The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, June 18, 2000

The Sri Lankan imbroglio

THE write-up "The Sri Lankan imbroglio" by A Balu (June 4) presents indepth information about the prolonged Sri Lankan ethnic crisis which has currently escalated into a full-fledged war.

However, the million dollar question that arises is whether India should intervene militarily on the side of the Lankan Government or follow a "hands-off" policy? There is no reason to differ with the author that New Delhi should refrain from military intervention in view of the bitter IPKF experience of 1987-90.

Then India had lost several hundred men, much more than in the Kargil war last year. We had also earned the animosity of the Tamils, the Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan Government. The intervention is said to have cost India more than Rs 10 crore every day. And the most dastardly event that followed was the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.


In politics and foreign policy, such mistakes are worse than crimes and their damage cannot be undone. The best that can be done is not to repeat them. A second misadventure will not be a mistake but sheer folly. Why should Indian soldiers martyr themselves for the cause of Sri Lankans — be they Tamils or Sinhalese?

The Indian Army is meant for defending the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of India, not of Sri Lanka or any other country. The conflict is between the Tamil rebel groups and Colombo. India must not impose itself as a party by entering into any agreement with the Sri Lankan Government. The Tamil separatist groups, clamouring for Eelam, will never be a party to the agreement.

Moreover, the LTTE is a brutalised, militaristic Pol Pot-type of fascist terrorist group. It is hard to see them in the near-future becoming a responsible political force, capable of civil governance, should they ascend the office of any kind. They will have more enemies, Tamils and their own ranks included, to kill. It is going to be a long haul and the conflict can only get dirtier. There is no way that the Indian Army can get in and make an exit after a quick surgical operation.




The Centre must not allow its Sri Lanka policy to be usurped by the 21 Lok Sabha MPs from the region. The Tamil parties are gripped with an unhealthy Tamil chauvinism and look upon the dreaded LTTE as the liberators of the Tamils in Sri Lanka: The most dangerous and mischievous approach was taken by the MDMK boss Vaiko and the PMK leader Dr Ramdoss. The latter went to the extent of urging the Indian government to recognise Eelam. He has even desired the UN to intervene and help create an independent Tamil state in the island nation. Will this not embolden the Kashmiri separatists to seek help from the United Nations to achieve their nefarious objectives?

Vaiko, addressing LTTE cadres in Geneva recently, commended the role of the group’s suicide squads which had been targetting Sri Lankan leaders including President Chandrika Kumaratunga. He was in Geneva to "celebrate" the capture of the Elephant Pass by the LTTE forces and extend his good wishes to the terrorist outfit. How can we forget that the LTTE and its chief, Prabhakaran, planned and executed the dastardly murder of an Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi? Yet today active supporters of the LTTE function freely in Tamil Nadu, form political parties and win elections. Some time back at the wedding reception of Vaiko’s son in Chennai, important members of the LTTE were guests of honour.

Unfortunately, the approach of Vaiko and company is far from conducive to India’s national interest or even for that of the Sri Lankan Tamils. In fact, over the years, it was the LTTE which ruthlessly and brutally eliminated all the moderate groups which were ready to negotiate with the Sri Lankan government. New Delhi cannot afford to keep in mind Vaiko’s approach while formulating its Sri Lankan policy.

Backing the Tamil Nadu groups and their hero worship to Prabhakaran, would spell disaster for India. Eelam today may mean a Greater Eelam tomorrow. The dead Dravida Nadu may come to life. Tamil Nadu may even think of a tie-up with the Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. All separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir would get emboldened to ask for a separate states. North-eastern states would claim a separate identity. The clouds of Khalistan may once again surface in Punjab. All this would hit India’s unity and integrity. New Delhi must not close its eyes to all this. Nor should it adopt a dithering approach. We must have a decisive Sri Lankan policy which suits Indian interests the most.



Back to life

This is with reference to Taru Bahl’s article "Bringing the dead back to life" (June 4). It seems a typical Hindi film story and rather hard to believe. The author is right that "If there is God on earth it is in the people." But we fail to detect the God in the people. Kirpal Singh did his duty for his grand-daughter and Banno did her duty for her husband. Her husband did his duty for the country.



Believe in yourself

This refers to Taru Bahl’s inspiring article ‘Believe in yourself" (May 28). Self-confident persons never lose patience in adversity. They put their heads down and work wholeheartedly to conquer the world. All hopes may be dashed to the ground and all dreams may be broken, but courageous persons beaming with self-confidence manage to survive by rising like a Phoenix. Come what may, perseverance can overcome mountains.

A right-minded person can become what he believes himself to be. He who firmly believes in his convictions can change the course of his life favourably to create a niche for himself. There is always scope for improvement. One can completely change himself to be a perfect and complete person. Honest, sincere and genuinely good people who believe in themselves can surely achieve greater success and happiness in life. One who is well-equipped with knowledge is fully confident that he will be a winner in life all the way. A person having an unshakable belief in himself is indeed a rare and special individual who is an extremely helpful and cooperative person.

They surmount all obstacles which come in their way. They cannot be bogged down by other’s criticism about them. Negative thoughts can not dampen their morale.



A voice forever young

I read with deep interest M.L. Dhawan’s write up "A voice that is forever young’ (June 4). It is right that "Being Lata’s sister proved to be a mixed blessing for Asha." It did hinder an impartial evaluation of her talent. Despite her talent, she was always underestimated. She was offered songs not considered appropriate for Lata Mangeshkar. The impression that prevailed in the industry was that Lata’s voice was for the heroines and Asha’s for the vamps, nautch girls and naughty nymphets.

Yeh Hai Asha was the name of the tele personality test programme that Asha Bhonsle devised for herself in the wake of Runa Laila’s invasion of India, some 25 years back. Runa Laila’s singing swinging presence was something sensationally new for Indian viewers. The outcome was Yeh Hai Asha. It had taken Asha, the best part of 30 years to do it. For decades, she had laboured under the complex that she was a lesser singer, because she was the lesser sister. But today she had divined the true range and sweep of her own vocals. Today she knows she has her own audience distinct from Lata’s. O.P. Nayyar, brought Asha out of the Lata’s shadow. R.D. Burman then made Asha, the harbinger of a new trend. What is it about Asha that makes her the ready choice of composers old and new from to RD to Bhappi? She has kept her hectic vocal pace. Less determined woman would have given up the fight in the face of such sustained discrimination, but Asha never said die. And finally found acceptance in the higher quarters when a confirmed Lata’s buff like Khayyam chose her to sing all those lovely Ghazals for Rekha who played a courtesan in Umrao Jaan. Ghazals, ranging from Dil Cheez Kya Hai to Ye Kya Jageh Hai Dosto, finally confirmed what Naushad admitted only later — that Asha was every bit as original a singer as Lata.

With the passage of time, films and music have undergone unbelievable changes. Most of Asha’s colleagues like Rafi, Talat and Kishore Kumar are dead and gone. But with an indefatigable spirit Asha stays tuned with the times and enchants with a voice which seems to have acquired a new timble.

She may be 66 but when she breaks into a song she turns 16. She has the voice of a teenager which is why she is still able to sing for heroines decades younger than her. Asha is some one who will remain forever young.

A love struck teenager one minute and a soulful devotee the next. This is professionalism at its most impressive.