Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Non-assertive Indian foreign policy is a bonus to Sri Lanka in Srilanka Guardian 15/6/13
by Rajasingham Jayadevan

( June 15, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian)I had the privilege to attend the conference hosted by the Network 18 (TV channels) on the theme of ‘India: A political Economy for the 21st Century’ held at the Randolph Hotel in Oxford on 14 (Friday) June 2013.
Key speakers were the Chancellor of the University of Oxford Lord Patten of Barnes who held ministerial positions in the Margret Thatcher and John Major governments and was the last Governor of Hong-Kong to relinquish the British administration of the Island. I was more keen to listen to the speech of the Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. Other political speaker was the opposition leader of the BJP in the Rajya Sabah, Arun Jaitley.
The well conducted meeting was an eye opener, as it clearly defined the Indian foreign policy direction and its non assertive political mission in the international affairs.

Rajiv Gandhi- a victim. Hit by the but by a Sri Lankan security person ( File Photo)
Lord Patten was very poignant in his contribution and methodically analysed India’s international role in the rapidly changing politico-economics of the world. Articulating his comparative analysis of India- China role in the international affairs, he said as a democratic country, India will have a better audience in the world than China due to its democratic credentials. He said India not being a UN Security Council member is a disadvantage.
Lord Patten said India’s population will overstep China soon and that the China’s population is aging whist India has a vibrant young population that will put the country in a sound footing.
The speeches and discussions clearly defined India’s international political stance in economic terms. It was clear that the theory of non interference in the domestic affairs of other countries has taken strong roots in Indian politics. Minister Salman Khurshid’s speech was mainly focussed on the long term economic sustenance of India rather than expressing anything real politics in terms of its regional or international influence.

Rajiv Gandhi-a victim. Assassinated by Tamil Tigers.( File Photo)
I attempted to raise a question on the stalemate of Indo-Lanka relationship. But unfortunately my show of hand did not catch the eyes of the panel co-ordinator.
Then I had a brief conversation with the Minister Salman Khurshid during the tea break. I touched on the political pandemonium accelerated by government of Sri Lanka to whittle down the 13th amendment to the constitution. My question was: ‘the very 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution that was brought about with enormous sacrifices with the death of Rajiv Gandhi, killings of thousands of Tamils civilians like my mother and brother and many jawans is to be pathetically weakened by the government of Sri Lanka and what India intend to do on this’.
His response was: ‘We are engaging with Sri Lanka and have expressed our concerns strongly on the intended amendments. Some of the amendments are concerning to us. Sri Lanka is not listening and only thing we can do is to wash our hands off of Sri Lanka and get international sanctions and pressures work on Sri Lanka. Under no circumstance, India will interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. When we say something to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka takes the advice from China and act differently’. He further said: ‘When pressure is put on Sri Lanka, it goes on to arrest the Indian fishermen and cause problems for India’.
This brief interaction made me feel saddened that India is not the same assertive India on international of affairs. The 13th amendment that is stamped on the blood of thousands lives is an important feature in the Sri Lankan constitution. To weaken the unprecedented constitutional amendment with anti-Tamil and anti-Indian sentiment of Mahinda Rajapakse is a mortifying assault on Rajiv Gandhi’s family and a slur on the thousands of innocent Tamil civilians who became the fodder of the Indian army intervention in 1987 to bring about the 13th amendment.
India has moved away from the moral politics of Indira Gandhi-Rajiv Gandhi era. The present dynasty of Nehruji is clinging on to a new foreign policy direction that only knows to calculate economic growth and balance of payment in percentage terms. India’s money, money, money mission is permitting the Chinese interference in the region without any check and balance.
Rajapakse government knows very well that India will not interfere in the scale as before anymore and is being guided by China to alienate India from taking a assertive foreign policy stance.
Unless the forthcoming Lokh Sabah election materialise major foreign policy change, India is doomed to face major reversals to the scale of the elephant going wild when an insect penetrates its nostrils

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