Thursday, March 17, 2016

Did MR wilt under Indian Envoy’s warning?

From Ceylon Today
A close analysis of how the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime dealt with India and the contradictory policies and statements that emanate, at present, from former Ministers like Prof. G.L. Peiris amply demonstrate that they are playing politics for their advantage using proposed agreements between Colombo and New Delhi. The analysis records that former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to New Delhi under Mahinda's administration, Prasad Kariyawasam made a controversial statement against Tamil Nadu urging the Central Government of India to take action against Tamil Nadu politicians who had links with the LTTE. New Delhi appeared disturbed by Kariyawasam's statement. On the contrary the Rajapaksa administration endorsed the statement made by Kariyawasam claiming that the latter made that statement in the interests of the Colombo Government.
Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Y.K. Sinha recently made a serious statement against Opposition politicians in Sri Lanka who attacked the proposed ETCA with India. He expressed shock and dismay over the same politicians who supported the CEPA with India now taking an opposing stand to ETCA. In response to Sinha, Prof. G.L. Peiris who earlier supported CEPA said Sinha was trying to play the controversial character of one of his predecessors J.N.Dixit. Dixit was a controversial character before and after the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed in July 1987 between former Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi and former Sri Lankan President Junius Richard Jayewardene.

Several former Indian High Commissioners who served in Colombo later became Foreign Secretaries in India. Among them were V.Y. Gundevia, J.N. Dixit, Shivshankar Menon and Nirupama Rao. Dixit and Nirupama were known to be controversial Indian diplomats who served in Colombo. Dixit was the architect of the Indo-Lanka Accord. Nirupama reportedly interfered in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka and faced a scathing attack by then Tourism Minister Anura Bandaranaike. Dixit and Nirupama faced criticism from both the then governments and Opposition. But India protected them because they faced such situations while executing their duties by India. Later they were elevated as Foreign Secretaries of India after they returned to New Delhi completing their assignments in Colombo. Therefore, Y.K. Sinha who appears on behalf of New Delhi may stand a chance of being a Foreign Secretary in the near future.

By nature, Sinha does not look a controversial personality. He is quite unassuming and silent. He arrived in Colombo during the period his predecessor Ashok Kantha and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had fallen out and were not on talking terms. Though Mahinda urged India to recall Ashok Kantha through indirect channels, New Delhi did not touch Kantha until he completed his assignment in Colombo. Sinha who succeeded Kantha did not get involved in sensitive issues with the Mahinda administration. Though Mahinda's Government alleged that an Indian Intelligence Officer was attempting to overthrow his government, Mahinda did not accuse Sinha and the Indian High Commission in Colombo. When Narendra Modi arrived in Colombo, it was Sinha who facilitated a meet between Mahinda and Modi following a request by Mahinda.

Joint Opposition
The campaignProf. Peiris also pointed out that Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia that has been provided with Gps+ tariff relief and under such arrangements it could export 7,200 export items to the European Union and he invited Indian companies to make use of this facility and make Sri Lanka a gateway to Europe. "Though this facility is to expire in 2008 the Sri Lankan Government is seeking an extension up to 2011". He said that many Indian businesses such as TATA, Bajaj, Hero Honda, TVS, Taj Hotels and Apollo hospital were engaged in successful operations in the country and some leading Sri Lanka companies too, have invested in India. He said both countries should make an effort to combine the indigenous resources of both countries to reap in the maximum mutually-beneficial returns." (The Island 2008/01/20)

A double tongue
Sinha, a veteran diplomat aware of the CEPA past will certainly not tolerate the attempt by Peiris who praised and supported CEPA to use India as a cricket ball or any move to set either country on fire by making statements with a double tongue for political advantage. Apart from CEPA with India, Mahinda's government signed many agreements with China. The present Maithri-Ranil Government says it would sign a trade pact with China. Mahinda and the Joint Opposition do not raise any question about that move by Colombo. When Mahinda's government gave air space to China in addition to town and port development, it was G.L. Peiris and members of the present Joint Opposition who supported those moves. In a closer analysis it is crystal clear that the Joint Opposition has ulterior motives in launching opposition to any agreement with India as they keep silent on agreements with China whom the Mahinda administration supported, while in office. On the international scene, China too, does not endorse criticism on her nation. When the Maithri-Ranil government assumed office and started to criticize Beijing, the Chinese Ambassador issued a threat stating China would have to re-consider aid to Sri Lanka.

Back to the scenario of Y.K. Sinha and the Joint Opposition and following Sinha's threatening comment, Mahinda chose to propose that ETCA should be signed effecting several changes. May be that Mahinda feared the 'Lion Tone' of Sinha. Mahinda may have realized that he needs India not only to return to power, but also to suppress corruption charges levelled against him. One would recall that Mahinda called for a disciplinary inquiry against Anura Bandaranaike when the latter criticized Nirupama Rao who was the Indian High Commissioner at that time without his knowledge. In view of the anti-Indian political parties that surround Mahinda today, it would be extremely difficult for Mahinda to garner or muster Indian support in the future. by Mahinda and the Joint Opposition against ETCA may have angered Sinha though he is a silent person. ETCA is yet at discussion level. The Joint Opposition has reportedly circulated a bogus document claiming it was the ETCA draft, among local professionals, to build a strong opposition against India. That action may have hurt Sinha. India will not forget the manner the then Mahinda government and its' Trade Minister G.L. Peiris discussed and signed CEPA. The best testimony to that effect is the following speech made by Peiris praising India; "Sri Lanka-India trade notch US$ 2.7 B following FTA boost – Prof. G. L. Peiris

Trade between Sri Lanka and India, which was only US$ 557 million in 2000 has now shot up to US$ 2.7 billion, solely due to the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement, said Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Export Development and International Trade. He stressed that through the implementation of the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), bilateral trade relations in the service sector would be further strengthened. Minister Peiris was addressing a special conference organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the visiting Sri Lankan Trade and Investment delegation, which toured Chennai under his leadership recently.

This conference was attended by M. Rafik Ahamed, President of the Chennai Chapter, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, C. Chandramauli, Secretary, Information Technology, Tamil Nadu Government, P. M. Amsar, Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner in India and several industrialists, investors, corporate representatives and bankers. While pointing out that the implementation of the FTA had resulted in both countries reaping economic benefits and dividends, Prof. Peiris said that he believed that the eventual implementation of the proposed CEPA that deals with the service industry would bring forth a more formidable economic relationship between India and Sri Lanka in the spheres of education, information technology, banking, insurance and construction.

He said that top quality products in the information technology field could be offered to the world by combining the human resources of Sri Lanka with the Indian IT resources. The minister noted that even in the sphere of tourism, a joint effort by the two countries would result in greater benefits for both. He proposed to offer tourists from Italy, Germany and France and other such countries a Joint Tour Package that would give them an opportunity to savour the delights of comparative cultures. He also suggested that Tamil film producers would be able to drastically cut costs by filming in beautiful locations in Sri Lanka rather than venturing into countries such as Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia as is done now.
Prof. Peiris also pointed out that Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia that has been provided with Gps+ tariff relief and under such arrangements it could export 7,200 export items to the European Union and he invited Indian companies to make use of this facility and make Sri Lanka a gateway to Europe. "Though this facility is to expire in 2008 the Sri Lankan Government is seeking an extension up to 2011". He said that many Indian businesses such as TATA, Bajaj, Hero Honda, TVS, Taj Hotels and Apollo hospital were engaged in successful operations in the country and some leading Sri Lanka companies too, have invested in India. He said both countries should make an effort to combine the indigenous resources of both countries to reap in the maximum mutually-beneficial returns." (The Island 2008/01/20)

A double tongue
Sinha, a veteran diplomat aware of the CEPA past will certainly not tolerate the attempt by Peiris who praised and supported CEPA to use India as a cricket ball or any move to set either country on fire by making statements with a double tongue for political advantage. Apart from CEPA with India, Mahinda's government signed many agreements with China. The present Maithri-Ranil Government says it would sign a trade pact with China. Mahinda and the Joint Opposition do not raise any question about that move by Colombo. When Mahinda's government gave air space to China in addition to town and port development, it was G.L. Peiris and members of the present Joint Opposition who supported those moves. In a closer analysis it is crystal clear that the Joint Opposition has ulterior motives in launching opposition to any agreement with India as they keep silent on agreements with China whom the Mahinda administration supported, while in office. On the international scene, China too, does not endorse criticism on her nation. When the Maithri-Ranil government assumed office and started to criticize Beijing, the Chinese Ambassador issued a threat stating China would have to re-consider aid to Sri Lanka.

Back to the scenario of Y.K. Sinha and the Joint Opposition and following Sinha's threatening comment, Mahinda chose to propose that ETCA should be signed effecting several changes. May be that Mahinda feared the 'Lion Tone' of Sinha. Mahinda may have realized that he needs India not only to return to power, but also to suppress corruption charges levelled against him. One would recall that Mahinda called for a disciplinary inquiry against Anura Bandaranaike when the latter criticized Nirupama Rao who was the Indian High Commissioner at that time without his knowledge. In view of the anti-Indian political parties that surround Mahinda today, it would be extremely difficult for Mahinda to garner or muster Indian support in the future.

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