Home » bi-lateralism » [Press] India and the Colombo CHOGM: A Tricky Choice

[Press] India and the Colombo CHOGM: A Tricky Choice

NB: This article was originally published in the New Delhi-based Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs magazine, in its November 2013 edition.

Over the past few weeks, analysts, policymakers and civil society activists in India (and especially in Tamil Nadu) have been debating whether the Indian Prime Minister should attend the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo. It has emerged that after much deliberation, Dr Manmohan Singh will not attend the Colombo CHOGM. This is a decision that has its definitive place in the annals of Indian diplomacy. Its significance is multiplied by the fact that it comes in the backdrop of Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma’s strong endorsement of the Colombo CHOGM. Whereas Ambassador Sharma operates in his capacity as Commonwealth chief, The Congress government’s decision can be explained by domestic political concerns, in the context an impending national election. However, it is somewhat inadequate to ascribe this decision only to domestic electoral politics. Despite its tremendous salience, the Tamil Nadu variable is not the only determining factor behind Dr Singh’s decision. More importantly perhaps, this decision carries much weight in terms of regional geopolitics.

The Manmohan Singh government was by far one of the strongest endorsers of Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV against the now defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In the absence of Indian endorsement, Colombo’s May 2009 military victory would not have been possible. Delhi had pertinent reasons to extend strategic, intelligence and logistical support to the Sri Lankan government, which notably involved the legacy of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination and the regional implications of the LTTE secessionist threat. Delhi perceived a counter terrorist offensive as a necessary evil, on one condition – that Colombo would pursue a programme for inclusive political reform in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka once the LTTE threat was contained. Over the years, a repeated emphasis on political reform has continued to be the lynchpin of Delhi’s policy towards Sri Lanka’s ethno-national question. This, to cite but one example, was the rationale behind the BJP government’s refusal to extend military support to the Kumaratunga administration in the aftermath of one of the most devastating military defeats suffered by Sri Lankan forces at the hands of the LTTE in the year 2000. It was a means of encouraging Colombo to pursue a programme for political reform, as the Kumaratunga administration had by then drifted into a robust military offensive, making its repeated commitment to devolution sound rather ambivalent. If segments in the Sri Lankan military and government are to interpret that reaction (as well as Dr Singh’s stance on attending the 2013 Colombo CHOGM) as a case of Delhi’s Sri Lanka policy being captured by Tamil Nadu dictates, they are somewhat mistaken. Instead, it is much more insightful to read such decisions as intended at highlighting priorities in Delhi’s regional agenda at given points of time.

Read more here.


Our event ‘Decolonising SOGIESC advocacy in South and Southeast Asia: An Activist Conversation’ took place this morning in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. Months of painstaking work went into the organising of this event, involving one of the senior-most community leaders of the region, Bubli Malik Sahiba, and it was a beautiful collaboration between #Venasa and #Wajood. Venasa is a grassroots trans rights advocacy group founded by the excellent Thenu Ranketh, a leader and role model to us all. Wajood is a leading trans rights body based in Islamabad, which has broken new ground in claiming space in governmental and judicial circles. The workings of neoliberal NGO-industrial LGBT+ rights work is such that Thenu could not join us, and yet another major resource person, Nada Chiayajit, also could not join us. To our greatest regret, our dearly beloved colleague and decolonial queer trailblazer Thiagaraja Waradas @waradas could not join us, as a result of an extremely questionable act of censure and erasure by ILGA World on the day before his planned trip to Aotearoa. However, and despite all those challenges, we managed to host this event. We had clearly outlined the necessity of a one-and-half-hour session, to do the minimum justice possible to the absolutely vital issues being discussed. However, we were only given a mere 45 minutes, which was barely sufficient for our excellent panellists to make their opening statements. This in itself is a reminder of the importance of looking beyond the NGO-industrial complex when working for SOGIESC advocacy, within our respective countries as well as internationally. It was our greatest pleasure to display the Tino rangatiratanga flag, and pay respects to the rightful owners of the land we are standing on. My heartfelt thanks go to my sister Kassie who opened the session with traditional Māori greetings and welcomed us to Aotearoa. #DecolonialAdvocacy #DecoloniseSOGIESC #SOGIESC #GINSOGI #ILGANZ2019 #TeWhanganuiaTara #GenderJustice #Lka #SriLanka #Pakistan #Venasa #VTN #Wajood #TransPolitics #SouthAsia #ClaimingSpace #DecolonialPolitics #DecoloniseILGA
This morning, I had the great pleasure of gifting a copy of my book ‘Decolonising Peacebuilding: Managing Conflict from Northern Ireland to Sri Lanka and Beyond’ [2018], to UN Secretary General’s Special Expert on SOGIESC issues, Victor Madrigal-Borloz. This book is all about challenging established assumptions, perspectives and understandings in relation to the study of politics of deeply divided places, and of developing new, if not innovative strategies of addressing shared challenges. It is also about recognising knowledge systems and analytical approaches that are from non-Western parts of the world, and of ‘de-centring’ the West in our ways of understanding the politics of peace and conflict. It is also about the agency and voice/s of people, especially women, very especially queer women, from the global South/s. The issues discussed in this book share a great deal in common with global challenges involved in working towards SOGIESC rights, especially in the global South/s. #InternationalAdvocacy #DecolonisingPeacebuilding #UnitedNations #VictorMadrigalBorloz #GINSOGIE #SOGIESC #LGBTQIA #Peacebuilding #ConflictResolution #DeeplyDividedPlaces #SriLanka #NorthernIReland #Tamil #Sinhala #Nationalisms #EthnicConflict #DecolonialPolitics #DecolonialEpistemologies #GlobalSouths #ChamindraWeerawardhana #Venasa #Chathra #CWDF #LKA #SriLankanPolitics #RepresentationMatters #PoliticalLeadership #MiExistirEsResistir
Intervention lors de la pré-conférence francophone, organisé par Montréal International, ce qui a facilité une représentation francophone qui n’a jamais été le cas auparavant au sein des plateformes internationaux de l’ILGA. Ma présentation fut intitulé “Vers les mers lointaines : regards croisés sur les francophonies, les héritages francophones et défis SOGIESC de l’’espace « Asie-Pacifique » #francophonie #DroitsdePeuplesIndigènes #Tahiti #Kanaky #Montréal #Montréalnternational #solidarités #globalSouth #AsiePacifique #Ilga2019NZ
A lot of solidarity towards #Muslims here in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara this morning, in the aftermath of white suprematist terror. What unites us is way stronger than what divides us #ChristchurchTerrorAttack #ChristchurchMosqueShooting #NewZealandMosqueAttack #Islamophobia #ILGA2019NZ #theyareus
Te-Whanganui-a-Tara #pride parade cancelled, in the aftermath of the Christchurch white suprematist terror attack. The whitestream media, as usual, is damn desperate to avoid using the word ‘terrorist’ when referring to the perpetrator of this attack. We need to talk about the damage caused by white supremacy to peoples of colour and to peoples of different faith and sociocultural traditions. We need to talk about the links between such issues and worldwide #sogiesc advocacy. #aotearoa #christchurch #lka #FightTerrorInAllItsForms #newzealand
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