In India, D is for diarrhoea, not diplomacy

By Malinda Seneviratne

(April 26, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) India’s National Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan, and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shakar Menon, are in Sri Lanka. They are not exactly making a courtesy call, not after India’s External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee shot his mouth a few days ago regarding the situation in Sri Lanka, especially in the ‘No Fire Zone’.

Why these gentlemen (of all available gentlemen) and why now, right in the thick of India’s general election? If we are to believe Mukherjee, India is ‘very unhappy at the continued killing in Sri Lanka’. India wants all killing to stop. India wants an immediate cessation of all hostilities. Such concern! Such needs!

These gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, are not the bleeding-heart Good Samaritans they would have us believe. They are (don’t hold your breath!) politicians! Get that? P.O.L.I.T.I.C.I.A.N.S. Well, Menon is a bureaucrat, but he has to listen to a politician, who will one way or another get him to do what is politically expedient. Menon is in no danger of losing his job, but Mukherjee might. It is that simple.

This is why, when Karunanidi or Jayalalitha suffer from a tummy ache in Chennai, people like Mukherjee rush to the loo in Delhi. It is not funny, really. Somewhere in 1979, the stomach of someone in Chennai began to rumble and Rajiv Gandhi had diarrhoea. It was a bad attack; so bad that all of India was not big enough to contain the smelly stuff. The Indian Air Force had to drop stuff on poor old Sri Lanka. Guess what, folks. Rajiv had to come clean up afterwards. And, sadly, he was cleaned up too.

Right to dictate

Well, there are some who say, regardless of stomach upsets in the past and indiscriminate droppings thereafter, we have to thank India for supporting us in the struggle against terrorism. They are helping us in our surveillance, it seems. They are helping us seal possible exits for Prabhakaran, it seems. They are cracking down on LTTE agents in India, we are told. All true, probably. Does this give India some kind of right to dictate to us how to execute our war on terrorism? Some would say, ‘yeah, and tough’.

I see things a bit differently. I think India is not doing us a favour here. India opened a can of worms when Indira Gandhi and her son decided to use the LTTE as a pawn in their global power games. India can’t afford to have Prabhakaran and his thugs hooking up and sharing notes with Mr. Vaiko. India is not protecting our territorial integrity here, she is protecting her’s. Sure, we benefit, but then again, we don’t owe anything to India, do we? After all, India has in her belligerence screwed things up so much, that this ‘support’ is the least she can offer by way of compensation for being an accessory after the fact of terrorism.
Take Mukherjee’s current angst. He is ‘very unhappy about continuing killings’.

Should we take him seriously or should we call him a political clown? If killing (continuous or otherwise) worries Mukherjee so much, he would have first sent Menon and Narayanan to Kashmir wouldn’t he? How many have been killed in that unhappy region, does he know? Does he depend on NGO sources for the numbers? Would he allow David Milliband to send Des Browne to Kashmir as a Special Envoy? Would he let the UN send a special team to assess the ‘humanitarian’ situation there?


Why didn’t Mukherjee call for an ‘immediate cessation of hostilities’ between India’s special anti-terrorist outfit and the terrorists who took Mumbai by storm last November? Or with the Naxalites? A few days ago, the Naxalites took control of a train and held some 700 passengers hostage. The Naxalites just wanted to make a point. Now, had the Naxalites decided they wanted something more and started firing at anyone trying to leave the train, what would our violence-abhorring Mukherjee have done? I think that would be a nice film to make. Just imagine a film titled ‘Pranab Mukherjee Eats His Words’. Would ‘Mukherjee Trips Over Himself’ be better? Would it be tagged as a tragedy or a comedy, I wonder.

Let’s get things in proper perspective, though. India, especially with leaders who are an embarrassment to the vibrant and truly amazing intellectual history of that country, is probably more likely to play the role of neighbourhood bully than wise ascetic. If it chooses to do so, there is very little that Sri Lanka can do. On the other hand, bullies have pea-sized brains. Whether they are taunted or not, they will still make you hand over your pocket money.

There is a Japanese proverb, ‘We are fools whether we dance or not, so might as well dance’. I think whether we dance according to India’s tune or Uncle Sam’s tune, it makes no difference to the effacement of national pride. If we are going to be tripped while dancing, we might as well be dancing to a tune closer to our heart. If that is all the power we have, I say, let’s exercise it. Either way, we get bruised, yes, but this way, we can perhaps make a s---- bag realize, if only for a moment, that he is a s--- -bag. And what a s--- -bag this big brother (sic) is turning out to be. At the rate that Delhi is evacuating on account of Tamil Nadu’s indigestion there’s going to be a bad case of dehydration. Well, no one wants to be anyone else’s toilet seat, and speaking strictly for myself, I am going to protest all the way, screaming my head off in the hope that my shout will haunt the guy through all his dreams and all his wakeful hours. Sorry, Rabindranath, your nation is a far cry from what you wanted it to be.

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer who edits the monthly magazine Spectrum. He can be contacted at
-Sri Lanka Guardian