On 26th May, 2014, Mr Narendra Modi will take the oath for Prime Minister of India. Leaders from all South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) nations have been invited. Many, if not all, are attending this ceremony. Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa too will be in New Delhi for the event.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J Jayalalitha of AIDMK and DMK president, M Karunanidhi have voiced opposition to Mr Rajpaksa’s invitation and presence in this ceremony.
Even though it is understandable, it should, and will not, be the only basis for India’s Foreign policy.
India is surrounded by countries, where China is trying to increase its influence, politically and militarily. India needs to work actively to counter it. India needs to have co-operative and friendly relations with these countries.
This is for the first time that SAARC leaders have been invited for an event of this nature. It is a great beginning. It is smart politics too because it creates better relations, and also creates camaraderie among the leaders.
India needs to create better relations in the region, which will be great for trade, investment and regional security. It will also help its anti-terrorism strategies.
India can not start seeing the relations in the region from one specific dimension, because relations with the nations are always multi-dimensional. No one segment of Indians or regions can be given a monopoly or veto to dictate India’s foreign policy. Populism alone is never a great basis for any policy, and Foreign affairs policy is no exception.
India’s relations with Sri Lanka are obviously multi-dimensional, and must remain so. Feelings from Tamil Nadu politicians alone can not, and must not, be allowed to dictate Indo-Sri Lanka relations.
I am intensely sympathetic to human right issues for Tamil population of Sri Lanka, and wish that Sri Lanka Govt works actively to address and remove those issues. It is imperative for a Govt of any country to work with the people of that country to remove issues in regards to human rights and dignity.
India has voiced its misgivings and concerns about human right issues in Sri Lanka on many occasions, and has been encouraging Sri Lanka to make progress in this regard. India, in my view, should continue to pursue these matters vigorously and sensibly with Sri Lanka, without resorting to Megaphone diplomacy.
There is no denying, in my view, that India will be more effective in ensuring better and fairer treatment of Sri Lankan Tamils, if it has friendly and co-operative relations with Sri Lanka and is fully as well as meaningfully engaged with Sri Lanka.
Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/23rd May, 2014