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.


My latest: ‘Serena to Tharjini: The battle for gender justice in sport’, in the #ColomboTelegraph this morning (Sunday 16th September 2018). The spectacular victory of the #SriLankan #Netball Team at the 2018 Asian Championships, is a feat that demonstrates the power of women in sport in Sri Lanka, who face high levels of systemic discrimination, due to ways in which women in sport are perceived in a highly cis-hetero-patirarchal system. This article discusses some aspects of challenges facing women in sport, highlighting comparative perspectives [especially the racist and misogynist treatment of Serena Williams at the 2018 #USOpen] and the importance of taking stock of #intersectional oppressions that hinder the emergence, success, access to facilities and recognition of women in sport. #lka #WomenInSport #PowerWomen #Sheroes #TharjiniSivalingam #ChathurangiJayasuriya #SusanthikaJayasinghe #SerenaWilliams #SystemicDiscrimination #DismantlethePatriarchy #globalChallenges Image credits: ©Straits Times & bakamoono.lk. Link to the article: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/serena-to-tharjini-the-battle-for-gender-justice-in-sport/
#SriLankaIsNext The #Indian #SupremeCourt has issued a landmark judgement on Section 377 in the Indian #penalcode. This is an achievement not of NGO industrial work, but of tireless grassroots activism by hundreds of thousands of people. To us in #srilanka🇱🇰, this momentum is a tremendous occasion to reinforce our campaigns towards repealing #article365 of the#SriLankan Penal Code. Click here to read a #ColomboTelegraph report: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/india-says-yes-to-love/ #lovewins #yesequality #sogiesc #Lka #SriLankan #lgbtqi #repeal365 #repeal365a #movementbuilding #southasia #genderjustice #colombo #queersrilanka
The #Belfast blaze. A building originally built in 1785, right in the middle of the city centre, that housed Primark. This morning’s remains of this iconic building, if anything, is living proof of the principle of impermanence, which at the end of the day, is the central essence of all life and all things material. #belfast #bankbuildings #anithya #ni #ireland #augustmorning
It was so lovely to see My Queen, the one and only @willettafleming tonight. Willetta is an amazing poet, visionary and role model. Tonight showed the power of black women leading the way, and black queens coming together. I was humbly privileged to be part of the #CircleBack poetry night. #Queen #BlackGirlMagic #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLove #willettafleming #Belfast #lka #WoC #QTBiPoC #BlackBelfast #Ireland
It was such a pleasure to be part of this fantastic event #blackgirlmagic #blacklove #blacklivesmatter #WillettaFleming Chapeau to @willettafleming for her excellent organising. #poetry #belfast #northernireland
#Palestine solidarity lunch with my girls. This is what I like about #feileanphobail #feile2018 there’s a really genuine sense of solidarity here, and despite the gap between the lived experience of the Troubles in #Ireland and the hugely destructive magnitude of the plight of the #Palestinian people, there is a sense of understanding. #solidarity, in the times we live in, is extremely important and vital for our collective survival. #belfast #feile #ireland #palestine #pride #queer #pride2018 #feile2018 #lka #westBelfast #belfast #peacebuilding #fightAgainstInjustice #JusticeForPalestine

Cannot load blog information at this time.