Despite the comforting assurances dished out liberally like holy ash by the new Indian Guru in town Subramanian Swamy to Lanka’s guardian deities of the divine benevolence radiating from India’s Prime Minister Modi as he tenderly casts his grace upon Lankan soil and the radical change of heart India now has toward their neighbouring isle, [...]


Can any Indian Guru Google Modi’s mind?


Despite the comforting assurances dished out liberally like holy ash by the new Indian Guru in town Subramanian Swamy to Lanka’s guardian deities of the divine benevolence radiating from India’s Prime Minister Modi as he tenderly casts his grace upon Lankan soil and the radical change of heart India now has toward their neighbouring isle, the Lankan Government should view with caution and take with a pinch of salt the rosy picture of bonhomie painted by this Tamil Nadu savant preaching the in vogue new Vedas of his born again Bharath.

‘India under Modi is different,” is the song the current head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Strategic Action Committee Swamy belts out upon every stage he is invited to perform after having struck the correct note three weeks ago at a seminar titled ‘India under Modi’ at the BMICH under the auspices of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies.

Now the talk of the town and the toast of the cocktail circuit, he spills out the Indian beans when he says that Indira Gandhi blundered in providing weapons training to the LTTE, and that Tamil Nadu was consulted when Kachchativu was handed over to Lanka. He praises Modi’s qualities as far superior to those possessed by his predecessors and as evidence of his resolute determination to forge closer ties with the SAARC members holds the example of Modi inviting the Lankan president to his inauguration despite protests from Tamil Nadu.

And he rings out the words music to Lanka’s tired ears and soothing to her anxiety ridden heart that India under Modi will never intervene in Lanka under any circumstances. If that’s not all, on the sidelines of this week’s Defence Seminar where he was an honoured guest, he presents reporters an analysis of Lanka’s terrorist war stating that it was not due to an ethnic problem but due to a language issue. And whilst predicting that Modi will visit Lanka only next year, he conveys everything Lanka wants and likes to hear, doing it in the manner of one who has the ear of Modi and speaks as the authoritative and definitive voice of India.

This Tamil politician from Tamil Nadu seems, by his own bearing, the original, authentic North Indian Tandoori Chicken, straight from New Delhi’s charcoal clay pot.

But though he basks in the happy Colombo glow of being a privileged one in the inner circle of self-professed loners, Modi’s handful of confidants, does Swamy, who hitched his wagon to Modi’s star only last August when the nation’s mood swung in Modi’s favour, really have the prime minister’s ear? Can he really predict the twists and turns of Modi’s impulses?

Consider Modi’s all important relations with Pakistan which not even three months ago were hailed by many as evidence of a new benevolence on the part of an Indian Prime minister towards the nation’s arch foe.

May 26th this year marked a significant day in the makings of a new India, when a ‘chai wala’ made good, shed his street chappals to step into the pomp lined pumps of India’s Prime Minister. The change of the old guard was visibly present and the promise of a revolution in thinking pervaded the air. The whole mega event was organised and presented as if India was gaining her independence and keeping her tryst with destiny at the gong of the going down sun.

As befits a man who thinks he is monarch of all he surveys Modi took the unprecedented step of inviting all the heads of South Asian States and in the condescending manner in which they were treated, revealed India suffered delusions of exercising suzerainty over their territories, holding those sovereign nations as mere vassal states and their leaders as but bemedalled puppets on parade, dangling on her clanking chain. Her eagerness to preside over the destinies of Asian states and reassume her presumed historical role as the mother of all SAARC nations was demonstrated without any subtleness of any sort. On display was the unbridled arrogance of India.

Subramanian Swamy at this week’s Defence Seminar in Colomob

But it was all packaged and presented in a different light of a new India, an India which intended to wipe the slate clean, bury old hatchets and under Modi’s enlightened leadership to canvass, court and covet friendships and extend a new hand of trust and goodwill to her neighbours with nothing concealed in her kurtha sleeve.

Of all the heads of state to attend the coronation of King Modi, it was Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif who was wooed and honoured the most. Compared to the Lankan President receiving only a twenty minute time slot, the Pakistani Prime Minister was given a fifty minute audience with the newly crowned Modi. The whole affair began as if the two were celebrating Mother’s Day with Sharif presenting a gift to Modi’s mother and the Indian Premier reciprocating in kind by presenting a scarf to Sharif’s mum. After adding this nice sentimental touch that so much moved Asian hearts, the two leaders declared their commitment to continue with dialogue to resolve the bitter dispute that is Jammu-Kashmir, the centre of attrition that had soured the relations between the two Asian nuclear powers.

Thus began the dawn of a new era of Indo-Pak relations, forged at the auspicious time of Modi’s sunlit hour, blessed with the promise that the long brewing Kashmir problem could and would be solved through dialogue and compromise. Then suddenly, without warning, India on Monday cancelled the scheduled high-level Foreign Secretary meeting and called off the talks.

The reason given was that India was angered by Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s decision to engage with Hurriyat leaders. India’s Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh telephoned and told Mr. Basit just minutes after he met the leader of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Shah that the meeting “with these so-called leaders of the Hurriyat undermines the constructive diplomatic engagement initiated by Prime Minister Modi in May on his very first day in office.” A government statement added that the meeting was an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of India.” Suddenly the euphoria generated not even three months ago fell flat.

That India took umbrage over the Pakistani High Commissioner meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders when many Pakistani diplomats and officials have met the leaders before without any Indian protests; that India did not deem it fit to go through the motions of first lodging their protest but instead exercised the extreme response of calling off the high level talks between the two foreign secretaries of the two nations planned to be held in Islamabad on August 25, that India viewed Basit’s decision to meet Hurriyat chiefs as being serious enough to override the ongoing Indo-Pakistani talks and damage Indo-Pak relations just when it had started to blossom; and that India considered Pakistan High Commissioner’s act as an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of India surprised many India watchers and even led to the Indian newspapers condemning the action as an ‘overreaction’.

Fortunately for Pakistan, strong and armed as she is with nuclear missiles to boot, she does not have to bend the knee, to pay obeisance and genuflect to India’s show of arrogance. She does not have to take India’s bullying tactics lying down nor express abashed tears of penitence and plea for forgiveness. Instead she has reacted with defiance to India’s unilateral action to cancel the talks and stated that Pakistan is “not subservient” to New Delhi and was a “legitimate stakeholder” in the Kashmir dispute.

“The High Commissioner of Pakistan did not interfere in India’s internal affairs. Pakistan is not subservient to India. It is a sovereign country, a legitimate stakeholder in the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Kashmir is not part of India,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said on Wednesday.

These two incidents reveal India’s own insecureness in the presence of her neighbours, a confidence crisis, a panic attack suffered by the new regime in New Delhi suddenly faced with the awesome reality of having two formidable enemies on either side and compelled to confront the twin dangers. This may partly account for Modi’s statement when inducting India’s biggest indigenously built war ship INS Kolkata into the Indian Navy on August 16. He said the defence forces will be modernised to ensure that “no one can dare challenge us, nobody will ever dare to cast an evil eye on our nation.”

When the leader of the second largest nation on earth starts fretting on any evil eye being cast upon his patch of roses, and shows all the nervous signs of being trigger happy to protect it, it is time to stay clear of his ken and tread his ground with care and not provoke his wrath
For Lanka hasn’t the stomach or the arsenal to put on a defiant front in the way Pakistan has done in the face of India’s might and recent aggressiveness. This month’s faux pas in publishing an offensive article concerning Modi and Jayalalithaa together with a derogatory cartoon of them both on the official government defence website was totally uncalled for and could have been avoided had the necessary precautions been taken beforehand and the messages emanating from India read with greater acumen.

One shudders to think that if not for the swift action taken by the Lankan Government in immediately extending a grovelling ‘unqualified apology’ to not only the Prime Minister of India, Modi but also to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for the perceived offence, whether India, in her present unbalanced state of mind, would have even declared war on Lanka and, instead of sending a flotilla of small fishing boats with Tamil Nadu fishermen to occupy the rocky isle of Kachchativu, would have gone overboard and sent in the whole Indian armada to take control of entire island of Lanka as was demanded by certain groups in Tamil Nadu?
Yet with these illustrations revealing the mood in India, it is to Lanka’s advantage to size up the Modi mentality and balm his ego with the correct political oil. Inviting Modi to visit Lanka when the Lankan President met him at the swearing in ceremony in New Delhi was a welcome step. But yet Modi is still to accept the invite. Initially, Colombo’s prayers were that Modi would do the honours by making Lanka his first port of call but instead he chose to visit Nepal. Then came Europe and then the White House in the United States.
Modi has shown no sign whatsoever of visiting Lanka in the immediate future. Instead he has once again chosen to head for the land where the Buddha was born — Nepal — where he currently is, while giving the country where the Buddha’s philosophy lives another miss, another snub.

Exasperated, no doubt, by this seeming tendency of Modi to keep Lanka hanging on, the Lankan president told the Indian Express this week that ‘if the Chinese president and the Japanese prime Minister can come here, why can’t the Indian Prime minister come here, the people ask.”

For even better measure he may well have asked if Lanka is good enough for, His Holiness Pope Francis to visit in January next year, then why is it not good for Modi? The answer is that for all Modi’s avowals that he represents a new India and is poles apart from Manmohan Singh, he cannot but help follow the steps of his predecessor who kept Lanka dangling on tenterhooks until the very last moment as to whether he would or not come for the CHOGM last year. In reality, though those from India boast special clairvoyance powers to read the mind of the star in India’s political firmament and claim insight to predict upon his benevolence and future conduct, the gathered actions of Modi in the last three months offer a better guide to prevalent thinking in the halls of the PM’s official residence No 7, Race Course Road in Delhi.

Far better to go by tried and tested methods of evaluation and planning out strategies accordingly than fall for the mumbo-jumbo of wandering fakirs who have nothing but their own interests to foster, and make a whole nation come a cropper. It is best to bear in mind that real confidants never make a song and dance of their relationships but stay aloof observing the precept that discretion is the better part of valour. And, if we really want to be spellbound by some mystical magic from India, how about the Great Indian Rope Trick?

No Tamil in Tamil Nadu Court


Last week on August 15th even as India was celebrating 67 years of independence, its southern state of Tamil Nadu was seeking to make Tamil a language that could be used in the Madras High Court.

A BJP’s Rajya Sabha Member, Tarun Vijay on Monday called upon India’s President Pranab Mukherjee to request the Central Government to take immediate steps for declaring Tamil for use as a language of the Madras High Court for passing orders and judgments.
The request had been made before but had been rejected on the basis that to have Tamil rather than English as the court language may cause various difficulties, since some judges from outside Tamil Nadu may not fully understand the language.

Mr. Vijay, however, would not buy that lame duck excuse. He said “in most of the north Indian High courts, language of the local people is accepted as the medium of communication and delivering judgments. The logic that many judges belong to different language groups do not hold good as the Indian nation holds all Indian languages in the same respect and honour and we have found ways and means in other High Courts to deal with such an issue.”

Contrast that to the situation in Lanka. Although visiting Tamil Nadu politician Subramanian Swamy this week told Colombo journalists that the present crisis in Lanka is not an ethnic one but a linguistic one, he should perhaps turn his torch and search his home turf to find whether such a linguistic problem exists there. For in Lanka no supposedly discriminated Tamil need write letters requesting the Lankan Government to please consider the possibility of making Tamil, a court language.

He doesn’t have to, for it is enshrined in the heart of the Constitution itself. While Sinhala being the language of over 75 per cent of the populace remains as the official language, Tamil is a national language of the state. In the Northern Province where Tamils are in the majority and even in the Eastern Province where Tamils only form about one third of the population, the national language Tamil is the language of the courts of original jurisdiction, meaning courts of the first instance and records and proceedings shall be in Tamil. In the event of an appeal from any such court, records in both Sinhalese and Tamil will be prepared for the use of the court hearing such appeal. And the record of any such proceedings in such court shall also be maintained in Sinhalese only if the judge or other relevant party to the case requests it on the basis of being not conversant with Tamil.

Funny, isn’t it, that in Jayalalaithaa’s Tamil Nadu state of 75 million Tamils forming over 90 per cent of the population still does not possess the basic right to have their cases heard in their native tongue, in a language they can understand whilst their brethren across the Palk Strait for whose language rights they have vehemently fought for in the last few years and who form only 12 per cent of the total population have been enjoying the same as a constitutional right for over thirty five years?

After sixty six years of independence, Jayalalithaa finally managed to pass a law last month giving a legal right for any Tamil to wear his dhoti in any English speaking Gentleman’s Club in Tamil Nadu. How many more years would it take for Tamil Nadu Tamils to hear their cases conducted in their High Courts in a language they can understand — not English but their own language Tamil?

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