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‘Regional interests’ of Tamil Nadu must be part of Indian foreign policy

Writing in the Weekend Leader, Karthick RM hailed the decision of Manmohan Singh not to attend CHOGM in Colombo this week as a 'symbolic victory', but stated it was not enough, calling for a 'serious re-think' of Indian foreign policy towards Sri Lanka.

Stating that a complete boycott was still needed, he went on to coment that the regional interests of Tamil Nadu were integral to India's foreign policy, adding that Tamil activists from across the globe have "emerged as a well-networked community" and are "constantly expanding their spheres of influence in opinion making".

Karthick RM is a PhD student from Tamil Nadu, currently studying at the University of Essex.

Extracts from his piece 'Victory to Tamils, New Delhi bows to Chennai' have been reproduced below. See his full piece here.

"Contrary to claims in certain sections of the Indian media that the Indian Prime Minister not taking part in Sri Lanka’s CHOGM compromises the country’s ‘national foreign policy’ in favour of ‘regional interests’, a decision by the highest political authority of India to avoid participation in this event is precisely in favour of India’s national interests."

"If India really had long-term strategic vision, it would completely boycott the CHOGM, but that is a different argument."

"An active foreign policy takes into consideration not just relations between states, but also intra-state relations, especially those between power blocs within a state, and the geographical location of these power blocs. In the Sri Lankan context, an active foreign policy of India must, in all rationality, be mediated by the geographical and demographic power bloc that is Tamil Nadu, which is historically and culturally, not to mention emotionally, connected to Tamil Eelam. In that sense, the ‘regional interests’ of Tamil Nadu must be part of any Indian foreign policy calculation vis-a-vis Sri Lanka."

"The heat generated by the Tamil Nadu youth, besides inspiring diaspora youth to stage similar protests, also compelled the Tamil Nadu government to pass resolutions calling for a referendum among the Eelam Tamils. And it is precisely their pressure and that of grassroots Tamil political parties, which compelled Tamil Nadu State Assembly to pass a unanimous resolution calling for a full Indian boycott of CHOGM in Sri Lanka."

"India needs a serious re-think on its overall policy towards Sri Lanka. In this Information Age, the Tamils world over have emerged as a well-networked community. Activists from three centres of Tamil power namely Tamil Nadu, Tamil Eelam and the Tamil Diaspora actively engage in knowledge sharing exercises through various medium, constantly expanding their spheres of influence in opinion making."

"Through shared images, notes, articles and videos, the Tamils are constructing a political discourse that informs them of the oppression the Eelam Tamils suffer in the island and the remedy that is required."

"And this creates intellectual ammunition for critical and radical voices in the Tamil Nadu polity."

"The key questions that Indian foreign policy analysts with vision should consider is this – given that it is in the very nature of the Sri Lankan state to be hostile to Tamil interests, wouldn’t you rather lose Sri Lanka as a friend than gain Tamil Nadu’s enmity? Does India really want to create instability in Tamil Nadu for the sake of creating stability for the Sinhala state? Does India want to antagonize a Tamil community that is global in its reach and potential for the sake of a failed state?"