Engaged neutrality in Sri Lanka

India should refrain from taking sides in Colombo

Sri Lanka, as the Indian Express put it, “seems to be on the brink of a new political fracture.” It is unclear why Mahinda Rajapaksa had to resort to highly draconian measures after his electoral victory. Putting his defeated challenger under arrest and on trial on ostensibly flimsy legalistic grounds appears to be wholly unnecessary and a grossly perverse calculation of priorities—the urgent task of reconciling a post-LTTE Sri Lanka needs political magnanimity and high statesmanship, not petty authoritarianism. [See Dayan Jayatilleka’s post in Groundviews] President Rajapaksa has made a big mistake.

Even so, India would do well to allow the Sri Lankan political processes and constitutional machinery to run their course. It is not unusual for Sri Lankan politicians to call for an Indian intervention when their own chips are down, but New Delhi should keep its distance from the goings-on in Colombo. Even as it maintains overall neutrality, it is important that India deeply engage all segments of Sri Lankan politics through multiple, parallel channels. It is possible that such a position, by itself, will result in a calming influence that will restore political stability. If it does not, it will place New Delhi in a much better position to intervene should the need arise.

And no, engaged does not mean passivity. It means the opposite.

6 thoughts on “Engaged neutrality in Sri Lanka”

  1. yes, Indian govt shud stay away from Lankan affairs. thou I standby my rhetorical tweet asking for a R&AW assassination of Mahinda using LTTE remnants 🙂


    Ranil Wickeramasinge visited Delhi as recently as two days ago. and spoke to TV reporters in Chennai asking india to act against Mahinda. Ranil and Fonseka visited India before the elections too. Wonder why the clowns at South block are allowing such public intervention.

    I believe, helping to eliminate the LTTE is the single greatest achievement of the Manmohan Singh govt. however, by overplaying its hand, MEA under Narayanan/Menon made Lanka look like a colony. now Mahinda may wanna pay back. he knows that India no longer has any leverage in Lankan affairs.

    I expect severe assaults on civil liberties under the socialist regime of the Rajapaksa’s. being a conservative, I actively supported Fonseka. and I’m infuriated by the current actions of the Rajapaksa dictatorship. but a solution to this imbroglio has to come from the Lankans themselves. India must stay away.

  2. Beg to differ. New Delhi should oppose these patently vindictive and non democratic actions of the Sri Lankan President. There are some fundamental principles which should be always above temporary geo political conveniences.

  3. Sachin RK:

    “There are some fundamental principles which should be always above temporary geo political conveniences.”

    Why? Just because you think so? Geopolitical inconvenience can last generations, long after we are gone.

    Sri Lanka’s local political problems can be solved in their next election under their constitution — the Sri Lankan people do not need any patronization from India or Indians. It is not like the Indian political system is blemish free and working perfectly, so maybe Indians should focus on their own governance before advising Sri Lanka.

  4. The developments in Sri Lanka are a matter of concern, the signs are ominous for the Tamil minorities. Policy of non interference is one thing, but India can’t look the other way if human rights abuses take place in the neighborhood.

  5. @Sanjay

    “India can’t look the other way if human rights abuses take place in the neighborhood”

    Burma anyone?

    Let us stick to realpolitik on this forum please. In my opinion intervention or influence whatever that you would like to call it is needed for the simple reason that increased Chinese influence in SL simply will complete the encirclement of India by pro-Chinese govts.

  6. sanjay, The SL president has done nothing so far to indicate that the Tamils are being persecuted — they just held elections. This is an internal power struggle between elected Sri Lankan leadership and a stooge of the outside powers who want leverage into SL’s internal politics by pretending that the “international community” is all worried about “sri lankan tamils” — the IC can go worry about Nigeria and Burkina Faso if they are so starved for causes to fight for. We all know that the IC just sits around with its thumb up its butt when there are real humanitarian crises and genocides happening in countries of low geopolitical value like Rwanda. Anyone else wonder why this “International Community” selective humanitarianism always coincides with areas of high geopolitical value?

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