Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Watching a hornbill collect food up close. Good times.
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Burning Erasing

Burning Erasing
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What remains unseen

19 May 2009

Wish i was a big bird
Capable of flying across
To have my own point of view, perspective
Un-plugged, un-polluted
To know what the conditions are
And what was done
Who did what?
Where are the witnesses?

And i hope those with conscience who witnesses were
Live to remain to tell the untold stories...
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Speaking Out

19 May 2009

On War Crimes in Sri Lanka

The "War on Terrorists" that was waged during Bush regime, turned to "Humanitarian Operation" during Obama's presidency. The goal of "Pursuing and eliminating LTTE terrorists" changed to "liberating civilians from terrorist controlled areas."

Independent verification of the death of civilians and LTTE military and civil personnel will reveal the number of people killed, cause of death and other facts that need to be noted down for making a case against the government of Sri Lanka and other actors, in the war crimes and crimes against humanity. Going by the weaponry used, locations attacked/bombed, violations of humanitarian laws and norms, or the incapacity to make accurate assessments about scale of humanitarian catastrophe and massacre it had unleashed on Tamil people, the Sri Lankan government is in for some heated episodes of international scrutiny.

War crimes and crimes against humanity may have been tolerated more in the era of "Global War on Terror." Now the architects of such an approach have been mercilessly thrown out of power, not just for the crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, illegal rendering, but also for putting the world at risk economically, a kind of economic extremism that brought about the global meltdown and associated consequences for millions of people around the world.

In such a scenario the Sri Lankan government is unlikely to get away with the crimes it had committed despite the support it has from China and Russia. With the diaspora mobilizations for truth and justice gaining momentum I am sure there will be calls for independent verifications and truth commissions. A lot depends on how GoSL handles the humanitarian catastrophe it had caused, whom it allows in and whom it keeps out, and what it does in covering up. Going by reports coming in from Europe and other sources it looks like Sri Lanka is under a microscope already and cases being built on Rajapakshe brothers and several others for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Legal moves including trying Rajapakshe brothers and senior military leaders outside Sri Lanka is rumored.

Though GoSL claims it has killed LTTE chief Prabhakaran, it is hard to reach such a conclusion with scant evidence.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Looking Ahead - Reforms 2009

17 May 2009

The results of the elections in India will once again convince the international community of the robustness of democracy and voting behavior, resulting in clear verdicts on what will be tolerated and what will not be tolerated any more. The ruling UPA government has now won against anti-incumbency factors and Congress (I) has emerged as the single largest party which requires only few members support to form the government. Congress which had been struggling with the era of coalition politics and wanting to strike on its own as a national party that wants to regain some of the territories it had lost to the communists and communalists. It has done remarkably well on both these areas. By winning half of the seats it contested in Tamil Nadu, it has proved that it is still a force to reckon with in this state. Despite some of the senior leaders losing, the party has scored a decisive win and with Chidambaram returning (though on a very narrow margin) one could expect more of the same in terms of economic and development policies and practices. On the Sri Lankan Tamil issue it may still face problems in Tamil Nadu, as Tamil groups will now begin working on some other strategies to advance the cause for Tamil Eelam or equal rights for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The reforms specialists with the addition of Shashi Tharoor, are a formidable team and one can only expect that economic reforms will be fast-tracked, deepened and widened. By not having to depend on very "demanding" regional parties or the Leftists and being emboldened by the clear verdict it may now operationlize the reforms packages with much less hurdles. One new area that will receive much focus is the defense related industry. So far, this area did not have much private sector involvement. This is about to change and the military industrial complexes are something to watch out for.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Election Verdict 2009

16 May 2009

The results are showing a definite trend of Congress (I) and its allies coming to power in the centre. However as expected Congress seems to be trailing behind or losing most of the 16 seats in which it contested. Its ally in Tamil Nadu, the DMK has against many adverse conditions and predictions is bound to secure a decent electoral success, winning most of the areas in which it contested. It is clear from the results that the expected "frame-alignment" between Tamil movements and Tamil parties has not been able to translate into sufficient votes to be a force to reckon with in the era of coalition politics at the centre. In Tamil Nadu however the verdict is clear, there is a significant polarization with regional dravidian parties taking in most votes and leaving the national parties with not much hope of gaining political ground in Tamil Nadu.

Ms. Jayalalitha may have sobered up after the shocking verdict that Tamil people have not given her party or her allies mandate to materialize the electoral promise of sending army to liberate Eelam. Tamil movements and parties also need to do some soul searching as to what percentage of votes have they been able to obtain or deny the ruling alliance. What ever be the verdict, it is bound to teach a few lessons to all the parties and actors.

At the Indian level, it is heartening to see the slide down suffered by communal parties. The communists have suffered much too. An emboldened Congress (I) is bound to come to power and i guess we will have more of the same stuff we are used to for five years more.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bloodbath and Beyond

12 May 2009

This is May 2009. War crimes and genocidal attacks on Tamils continue in Sri Lanka. Despite the international efforts at turning a blind-eye to these crimes against humanity (on the pretext that this is a "war on terror") and media clampdown & bias, news does actually slip out especially to those who have interest in what is happening in Sri Lanka.

Following the media in India that do cover the issue, one comes to understand that Indian government is being accused of assisting Sri Lankan government in pursuing and decimating LTTE. China is also being accused of supporting the SL government in pursuing this "war on terror" with sufficient supply of weapons. Both India and China are seen to have reached some sort of agreement with Sri Lankan government on economic, military and security matters. With sufficient support from regional "partners" the emboldened President of Sri Lanka had launched an "all-out" offensive to crush the national movement for Tamil Eelam.

This is evident in the propaganda of the Sri Lankan government which seems to be working very hard in waging a psychological operation to "convince" the rest of the world that it is all about "Terrorism" and killing terrorists. The equation is simple, when a national movement decides to take to arms to defend itself against a oppressive state, or struggle and establish some degree of self-rule, it can be criminalized and thus contained.

Because under the new equation there is no need to look deep into grievances, factors that escalated tensions and brought the divide - it is sufficient if international lobbying is succesful and the movement is labeled as a terrorist organization by a few states. Then a consensus among the elite and powerful is enough to pursue this new war on terror which can crush the movement. The outcome is you have less constraints, less responsibility towards power-sharing, less work on structures and systems needed for respectful co-existence, equality and justice - and hence more attractive an option for despots.

Some argue that senior political leaders in the Congress (I) in India seem to be getting impatient with the delay in the decimation of LTTE, before the final phase of the elections in India. Whatever mileage one was to gain by claiming a victory over LTTE is now lost and the world is now witnessing the horrors of crushing a peoples resolve to fight against ethno-centric policies and practices. LTTE is a big part of this ethno-national movement and despite its notoreity for guerilla warfare, resistance struggles, suicide attacks and silencing of political opponents, is considered by many Sri Lankan Tamils (and many Tamils in India and around the world) as the only major group that can effectively fight for them, in their defence for their rights and aspirations.

Despite what media may tell others, especially those in the West, many Tamils in Tamil Nadu feel sympathy towards those fighting for Eelam. As pointed out by Ms. Jayalalitha (former chief-minster) the logic in TamilNadu goes like this, "If Bangladesh can be liberated from Pakistan, why not Eelam from Sri Lanka." Now, politicians are sure to make rhetorical speeches prior to elections, but what about public sentiments. Is polling behaviour a reflection of public sentiments? Well, by 16th May it shall become very clear what many people feel about the Tamil Eelam issue. It can be an opportunity for scholars/practitioners/activists to re-assess our analysis, un-learn a few things and drop a lot of useless baggage that we have been made to carry around.

In fact the last phase of polling is on 13th May and it is quite possible that the Congress may be rooted out in all 16 constituencies that it has fielded candidates in Tamil Nadu. There have been large scale mass-mobilizations in Tamil Nadu against Congress-I and many political observers feel that the Congress and its regional ally DMK shall lose in most places. If this is true, it means a few things. That apart from compelling local issues the Tamil Eelam issue will play a key role in politics in Tamil Nadu. The message seems to be clear: Tamils in Tamil Nadu will vote out any political party (national or regional) that does not sympathize with the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Whether they will make good their threat, and whether sufficient "frame-alignment" has happened within and between Tamil movements and parties in Tamil Nadu is something to be deciphered from the trends revealed by the election results.

The verdict will be out by 16th May 2009. It will be a day when Tamils will come to understand a little bit more about themselves and the rest of the world about Tamils, whatever be the outcome.