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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2340

Dansala for Modi

By A Patabendige

The entertainment started when Indian PM Modi started to walk down the stairs of the plane on arrival at KIA. To greet him was PM Ranil Wickramasinghe (RW), without his hands in the pocket this time. He stood on the tarmac looking up fervently with his palms together. Was it in devotion or desperate expectation? Modi waved encouragingly. The whole visit was like this. Being Vesak, it was an everything free Dansala for Modi. He knew it.

Modi had sized up SL’s leaders well. He knew that many of its present top leaders mocked its own Army when in the bloody throes of a 30 year war. One MP, now a minister said that the Army Commander Fonseka was not fit to command even the Salvation Army. While over 100,000 citizens including 23,000 troops and police died, these propagandists for the enemy LTTE, amazingly, survived. It was a war during which the Indian government debilitated SL. It financed, trained, supplied, funded and protected the terrorists and in 1987 invaded SL like Hitler did Czechoslovakia.

This time Modi dodged Jaffna. The IPKF had left its wretched mark in dead and raped Northerners. His fishermen ruin their livelihood by encroaching into SL’s territorial waters. They also destroy the regeneration of the fish by bottom trawling. He has done little if anything at all to sort out his side. Had he, with the biggest Navy in the Indian Ocean, been amused by SL PM’s orders to shoot at the Indian fishermen! He had to go somewhere other than Colombo to hug the limelight in bullet proof safety.

It was reported that Modi “opened” the Indian funded Dickoya Hospital. That it had already been opened in 2016 by the hospital Director bothered neither Modi nor his hosts. The Indians belatedly made a dictionary discovery and called it a ‘dedication’ which is a consecration, something sacred! A more pitiful deception is hard to imagine. India still expects to be trusted.

The next Indian performance was at Norwood in front of many thousands (estimated 30,000) of an almost exclusive, Up country Tamil plantation crowd. They had been compelled to walk 5 kms from their parked buses to the one man show. They were excited, innocently happy and delighted on this day. It was the PM from their vast spiritual home country that had come to speak to them alone. They were ignorant that Mother India had not bothered even to classify them as of Indian origin earlier or to offer them citizenship when they were declared stateless. Most in SL’s south watching the show on TV remembering the forsaken lives of these workers through generations, found it difficult to restrain their tears. They shared their happiness and joy. This was Modi’s best moment.

Speaking in English with Tamil translations Modi was carried away by the expectant and gushing crowd in their best clothes that wanted to see him but hardly understood him. He promised 10,000 houses and direct flights to Varanasi to see Rama’s shrine. As the act ended, Modi grabbed the astonished hands of President Sirisena and PM RW. He twirled them aloft. He looked more like a boxing referee than a visiting state guest. He had of course won again. In anyone else this may have been seen as impudence if not arrogance but not in Chacha (Uncle) Modi’s case even in SL. He was a past master of taking the main chance.

The pattern persisted during the entire visit. Modi knew his hosts would play ball with him. He had sized up SL PM’s pre visit brief delivered personally 2 weeks before. Modi knew they would do it “my way” all the time. He became bolder by the minute and made the most outrageous statements on many things including security, needs, benefits and cooperation with India. No wonder Pakistan refers to India as Foxland.

When climbing up the ramp to the plane at his departure, the still buoyant 68 year old Modi, suddenly and a bit clumsily ran up the last few steps. Was he imitating Obama or was he in a hurry to make it for a very personal reason? Or did he see Rajiv Gandhi’s ghost? It was quite funny- like the rest of the visit if one forgot the thrust of his visit.

Modi’s message was plain. It was not about Vesak the ostensible reason for his visit or the plantation workers. He said the security of India and SL was ‘indivisible’? Even if Modi was not, who in SL supported that insane idea?

There are 2 major security concerns for India, neither involves SL. One is spoken out loud and the other is hinted at. The unsaid one was Pakistan and Kashmir. That is wholly of India’s own making having taken the issue to the UN that ruled there should be a plebiscite.

Knowing what would happen if the UN decision was put to the test India has not held it. Kashmir is a running sore for India to solve but not in the brutal way its sees as a way out. Former Punjab Police chief Gill who was sent to stamp out the protesters said the Kashmiri’s were not Sikhs and felt he could over awe them- after the Indian Army storming of the Golden Temple Amritsar in 1982! It was followed by Mrs. Gandhi’s death at the hands of her Sikh body guard and an anti Sikh pogrom in Delhi. Certain elements in Colombo celebrated her death. The UNP should know who.

The hinted threat was masked as a fight against terrorists. India is manufacturing them in thousands especially after the Gujarat killings of Muslims. Is India’s fight against Islam in the region?

Was Modi trying to rope in SL into an overtly anti Pakistan unholy alliance and covertly anti Muslim one? Modi should be aware that SL had the cunning to play the invading IPKF that came to ‘gate’ the SL forces, to eventually fight the LTTE it had armed. The IPKF lost more killed (1,200) than in all its wars before. SL’s then President treacherously gave arms and ammo to the LTTE to fight its own contracted ally, India. The deadly fate of that President at the hands of the LTTE surprised no one. The present PM was a minister when all this happened. These are credentials India cannot forget yet it proposes to be an ally.SL can be devious, inviting danger.

Who ever had the bright idea to invite Modi for Wesak must have his head re examined. To begin with, Modi’s leadership to aggressive Hindatva cannot be reconciled with Buddhism. With so many Buddhist majority countries around SL why was it necessary to invite a follower of extreme Hindu zealotry to observe UN Vesak day in SL? It could be as ridiculous as Pakistan inviting Modi to break the fast at the end of Ramadan.

Modi glibly said he brought a message of peace. Was it not from a nuclear missile armed power? It invaded SL in 1987.As a non aligned nation (it has distanced itself from the movement as the white eyed West was against it) it developed an arsenal of nuclear missiles when there was no nuclear threat to it. Deterrence was not India’s reason as there was no threat then. Even North Korea had a better reason for going nuclear. There is a reason one now - from nuclear armed Pakistan. India reneged on its commitment to keep the Indian Ocean a nuclear free zone. SL has recently supported India in these pro Western gimmicks and gestures. India has also given up its ‘No first strike’ policy. This means India is ready for mutual destruction of an unimaginable nature. In such a case what would ‘indivisible security’ be for SL? Has SL to share India’s fate? Is it a mutual secret?

SL extended its Vesak dansala spirit to Modi. Danasala is where people organize free food and drink to all during Vesak. It looked like SL even offered the kitchen sink to go with the refreshments. All doors, back and front, were open to Modi.

Despite generously offering many things in return, Modi represents a country jam packed with 1.3 billion people occupying a land area a tenth the size of Africa (pop -1.2 billion). Though it has a boasted GDP of $4.9 trillion (SL $134.3 billion) it sadly also has a per capita income about half that of SL (US$11,480-SL).Its life expectancy is 55 places below SL (70th at 74.9)in the global index and infant mortality 5 times more than SL (8) per 1000 births. India also has 400 million people who notoriously do not have any sanitation at all. Delhi is also known as the rape capital of the world.

SL in a true Vesak gesture should therefore ask Modi to look after his own people. They are in more need of all he has to offer. Thankfully his chronic helicopters were not Greek listed as well. If we need to invite Modi again let’s take him to the Ravana falls. He will be better inspired and cautioned not to take SL for granted. Maybe in return he can invite RW for the Dusshera festival in Delhi where Ravana’s effigy is burned. That is what happens when SL gets too involved in India’s ‘affairs’ - annually.

- Asian Tribune -

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