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The Super Power, The Neighbor - Indian Influence in Sri Lanka


US President was hosting Mr. Hu Jintao, President of China on his official visit to US and there were many speculation that there will be serious debate on Politics and Economy during this official visit. But nothing major happened and It was later analyzed by prominent Political Scientists that nothing happened was very good than having something bad happening. However Mr Hu Jintao admitted that China still faces many challenges in Economic and Social development. And lot still needs to be done in China in terms of Human Rights. This clearly shows the increasing tendency of big super powers working in understanding rather than being offensive. This trend would result in perfect harmony among powerful nations and they would have huge economic gains resulting from such behavior. This development is some thing which Sri Lanka should pay strong attention to hence we being geographically situated quite close to two major super powers India and China.


The situation is quite complicated. India would not be clearly not be that comfortable China to have a big presence in Sri Lanka making them almost surrounded by Chinese. Specially if the Chinese involve in deep sea fishing and other marine related activity there is a possibility for Chinese to secretly monitor Indian Naval activity including Submarine Movements. When the number of Main Land Chinese residents increases in Sri Lanka due to on going Chinese funded development Projects and Investors it becomes more easier for espionage work. .We all agree that the Chinese tourists, contract workers and also large number of women involved in prostitution in the City of Colombo, has tremendously increased during the past few years. Mahinda Rajapakse administration needed help from China specially during the time of the Military champagne against LTTE hence not many countries helped us during that time. China wanted to be our friend, needless to say with hidden but obvious reason to expand their presence in Indian Ocean and Money. Make no mistake, there is no free meal. Chinese were not helping us to make Sri Lanka a safe and a prosperous country. Every country has their hidden agenda behind every action they take.

India now has emerged as a super power. We have to give it to the Indians. The stable annual GDP of over 2.6 Trillion Dollars and 8.9 % growth rate with a population of over a Billion is truly remarkable. During this month Indian Budget Airliner Indigo, placed the largest ever Aircraft order in the world with Airbus, for 180 aircrafts with a contract value of over 150 Billion Dollars. One Indian company can place one order as big as almost 4 times of our budget deficit. This is the kind of financial muscle power Indians have and it is growing. India has not been this powerful for a very long time. Their long standing enemy Pakistan is in a mess. USA is clearly supporting the Indians. The economy is booming and has nuclear capabilities. Things had never worked so well for Indians in the recent past. What did the Indians do when they become powerful in the past. They attacked Sri Lanka.

When China extended Military support to us India let it go. Indians could not openly help Sri Lanka with Military aid specially at a time when the Indian Central Government was a coalition with Tamilnadu political parties. Furthermore such action would have made the ruling government very unpopular. They did not help the LTTE to offset the Chinese influence in Sri Lanka even though they had huge pressure from Tamilnadu to do so, for various reasons but in my mind the fact that LTTE assassinated Mr. Rajiv Ghandi played a cardinal role for this situation. Now that LTTE is gone, India would look in to hold the growing Chinese presence on their Southern front.

Staring from King Elara in 161 BC every time when the Indians became united and prosperous they always invaded us. Chola, Soli and Pandian kingdoms repeatedly kept the pressure on and every time they were driven out and or pushed back was during the time they had internal problems. According to my knowledge except for Great King Dutugemunu and Maha Parakrambahu no other King could have the country under complete local and united rule. This was the pattern up to the time Portuguese invaded us. The situation changed when the whole region was taken over by the British but my personal and moderate historian´s belief is that if not for the western invasion we would have found it difficult to resist the Indians. That is the history and History repeats it self.

In the modern world if a country wants to invade another country it is done by taking over assets. The Indian appetite for investment in Sri Lanka is growing. They have the money, technology and power. Already some of the best Sri Lankan companies in the plantation sector are owned by Indians. Tourism is another sector which they are in already. Indian Tourists are the highest to visit Sri Lanka now. They can beat us with numbers in most sectors except in Cricket. Indian investment in Sri Lanka will increase to record levels in the coming months. Indian government is already pushing the Sri Lankans to give a portion of development work to them. This is the time that Sri Lankan Politicians should have very interdependent, shrewd and well balanced Foreign Policy. None of these countries are our friends. They are here for their own interests. A country of the nature of Sri Lanka should never tilt to any side. The dangerous results of being so by SLFP and UNP regimes created under development and civil wars. By taking a side of one powerful country does not mean that they would stand by us all the time. Traditionally hostile countries are now getting united for economic reasons. If we take one side, with the present situation in Sri Lanka it is not impossible to create another bloody civil war.

We have achieved the prevailing Peace by sacrificing many lives, time and humongous amount of money which we can not afford then and certainly not once again. We can antagonize any powerful country on media. When politicians do this it makes them heroes among common people. When irresponsible people get appointed to public offices at the highest level this is inevitable. I remember when President George W Bush made some remarks on election fraud in Sri Lanka, Late Hon. Minister Aunura Bandaranayake speaking at a public rally in Sinhalese replied to President Bush in very interesting language. I wonder if the translators at the US embassy found the correct words in English to explain his massage without the meaning being distorted. If they did they would not have been able to state those on an official document. Among many things he said he stated that President Bush won his election by Hora Chanda (fraudulent votes). Therefor he had no right to talk about Sri Lankan election malpractices. Crowd was thrilled to listen to his speech as always. Hon. Wimal Weerawansa too has a history of antagonizing powerful countries with words which are not very diplomatic. We can say any thing to any country and they will not send an Aircraft carrier to bomb the daylights out of us by tomorrow morning but they can have covert attacks on us. The time tested way to do that is “Terrorism”. Every step we take on investment and development with assistance of foreign countries should be well examined if that would be resulted in a dispute specially with India. We have to be friendly with them for our own security and benefits. This by no means suggests that we have to be subject to Indian authority. This whole process is difficult but Possible. Massive economic growth in India will trickle down to Sri Lankan economy as long as we are a friend to them. It is time we make a wise move and shift our loyalties to our closest neighbor for mutual benefits.

~ ~ By Sudeera Yapa
About the Author: Vice President International Clients - Investment Analysis Group, Fort Myers Beach, Florida, USA. Started the carrier as an Investment advisor at John Keells Stock brokers 1991 and later moved on to Major Currency Trading in the international markets. 19 years of experience in the Industry of Currency and Commodity Futures trading for Speculation and Hedging.


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