rajiv Gandhi bragged at the time that it was the beginning of the Bhutanization of Sri Lanka. That’s a weird understanding of unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, right? Let’s talk about commitment though.
India reneged on her commitment to disarm the terrorists. Sri Lanka had to do India’s job and it took a further 22 years. India should shut up about ‘commitments’ especially since India has enjoyed the advantages scripted into the Accord all these years, even after getting a BIG ‘F’ on the one thing India was supposed to do.
How about devolution? Well, on paper it’s not a bad thing, except of course that the relevant territorial demarcations rebel against demography (almost 50% of Tamils live outside the Northern and Eastern provinces), history (lines were drawn by European invaders arbitrarily) and economy (the Western Province’s contribution to the economy is a massive slice and if one pushed the logic of ‘devolution’ to any reasonable conclusion, other provinces will remain relatively impoverished). As for provincial council elections, none of the diehard devolutionists (well, they are really federalists or separatists) have agitated for them to be held over the last several years. Let’s not forget that the Northern Provincial Council couldn’t even spend monies allocated. All it did was to give legitimacy to an Eelam Map that symbolised just one thing: attempted land-theft by one particular ethnic group.
Aspirations. Indra talks about them. He has to, since it’s one of the two ‘fundamental principles of support.’ Tamil aspirations, someone should tell Indra, was essentially a desire to annex two-thirds of the coast and half the land mass for a little more than 5% of the population (considering almost half the so-called ‘Eelam Tamils’ live outside ‘Eelam’. Do the math, Indra/India. Maybe an Indian analogy would help; it would be like Muslims in India aspiring to have control over a territory equivalent to the sum of Rajastha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. That’s an equivalency the likes of Indra would dare not consider.
Yes, we need peace. We need reconciliation. Such needs are the inevitable outcomes of conflict-end. Fixing these to exaggerated grievances and out-of-this-world aspirations and tying it all to a constitutional amendment obtained by a bully is unacceptable. Ridiculous, in fact.
Indra sweetens the apology by talkie of India’s provision to relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka and assistance provided this year to mitigate the economic crises. Well, thank you. Very much. Still falls way short of compensation India ought to pay for all the miseries unleashed on Sri Lanka by hegemonic, arrogant and moronic Indian leaders though. Indra should know, because lately India has been belligerent in demanding reparations from Britain. The histories are different of course, but costs are costs, aggressors are known and if justice is about redress then India owes much and talks not at all about all this.
So, in sum, Indra played a typical Indian card in Geneva. A lot of poppycock and hardly disguised enmity. Not surprising.