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Does Sri Lanka need India to run Sri Lanka?

| by Shenali Waduge

Indian Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj (C) steps out of a Sri Lankan helicopter in Batticoloa on April 20, 2012. - Getty Images  
( May 01, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) To be called sovereign is not enough as a country must be steered by elected natives of that sovereign country and not those remote controlling from overseas. Nevertheless, to our horror we are discovering daily that our sovereignty is being compromised and our hard won victory over terrorism and the sacrifices made towards that achievement is being overtaken by “intervention” of a kind we now need to voice loud enough for elected leaders to start putting their act together. Appeasing our enemies and not watching our state assets, natural resources and the repercussions of the commitments being made on the handshake of cordiality has not led us anywhere in the past and is unlikely to in the future though it may fatten the givers purses. Yet, no elected native would want to end up Mubaraks, Charles Taylors, Saddam Husseins or Gaddafi’s because those that swing the pendulums will never make exceptions to those targeted…and native leaders of Sri Lanka need to realize this too. The choice is simple – to acquire but be unable to enjoy what was acquired or to patriotically lead and remain heroes in the eyes of the Sri Lankan public for posterity is what all our leaders need to ask themselves.

Open any daily newspaper and a common feature is the increasing presence of Indians signing deals, starting ventures, opening showrooms, visiting State politicians and whatsmore promoting Sri Lanka. Do we not have eligible and efficient people to promote our own country? While it is unfair to blame Indian presence in Sri Lanka or make any of them feel unwelcome it is our own leaders and officials who must be made to answer what is exactly going on?

There isn’t an area that India is not investing in and Indians have found it more than “homely” to set up shop and reside in Sri Lanka. Go to any retail store to see the influx. Even Sri Lanka’s electronic media is under Indian scrutiny as is every aspect of polity by a large contingent of Indian intelligence already operational throughout Sri Lanka. Allowing subversive actions to take place and blaming covert plans is hardly the remedy. We now need to be more assertive, more offensive in putting our country back on track.

Our Ceylon Tea is being promoted by India through its ventures in our plantation industry. One would be surprised at the number of joint ventures that have taken place. India is building homes – 50,000 such to be given to the civilians rescued during the final stages of the war. Our guess is that these recipients are likely to be Indian illegal immigrants arriving over the years from Tamil Nadu assisted by LTTE. Why were there no hue and cry by Indian Central Government or the Tamil Nadu politicians when the LTTE prevailed over Indian fishermen coming into Sri Lankan waters and only now harsh diplomatic statements are being sent to Sri Lanka?

India is also pushing for the full implementation of the CEPA which spells more dangers for Sri Lanka and its industries though a handful of Sri Lankan companies are likely to benefit by opening shop in India. What good would the benefit for less than 10 Sri Lankan companies do when the entire business entrepreneurship of small and medium enterprises is likely to suffer death as a result?

Over 50 Indian companies showcased themselves covering a range of industries at the India Investrade Exhibition held in Sri Lanka. We can presume there is likely to be more than threefold that number of Indian companies already operating in Sri Lanka discounting the Indians operating illegally who had made use of the visa on arrival facility offered to India. These Indian companies are said to have invested USD150m in Sri Lanka in 2012 alone. It is not difficult to presume the profit they are likely to make and the millions that will be taken out of the country as a result. Sri Lanka may have gained USD150m but we are likely to lose more than double that amount very soon.

When the person who ruined Sri Lanka’s education system has shown no difference in the manner the Ceylon Petroleum has been run we are simply waiting for the next announcement to hear that Sri Lanka’s oil distribution is to be hereafter handled by Indian Oil Corporation who had pronounced readiness to invest USD2b to upgrade the Sapugaskanda oil refinery. What has become increasingly annoying to see is that these “bail outs” of state commodities and state services compromised to foreign interests has been purely on the grounds that the heads of these ministries have simply watched its administration fall to pieces paying little interest to productivity, quality or quantity of service. As a result the entire country is losing out on its natural assets and the public has to simply watch and listen to the excuses of our leaders.

Similar situation is taking place in the electricity distribution. Despite, the controversy over the setting up of the Norochcholai power plant by China we have not seen any remarkable results. Fires and other hiccups are often given as excuses with the Ceylon electricity board continuously announcing massive losses and offering plenty of excuses. Now there is talk of an Indian project to provide electricity beneath the sea. What good is a 4000billion rupee investment to get electricity distribution from India below the water by fixing 300km long wires which will give Sri Lanka only 500mega volt electricity? What about the environmental issues that may arise too as India is also opening a nuclear plant to which only a few concerned people from Sri Lanka are raising concerns while the Sri Lankan Government remains mum.

Is it simply enough to jump on stage and shout at India in local tongue but pay glowing courtesies to India excusing its actions and pronouncing it a “friend”, allowing India to practically take over all our assets and dictate how our country should be run? Are our leaders allowing India to simply walk over us? What good was a war fought to the end to eliminate a terrorist movement which led to the lives of so many youth and innocent civilians if we are to be run and ruled by India?

Shouldn’t the Tamils themselves realize that India has been fooling them for decades and India has no intention of giving an Eelaam to Tamil Nadu or Sri Lanka? If India wanted to give Eelaam wouldn’t it have been done as fast as Bangladesh was created? It is still not late for Tamils to think as Sri Lankans and to join to save the nation from a country that cares little for anything but its Hindi dominance.

If India’s involvement primarily centers around its role in the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord creating the 13th amendment and the Provincial Council system, with a 2/3 majority what is stopping Sri Lanka’s Government from doing what the entire nation is requesting? If the North-East Merger part of the 13th amendment was annulled by Sri Lanka”s Supreme Court what is stopping Sri Lanka’s Government from throwing to the dustbin the 13thamendment and the Provincial Council system and bringing back the District Council system? Everyone knows that the Provincial Council system is nothing but a waste and whatsmore the Provincial council members including their heads are nothing short of criminals.

If the people of Sri Lanka have come to view India and Indian plans as being detrimental to our country what is stopping our politicians realizing this and doing something about it? Those in Government and in Opposition owe it to the people to bury their differences to ensure the nation remains Sri Lanka and for Sri Lankans. At the rate things are going all our politicians may well be taking orders from Delhi if our leaders do not start to wake up from their slumber. Do we not have powerful friends to turn to? Friends that would never do what India did to us in Geneva? Should we not be making better use of them? If we are unable to fight it out alone isn’t it far better strategically to align with nations that have stood with us in times of need and not the nations that are simply issuing contradictory statements and conniving our downfall? They may offer personal benefits to some but it would lead to the ultimate downfall of the entire nation and its people.

Let us also not forget that both China and Russia’s term at the UNHRC will end in December 2012.

Is it not enough that generations of Sri Lankans will have to pay for the lavish exorbitances of those who are and have been in power, their bad decisions and the compromises they have made that has denied the country and its people to benefit from the natural resources that remains…are we to next loose the only pride we have – to call our nation our own sovereign Sri Lanka!

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