RK Radhakrishnan, Head of programmes at The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the Lankan Tamils' issues and their resonance in India.
Q. Why still ruling Government keeping silent on Tamil Eelam issue even we have enough proof? Innocent girls were brutally raped and the innocent children's were killed by Sri lankan Army. What else a Govt expects to take action on SL President? Asked by: Yuva Raj
A. Tamil eelam refers to the Tamil homeland in this context. It is impossible now, given that LTTE has lost the war. War crimes are a different issue altogether. India believes in encouraging Sri Lanka to book the culprits. It will happen, but not at the pace we want it to happen.
Q. When everyone tries to point out finger at Sri Lanka, what about the other fingers pointing towards us with issues like J&K, Eastern states? Is our track record any better? Asked by: sakuntala
A. Precisely. But one wrong does not justify another wrong. We need accountability everywhere - Sri Lanka, India, Iraq.
Q. TN politicos are adept at shedding crocodile tears whilst the SL refugees in the camps in TN (like Mandapam) are in worse conditions. Asked by: JVAC
A. Yes. This is why it is so clear that no Tamil politician is interested in their welfare. But let us not forget that both DMK and AIADMK governments have done some welfare for the refugees.
Q. Why is there an uproar in India 4 years after the incidents? When these issues were reported earlier there were no takers then. Isn't this just a gimmick by the DMK to improve their fortunes? Asked by: sddarty
A. I think the uproar was choreographed well. It began with the Prabharan's son's pic being released, followed by release of reports by the Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis group etc. Also, many pro-LTTE leaders and TGTE leaders wanted to visit India during this period. The UNHRC session in geneva (began on UPR Sri Lanka on March 15) provided the perfect platform to put pressure on India.
Q. In a neighbouring country,if 150,000 Indian origin Punjabis or Biharis are massacered or killed would India be keeping quite like this?Or our Punjabis ans Biharis will be silent spectators....South Voice is never heard in Delhi.....Please dont bring in China Factor here. Asked by: Mekala Srikanth
A. I think we are all aware that LTTE held people as human shields. The advancing Sri Lankan Army just bombed its way through. So, there is a basic difference when you compare massacres else where with this. It is also a fact that SLA used similar tactics in the East till 2008. The international community has to pressure SL to investigate this. If it fails, then the international community can step in.
Q. Do you think UNHRC resolution going to bring any change for Srilankan Tamils? Experts informs that Rajiv-Jayawardane pact will give solution to the Tamils... we should put our effort in implementing this pact.... What is your opinion? Asked by: Subramani S - Chennai
A. A strong UNHRC resolution will make life harder for SL Tamils because there will be a majority backlash. The Rajiv - Jayawardene accord is, for now, the only mechanism available to achieve a political solution to the Tamils. Unfortunately, President Rajapaksa told me that the 13th Amendment (which flows from the accord) has failed. Yes, you are right when you say that we should put our effort in implementing it.
Q. When we expect other countries not to interfere in our internal matters relating J&K,how far it is justified that we interefere in SL's internal matters? Asked by: Shyam Vadalker
A. Yes, you are correct. But India has traditionally been Sri Lanka's friend and has tried - in the past - to sort Sri Lanka's problems. Though India supported militant groups in Sri Lanka, after the 1987 accord, India put its soul and mind and tried to implement it. Also, Tamils and Sinhalese have links with India.
Q. Isn't it strange that BJP which claims to stand for Hindus across the spectrum turns a blind eye to killings in SL which is mainly Hindu population? Asked by: sk
A. Its all about cold political calculations. BJP has zero base in Tamil Nadu and hence does not think it needs to push this cause. But please remember that when it was required, Sushma Swaraj, Yashwant Sinha and LK Advani, have all taken up the cause and spoken forcefully.
Q. Dear Sir, Why is it that SL Tamil issue is only looked into with North India Prism? Did the nation ask such questions when India intervened in Bangladesh on behalf of linguistic group namely Bengalis. Why diff standards for Tamil linguistic group Asked by: sk
A. India interfered in Bangladesh not to save anyone. It was for strategic reasons. Such reasons do not exist in Sri Lanka. As far as India is concerned, Sri Lanka is a friendly country - even now. And that limits its choice of actions against SL on the Tamil issue.
Q. Why is it that my fellow TN brothers who are crying for a separate Eelam for Tamil in SL, not understanding that we will involving ourselves in another country's affairs. Tomorrow, if other states in India ask for Eelam, where would we stand? Isn't it best that India nudge SL to be more inclusive in their integration? Asked by: Emathew
A. True. But also please remember that the eelam demand began because Tamils in Sri Lanka had no rights. From then, Sri Lanka has come a long way. But still, northern province - Tamil majority - is the only province without an elected council. So, if there is some space for democratic functioning,and expression, I do not see this question arising.
Q. Indian Govt and UN Resolution by US says Sri Lanka should investigate on the army's performance during the war. But is this not against the natural justice. How can we say that the accused themself can investigate about their performance. The army is under control of the govt and obeys Rajpakse. Then how will they be neutral in investigation. Asked by: Raj
A. True. But this is where nations have to rise above and show to the international community that their commitment to their people is far superior to their commitment of their dedicated forces. Sri Lanka has been given the opportunity to do this. It is for Sri Lanka to show that it cares for Tamils just as much as it cares for Sinhalese.
Q. Why is it that there is a north mindset to say Tamil issue is internal affairs but we intervened in internal affairs when it came to Bangladesh. In both there were refugees killings! Asked by: sk
A. I have answered this: one is a strategic issue, another is a dicey diplomatic issue. Bangladesh could not be allowed to continue as East Pakistan because it was not in India's interest, plus there was a popularly elected leader there. Sri Lanka is a friendly country (definition: a country that does not trouble India). Hence, concerns will differ.
Q. What can Indian Tamils do constructively to make Sri lankan government treat the Sri Lankan Tamils better? Asked by: Wellwisher
A. Indian Tamils should engage with SL government and work with it on livelihood issues of SL Tamils. Civil society here should interact with the SL government and make sure that Tamils kickstart their lives at an early date.
Q. Why is it that SL cannot have a federal autonomy for SL Tamils in North and East provinces of SL? By including the minority Tamil, they could have stopped the need for a separate Eelam. Your thoughts. Asked by: Emathew
A. SL is less than half the size of Tamil Nadu. It is impossible for any Federal structure to work in such a small geography. Also, the last time a solution was tried (when Varadaraja Perumal was Chief Minister),he made unnecessary declarations that have sowed the seeds of fear among Sinhala politicians
Q. Sir, for argument sake, if 2G scam was not there, do you think, DMK might taken the decision to come out from UPA in 2008-09 itself (climax war between SLA & LTTE)? Asked by: Subramani S - Chennai
A. Not really. The problem is that Congress, even then, was the only national party of relevance in Tamil Nadu. And, to win an election, u needed that 5 per cent votes that Congress brings
Q. sir , what ever the demands made by protesting groups in tamil nad. ist feasible for govt of india to impelment Asked by: gopal
A. Demands : 1) separate nation for tamils 2) try the Rajapaksas. Both are not feasible.
Q. Keeping national interest in mind , India shouldn't vote against SL is ur say, but wat abt alleged the war crimes in SL. Independent inquiry would reveal whether there were war crimes committed or not.So whats the catch here ? Asked by: Ragu D
A. I have no view on the vote because it does not mean anything. War crimes have to be investigated. First we need to give the SL government time. Once we are convinced that they have been given enough time, we can look for results or push for an international investigation. Remember, it is a sovereign nation.
Q. Isn't this similar to the minorities in Pakistan, where they are forced to join the majority by conversion? India could have played an important role in helping SL in infrastructure and resources for the development of the country, which is inclusive. Asked by: Emathew
A. In Sri Lanka too the same thing has happened. Not many Tamils who work in Sinhala areas want to be known as Tamils. Most hill country/C olombo/Tamils speak Sinhalese and have merged with them. I'm told that Sri Lanka had more than 5 lakh Malayalees at one point and Malayalam newspapers. Now most have all become Sinhalese!
Q. What are future moves RK? Asked by: Ranbir singh
A. I think the northern elections are a good start. After that we can look for some incremental improvement in the lives of Tamils of the north. We need to remember that livelihood issues are of utmost importance to these people. And, we need to help them in this process
Q. Hi RK..Good noon. Will India keep her eyes closed if a North Indian is killed by any other countries Navy? As many as 400 plus fisher men killed or assaulted by SL army. Will it create anti India tendencies among Tamils in India.The only reason whicn India is saying that Chinese will get closer to SL.Will SL stops China support if India supports in UN. Asked by: Daya
A. Will you believe me if I tell you that Indian fishermen are the aggressors? They come in moving like huge islands, and cut through the filmsy nets of poor SL fishermen. Yes, they should not be shot and I condemn such incidents. But we should work out a way to keep fishermen away from SL waters.
Q. Is India Expected to not interfere in Lanka's internal problem when Channel 4's war crime evidence is not proven faulty by GoSL ? The UN report has indicted the SL heads Asked by: Ragu D
A. First of all Channel 4 has some videos and circumstantial evidence. They did not "prove"anything. We need to examine these and fix responsibility instead of jumping the gun.
Q. my question is not about LTTE , as a human being will you support such human rights violation in Sri lanka Asked by: babu
A. I can never support HR violation anywhere.
Q. Will you support the pak resolution on Guru's hanging as India is planning a resolution in our parliament on SriLankan issue ? Asked by: Sudhees Sukumaran
A. This is just competitive politics. Pak has an election too!
Q. If 8 crore tamils sentiments is not a national issue i want to know who is deciding what is regional and what is national issue..basic demand of students in tn is to make this issue to be handled properly by the government.. what are the steps do u think india should take to ensure devolution of power to Tamils in SL? Asked by: madhan
A. First, it is not 8 crore Tamils. There are some protests and since the DMK has got into it, the protests have grown to include many parts of the State. Secondly, Sri Lanka is an independent country, which, to date, has not attacked an Indian tourist. Thirdly, most Tamils who have been rehabilitated, are trying to piece together their lives. They can't care about political solution for now.
Q. 1. Being a resident of TN, I am not sure whether the issue of Eelam has had any takers beyond the political class and uninformed students. Most of us remain unaffected and are more concerned bout our day-to-day lives. 2. But the excesses committed by the SL military and govt against the Tamil civilians during the final phase of the war are horrendous. They deserve to be bought to the book and India should provide support for a stronger resolution against SL. There are two issues; foreign policy and righteousness. If we are willing to sacrifice the latter in the interest of the former, we might as well remove "Satyameva Jayate" from our constitution, as currently we seem to be playing a more active role in suppressing the truth! Asked by: kart
A. Agree with most points made, barring the last part. A country's interests are not guided bye motion or truth, it is guided by self-interest. That's why India does some things and does not take action in others. Also, there is no one truth or absolute truth. It varies according to who says, who sees it. But yes, anyone who has done a crime in the war, has to be brought to the book.
Q. Isn't the stand of Tamil politicians (Lunatics) on the Lankan issue just like that of the Pakistani extremists on the issue of Kashmir ? Aren't we being hypocrite on this issue or rather aren't we taking double stands on the issue of Lankan tamils and Kashmir ? If we have to justify our stand on Kashmir then don't you think we have to give the same leisure to the Lankan govt in their internal matters? Asked by: Vineeth
A. It is only a question of degree. The Tamil political class is making emotional demands, but not unreasonable demands. The fringe elements are the lunatics. yes, they are the same everywhere. The Kashmir q is very relevant
Q. Hi RK Sir, Good Afternoon Why DMK did not withdraw support in 2009 during last operation carried out by the Lankan army and Karunanidhi addressed the assembly stating that separate country for Tamils as unrealistic. Do you think is this make believe crisis of DMK and Congress. Asked by: Jagannath Pujar
A. 2009 is long gone. But yes, u should ask the question. Only now the issue has come to a head where the DMK thinks that being seen with Congress is a liability. That's why it has parted ways. NO idealism there
Q. Sir, how you see this situation, what could be the future moves? Asked by: Shankar
A. As Tamil Nadu begins to get on the nerve of the Sri Lankan Sinhalese, you can see some backlash. Afterall, there are hotheads everywhere. For now,because of the way India is behaving, it hascompromised all progress made with respect to SL Tamils. Hard times for them ahead
Q. Why this hue and cry?What was supposed to be done by SL Govt. Because LTTE was creating havoc in SL for about 2 decades and the Govt retaliated in a strict manner.Even America did the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan.When LTTE was killing innocent people why no Human rights activist raised voice? Asked by: sarin kumar
A. Two wrongs dont make a right. The hue and cry is because there were excesses during the war. And, at least 40,000 civilians were killed. Yes, many people kept quiet when the LTTE killed people. That deserves to be condemned in the same breath.
Q. What does India as a nation gain by supporting SL despite its war crimes? will SL shut down Chinese and Pakistan harbours/bases in its territory in return? Asked by: Rajesh Kumar
A. These are geopolitical and strategic calculations that can't be explained in few lines. Simplistically: If Sri Lanka is an ally and a friend, India will have one border less to defend.