India and China contending for dominant role in Sri Lanka

India, China seek gains in Colombo

BIG BROTHER: The Indian and Sri Lankan presidents have signed a series of agreements on aid, loans and infrastructure, treading on Beijing toes in the process

THE GUARDIAN , NEW DEHLI
Friday, Jun 11, 2010

India and Sri Lanka signed a series of aid, economic and diplomatic deals on Wednesday, the latest move in an intense struggle between New Delhi and Beijing for influence over the island nation.

The signing took place on the first day of a visit by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to New Delhi, his first since winning his presidential election in January and parliamentary poll in April. The deals range from loans for major infrastructure projects to agreements to share electricity and boost cultural exchanges.

Dubbed “the new Great Game,” the battle between China and India for primacy in the Indian Ocean is set to be one of the major themes of the coming decades, analysts say. Sri Lanka’s geographic position is its main draw. Continue reading

India, Sri Lanka to step up defense ties

(Reportedly, a thousand Tamils were jailed or detained in Madras (Chennai) today.  They were demonstrating against Rajapaksa’s visit to India; he was invited  by “the UPA government, [which] faced with the Maoist menace,  hoped to learn from the island nation’s experience in decimating the LTTE.“)   (A note for readers on the uses of language:  Repressive governments throughout the world routinely refer to their war departments as “defensive” and “peace keeping.”)

Singh and Rajapaksa in New Delhi

Telegraph India

New Delhi, June 9: India today promised to train a much larger number of Sri Lankan military personnel at its defence training facilities as part of its increased defence co-operation with Colombo.

After the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) experiment, when Delhi sent military contingents to LTTE-ravaged Lanka between 1987 and 1990, India had largely kept its defence co-operation with the island country on the backburner. After the annihilation of the Tamil Tigers, India now seems more assured of increasing its defence co-operation with Colombo.

At today’s talks between visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the two “leaders agreed to promote dialogue on security and defence issues of relevance to their bilateral relationship and enhance high-level military exchanges and training of military personnel as well as impart additional training in Indian institutions for the newly recruited police personnel”.

The two countries also agreed to start an annual defence dialogue. Rajapaksa will tomorrow fly to Shimla, where the Army Training Command is based. Continue reading

Indian Tamils protest ahead of Sri Lanka leader’s visit

Protesters burn effigy of Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa, who is responsible, they say, for genocide of innocent Tamils in the civil war.

BBC News

8 June 2010

Police in southern India have detained hundreds of Tamil demonstrators ahead of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s three-day visit.

Protesters alleging mistreatment of Sri Lankan Tamils were stopped from marching to the country’s mission in the city of Madras (Chennai).

Mr Rajapaksa is making his first visit to India, a year after Sri Lankan troops defeated Tamil Tiger rebels. India gave Colombo military support and did not question its tactics. But reports say the Indian government wants President Rajapaksa to show that he plans to give Tamils some measure of self-governance.

Tens of millions of ethnic Tamils live in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. They are concerned with how the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan state treats its own Tamil minority, the issue that led to decades of ethnic war. Continue reading

Bollywood Awards: Tamil Protest prevents return to “Business as Usual” in Sri Lanka

Amitabh Bachchan: will reportedly not attend opening ceremony

MEL GUNASEKERA

June 6, 2010 – 8:49AM

Megastar Aamir Khan’s hit movie “3 Idiots” swept the “Bollywood Oscars” in Sri Lanka this weekend, securing 16 out of 27 awards, including best film.

The film — a coming-of-age comedy about three engineering students — was nominated in 12 of the 13 main categories at the Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) awards and won eight of them on Saturday night.

It had already secured another eight of the 14 technical awards announced last month, including best screenplay and best cinematography.

But actor-producer-director Khan, who stars in the film, was not present at Saturday’s glitzy ceremony in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, which was overshadowed by protests from minority Tamils.

The influential film industry in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state, which is home to many Tamil refugees, called for a boycott, arguing that staging the event in Colombo endorsed Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government.

Rajapakse is under pressure from the international community to allow a probe into a controversial military strategy that crushed Tamil rebels last year, ending a near four-decade civil war.

The United Nations has said at least 7,000 Tamil civilians were also killed in the final months of fighting last year.

IIFA brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, who won the best actor award for his role in “Paa,” was also not present at the awards ceremony. Continue reading