The criminal and inhuman bombings this week across
the Palk Straits - in Mumbai and Srinagar - by terrorists - not
militants - deserve the unreserved condemnation of the whole world.
It is no secret that these were the acts of groups
opposed to Indian Government rule in Jammu and Kashmir, the northern
-western-most state of India bordering with Pakistan, a long-standing
and outstanding geo-political issue of the sub-continent ever since
the partition of 1947.
While we join in the condemnation of this barbaric
act, there is a need to understand how easy it is to preach to your
neighbours about how to tackle the menace of terrorism by the need
for power-sharing etc., on the one hand, and the difficulty of stamping
out terrorism and implementing such power-sharing methods at home.
Only last week, India's Foreign Secretary made
a quick visit to Colombo to tell political leaders here of the urgent
need to implement some power-sharing provisions in a bid to stem
terrorism in this island-nation. Hardly had he got back, when these
wicked bombs went off in his own country - clearly the work of those
unhappy with India's power-sharing provisions in J&K.
We must keep reminding ourselves that Sri Lanka's
"ethnic problem" was conceived, incubated and hatched
in New Delhi. Almost 20 years ago, an Indian model of power-sharing
was force-fed into the Sri Lankan Constitution by New Delhi's fiat.
Few may now remember, that a South Indian gentleman named Mr. G.
Parathasarathi, hand-picked by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
for the task, lectured our leaders at the time about the virtues
of Provincial Councils as being the panacea for Tamil separatism
- the antidote for the monster Mrs. Gandhi herself created.
Today, two decades down the road, we have a white
elephant in the name of Provincial Councils - a system of government
that just does not work; sapping up money from the State's depleted
coffers and doing sweet fanny nothing to check the separatist movement
in the country.
Again and again, we have heard this mantra being
repeated - that devolution is the answer to terrorism .The British
praise the virtues of their devolution system; the Canadians want
the Canadian system; the Swiss, the Swiss Canton system; the Indians
their own federal system ; and the Australians, theirs. Political
leaders in Sri Lanka are being lectured over and over the years
- and the Indian Foreign Secretary did it again last week.
A new word has just entered the lexicon of devolution.
Not 'Unitary'; not 'United', but 'Un-Divided'.
So, this then is the final solution - an Un-Divided
Sri Lanka - they want us to be. Logically, this Un-Divided Sri Lanka
is meant to be a kind of hybrid between Unitary and United , and
the Sri Lankan polity is now supposed to come up with a Constitutional
Amendment that would make a Unitary Sri Lanka , an Un-Divided Sri
We have long advocated the re-introduction of
the District Development Councils, or the existing District (with
modifications to boundaries where necessary) as the unit of devolution.
When the Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake government wanted to introduce
the District Councils in or about 1968, the majority Nationalists
opposed it, but the Federal Party then agreed to it. The move failed,
but President J.R. Jayewardene managed to have it approved, attaching
the Development tag to it to give it an economic flavour rather
than an ethnic flavour, but events overtook its proper implementation.
In Sri Lanka, the District is a viable unit of
devolution, but clearly, the rebels will not accept it, because
they want not just a Province as the unit, but two provinces merged
into one, the North and East as one unit, which defeats the very
purpose of devolution. Power-sharing means to hand over the North
and East provinces to them.
India, it would appear has got re-energised on
the Sri Lanka issue, but instead of assisting its southern neighbour
in what its Cabinet proclaims "its strong commitment to combat
terrorism in all its forms. Nothing will deter us from our firm
policy to fight this menace till it is wiped out " vis-a-vis
its own problems, India has come up with another homily about a
Political analysts here believe that this is a
move to enter the Sri Lankan peace process as a facilitator rather
than a one-sided player, and thereby to re-gain the lost leverage
they had with the rebels. The Indian Prime Minister spoke in Mumbai
after witnessing the ravages caused by terrorism and complained
of the succour these terrorists have in neighbouring countries.
It seems that the syndrome that hits big nations, to talk duplicitously,
and probably not even know they are doing so, is a perennial problem
smaller nations will have to cope with.