US-India ‘think-tankers’ advise New Delhi to put Tamil concerns on the backburner

[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 January 2020, 21:34 GMT]
Indian Prime Minister Narendra has been successful in culminating a two-year-long “silent background work” to rebuild relations with Rajapaksa siblings, observes Constantino Xavier, a research fellow at Brookings India in New Delhi. In an interview to Rediff, the Portuguese academic, who specialises foreign policy and defence in South Asia says, however, India was risking that Mr Gotabaya could repeat the game Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Olie played with India during the last three years. Mr Oli “gave in to all of Indian protocol demands and political optics, visited Delhi first, proclaimed India first, then waited for India to forget about him, and went on to do more business with China,” the US-India think-tanker told Rediff.com on Thursday.

Brookings India is the New Delhi arm of the US think-tank on geopolitics.

Arguing that Indian sticks were of little use against Chinese carrots, the research fellow was arguing that New Delhi would have to focus more on “economic delivery, rather than the traditional policy of denial and coercion”.

Constantino Xavier is a colleague of Indian External Affairs minister’s son, Dhruva Jaishankar and former Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon at Brookings India. Xavier has also held fellowships at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), which was founded in part by Indian business tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani’s family and funded heavily by the conglomerate’s Reliance Industries Limited.

“If Delhi wants Gotabaya to stick to its red lines, for example not allowing China to militarise the Hambantota port, then it may have to put the Tamil and decentralisation issues on the backburner,” the US think-tanker said.

“Hopefully we will see more concrete achievements over the next year, including many pending announcements since 2015, for example in regard to upgrading Trincomalee port or reviving the rail and ferry links with Tamil Nadu.”

Xavier was promoting the paradigm of ‘development’ as a solution and was painting a positive image of previous Rajapaksa rule as reducing poverty in the northern and eastern provinces “massively”. The growth “peaked at 25 per cent between 2009 and 2012,” he said in the interview.

In the meantime, N Sathiya Moorthy, who is the head of Chennai chapter of the ORF, had authored a new piece for “Colombo Gazette” on Monday arguing that the TNA had “lost its chance in real terms when they walked out on the Mahinda Government, over the UNHRC issue.”

Sathiya Moorthy, known to write with open bias against the Eezham Tamils, was also arguing that the relationship between New Delhi and Colombo could be expanded if the ties are not held hostage to “single-issue affairs” like the ‘ethnic cause’ or the ‘China factor’.

The TNA seems to be under diplomatic pressure from India and the West to work with Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the orchestrated write-ups seem to harp on ‘development’ as a solution, commented Tamil political observers in Jaffna. The TNA succumbing to such a paradigm meant nothing else than exposing Eezham Tamils to self-annihilation through structural genocide, they observed.


External Links:
Rediff.com: India cannot take Gotabaya for granted
Colombo Gazette: Is 13-A ‘impractical’ or what?


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