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Realistic approach to Indo- Lanka relations

This valuable book completed by Shelton Kodikara in 1994 and posthumously published by the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS) recently, adds to the understanding of Indo- Sri Lanka relations in a realistic framework.

Almost all available primary sources have been thoroughly perused by the author for the compilation of the book.

They range from Sri Lankan, Indian, Australian, American and British newspapers to the House of Representatives d ebates, debates in the Lok Sabha, documents of the Ministry of Defence and External Affairs and personal correspondence between leaders of India and Sri Lanka. The use of these original sources indicates the extent of research that has gone into the publication.

The book deals with Sri Lankan foreign policy in relation to India in the post- independence era up to May 1990. It begins with a chapter which focuses on the theoretical perspectives of the linkage between domestic politics and foreign policy. In this chapter, the author illustrates how internal compulsions decide foreign policies of states, although interactions of other states and personalities and the vision of leadership have some bearing on the final decisions. As far as Indo-Sri Lanka relations are concerned he avers internal variables had a greater determining influence than other factors largely due to geo-political reasons.

The author states that, the 'fear psychosis' of Sri Lankan leaders over presumed Indian dominance, particularly during the regimes of three UNP Prime-Ministers from 1948 to 1956, namely D.S. Senanayake, Dudley Senanayake and John Kotelawala. The signing of the Defence and External Affairs agreements with Britain by D.S Senanayake, Citizenship problems of ethnic Indians and the abortive attempts to sort out the problem by D.S Senanayake and John Kotelawala, disputes over maritime boundaries and agreements reached thereupon are discussed in detail in the next chapter.

The author goes on to state that, the alternative conception of Sri Lanka's defence and security inaugurated by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1956 influenced Sri Lanka's foreign policy decision making for the next 21 years until 1977. This era straddled three SLFP dominated regimes as well as the UNP coalition rule of 1965- 1970 period. In this conception India was no longer considered a potential threat to Sri Lanka's peace and security. A low level of mutual suspicion and very close cooperation between the two countries were witnessed during this period.

In chapter 3, the author contends that apart from domestic politics there have been instances where personal identities were an important variable in Indo- Lanka relations. In his view the tradition of goodwill, close friendship and cooperation initiated by Jawaharlal Nehru and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and carried on by their successors Indira Gandhi and Sirimavo Bandaranaike have been of considerable importance in the Indo-Sri Lanka equation. The solution of the citizenship issue of 975,000 stateless persons of Indian origin through Indo- Lanka agreements of 1964 and 1974, Maritime Boundary agreements of 1974, which settled the question of Kachchathivu Island and Indian assistance during the 1971 insurgency have been cited as good examples of this phenomena. As a fitting tribute to all this, the author has respectfully dedicated the book to the stateswoman par excellence, late Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

Later on the author critically examines how domestic politics have affected the implementation of the Indo- Lanka Accords of 1964 and 1974, which brought out a satisfactory solution to the citizenship issue. He asserts that political expediency and desire to obtain the vote of the estate Tamil population determined the attitude of the UNP governments to slow down the implementation of the agreements.

An evaluation of the manner in which Indo- Sri Lanka relations changes due to domestic politics in both countries after J R Jayewardene assumed power in 1977, particularly from 1989 onwards, occupies a large part of this publication.

The refugee issue and Tamil Nadu political dynamism gave India a handy leverage to intervene in Sri Lankan affairs and a rationale to justify its involvement before the international community. But, it is now well known that even before the refugee issue grew as a problem to India, since the 1983 July riots, India's RAW was arming and training Sri Lankan Tamil guerillas.

Professor Kodikara explains Indian policy in the light of broader systemic compulsions of Indian domestic politics. He states "A pervasive Indian conception, that Sri Lanka lay within India's security perimeter, and that foreign influences in Sri Lanka could potentially jeopardize India's strategic interests, has been matched by widespread belief in Sri Lanka, that India itself was the most proximate threat to its own security. The mutuality of threat perception is best exemplified in the circumstances attending the negotiation of the Indo- Lanka agreement of July 1987.

India's threat perceptions were cantered on several issues. They were alleged offers of base facilities to the US Navy in Trincomalee, the soft peddling of the Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone proposal, the refusal of J.R. Jayewardene regime to denounce the existence of super power bases in the Indian Ocean at a meeting of the non- aligned movement, mishandling of the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm project tender, noticeable increase of port call visits of the US Navy to Trincomalee and the agreement to hand over 600 acres of land north of Colombo to the Voice of America Broadcasting service.

As Gamini Keerawella has pointed out in an article, the Indian threat perception vis-a-vis Sri Lanka was imaginary or actual is not really the issue. What is relevant here is that India perceived those actions of its southern neighbour as a security threat.

As long as India entertained such perceptions its policy towards Sri Lanka became reactive to the perceived security threats.

The Indian decision makers viewed that Sri Lanka's issue as its 'Achilles Heel' which could be used to check and control such adverse moves taken by Sri Lanka and steer Sri Lanka's foreign policy in a manner favourable to India.

The resulting Indo- Lanka Accord of July 29,1987 and the arrival of the IPKF, according to Prof. Kodikara curtailed Sri Lanka's ability to pursue an independent foreign policy.

He avers that J.R. Jayawardena's "short-sighted pproach vitiated the success of his negotiations with India from the very beginning "and it is the subject of the next two chapters of the book.

The book has been edited by W.B. Dorekumbura and he has done an excellent job in editing the publication. On the whole this publication is yet another land mark in the list of achievements of the BCIS.


Fine guide on fire precautions

Gini Abhiyogaya Jaya Ganimu by S. Kariyawasam is an attempt made writer to create an awareness and provide necessary instructions regarding fire precautions.

In the event of a sudden fire, one should not wait until help comes from outside, which may take sometime. It is mainly due to the ignorance in handling these equipment that the fire spreads without contro in many instances. So Kariyawasam's book is a fine guide book for almost everyone.

S.Kariyawasam, who joined the Petroleum Corporation Refinery at Sapugaskanda in 1969 as a member of the start up team, had worked there for 36 years until his retirement as the Fire and Safety Superintendent.

Though fire extinguishers are available in almost all places of work, only a few are competent to handle such equipment properly. Most of the people's attitude towards fire and safety is unsatisfactory.

At many work places, according to the author, the attitude of the Management is also unsatisfactory with regard to fire. So the publication of such a book is quite timely.

In order to create an awareness and provide necessary instructions regarding fire precautions, the author first tries to create a positive attitude regarding fire.

The book clearly explains the physical and scientific aspects of fire. Also the functions and uses of respective fire extinguishing equipment, the manner in which they should be handled have been explained clearly and scientifically.

The author has given priority to cylinder type fire extinguishers, which are readily available in most places.


Story of patriotism and love

Title: Dutu Thana Wedi Thabanu

Author: Erawwala Nandimithra

The period during the first world war, provides the background for renowned novelist Erawwala Nandimithra's latest fiction Dutu Thana Wedi Thabanu. Anyway in his preface he emphasizes that the book is not an analysis of the riots of 1915, but solely a fiction.

Love isthe 'ray of light' that lights up one's life. Even during a period where there is martial law, that ray of light sruggles to shine on its own. The book brings to us a heartrending story. We see the way such a 'ray of light' is forcibly blown out- amidst the cruel external atrocities. The book also reminds people of one of their prime duties- to love and respect their motherland.


Many facets of human civilization in peril

Title:Racism Neo Colonialism Bio-Piracy and Other Essays

Author: Preethi Sirimanne

As mentioned in the back cover of the book ,Preethi Sirimanne's "Racism, Neo Colonialism Bio-piracy and Other Essays" examine the many facets of a human civilization in peril manifested in a endless chaos of wars, rebellions, military conquests and an economic crisis that is engulfing every country in the world. "The root cause of these are the actions of Western powers who try to colonize countries through arm,ed interventions as apparent in Iraq and Afghanistan and through neo-liberal policies that prioritize profit over people."

She writes in her preface that "Most postcolonial states that became independent are still experiencing the continuation of discrimination and exploitation. Although European empires collapsed, the ideologies and theories that helped to build and expand these empires did not disappear. Concealed forms of racism, exploitation, and domination contribute to the survival of colonialism."

It is a publication of Sarasavi Publishers (PVT) Ltd.

Under four main chapters and several different sub headings under each chapter Preethi deals with the ideologies and attitudes that prevailed during colonial times and highlights the features of today's Neo-Colonialism.

Preethi is a freelance journalist living in Germany.

E-Mail - sirimanne@gmx.de

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