Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sri Lanka hotel profit margins on the rise: report

May 01, 2011 (LBO) - Profit margins of Sri Lanka's tourist hotels are widening with an influx of arrivals and rising room rates after the end of its 30-year ethnic war, a report said.


Given the rather "anaemic" demand prior to 2009, when the war ended, most hotel operators had been compelled to compete on price, RAM Ratings (Lanka) said in a report on the island's hotel sector.

"Price undercutting had been evident among most city hotels and those in the southern region, with certain 05-star establishment only charging about 60 US dollars per night."

However, the government started imposing minimum room rates in 2009 to curb excessive price competition, and a third increase recently implemented raised minimum rates to 125 dollars from April.

"With tourist arrivals hitting a record high in 2010, occupancy levels have also surged, reducing the pressure to compete on price," RAM Ratings said.

"The upsurge in demand for hotel rooms has led to a concurrent rise in room rates across the industry."

Room rates had increased over 20 percent as at end-December 2010 from a year ago.

The rating agency quoted the Global Hotel Price Index as saying Sri Lanka’s 05-star room rates had risen 21.38 percent to an average of 105.63 dollars by end-December 2010 from the previous year.

"This represents the fifth-largest spike in room rates globally," RAM Ratings (Lanka) said.

"The scenario of escalating room rates is likely to prevail in the short to medium term as the industry will be challenged to expand its capacity to meet the surge in demand.

"The higher price tags will in turn boost hoteliers’ financial performance through broader profit margins."

Robust demand and inadequate supply of rooms over the short to medium term will continue supporting occupancy levels and room rates, the report said.

"Part of the latter will be regulation-driven as the minimum room rates imposed by the government will be increased," it said.

"We believe the scenario of high occupancy levels is likely to prevail in the short to medium term, as the industry faces a room-supply deficit amid more robust demand."

The current capacity of nearly 15,000 rooms is sufficient to cater to only some 800,000 guests a year – indicating a "substantial deficit" in supply should the government’s target of 2.5 million tourists be achieved, the report said.

Industry experts believe that the current capacity of graded rooms should be nearly doubled to around 28,000 rooms.

"According to plans already announced by local and foreign hotel operators, 1,000 rooms will be added over the medium term, albeit still insufficient to cater to the expected influx of tourists," the rating agency said.

"Furthermore, the closure of hotels for refurbishment could tighten supply further in the short term.

"Against this backdrop, we believe that hotels will continue enjoying high occupancy levels and lucrative rates in the short to medium term."

RAM Ratings also noted that despite the recent rate hikes, Sri Lankan hotel rates are still lower than those of the other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
 
source - www.lbo.lk


India's Rejection Of US Aircraft : As Seen By Chinese


Chinese netizens interested in strategic issues have been showing interest in India's reported decision to go for European jet fighters for its Air Force in preference to the aircaft offered by US companies. They see this as a possible reflection of India's unhappiness over the continuing US restrictive policies relating to the transfer of high technology to India.

by B.Raman


(May 1, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Chinese netizens interested in strategic issues have been showing interest in India's reported decision to go for European jet fighters for its Air Force in preference to the aircraft offered by US companies. They see this as a possible reflection of India's unhappiness over the continuing US restrictive policies relating to the transfer of high technology to India. Another point being made is that the US support for India's permanent membership of the UN Security Council was as a quid pro quo for the Indian selection of the US aircraft. Now that India has rejected the US aircraft, will the US still support India's permanent membership of the UNSC?

2. Annexed are some comments carried in the People's Forum section of the party-owned "People's Daily" online on the subject on May 1,2011. It is not clear whether these comments are of the "People's Daily" readers or have been lifted from non-Chinese sources. Normally, when the comments are lifted from non-Chinese sources, the sources are identified. In this case, no source has been identified for the post as a whole. ( 1-5-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

ANNEXURE

(Text of a post in the "People's Forum" section of the "People's Daily" online carried on May 1,2011)

India arms contract spurns US fighters

India has shortlisted European jet fighters, in preference to US and Russian rivals, in a hotly contested $11bn competition to supply the Indian air force with advanced combat aircraft.

At stake is a deal to equip India with 126 multi-role fighter jets in one of the world’s largest military contracts. The winning bid is expected to shape India’s air power for the next three decades and serve as the bedrock of a strategic partnership.

After trials, India selected France’s Dassault Rafale and the multinational Eurofighter Typhoon – both currently operating over Libya – to compete in the next stage of the competition, according to India’s defence ministry. A spokesman told the Financial Times that a final decision would be taken within a year.

The move will be a blow to the US. Washington strongly lobbied India to buy its aircraft as payback for the landmark Indian-US civil nuclear deal in 2008. The agreement – brokered by Manmohan Singh, Indian premier, and then-US president George W. Bush – brought India’s nuclear programme out of decades of global isolation.

Timothy Roemer, US ambassador to Delhi, said the US was “deeply disappointed” by the decision not to select US defence companies. Earlier on Thursday, Mr Roemer, a personal friend of Barack Obama, US president, announced his resignation.

While Mr Roemer said he was leaving India for personal reasons, as ambassador he had heavily promoted the US bids. He said he had “accomplished all of the strategic objectives set forth two years ago” when he took the job.

Top Indian officials and politicians had indicated that they wished to buy US military hardware to improve a fast-warming relationship between the two democracies in the wake of the transformative nuclear deal.

Are U.S. export policies to blame?

Defense contractors and industry experts are trying to come to grips with India’s decision to exclude The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. from its $11 billion competition for a new fighter jet.

India's decision was very surprising, says Tom Captain, vice chairman of global and U.S. aerospace and defense leader at Deloitte LLP. If the selection was based on technical merits, "It is difficult to explain how those two very capable aircraft were eliminated."

In the absence of factual information about how the selection was made, speculation is growing that restrictive U.S. export policies may have played a significant role in India’s evaluation of fighter jet candidates.

India is projected to spend $80 billion on new weapons and space systems over the next five years. It’s only a small fraction of what the United States spends, but the industry still regards it as a promising region where, once you get a foot in the door, opportunities could blossom.

Defense industry analyst Byron Callan contends that “technology transfer was a major consideration in this competition.”

Larry Christensen, an export controls attorney at Miller & Chevalier, in Washington, D.C., believes the Indian decision will have lasting implications for U.S. industry, even though he says he has not seen any proof that India’s choice was influenced by ITAR, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations that restrict exports of sensitive U.S. technology.

The fact that an emerging power such as India would snub U.S. advanced weaponry offers further evidence that the current export control system — which dates back to the Cold War — has outlived its effectiveness, Christensen says. “The U.S. government cannot repeal the laws of economics,” he says. As the United States denies access to some of its best technology, it leaves a market void that, sooner or later, another country will fill. “When that happens, the U.S. export control policy of denial, or policy of heavy restrictions, become ineffective” for the purposes of barring potential enemies access to advanced weaponry, he says.

It's a surprise for many analysts that US fighters didn't win out. In recently years, America has been trying to court India by asserting its supportive stance over India's aspiration for a permanent UNSC seat. America arms makers are one of beneficiaries in the improved bilateral ties. They even got deals from India with big number without competing with rivals in public bidding. Some defense expert said the embarrassing result indicates that India's wariness toward America doesn't loose. And your say...?

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The Royal Wedding: Tying the knot between countries



Prince William and Kate in the centre with attendants, (clockwise from bottom right) the Hon. Magarita Armstrong-Jones, Miss Eliza Lopes, Miss Grace van Custem, Lady Louise Windsor, Master Tom Petttifer, Master William Lowther-Pinkerton Photo:Burnand Clarence House

by Michael R. Czinkota and Mariele Marki

(May 1, London, Sri Lanka Guardian)The royal wedding of Prince William of England and Kate Middleton had millions viewers around the world with their eyes glued to televisions. If student actions at Georgetown University are an indicator, in the U.S. at three in the morning, many Americans tuned in to live coverage of the royal wedding or even met at hotels with large screens to watch and have British breakfast . Most major media networks were broadcasting from London.
According to a study by Nielsen, a leader in market research, “United States news and media outlets have out-published their U.K. counterparts in terms of wedding coverage.” The fascination and romanticism that the United States has for the royal family and the increase in attention ever since the engagement was announced last November, demonstrates the strong ties between the United States and the United Kingdom.

This cultural connection is an excellent example of a concept developed in international business. Psychological distance is the perceived distance from a firm to a foreign market, caused by cultural variables, legal factors, history and other societal norms. A common model used to demonstrate this theory is a comparison of the link between the United States and Canada, with the United States and Mexico. Americans tend to identify more with Canada than with Mexico. Both countries border the United States, but for reasons of language and culture, Canada appears to be psychologically much closer.
While the U.S. and the U.K. share the same language and have a linked history, one can also see the allure of royalty in both cultures. Disney princesses have a strong presence in every young girl’s childhood in the United States and many movies center around the plot of a fairytale with the prince and princess living happily ever after. Women want to be treated like princesses and it is culturally very common to rejoice when one has “found her prince.” Even though the U.S. hasn’t had a royal leader in centuries, news on royal families is a regular part of television and magazine entertainment. A large portion of the American population maintains a high level of interest in all that is regal.

Psychological proximity is much preferable to psychological distance. It helps business, creates friendships and leads to national decisions which are often unabashedly in favor of one’s friends. Psychological distance in turn tends to slow down relationships and, in a proverb mentioned by international travellers, affects the quality of the water one might otherwise share. That makes it important that all nations work on bridging distances through collaboration, mutual visits, and confidence building measures. Every business transaction is another step in mutual diplomacy which links nations together. Some nations even built their growth and success based on tying the knot and closing the distance through their leading families. For example, for centuries, the proverb in Europe was “Tu Felix Austria, nube”, meaning that (in order to prosper,) you, lucky Austria, just get married .

However, as international business theory shows us, the best quality of psychological proximity occurs when it is close but not too close. Closeness creates better relationships and does make it easier for firms to enter markets. But too much of a focus on similarities can lead to what may be considered unwelcome intrusiveness, and lets managers lose sight of important differences. Even between the U.S. and the U.K. there are behavioral and language differences which are ignored at great peril. Just think of how new acquaintances address each other or how one talks about past accomplishments.

England and other countries close to the U.S. often have a society quite different from the U.S.. The British royal wedding certainly is interesting. But it is the multitude of other overlaps in interests on a daily basis which creates the real psychological proximity. Looking at each other and smiling when one realizes the mutuality of thought – that is what brings us closer to each other. That in turn is never the result of one single event, but rather the consequence of growth in a relationship over decades and perhaps even centuries. But that is perhaps discussed best over a cup of tea.

Michael R. Czinkota is a Professor of International Business and Marketing at Georgetown University and the University of Birmingham in the U.K. Mariele Marki is a research assistant at Georgetown University. 
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Moscow may veto UN resolution against Sri Lanka: Russian Envoy

by Anthony David
Courtesy: The Sunday Times

(May 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Russian Ambassdor in Sri Lanka, Vladimir P. Mikhaylov has said that the UN panel report was counterproductive and, “if some forces try to defend or push forward the allegations” Russia will oppose such moves.

The Ambassador in an interview with the Sunday Times explaining why Russia was opposing the panel report said there were too many questions about the report.

Excerpts:

Q: Tell us if the UN report was submitted to any Consultative Committee of the UN Security Council on April 18 and did the Russian Ambassador to the UN object. If so on what grounds were the objections made ?

At that time it was not officially submitted. It had not been made public. We opposed the publication of the report at that time.

Q: On what grounds were the objections made?

On the grounds that it was not a UN report. On the grounds that it was not done in accordance with the regulations and the procedures of the UN. From the very beginning it was told that the report was purely for the Secretary General. So if it was for the Secretary General why did they have to publish it?.

Q: So, you mean before the report was published Moscow made it clear not to publish it?

We opposed the publication. We made it clear not to publish it. This was not because of the contents, but on a matter of principle, as initially it was not made for publication.

Q: Who supported Russia, opposed or stayed neutral?

I heard that some of the countries took up similar positions, but I wouldn’t like to comment on the positions they took.

Q: If the report comes up for discussion at the UN Security Council will Russia use its veto powers?

We still hope there will be no consequences. Since the report has been made public, we know that it is not objective and not based on real facts. The allegations are not proved. So I hope sober-minded people, including politicians and members of the United Nations Secretariat, and ambassadors will understand that the report cannot be a grounds for any further action. If some forces try to defend or push forward the allegations we will oppose it.

Q:Would Russia go to the extent of using its veto powers.

I I do not see that, as it is a long procedure, we should not veto the report itself, we may veto a resolution. At the moment there is no draft resolution or any preparation for a resolution. So why should we speak about an imaginary situation? In case, if there is a draft resolution saying the report is not reliable, we may support it.

Q: If it comes up at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva what will Russia’s position be?

We think that the situation in Sri Lanka was considered at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka opposed that move. The situation was studied and discussed. I do not think the situation in Sri Lanka worsened so that the HRC should consider the situation. There are many other burning issues concerning human rights violations .

We do not see that the report should be a basis for any steps. We do not see any reason or grounds to even consider Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council.

Q: What are the points that Russia is objecting to in this report?

From the very beginning when the so called panel of experts was appointed, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed the views of Russia. A statement was issued. Here it was stated, ‘the UN Secretary General as Chief Administrative officer of the UN should apparently have asked the opinion of the Security Council or the General Assembly on this matter.” But this has not happened.

From the very beginning we were skeptical of the panel. We were assured by the Secretary General and his staff the task was not to investigate and was not a fact finding mission, but only to advise the Secretary General. But what we saw later did not correspond to what was told earlier.

The LLRC was appointed and is working. We should give time for the commission to make conclusions and present the report to the President and for Sri Lanka to take necessary steps. Unfortunately, the panel did not wait for the report.

They ignored the work of the commission and without the Security Council mandate they presented the report and that report was objected by Sri Lanka and not welcomed by permanent members of the Security Council like China and Russia.

We do not understand why the report was published and we think it is counterproductive and does not give enough time to study and respond to the report . To describe the LTTE in the report as a most disciplined nationalist group of Tamils and not a terrorist organization has been recognized by many countries as unacceptable.

To describe the last stages of the war as a ‘tragedy too cannot be accepted. For whom was it a tragedy? The war itself was a tragedy. The end of the war should be welcomed by the international community. There are also untestified allegations in respect of the Lankan Government. The report says the conclusions were made based on the evidence of individuals and groups that were considered ‘reliable’ by the panel itself which means they were choosing who was reliable and who was not.

There are too many questions about the report. In general it looks like that the authors of the report were far from objective.

Q: Did the Sri Lankan govt seek the assistance of your govt to prevent the report being made public?

Maybe there would have been discussions between some of the Sri Lanka representatives with our (Russian) representatives in New York. But even without any request the case is clear to us. It is only a matter for Sri Lanka. It is a matter of principle.

Q: You have been quoted as saying that the UN should not complicate the reconciliation process. How do you think the UN report will hinder this process?

As a friendly country, we would like to see complete reconciliation as soon as possible. But at the same time we trust the legitimate government and President of Sri Lanka. They know how best to deal with local problems, internal problems and how fast to move. We understand there are problems in the process of reconciliation. We would like to see it completed. But I do not believe that such reports help the Sri Lankan Government to achieve the process of reconciliation, it would only complicate it.

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The Darusman Report: A Critique of Excess

 Why did the Rajapaksas lie to the people? Was it because they wanted to persuade the Panel not to come up with an adversarial report while using the Panel’s existence to ignite patriotic-hysteria locally? Mahinda Rajapaksa’s outburst of juvenile-euphoria about being voted No. 4 on the Time magazine’s list of influential persons demonstrates, yet again, that underneath his anti-Western bluster our President yearns to shine, not in Beijing and Tehran, but in Washington and London. Was this why the regime secretly cultivated a moderate image in New York while maintaining an anti-UN and anti-West façade in Colombo?

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“The state has a right under international law to ensure its national security and to defend itself against armed attacks…. Those ends do not however justify all means to achieve them; all actions for those legitimate purposes must comply with the requirements of international law…”
- The Darusman Report 

(May 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Ne plus ultra (Not further beyond): the inscription believed to have been carved on the Pillars of Heracles (Straits of Gibraltar), warning seafarers against venturing any further. In politics there is a ‘Ne plus ultra’-line which cannot be crossed with impunity. The LTTE, by attacking civilians, conscripting children and murdering political-opponents, ventured far beyond this line, time and again. The revulsion caused by these excesses caused an international backlash; according to the Darusman Report, “By 2006 32 countries had listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation…. LTTE fundraising and arms procurement abilities were severely constrained thereafter”.

Remarkably, of these 32 countries, many were Western nations home to large Lankan-Tamil communities. Though sympathetic to the Tamil cause, most either helped Colombo or remained neutral, as the Tiger sank under the deadweight of its colossal crimes and errors. As the Report points out, “Many Sri Lankans and others round the world were relieved that the….LTTE renowned for its brutality was defeated……. However many people in Sri Lanka and elsewhere were deeply disturbed about the means used to achieve the victory…”.

That is the crux of the matter: the Lankan regime is being faulted in the Darusman Report not for battling and defeating the LTTE, but for being blasé about the safety and wellbeing of civilian Tamils during and after the war. Contrary to regime’s assertions, the Report accepts Sri Lanka’s right to defend herself militarily: “International law….respects the legitimate interests of a state like Sri Lanka facing a threat like the LTTE”. Thus the Report is not anti-war. It critiques the regime for causing avoidable civilian casualties; for example, it alleges that the UN hub in the No-Fire-Zone was shelled on 24th January 2009: “The United Nations security officer, a highly experienced military officer….discerned that the shelling was coming from the south, from SLA positions…. When United Nations staff emerged from the bunker…. mangled bodies and body parts were strewn all around them, including those of women and children. Remains of babies had been blasted upwards into the trees…. Although LTTE cadres were present in the NFZ, there was no LTTE presence inside the United Nations hub….” The Report also alleges that the Army shelled civilian groupings even where UAV identification was possible: “On 8th April 2009, a large group of women and children, who were queued up at a milk powder distribution line…..were shelled…... Some of the dead mothers still clutched cards which entitled them to milk powder for their children.”

The Report severely critiques the regime for treating civilian Tamils with brutal insensitivity, post-war. For instance, it argues that “by keeping Menik farm and other farms closed, and failing to release the IDPs, it did not allow the IDPs to seek shelter with relatives”. Since the camps lacked even basic facilities, this closed-door policy caused avoidable sufferings and preventable deaths. The Report also faults the Lankan regime for its failure to offer Tamils a New Deal: “Nearly two years after the end of fighting the root causes of the ethno-nationalist conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamil populations of Sri Lanka remain largely unaddressed and human rights violations continue”. (In fact, the regime is planning to turn the 13th Amendment into a dead-letter by transferring the powers of elected provincial councils into non-elected Jana Sabhas controlled by Presidential-sibling Basil Rajapaksa).

The regime accuses the Darusman Report of creating national-disunity. Sadly it is the Rajapaksas who wantonly wasted an ideal opportunity to create a genuine Sri Lankan identity, post-war. In its death throes, the Tiger abandoned all pretexts, and demonstrated that it did not care an iota for Tamils. For instance, according to the Darusman Report, “…in mid-April, LTTE cadre….forcibly recruited hundreds of young people from Valayanmadam Church….. Parents begged and cried for them not to be taken away to fight and to an almost certain death, but to no avail.” The psychological conditions for weaning Tamils away from the LTTE/Eelam and winning them for a Lankan future were thus very much present, post-war. This potential could have been realised had the Rajapaksas not depicted and treated all civilian Tamils as actual/potential Tigers, had they appealed to impulses of kindness and generosity in the South rather than encouraging triumphalism and cultivating a fear-psychosis. Post-war, the Rajapaksas opted not for mercy and reconciliation, but for collective punishments and revengeful justice. This choice, rather than the Darusman Report, is responsible for Sri Lanka’s current condition as a psychologically-divided country.

A Litmus Test

When the UN Secretary General appointed his Advisory Panel, the regime enacted a tragicomedy and declared that it will neither recognise the Panel nor deal with it. And yet, as the Darusman Report reveals, the regime, while thundering insults at the Panel publicly, did engage with it secretly, behind the back of the nation: “The Government of Sri Lanka provided an explanation of the philosophy that frames its approach to accountability both in written responses to questions from the Panel and in a meeting on 22 February 2011 in New York….”

Why did the Rajapaksas lie to the people? Was it because they wanted to persuade the Panel not to come up with an adversarial report while using the Panel’s existence to ignite patriotic-hysteria locally? Mahinda Rajapaksa’s outburst of juvenile-euphoria about being voted No. 4 on the Time magazine’s list of influential persons demonstrates, yet again, that underneath his anti-Western bluster our President yearns to shine, not in Beijing and Tehran, but in Washington and London. Was this why the regime secretly cultivated a moderate image in New York while maintaining an anti-UN and anti-West façade in Colombo?

Having painted itself into a corner, Colombo is hoping that Delhi will come to its rescue. To achieve this purpose the Rajapaksas will make economic concessions to India and promise political concessions to Tamils. Will Delhi fall for it, again, ignoring the welter of emotions in Chennai on this issue? Can Delhi afford international intervention on its doorstep, given the Kashmiri factor?

On May 1st, the Rajapaksas are expected to launch their anti-UN Pada/Rath Yathra. According to the regime, it is the patriotic duty of all Lankans to dismiss the Report in toto. Anyone who thinks the Report should be read and analysed, let alone investigated by an independent body, is thus deemed an anti-patriot.

The Tiger creed demanded that Tamils cultivate an unconditional and unquestioning faith in the Leader, if they did not want to be castigated as traitors. As the Darusman Report pointed out “Vellupillai Pirapaharan demanded absolute loyalty and sacrifice and cultivated a cult-like following. Internal dissent was not tolerated….” This meant maintaining a ‘patriotic’ silence, as the Tiger went from excess to execrable excess. That path of total-submission to the Leader’ will ended not in Eelam but in utter and total defeat. If we give the Rajapaksas a carte blanche in the name of patriotism, an equally unpalatable end will await us, someday.

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A government’s arrogance and a country’s plight

 The other option would have been, as suggested in certain quarters, to have rejected the Panel outright and not to have participated in the process at all. Even this approach may have been possible if Sri Lanka had, like Israel, engaged in a credible internal investigation and pulled itself together in respect of its criminal justice processes and important liberty remedies such as habeas corpus

by Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

(May 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) It appears to have gone unnoticed that the annexures to the report of the Advisory Panel to the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) show that the engagement of the Sri Lanka Government with the Panel had gone far beyond the surreptitious visit of toplevel government officials to New York.

As must be recalled, this visit was first disclosed in this newspaper and denied until it was conceded much later by the Minister of External Affairs. Possibly this concession may have been prompted by the realization that this fact would have anyway come to light through the publication of the Panel report which could not have been prevented by threat, inducement or promise.

Unbelievable arrogance of government officials

But quite apart from this secretive visit, the annexures to the Panel report disclose lengthy submissions annexed under the covering letter of the Minister of External Affairs setting out the Government position. This is the same Panel which the Minister now condemns as being ‘legally, morally and substantially flawed’. If (hypothetically) the Panel had absolved the Government of all wrong doing, would the Minister have welcomed the report as being legally, morally and substantially correct? The answer to this hypothetical question is all too obvious.




We need to face the truth. Referring to the Panel at this
stage as illegitimate when the result has been against
the Government and in the face of strong evidence of
direct engagement with it by government officials is of
little use. Abusing the members of the Advisory Panel is
 also counter productive. It will certainly not embarrass
the Panel members who are now ensconced in their
respective academic and professional corners having
completed their tasks
So the truth is that the Government assumed that the UNSG, (quite possibly the most indecisive and faltering head of the United Nations that we have had in history), even if he had been bludgeoned into appointing the Panel, would not go so far as to publicly release the Panel report. It also assumed in an unbelievably arrogant manner, that the Panel itself would uncritically accept the Government’s ‘reconciliation’ and ‘restorative’ process.

But the Government thought wrong, got caught proverbially flatfooted and is now seriously embarrassed. This explains the literally bristling anger with which the Panel report was received by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and downwards. Inability on the part of his advisors to comprehend the manner in which the Panel was being lobbied by the pro-LTTE diaspora and to have refuted these efforts by far more than briefing notes and one secretive visit to New York is virtually incomprehensible.

Direct engagement or credible internal investigations

The other option would have been, as suggested in certain quarters, to have rejected the Panel outright and not to have participated in the process at all. Even this approach may have been possible if Sri Lanka had, like Israel, engaged in a credible internal investigation and pulled itself together in respect of its criminal justice processes and important liberty remedies such as habeas corpus. Mere reliance on a Commission of Inquiry exercise does not suffice. Such investigations by Israel were what provoked South African jurist Richard Goldstone to retract at least partially from the findings in his report on Israel’s complicity in war crimes though the other members have kept firm to the original contents.

But even Israel, with all the backing of the United States, was not so brazen as to announce that it went into the Gaza with the gun in one hand and the United Nations Charter in the other.

To maintain, as Sri Lanka has done that, we do not need anybody else to teach us lessons on how to protect our civilians and then do precisely nothing to address the issue of legal accountability, is to court trouble even if not disaster. And to be quite clear, legal accountability does not necessarily mean dragging individual soldiers or a Head of State before courts of law for penal offences committed during the last stages of the conflict.

For example, if it had been less arrogant, Sri Lanka may have shown its commitment far earlier in thoroughly investigating and prosecuting the killers of the five youths senselessly gunned down in Trincomalee in January 2006 or the seventeen aid workers shot at point blank range in Mutur in August 2006. These were incidents that the Udalagama Commission (2005) was investigating but its report was never published.

So when some proclaim that there was little possibility for incidents such as the Krishanthi Kumaraswamy case, (where a schoolgirl was brutally raped and killed by soldiers who also killed her mother, brother and neighbour in 1996), to have occurred within the life of this political administration, nothing could be farther than from the truth.

At least the administration of Chandrika Kumaratunge, whatever may have been its unforgivable part in irreversibly politicizing Sri Lanka’s judiciary, showed political will in prosecuting the Krishanthi case.

Urging a more reasoned approach

And it must be said that the quite inconceivably highhanded tone adopted from the start by the Government in relation to the last stages of the conflict was deplorable. Could even a child accept the statement of the President that the Sri Lankan armed forces, in fighting a foe as conscienceless as the LTTE, had incurred zero civilian casualties?

Could not a more reasoned approach have been adopted? The world surely needs not to have been convinced of the brutality of the LTTE? Such a reasoned approach together with actual changes in Sri Lanka’s democratic systems post May 2009 and commitment to a political solution addressing the grievances of the Tamil people may have gone a long way to establish our case. But what did we have in actual fact?

How can we explain the manifest lack of political will in correcting a flawed legal and constitutional status quo or the stonewalling in arriving at a just political solution for still festering ethnic grievances? Could the 18th Amendment be explained away on any other basis than the unacceptable enthronement of the President? What about the jailing of the former Army Commander? Does the Government really believe that all of this can be swept under the carpet in the name of accelerated development while one family maintains an iron grip on political power?

We need to face the truth. Referring to the Panel at this stage as illegitimate when the result has been against the Government and in the face of strong evidence of direct engagement with it by government officials is of little use. Abusing the members of the Advisory Panel is also counter productive. It will certainly not embarrass the Panel members who are now ensconced in their respective academic and professional corners having completed their tasks.

They would, in all probability, be wholly unaware of these rude tirades. In any event, as one editorialist overseas put it well this week, they are established well enough in their own fields to shrug away accusations of having been bribed and worse.

The taking of corrective measures

Some profess concern for the Tamil people in this country and take the view that the Panel report was entirely mistimed in the ‘reconciliation’ process. But merely parading rehabilitation processes of former LTTE cadre and relaxing a few emergency regulations will not do. At one level, minority concerns must be substantively addressed, never mind the hypocrisy of Tamil parties such as the TNA which welcomed the UN Panel Report insofar as it castigated the Government but disregarded its condemnation of the LTTE (see reference by the Panel to the LTTE being ‘renowned for its brutality’ in paragraph 1 of the Introduction).

At another level, significant Rule of Law concerns must be redressed. These well documented concerns are evident in regard to the constitutional balance of power, our legal systems and most importantly in reference to Sri Lanka’s judiciary and the Department of the Attorney General.

This must be done not because the United Nations calls for it or an Advisory Panel attempts to prove its case for an international investigation by pointing to those very flaws. On the contrary, it must be done because this country deserves it for its own good. We also deserve far better than to court being cast beyond the pale of the community of nations due to the arrogance of a government or the self serving cowardice of its advisors. 

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May Day call to revive freedom and democracy

Oppose government chauvinistic policies

by Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne

(May 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Government is planning to hold a mammoth May Day rally organized by the UPFA and it will be held in Colombo under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. We are told that four major processions organized by the UPFA constituent parties will start from Campbell Park Borrella, Narahenpita, Maligakanda and Rajagiriya and will march to Town Hall, the venue of the May Day rallyZ. Reports say that the theme of the UPFA May Day rally will be “People’s power to protect the country”. The UPFA Secretary, Minister Premajayantha, has said that UPFA activists and all patriotic people will make May Day the platform to showcase the country’s unity under President Rajapaksa against pro LTTE - imperialist leanings. Their plan is to mobilize more than 300,000 people to participate in the May Day rally.

All Leaders of the UPFA constituent parties are expected to address the rally on the above theme. What do they mean by “pro LTTE - imperialist leanings”? It is lunacy to think that the armed struggle of the Tamil people is a plot organized by 17-4the imperialists. Who are these imperialists? The global powers led by the Americans? Reality was that all global powers classified Tamil insurrection as terrorism and gave every help to Mahinda to crush it brutally. The economic policy of the government is totally directed by the IMF, with loans provided by them. Ban-ki Moon report precipitated due to the campaigns made by democratic forces in Lanka and elsewhere, in particular the proletarian forces world over. So that there is an international movement launched to revive democracy and freedom in Lanka. There is a clamour to end emergency rule, to give relief to workers; and to establish autonomy for the Tamil people. The government plan is to counter this with chauvinist hooliganism. This fascistic hooliganism must be countered by the workers. Fortunately many trade unions have got together to face this menace.

IMF dictates

We are happy to see that this May Day has become a day to challenge and counter the oppression of Mahinda regime. Many strong trade unions have come together, to challenge the chauvinist pro global capitalist government. They hope to march to Hyde Park and show their opposition to the repressive policies of the government. The Government is simply implementing IMF dictates. Salaries are cut while taxes have increased. Under the pretext of giving a pension to the private sector, the government is planning to rob from EPF and ETF accumulations. While people are thrown out from urban houses land is given to foreign plunderers. People are driven away from their traditional land and made destitute. Even after two years Tamil people are still displaced and living in entire misery. Emergency powers are used, to keep large number of Political prisoners. Many of them are not allowed even to see their kith and kin. Without knowing what happened to the disappeared not even religious rites could be completed. In certain areas even tradition and culture of the people has become a prohibited subject. Autonomy for Tamil homeland is still a dream.

All these things are happening while the people are unable to resist in an organized manner. Mahinda regime has created this situation making use of emergency powers and the dictatorial presidential powers. However the Ban-ki Moon report is a shock for the government. Mahinda did not expect India and western power to let him down. After all he carried out every thing loyally as instructed by the global masters. He is now pleading with these masters to abandon the report findings. In the meantime the government is using the Report expos‚ of war crimes to arouse chauvinist feelings. Mahinda is preparing to frighten every body by making the May Day a blood thirsty chauvinist campaign day. On the other hand it is an attempt is to blanket the real issues faced by the workers.

Working people

In that context the decision of powerful array of trade unions, to come out to challenge the government on workers demands and democratic issues is remarkable. They plan to march from the Fort railway premises to the Hyde Park for the rally. Nava Sama Samaja party and many progressive organizations have decided to participate in this May Day and support it to make it massive success. They have appealed to all their members, supporters and all progressive working people to rally round to defeat the attempt of the IMF backed government to make the May Day, a chauvinist black day. United federation of labour president Linus Jayathilaka announced “All those who wish to participate should come under respective trade union banners because this would be a Joint Trade Union May Day.”

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Premadasa’s 18th death anniversary today

(May 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The 18th death anniversary of President Ranasinghe Premadasa falls today (May Day). The LTTE assassinated the President near Armour Street police station on May Day 1983 as he was leading a column of UNPers for the May Day rally.

The police later identified the ‘human bomb’ as ‘Babu’, who infiltrated Premadasa’s inner circle and waited for instructions from the Vanni.

However, some expressed doubts over the LTTE’s involvement in the assassination. Bradman Weerakoon, International Affairs Advisor to Premadasa, in a book he wrote some years after the assassination cast doubts on the notion that it was the LTTE which murdered the President

In "Rendering Unto Caesar" (Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, 2004) Weerakoon says that there are questions in regard to the assassination which have remained unanswered, giving room for other possibilities.

He wrote that the photograph of the mangled bodies of those killed in the blast unmistakably showed a dark, tall man with tousled hair with his crumpled bicycle among the dead. Something like a tape recorder with detached wires appeared strapped to his upper chest leading to the theory that it was the bomb.

But the face was not that of Babu that the media was showing, Weerakoon says.

"I had never seen or heard of Babu until the police revealed the man. I used to be a frequent visitor to Sucharita and found it strange that the name Babu had never come up earlier, either in my hearing or to my vision," he says.

"It was said that Babu was planted by the LTTE and that the assassination was carried out by the LTTE. However, there was no charge against anyone instituted in the courts, as would have happened in the case of any homicide, and certainly in the case of the President of the country," Weerakoon points out.

According toWeerakoon there was no "open indication that the LTTE was after Premadasa as target number one," as Eelam War II, which was on at that time, was a low intensity one.

(SF)

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New horizons in sexual medicine

[Text of talk given by Emeritus Professor Carlo Fonseka at the International Symposium organized jointly by the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Family Planning Association on 22 April 2011]

Physiology and Sex

(May 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I wish to begin by informing those who care to know that in the last century, when I used to lecture to medical students on the Physiology of Sex, I always began with a certain disclaimer. In those days there was a theory to the effect that those who are bald in front THINK; those who are bald behind are SEXY; and those who are bald both in front and behind THINK THEY ARE SEXY! I pleaded then that I was the rule-proving exception to this theory. I make the same plea today.

Who are We?

This symposium is about new horizons in sexual medicine. To set the context I think it is appropriate to ask ourselves a fundamental question: Who on earth are we to seek new horizons in the field of sex? Well, one answer is that we are one of the 193 living species of monkeys and apes self-styled Homo sapiens. We also represent one of the 30 million branches of the river of life on earth. If the phenomenon of life on earth is likened to a river then, the river of life is the river of Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid (or DNA). DNA is the chemical basis of life on earth. DNA is the only chemical known to have the power of replicating or reproducing itself using the elements of matter. By virtue of this property of reproducing itself DNA survives. The river of DNA has some 30 million branches each of which represents one of the 30 million species of living organisms on earth. We represent the human variety of DNA. The bodies of each living species contain a specific variety of DNA. DNA appears to be hell-bent on perpetuating itself.

Human beings, male and female are really SURVIVAL MACHINES for the human variety of DNA. Having as we do, in relation to body size, the biggest brain and the biggest penis of all the primates (great apes) we are the brainiest and sexiest of all animals. That must be surely why we are exploring new horizons in the field of sex. DNA programmes us to love life, to love sex and to love children. That is the strategy by which human DNA perpetuates itself.

Physiology of Sex

What is the essence of the physiology of sex? Sex depends on two factors, chromosomes and hormones. At conception if your sex chromosomal pattern is XY a particular part of your embryonic tissue will develop into testes. They will secrete the male sex hormones called androgens, especially testosterone. Your testes will also produce sperm. Production of sperm makes you a male. On the other hand, if at conception your chromosomal pattern is XX you will develop ovaries which secrete the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovaries will also produce ova or eggs. Production of ova makes you a female. When they reach adulthood males are programmed to attempt insemination of females; females are programmed to be receptive to being inseminated.

What is the Role of Sex in Human Life?

Normally sex is necessary for reproduction but at the human level there can be reproduction without sex and sex without reproduction. Thanks to modern techniques of artificial fertilization people can have children even without copulation. As we know sex without the possibility of conception and reproduction occurs naturally during the "safe period", during pregnancy and after the menopause. With artificial means there can be sex without reproduction at any time. Therefore, it reasonable to conclude the sole function of sex in human beings is not reproduction. In fact Desmond Morris the famous author of Naked Ape has described the following ten functional categories of sex. I quote him with just one explanatory comment on each function.

1. Procreation Sex – most basic function

2. Pair-formation Sex –to establish the emotional relationship between the pair

3. Pair-maintenance Sex – to maintain & reinforce the bond

4. Physiological Sex – to relieve the natural periodic physiological tension

5. Exploratory Sex – to experiment with new forms of mutual stimulation

6. Self-rewarding Sex – sex for sex’s sake brings its own reward

7. Occupational Sex – sex operating as occupational therapy, relieving boredom

8. Tranquillizing Sex – to calm shattered nerves

9. Commercial Sex – straightforward commercial transaction (like modern cricket!)

10. Status Sex – concerned with dominance and not with reproduction

Love

It would be criminal to talk of sex without reference to love. The subject is complicated and some idea of its complexity can be obtained by considering the six words depicted in the same order shown below.

What is this thing called love?

What is this thing called? Love

What! Is this thing called love?

If I embark on this subject in any depth I should have to keep you here for much longer than the fifteen minutes allotted to me. So I will just repeat the Greek comic poet Aristophanes’s explanation of love. According to him the earth was originally populated by human beings whose bodies were made up of a combination of a male body and a female body. Each of them therefore had two faces, four upper limbs and four lower limbs. They felt so complete and so perfect and so superior that they planned to invade heaven and conquer even the gods. At that point Zeus the top Greek god, got hold of each of them and split them down the middle of their bodies and scattered the separated halves all over the world. Ever since that time, the two halves of the once united body have been consumed with an overpowering urge to merge into one again. This urge to merge, Aristophanes says, is love. Take it or leave it! If you don’t like that mythical explanation of love I urge you to read the reasons that drove the hard-nosed rationalist philosopher Bertrand Russell to long for love. They are set out in the opening pages of his autobiography.

Myths

Finally what are the myths about the physiology of sex?

They have been neatly summarized by psychiatrist and sex therapist Dr. Warwick Williams. I cannot do better than simply reproduce his clear, comprehensive, authoritative and self-explanatory classification under four heads.

A. Myths about the penis

i. The bigger the better!

ii. You should be able to get a hard-on whenever you want one!

iii. An erection is essential for good sex!

B. Macho Myths

i. A man should not show his feelings!

ii. A real man is always horny and ready for sex!

C. Age Myths

i. As you get older there is absolutely no change in your sexual interest, response or performance!

. As you get older you lose interest in sex and can’t do it any more!

D. Myths about love making

i. Love making ability comes naturally!

ii. Sex must be spontaneous!

iii. Its performance that really counts!

iv. Good sex must be super-sex!

v. Pleasurable physical contact must go on to sex!

vi. Males must always be active during sex!

vii. Men are responsible for what happens during sex!

viii. During sex the male is responsible for his partner’s arousal and orgasm!

ix. Sex must lead to orgasm!

x. Once started sex must continue until orgasms have been achieved!

xi. A man and his partner should reach orgasm at the same time!

xii. There is no such thing as sexual monotony if you truly love your partner!

A word about monotony is called for. There is indeed such a thing as sexual monotony, however much you may love your partner, for this truth there is ecclesiastical authority. Cardinal Sin who was father confessor to Imelda Marcos of the Philippines is reported to have said:

If a man has many wives, it is polygamy.
If he has two wives, it is bigamy.
If he has one wife, it is monotony.

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No man is an Island


by Manel Abeysekera

(May 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The above adage is well taken and accepted. The reasoning behind it is that man does not live alone in isolation but with others of his ilk and that his speech and actions impact on others. With the development of communications and fast travel, there has come about a linkage not only between man and man and groups of human beings with other such groups but there also came linkages of various sorts relating not only to man’s basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, but also to his mental needs of fellow-feeling, common interests and support; and with this went the belief that such linkages could lead to a common good or evil. As in the domestic domain, the common good came to be enunciated and codified, while the common evil was left unsaid and unstructured in substantial form.

With the emergence of human groups in the form of states, just as there was a legal regime within a state, there came to be recognized an international legal regime which in time came to be accepted as international law, written or unwritten. The written was recorded, documented and formalized as treaties, covenants, conventions, agreements and the like; some of these are between two states, others between groups of states and yet others among all or most. The common factor among all these is their binding and obligatory nature once a state formally accepts the documents through the process of signing/acceding and ratifying them; just as much as good domestic governance was the claim of a state, international good governance came to be the raison etre and the principle for inter-state relations, written or unwritten.

Hence it follows that, while a state can be neutral in terms of linkage, it is not possible for it to ignore observance of good inter-state relations and behaviour in principle.

Just as much as no man is an island, no island state can be an island in the international community without accepting reciprocal norms of good conduct internally and externally in terms of its actions in relation to human security, dignity and welfare. However, to admit total responsibility in situations of conflict between state actors and non - state actors in the form of vicious terrorists is impractical. But what must be borne in mind is that, while state actors are deemed subject to an international law regime and even if they are not party to specific legally binding international agreements, it is always the state that is recognized as operative in internal governance, it is the state that the international community recognizes as a lawful entity and expects much of in terms of human security, dignity and welfare and not terrorist groups which are unlawful.

Therefore, it is hardly a matter for surprise that, in a sever e state versus terrorist conflict lasting three decades as in Sri Lanka, while it is well taken that violations of various moral norms of human conduct may have occurred on the part of both sides, it is on the state actor that the burden of accountability for such violation is foisted for which it is expected to be answerable as it is recognized as a responsible legal entity and not the terrorist who is regarded as being illegal and below par in its concern for humanity. It is well taken that the state must protect its sovereignty against terrorists seeking to undermine it and that this inevitably results in loss of civilian lives. Terrorists, as is well known, resort to despicable subterfuge and camouflage using whatever they can lay their hands on - human or material – whereas the Sri Lankan Government can justify the intensity of its fight to the finish which is a great victory of state sovereignty over terrorism.

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UN must excavate truth buried in LLRC




The fact remains that almost every Tamil from the North and East who has taken refuge in foreign countries had a family member or relative either killed, wounded, widowed or witnessed the war in its final stages. Yet the government insists no civilians were killed by the government security forces.
by Pearl Thevanayagam

(April 30, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The title of LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) based on South Africa’s TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) speaks for itself in that it is not the function of the LLRC to find out the truth. Truth is brazenly omitted in the title.

Right from the very beginning of the sittings this disregard to find out the truth of the war was clearly manifest in the kind of witnesses summoned to give evidence before the LLRC. Rohan Gunaratne, who claims to be a terrorism expert although international think-tanks have proved him to be a fraudster and not at all an expert on terrorism, some retired civil servants who never were in the theatre of war, media pundits who never left their editorial chairs except for briefings anddiplomatic pow-wows and octogenarian experts who could not tell a terrorist from a government soldier if he wore a cyanide capsule openly round his neck and carried an AK 47 are some main witnesses the commission relied upon.

Evidence was also heard from hundreds of war witnesses in the Wanni and relgious dignitaries. I would indeed be a miracle if the LLRC report contained any of the evidence from the last category mentioned.

Having followed and written daily media reports of three Presidential Commissions of Inquiry in the early nineties and none published for public scrutiny I have no faith in the LLRC commission and as widely known it remains a hoodwinking tactic of the government to brush aside criticism of war crimes particularly from the international community.

The fact remains that almost every Tamil from the North and East who has taken refuge in foreign countries had a family member or relative either killed, wounded, widowed or witnessed the war in its final stages. Yet the government insists no civilians were killed by the government security forces.

Frantic efforts by Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris into briefing the diplomatic corps only seem to reinforce the desperation of the government that in the near future it needs to face trial by the UN for war crimes, GLP’s repeated mantra that the report is not a UN report but only a report of the advisory panel set by the UNSG (United Nations Secretary General) not withstanding. GLP is not exactly known for his honesty. Remember his Nepal blunder when he was left with egg all over his face as the Nepalese government flatly denied it sought MR’s advice on how to quell its rebellion.

I remember another occasion during a cabinet press briefing when GLP proudly declared that henceforth all press releases would be in English, Tamil and Sinhala. The briefing panel announced this in English and Sinhala and we never saw Tamil press releases afterwards. When I questioned this, that irrepressible Alavi Moulana quipped, “Surely all journalists understand English”, to much laughter and immediate serving of snacks to stave off further volleys.

While GLP who on the one hand announces very frequently ( faster than Bloomberg update) that the advisory panel’s report to the UNSG is seriously flawed etc. etc he also sanctimoniously declares that the government will not be demonstrating or staging protest against the UN. Then he goes one step further and states the UN advisory panel could read the LLRC report (if it ever gets out in its fullest and honest form).

All the while President Rajapakse is calling the nation to join in a countrywide protest on May Day against the report!!! Utter madness and rot has set into the satellites surrounding the President and if this trend carries on he would be escorted in a strait jacket before the international court of justice. Perhaps then he could plead insanity and escape severe penalty.

By the way May Day marks the 18th anniversary of the assassination by an LTTE suicide bomber of the island’s most loved President, Ranasinghe Premadasa by the poorest of the poor and who not only promised one million houses for the homeless but delivered among his other well-known gestures such as free nutritious school meals and daily milk rations and of course Janasaviya program to help the poor become self-employed.

It would be too much to ask of the President to honour this statesman on May Day.

No leader of this country ever courted terrorists as overtly as President Rajapakse. Now there are reports Pathmanathan alias KP, the procurer of arms for the LTTE is willing to appear before the UN to give evidence supporting the government stance on eliminating the LTTE. Two ex-LTTE leaders Karuna and Pillayan are enjoying the President’s patronage and are now ministers in the government.

Another maverick and early compatriot of Tamil rebels, Douglas Devananda, has channelled his militant combat training in Lebanon and Israel to the now infamous `white van abductions and killings for ransom’ which is a side cottage industry with the direct blessings of the government. He also generates much influence among foreign politicians except in the UK where he is denied visa. He is in charge of the North and East administration and he flaunts his authority so much so that even North East university appointments have to pass muster with this VIP former Tamil militant.

It is now apt to quote a local saying that the woodpecker pecked all the hardwood trees with success but finally caught its beak in a pliant and soft papaw tree. Matthew Russell Lee reporting for Inner City Press yesterday stated that the UNSG has the power to ask the Human Rights Council (an arm of the General Assembly) or the Credentials Committee to follow up on the advisory panel’s report as was done on Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

Apologist media for the government in Colombo claim that it is only the Tamils living abroad who are making the loudest noise about the UNSG’s report and that the Tamils living in Sri Lanka are greatly  relieved President Mahinda Rajapakse brought terrorism to an end. Nothing could be furthest from the truth. Imagine  their plight if they even uttered a word against the government. If the government cannot tolerate criticism from Sinhalese media what chances have the Tamils got?

So it behoves us Tamils in foreign climes to keep the momentum and seek the truth followed by justice. Then perhaps opportunities may arise for reconciliation. But for now the wounds are still fresh.

Pearl Thevanayagam can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com. Constructive comments are welcome and regrettably abusive emails would be ignored.

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Narendra Modi Vs Sanjive Bahatt IPS




Bhatt's motive comes under suspicion for two reasons. Firstly, his belated action in coming out with these allegations. Secondly, the questions that have been raised regarding the correctness of his claim that he was present at Modi's meeting whereas some participants have reportedly denied it.
by B.Raman


(April 30, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) The tussle between Shri Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and Shri Sanjiv Bhatt, an Indian Police Service Officer of the Gujarat cadre presently posted in Junagadh, is becoming murkIer and murkier---not reflecting well on either Modi or Bhatt.

2. The tussle has given rise to suspicions of petty-mindedness and vindictiveness on the part of Modi and a motivated unprofessional agenda on the part of Bhatt.

3. The present tussle started with an affidavit reportedly filed by Bhatt before the Supreme Court, alleging that Modi had instructed officers during a late night meeting held on February 27, 2002, to allow Hindus "to vent out their anger" during the clashes as he wanted Muslims to be "taught a lesson" after the massacre of some Hindu pilgrims by some Muslims at the Godhra railway station. There is nothing new about these allegations. Such allegations had repeatedly been made by the detractors of Modi from time to time since 2002 without their being able to prove them. Nor has Modi been able to disprove them in a convincing manner.

4.The only way of convincingly disproving them is by producing the minutes of the meeting held on February 27,2002, and the Roznamcha (General Diary) entries of the relevant police stations after the reported meeting of Modi.If the allegations against Modi are correct, this would be reflected in the lack of any reference in the Roznamchas to additional police deployments. If the allegations against Modi are wrong, such additional deployments would be reflected in the Roznamcha entries. The silence of the Gujarat Government all these years regarding entries in relevant records would give ground for suspicion that for some hours after the Godhra incident no written records were kept, particularly of the meeting reportedly held by Modi.

5.Bhatt's motive comes under suspicion for two reasons. Firstly, his belated action in coming out with these allegations. Secondly, the questions that have been raised regarding the correctness of his claim that he was present at Modi's meeting whereas some participants have reportedly denied it. Bhatt and his supporters have produced a statement of Bhatt's driver to show that Bhatt did attend the meeting, According to the driver, Bhatt travelled to the meeting in the car of a colleague and the driver drove Bhatt's car behind them. If this is so, this should have been reflected in the duty register of Bhatt's car. If there is an entry in the duty register of Bhatt's car, Bhatt is probably right and Modi's supporters are telling a lie. If there is no entry, Modi's supporters are probably right and Bhatt is telling a lie. Why has the Gujarat Government not released so far the relevant entries in the duty register of Bhatt's car ?

6. The tussle has been made more complicated by Bhatt's allegation that his security cover has been withdrawn after he filed his affidavit. This has been denied by the office of the Director-General of Police, according to which Bhatt's security entitlement has been reduced, but not withdrawn. Bhatt had been given a security entitlement of five security personnel of which four have been withdrawn.
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7.The relevant question is when were they withdrawn. If they had been withdrawn before Bhatt filed his affidavit, Bhatt's complaint has no basis, If they had been withdrawn after he filed his affidavit, a strong presumption will be that there was a link between his filing his affidavit and a re-examination of the threat perception resulting in a dilution of the security provided to him.This would smack of petty-mindedness and vindictiveness towards Bhatt because of the affidavit

8. A large number of Tweets recveived by me have claimed that this was purely a professional decision taken in the police department and that it will, therefore, be incorrect to blame Modi for it. Bhatt's case is unique----whatever be his motives in filing the affidavit. He had made serious allegations against Modi. If Modi was sensitive enough, he would have ensured that nothing was done either by his office or by the DGP's office which could be misconstrued as vindictiveness. By failing to act till now, Modi has strengthened the impression that there is more than meets the eye in the dilution of the security provided to Bhatt.

9. In recent months, Modi has been trying to project a positive image of himself as a good and progressive Chief Minister---with some success. The way Bhatt's case has been handled---it is immaterial whether it was done by his office or by the DGP's office--- would provide credibility to those who have not been convinced of the genuiness of this positive image and have been arguing that it is the same old vindictive Modi who has been ruling Gujarat.

10. The shadow of his alleged post-Godhra vindictive reflexes continues to follow Modi wherever he goes and whatever he does.He may not be able to shake off this shadow unless he comes out with a white paper giving details of all actions taken by him and the police after the Godhra massacre, supported by relevant records of his office and the police.


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )


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