“The running of foreign policy by federal units is not advocated, but they can and should make benign inputs into its making. Think-tanks specialising in foreign relations and Area Studies Departments in Universities can play a meaningful role in this direction,” writes Chennai-based former South and Southeast Asian Studies Professor V. Suryanarayan, who was also a member of the National Security Advisory Board of India during the Vanni War. Claiming that his “essay is a perspective from Chennai,” Suryanarayan was particularly elucidating and detracting the moves of Tamil Nadu on the cause of Eezham Tamils in his foreign policy discourse that appeared in the website of New Delhi-based Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), on Friday.
“With the formation of coalition governments at the Centre and regional parties playing a national role, the situation has undergone a transformation,” Suryanarayan said comparing the situation of the recent decades with the earlier ones.
“The regional parties began to make their inputs towards the making of foreign policy; what is more, the Central government succeeded in softening the chauvinist demands of their regional allies.”
“To illustrate, the inclusion of the Sethusamudram project in the policies and programmes of the Manmohan Singh government was due to persistent efforts of the DMK. Similarly, the DMK government led by Karunanidhi went along with the Centre’s policy on Sri Lanka during the last stages of the Fourth Eelam War.”
“New Delhi understandably permitted Karunanidhi to indulge in political gimmicks to enable him to portray himself as the saviour of the Tamils.”
“What vitiates the atmosphere in Tamil Nadu is competitive one-upmanship between the two Dravidian leaders as to who is the true spokesman and saviour of Tamils.“
“In this competitive game, rhetoric becomes more important than reality. The demand that Mahinda Rajapaksa should be tried by the International Court of Justice for war crimes; India should cut off diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka; opposition to training of Sri Lankan military personnel in defence establishments; attack on Sri Lankan pilgrims and delegates participating in international conferences – can be understood only if the competitive game is kept in mind.”
“With impending parliamentary elections, the mad race between the two Dravidian parties is likely to intensify,” observed Suryanarayan, before concluding that “the running of foreign policy by federal units is not advocated.”
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The pundits debating on “Federalism and Foreign Policy: Regional Inputs in India’s Neighbourhood Strategy,” especially related to the issue of Eezham Tamils, should never forget, ignore or hide the fact that they are delving into a situation for which there is no precedence, commented a Tamil activist for alternative politics in Jaffna, responding to Suryanarayan’s discourse.
Further comments from the activist in Jaffna:
For the first time in the history of independent India, it was actively in complicity in the genocide of a nation, in a war in its neighbourhood, and is actively in complicity in the continued genocide of that nation in the form of structural genocide. This nation, i.e., the nation of Eezham Tamils has generic relationship with the nation of Tamils in the State of Tamil Nadu in India.
The crime of complicity in the genocide and in the on-going genocide is more serious than the war crimes committed by the IPKF in the country of Eezham Tamils.
Unless this fact in its proper perspective and its unprecedented nature in the history of Indian foreign policy are acknowledged, any discourse on the dimensions of Tamil Nadu asserting to the edification of New Delhi’s foreign policy is incomplete.
New Delhi has for the first time invited a situation in which a federal unit and its people have to seriously rebel against it in foreign policy and have to think of alternatives.
The situation doesn’t involve India alone. The USA, UK, China and a host of others are there.
If New Delhi fails, Tamil Nadu has a duty in independently and internationally asserting to the geopolitical requirements demanded by the issue.
It is a well known secret that more than federalism interfering into the foreign policy of India, the actual curse is that a particular clan and its bias and paranoia are allowed to dictate the foreign policy of India for long. Are there any pundits in India who are bold enough to debate on this reality?
Besides, there are extra-parliamentary elements, media Ratnas and corporate houses that are more powerful than any State in influencing and interfering into the foreign policy of India.
Think tanks and university departments have become dens of fund-bound dons.
What has happened and is happening in the island deserve a jolt to be delivered at the foreign policy establishment of New Delhi and it should be welcomed if Tamil Nadu delivers it for the benefit of all the peoples of India, for the benefit of the entire humanity and for the evolution of democracy in India.
To what extent foreign policy of India is vested in the hands of even New Delhi is another question the pundits have to debate.
Two weeks ago the New Zealand Leader of the Opposition was hinting at how his country was not independent in foreign policy, even in humanitarian matters.
It is time that concerned peoples all over the world have to take up the matter without caring for their establishments.
The task of Tamil Nadu, demanded by the realities of contemporary history, is twofold: first to follow an independent foreign policy in shaping and mobilising world opinion on the cause of Eezham Tamils, and the other is to work towards conducting an investigation in India itself on the forces that were steadily contributing to a foreign policy that culminated in the genocide and continued genocide of the nation of Eezham Tamils.
Rather than always looking at the political moves of Tamil Nadu with contempt, the ilk of Suryanarayan would do much better in coming out with benign inputs in making Tamil Nadu to rise up to the occasion, to challenge all oppressive forces of humanity operating in the geopolitical region around Tamil Nadu.