Contemporary developments in India’s foreign policy are often based on perceptions and not facts, views divorced from reality and political advocacy based on make-believe. India’s approach to the Sri Lankan issue and the vote in the Human Rights Council (HRC) is a case in point. Variously described as a “new low” in our foreign policy and a departure from our principled stand of not supporting country-specific resolutions, this line of reasoning suggests that New Delhi should ignore and overrule regional sentiment, and refrain from meddling in the affairs of a small neighbour.
But first the perceptions. One, in 1956, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias (SWRD) Bandaranaike enacted the Sinhala-Only Act. Sections of the political class in New Delhi welcomed it as a consolidation of anti-imperialist sentiment. Years later, Tamils were reduced to second-class citizens and discrimination against them became systemic and entrenched. The anti-Tamil riots in Colombo following the killing of the Mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duriappa, by a young Prabhakaran led to the rise of Tamil militancy.