| by N.S.Venkataraman
( August 29, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lankan parliamentarians from Tamil National Alliance (TNA) met the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi recently and discussed the problems of Sri Lankan Tamils. Later on, it was said that the Tamil National Alliance had reposed its faith in Indian Prime Minister to solve the problems of the ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka.
It is not clear how President Rajapaksa view this visit and discussions with the Indian Prime Minister. Certainly, Mr. Narendra Modi would not have liked . if any Indian rebel groups visit another country and meet the leader of the government in that country and would appeal to him to use his good offices to solve the problems of the rebels in India . Recently, when a few rebels in Kashmir met the Pakistan Ambassador in India to discuss their issue, Government of India took serious objection to this and went to the extent of cancelling the peace talks with Pakistan.
By remaining silent, President Rajapaksa has shown good understanding of the ground realities and perhaps does not want to embarass Prime Minister Narendra Modi by making any adverse observations.
However, this visit of Sri Lankan Tamil Parliamentarians to New Delhi and their discussions with the Indian Prime Minister only highlight the fact that President Rajapaksa is yet to win the confidence of the minority Tamil community living in Sri Lanka. While it certainly may not be possible in the present conditions to win the confidence of the pledged critics amongst the Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka, the common Tamils living in Sri Lanka would react favourably if Sri Lankan government would take convincing steps to find solutions for the problems faced by the Tamil population.
Of course, it would be incorrect to argue that the Sri Lankan government has done nothing to improve the economic and social conditions of the Tamil people. It would be uncharitable if anyone would advance such arguments.
It is said that the Tamil National Alliance want unification of the northern and eastern provinces and full implementation of the 13th amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution. Perhaps, President Rajapaksa should try to maintain a channel of communication with the Tamil Parliamentarians and create a cordial climate for discussions with them, so that such visit to Indian Prime Minister would become unnecessary.
The demand that the military presence should be withdrawn from the Tamil areas would not be acceptable to Sri Lankan government and this is understandable, particularly due to the fact that the militant Tamil rebels and whatever that remain of LTTE have not given up the objectives and methods of fighting with the Sri Lankan government even in violent way. Withdrawal of the military presence at this juncture would only create unsafe conditions for the peace loving citizens living in the Tamil area and pave way for creating conflict zones.
The best strategy to create the climate of confidence is for the Sri Lankan government to take steps urgently and in an appropriate manner to promote industrial and economic growth and social progress of the minority Tamil population. Creation of skill acquisition opportunities for the local Tamils and generation of avenues of employment for the people living at various economic levels would go a long way in reducing tensions and creating harmony. People need jobs and income which would enable them to settle down and focus on progressive and healthy life style.
Even in India, the Indian Prime Minister has repeatedly emphasised that ensuring economic and industrial development and promoting employment opportunities is the best strategy to solve the multitude of problem faced by India in one stroke over a period of time. The same logic and approach would be well suited for Sri Lanka also.
It is good to hear that the Indian government is providing support to the Sri Lankan government in building roads and promoting industrial estates in the areas of erstwhile conflict and war zone.
President Rajapaksa should l focus on ushering economic growth in the eastern and northern province in all possible ways that would ensure an atmosphere of growth and peace. Certainly , President Rajapaksa should attend to the complaints that historical and cultural symbols of Tamils have not been adequately protected. He should not only solve such problems but should also appear to be solving them.