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Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha

What Narasimhan Ram Should Understand

11 July 2006

This commentary is a response to the head editorial which appeared in the Chennai Hindu newspaper of June 29th 2006, under the caption �What Balasingham should understand�. If delivering political spin is the preoccupation of American mass media, and if providing entertainment by �yarase� [staged events] to the gullible Japanese is the norm of Japanese TV, I�d unhesitatingly say that kink dancing is the speciality of Indian mass media. I should know since I have been an observer of Indian print and visual media for 45 years and counting.

My desk dictionary defines the noun kink in four projections; (1) an abrupt bend, curl, loop, or tangle in a line, wire, hair, etc. (2) a mental quirk (3) a bizarre practice or preference, esp.sexual (4) a painful muscular spasm. The recent pedantic wailing in the Indian media about the �regret� extended by LTTE idealogue Anton Balasingham relating to Rajiv Gandhi assassination of 1991 is a good example of kink dancing by Indian journalists which demonstrates the four projections of the noun kink. I�ll dissect the wailing message published in the Hindu editorial of June 29th.

That the editorialist (in all probabilities, Narasimhan Ram) of the Hindu newspaper has a kinky fetish to LTTE is unchallenged. That he twists and exaggerates Balasingham�s use of the word �regret� relating to Rajiv Gandhi assassination as a �confession� beyond imagination is also markedly noticeable. Either the editorialist is ignorant of how the word �regret� had been used in diplomatese English or (in his kinky wishful thinking), is merely engaged in the back-scratching role of pleasing the current leader of the Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi (Rajiv Gandhi�s widow). That Narasimhan Ram once aimed his arrows at Rajiv Gandhi (the na�ve Indian prime minister of 1984-1989), only to deflate his braggadocio for the sake of his House of Hindu publishing empire is a good tale of journalistic turn-coatism. See the appendix below for a brief report on blackmailing and symbiosis between the Indian politicians and print media.

On the use of �regret� in political diplomacy

The recent use of �regret� word by Anton Balasingham should be understood in it proper context. What is despicable is the kinking of Balasingham�s use of the �regret� word for political mischief by the Indian media and its appendages like the Asian Tribune blog sites. From my archives, I have culled and provide below five past examples of the use of �regret� word in incidents relating to Indo-Sri Lankan incidents and events.

The killing of Indian pilgrim S.Dhanabathy in Sri Lanka in 1981

�An Indian was killed by an unknown assailant while he was on his way back to Colombo on Sunday along with 42 others after a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Kataragama. The victim, S.Dhanabathy, of Madras was reportedly hacked to death while he was sitting in a barber�s chair at Tissamaharama for a shave�Th President J.R.Jayewardene, telephoned the High Commissioner, Mr.Thomas Abraham, to convey his condolences. The Foreign Minister, Mr.Shahul Hameed, also telephoned Delhi and spoke to the External Affairs Minister, Mr.P.V.Narasimha Rao, to express his regret�� [�Indian pilgrim murdered in Lanka�, Indian Express, Aug.25, 1981, p.1]

Does this mean that Shahul Hameed made a �confession� about Sinhalese atrocity on a Tamil Nadu pilgrim?

J.R.Jayewardene�s purported regret in 1981

�He [Jayewardene] said: �I regret that some members of my party have spoken both in and out of Parliament words that encourage violence. How many of our party leaders have spoken against the recent acts of violence? What is the example we, as members of governing party, are setting to our followers and to the rest of the country men?� [�Jayewardene threatens to quit�, The Hindu, Sept.6, 1981, p.1]

Does this mean that the then President Jayewardene sincerely made a confession to the Eelam Tamils on the weakness of some members of his party to encourage violence?

J.R.Jayewardene�s much delayed radio address in 1983

��It was [President Junius] Jayewardene�s first major [nationwide radio] address since violence erupted last Saturday when Tamil terorists ambushed and killed 3 soldiers in Jaffna. At least 58 other people have been killed around the country since then, mostly in retaliatory attacks by Sinhalese against Tamils. Jayewardene said he was speaking with �deep regret and sorrow�, and was very distressed over the �deep mistrust and suspicions� between the two communities�� [�Sri Lankan president moves to ban the Tamil separatist party�, Asahi Evening News, Tokyo, July 29, 1983, p.2]

Did the then President Jayewardene really make a confession with his �deep regret and sorrow�?

The diplomatic row between New Delhi and Colombo in 1984 within weeks of Rajiv Gandhi�s ascent to prime ministership

��Although he has dismissed as �ridiculous� suggestions that an Indian invasion was planned, [Rajiv] Gandhi accused Sri Lankan troops of �indiscriminate killings� and said that there had been �heavy losses of innocent lives in the North and the East�. He added that Indian fishermen too, had been under attack in the narrow Palk Strait separating the two countries.

Colombo, embittered by the conviction that the northern terrorism has assumed its current frightening proportions because of the sympathy and support the terrorist guerillas receive from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, 18 miles across the water from the island�s northern tip, responded angrily to the Indian prime minister�s statement. Foreign Minister Shahul Hameed expressed Sri Lanka�s �regret and dismay� over the Gandhi statement, saying: �Its language, toneand substance can only encourage the terrorists and their supporters both in India and in Sri Lanka to further pursue their nefarious activities��[�A package for peace�, Far Eastern Economic Review, Dec.27, 1984, pp.24-25]

This was when, Rajiv Gandhi as a neophyte to his role as the Indian prime minister pissed off the Sri Lankan government and Shahul Hameed had to express �regret and dismay�. What is the meaning of �regret� in this context? The problem with Rajiv Gandhi was that he later allowed himself to be manipulated by India�s lousy bureaucrats. journalist fakers of diplomacy like N.Ram, inept military advisors and intelligence gumshoes, who were too clever by half in cross-country diplomacy.

India�s turn to drivel in �regret� in 1985

�India today conveyed its regret to Sri Lanka that the President J.R.Jayewardene, should have again leveled charges about the existence of terrorist training camps in Tamil Nadu despite repeated denials by New Delhi. This was stated by a spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry when his attention was drawn to the charges made in the Sri Lankan parliament yesterday�� [�JRJ charge: India conveys regret�, Times of India, Feb.22, 1985]

By N.Ram�s recent interpretation of the word �regret�, did India apologise to Sri Lanka in 1985 for RAW-sponsored the training camps in Tamil Nadu?

On India�s role and Hindu newspaper�s sclerosis

As per Ram�s assertion on June 26th, �Given the circumstances, India cannot play any direct role in Sri Lanka�s peace process.� On the face value, I�d state that this is a denial of political reality. Even after Rajiv Gandhi�s assassination in 1991, India has been playing a direct role in Sri Lanka�s peace process, via its gumshoes who manipulate its Tamil puppets who have lost currency among the Eelam Tamils. Can Ram deny this? Even if Ram pretends to turn a blind-eye, the Sinhalese media who are antagonistic to LTTE�s interests have consistently highlighted the destabilising role played by India�s gumshoes.

Ram also has gloated that �It can be added that The Hindu has, over the past half century, shared this perspective and consistently championed the cause of the Tamils of the island within this just and anti-secessionist framework.� This only shows, how much sclerosis had infested the nervous system of the Hindu newspaper. The geography maps of 1950s and 1960s have become outdated now. Bangladesh was born in 1971 and Ram should remember who played the midwife role in its birth. Soviet Union had splintered in early 1990s. The federated state of Yugoslavia had disappeared in early 2000s. And only the senile dimwits who manage the Hindu newspaper think that what was good for the Eelam Tamils in the 1950s should prevail in the 2000s.

Appendix: Gandhi�s Watergate?
[courtesy: Newsweek magazine, October 23, 1989, p.42]

This time, Rajiv Gandhi may be in real trouble. His problem is an arms-sale scandal that first came to light in 1987, when it was alleged that a Swedish manufacturer, Bofors, had bribed Indian politicians and government officials in order to obtain a $1.4 billion contract for field artillery. Back then, the Indian prime minister hunkered down and rode out the storm, as he had done in previous scandals. But last week an independent Indian newspaper, The Hindu, began to print documents suggesting that Gandhi�s administration and Bofors had engaged in an extensive cover-up to conceal the identities of some bribe-takers. With a national election due before the end of the year, many Indians are referring to the scandal as Rajiv Gandhi�s Watergate.

After publishing its first instalment on the new charges, The Hindu suddenly dropped the subject. The paper�s associate editor, Narasimhan Ram, 45, walked out of the building and accused the editor, his uncle, of spiking subsequent stories in response to government pressure, including personal requests to drop the story and the withdrawal of official advertising. The uncle denied the charge. But Ram showed the suppressed documents containing cover-up details to other Indian newspapers as well as to Newsweek.

Previously, Gandhi insisted that he never asked Bofors to act through middlemen or pay commissions on the arms deal. The Hindu�s documents show that Bofors did pay kickbacks, most of them through a Swiss-registered company called Moresco. Ram said the documents would help Indian investigators trace the people behind Moresco. There is a widespread belief in the Indian press that those people may include relatives of Gandhi. Whatever the truth of the matter, the government�s apparent cloaking of the scandal can only hurt Gandhi with the voters.




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