By: S I Keethaponcalan
Dr S I Keethaponcalan clarifies his position in respect of T Ramakrishnan’s November 12 response to his interview with the Centre for Strategic studies Trincomalee published on 6 November 2018.
I am not surprised by Ramakrishnan's comments about the loyalty of Sri Lanka's Tamils to New Delhi. Of course, the Indians want us to be loyal to India and New Delhi.
My argument is that our unconditional loyalty to India allows New Delhi to take Sri Lanka’s Tamils for granted and exploit it to further India's own interests. Ramakrishnan implies that Sri Lanka's Tamils have no choice but to depend on India. Whereas, I believe that India is also dependent on Sri Lanka's Tamils should it wish to keep Sri Lanka within its sphere of influence. This is especially true when there is a hostile government in Colombo like the post-war government of Mahinda Rajapaksa which leaned towards China sidelining India.
My suggestion is that we need to make India earn our friendship, It should not be taken for granted by New Delhi. The relationship must be based on quid pro quo.
Ramakrishnan cites an example from 1977 to argue that we need friends in New Delhi. I am sure Ramakrishnan is well aware that the reality today is very different to what existed then. The 1970s example is of little value in today’s circumstances. Then India had an open attitude, now, it is different. So, we too need a different attitude and approaches in dealing with New Delhi.
Good relations with Tamil Nadu will help us to make friends in New Delhi if and when we need them (just like in 1977). This does not mean that we don’t need to develop channels of communications with New Delhi. I am sure Ramakrishnan can understand that maintaining channels of communication is very different from extending unconditional loyalty.
We are thankful to both Dr S I Keethaponcalan and Mr T Ramakrishnan for taking the time and effort to contribute their perspectives on an important topic.