Adverse impacts of early invasion and the Indo-Lanka relationship | Sunday Observer

Adverse impacts of early invasion and the Indo-Lanka relationship

21 February, 2021
Soldiers of the Indian Peace Keeping Force
Soldiers of the Indian Peace Keeping Force

The Elam concept is a by-product of the expansion of Tamil communities through the passage of time in ancient and medieval history from South India, at present Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka. Tamil communities such as the Cholas, Pandyas, Cheras and Pallavas played a major role in this process. It was difficult for these communities to expand towards North India due to geopolitical barriers. As a result they opted to encroach on Sri Lanka.

Initially, these communities encroached on Sri Lanka intermittently, having organised themselves as small groups of aggressors or traders with the objective of plundering the wealth of this country and capturing the ruling power had the situation been conducive for that purpose. At a subsequent stage, expansions were carried out in different forms such as invasions, friendly movements, military support and matrimonial relationships. Invasions were carried out mainly by Tamil States that emerged in South India under the Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas, Pallavas and Nayakkar dynasties.

Historical sources have corroborated the fact that Sena and Guttika, Elara, Pulahastha, Bahiya, Panayamara, Pilaimara, Datiya and Cholas from 237 BC up to 112 AD intermittently, and Pandu, Parinda, Kuddaparinda, Thirithera, Datiya, Pitiya from 435 AD up to 462AD encroached on Sri Lanka. They fall into the initial category of expansions referred to above. They have plundered wealth and other means of this country until they were expelled by the Sri Lankan leaders.

From the 7th century AD up to the end of 11th century AD the expansion of Tamil communities had been activated by way of invasions, caused by Tamil States that emerged in South India under the Cholas, Pandyas, Pallavas and Nayakkar dynasties.

The Pandyans invaded twice during the reign of King Agbo IV in 674 AD and King Sena, the 1st in 840 AD, the Cholas during the reign of King Mahinda IV in 976 AD, King Mahinda V in 1029 AD, Wickrama Pandya 1044 AD and Parakrama Pandya 1049 AD.

The next stage of Tamil expansion could be identified in the period commencing from the end of the reign of Parakramabahu I in 1186 AD up to the end of the reign of Parakramabahu VI in 1467 AD. Political turmoil that prevailed during this period in this country had paved the way for the Pandyans in 1212 AD, and Aryachakravarthi in Jaffna, to establish their power over some limited areas in the North and North Central provinces. They were defeated and expelled by Kings Parakramabahu 11 and Parakramabahu V1.

A perusal of historical sources and some publications of eminent historians such as Neelakanta Sasthri, have revealed that the origin of the Eelam concept is directly connected with the expansion of the Chola Empire that flourished in Tamil Nadu during 9th century AD. Chola kings Rajaraja and Rajendra who established their power in Northern Sri Lanka named that part as the Eelam Mandalum of the Chola Empire. The royal emblem of the Chola Empire was the ‘Tiger Head’.

The Cholas who ruled a substantial part of the Northern province, approximately for 41 years were expelled from this country by King Vijayabahu 1 who is considered as one of the great rulers who rescued Sri Lanka from Chola aggression. It has been observed that there is a close link between the Elam concept of the LTTE and the Eelam Mandalum of the Cholas, and the Tiger Head used by both as their emblems.

In that context it may be noted that expansionism from India seemed to be one of the perennial problems Sri Lanka had to face throughout history from time to time. Sri Lanka has so far responded to this challenge successfully.

The LTTE that vandalised this country for approximately 35 years, agitating for Eelam is another facet of the expansion of the Tamil community from Tamil Nadu throughout history, as far back as 3rd century B.C.

Tamil Nadu had become one of the Provincial States of the Central Government of India which was formed after Independence. As a result, the Eelam concept of expansion of power over Sri Lanka hitherto carried out by States in Tamil Nadu has been absorbed to the Foreign policy of the Union Government of India. This has caused a turning point in the Indo-Lanka relationship. It is a fact that the Foreign policy of India has been based on expansionism. Expansion of power in Sri Lanka is considered one of the prime objectives of the Indian Foreign policy.

The Eelam concept is based on separatism and racism. It has focused on Tamil ethnicity, claiming an autonomous status for the Tamil community in the North.

The Government of India is compelled to satisfy Tamil Nadu on the issue of Eelam to prevent it breaking away from the Union Government on the one hand and also to prevent Sri Lanka from drifting into the hands of China that competes against India in the process of the power struggle in the Indo-Pacific region, on the other hand. The Government of India has adopted several strategies to tackle Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka simultaneously in that process.

Pressurising to materialise the Elam concept on the pretext of devolution of power through a Federal structure in Sri Lanka is one of the strategies of the Indian Government on its relationship with Sri Lanka. Funding development projects in multi-disciplines, extending loan facilities, grants through bilateral agreements are considered another strategy of expansionism.

An aggressive approach and threats by mobilising military power abruptly; training facilities provided for the terrorist outfit of the LTTE in India are some of the tactics of the Indo-Lanka relationship in this process. Mobilising of the Indian Air Force and IPKF marginalising the sovereignty of Sri Lanka during the Rajiv Gandhi regime had caused irrecoverable damage to the Indo-Lanka relationship.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka as imposed by the Rajiv Gandhi regime is another step taken by the Indian Government in this process. The prime objective of the 13th Amendment is a unilateral attempt to give effect to the implementation of Eelam, initially in the Northern Province, on the pretext of devolution of power. The 13th Amendment had been introduced by the Government of India to satisfy Tamil Nadu and its proxies in Sri Lanka. The Indian Government together with the pro-Eelam Tamil politicians has paved the way to take the Eelam struggle to the International Forum of Global Power politics (UNHRC).

In that context, Tamil Nadu and the TNA, its proxy has built up an Alliance against Sri Lanka.

The UNHRC with the concurrence of its membership India, the US and the Allied Forces in the West, the Yahapalana Government of Sri Lanka, the TNA and the Tamil Diaspora are the main stakeholders of this Alliance. Agitation for a Federal status on the pretext of devolution of power seems to be the strategy adopted by this Alliance, as an alternative to Elam.

The Joint UNHRC Resolution 30/1 of year 2015 in which the Yahapalana Government has assumed the role of co-sponsor on its own volition seems to be the principal agenda of the above Alliance. The stakeholders of the Alliance referred to above have emphasised repeatedly that devolution of power for the Tamil community in the North should be up to the standard acceptable to the UNHRC and the TNA. The standard of devolution they expect is autonomous status based on the Elam concept. In that context Resolution 30/1 seems to be a well-planned strategy to give effect to the Elam concept on the pretext of devolution of power.

The acceptance of the contents of the Joint UNHRC Resolution 30/1 by the Yahapalana Government being co-sponsor thereto for which no mandate had been given by the people of this country is one of the worst betrayals of the sovereignty of the people of this country for sheer survival in power politics by the Yahapalana Government with reciprocal support expected from the TNA, the Tamil Diaspora, UNHRC, the US and Allied Forces in the West.

Although the Government under the leadership of Gotabaya Rajapaksa has already disclosed its intention to withdraw the co-sponsorship by the Yahapalana Government of Resolution 30/1, the threat triggered against Sri Lanka by the Alliance through Resolution 30/1 would remain from time to time by its stakeholders.

India is not prepared to give up the implementation of the Eelam concept in Sri Lanka on the pretext of devolution of power under a federal structure due to the fact that the Eelam concept has become one of the best strategies for the Indian Government to give effect to its Foreign policy in this country which is based on expansionism.

In view of the above, the integrity of the Government of India on the Indo-Lanka relationship seems to be questionable. Most of the development projects launched by the Indian Government in Sri Lanka in the process of the Indo-Lanka relationship have been focused on a particular selected ethnicity of this country. They were not focused on the Sri Lankan nation as a whole.

In that context the relationship with India seems to be extremely detrimental to the unity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka when compared to her relationship with China. China has no intention to promote a particular ethnicity within this country and divide the country by setting up a separate state for a particular community. China’s intention seems to be to prevent the drifting of this country into the hands of superpowers including the US and India in the power struggle in the Indo-Pacific region.

Hence, it is necessary to re-structure the Foreign policy of Sri Lanka to respond to this challenge from India, effectively.

The writer is a former Executive Director of BOI, former HRM Consultant on Fiscal Reform Program –ADB, and Management Consultant since 2006 to date for Multinational Group of FDI Companies