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Has PM Modi’s Jaffna visit done enough to heal the wounds of 30 year long civil war?

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By Harshmeet Singh

Narendra Modi’s visit to war torn Jaffna in Sri Lanka is significant in more ways than one. Only the second international leader to pay a visit to Jaffna after Britain’s David Cameroon in 2013, the Indian PM handed over more than 27,000 homes to the local Tamils who were left without a roof after the deadly civil war.

The housing scheme, aimed at benefitting the war victims at Ilavalai in Jaffna, has been funded by the India and is a part of the reconciliation process undertaken by the Indian Government.

Jaffna

Jaffna has been the flashpoint of hostility between India and Sri Lanka for close to 30 years. Considered as the bastion of the Tamil Tiger forces, Jaffna was the site of outbreak of the civil war. Assassination of Jaffna’s mayor was the first major operation carried out by Prabhakaran. Soon after, Jaffna became the point of violent exchanges between the LTTE and Sri Lankan government, with the former maintaining its hold inside the area and latter attacking from outside in order to regain the territory.

Jaffna presents a classic case of a prosperous city being destroyed by war. Before the unfortunate Sri Lankan Civil War, Jaffna was the second most populated city in the country after Colombo. The majority of local population in the city comprises of Sri Lankan Tamils. The growing animosity between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils in Sri Lanka was constantly fuelled by the Government after Sri Lanka attained independence from Britain in 1948.

Liberation of Tamil majority areas, a key demand of the Tamil nationalist parties, was never taken seriously by the Government. Growing discrimination against the Tamils in Sri Lanka in terms of civil rights meant that the situation was soon about to be turned violent. Discontent among the Sri Lankan Tamils gave rise to a number of armed groups which were ready to wage an armed battle against the government. LTTE, led by Prabhakaran, was the most ferocious of these groups and either suppressed or merged other groups with itself.

India’s connection with Jaffna

Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to the island nation in 1987 was nothing less than a disaster. He was attacked by a naval soldier while inspecting the naval guard of honour at Sri Lankan President’s house. That action of the naval soldier trying to swipe off Rajiv Gandhi’s head with the reverse rifle was captured by media from all over the world. That one act summed up Sri Lanka’s feelings towards India at that point.

India’s involvement in Sri Lankan conflict can be owed to Tamil Nadu’s growing influence on the national politics due to the era of ‘coalition governments’. A strong supporter of Sri Lankan Tamils’ independence, Tamil Nadu government ensured that India supported the Tamil rebels in the northern province of Jaffna. Many people also believe that LTTE’s euphoric rise was only possible because of RAW’s training, arms and monetary help.

In 1987, while the LTTE was said to be breaking down against the Lankan forces, Indian air force was directed by the Indian Government to drop tonnes of food packets over Jaffna to ensure that the rebels’ resistance doesn’t break down. During Rajiv Gandhi’s visit, the two countries signed the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord which resulted in the introduction of the 13th amendment in the Sri Lankan constitution. The accord was aimed at providing equivalent civil rights to the Tamils.

The agreement also included the decision to post the Indian Peace Keeping Force in the conflict hit areas to ensure a cease fire and surrender of arms. This move turned out to be a blunder as more than 1,500 Indian soldiers lost their lives fighting LTTE after Prabhakaran refused to surrender. Prabhakaran wasn’t keen on accepting anything other than an independent Tamil Eelam. LTTE’s hatred against Rajiv Gandhi for ‘compromising’ with the Sri Lankan Government resulted in his assassination in 1991. Post the assassination, India decided to step back from the conflict and remain a neutral observer.

Far from being normal, thousands of Sri Lankan military troops are still stationed at Jaffna, despite the official end of the civil war many years ago, as if reminding the citizens that they will never be far from the site of a gun and bullet.

Significance of Modi’s visit

PM Modi’s historic visit to Jaffna and call for ‘equitable development and respect for all citizens in the island nation’ is an effort to heal the wounds of Tamils who suffered immensely at the hands of the conflict. His meeting with the Sri Lankan president is being considered by many as India’s attempt to establish closer relations and steering Sri Lanka away from the Chinese influence. Modi extended a support of $318 millions to assist Sri Lanka in changing the fortunes of its shabby railways network. During his visit, Modi also flagged off a train service to Talaimanner, the closest point to India, signalling the completion in work of the Northern Province Railway Line.

Modi’s call for devolution of power in the favour of Tamils, along with establishment of a cultural centre in Jaffna with India’s financial help is aimed at erasing the memories of Rajiv Gandhi’s visit and presenting India as a true partner.

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All You Need To Know About The Rafale Deal Controversy

The fiasco that Congress is creating on the Rafale Deal is certainly not fair

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Rafale Deal is very important for both the countries involved i.e. India and France.
Rafale Deal is very important for both the countries involved i.e. India and France.

By Ruchika Verma 

  • Rafale Deal happened between India and France
  • The Rafale Deal is about the Rafale fighter jets
  • The deal is getting into controversies because of the allegations de by the opposition, especially Congress

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 made the announcement that India will buy 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets from Dassault, a French aircraft builder and integrator. This came to be known as Rafale Deal.

The Rafale deal of 36 Rafale aircrafts between India and France was called a “win-win partnership” for both the countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi finalised the Rafale Deal during his visit to France in 2015. (FILE PHOTO)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi finalised the Rafale Deal during his visit to France in 2015. (FILE PHOTO)

But recently it has come under attack of the Opposition, mainly the Indian National Congress, which has alleged that there have been irregularities in this deal and its proceedings. However, the government has denied and rejected all the charges.

The Rafale Deal is nothing new and was also signed during the time of UPA government. The first time it came to light was during the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee where the original proposal was to buy 126 fighter jets.

After tests and negotiations in 2012, Rafale was considered L-1 bidder and negotiations started which only came to a conclusion as the Rafale Deal in 2015 under Prime Minister Modi’s government.

NDA government has got a better price on the Rafale Deal than the UPA governement.
NDA government has got a better price on the Rafale Deal than the UPA government.

Now the UPA alleging irregularities on NDA government doesn’t seem fair to many because no deal took place under their government. The transfer of technology was a primary issue of concern between the two sides. Dassault Aviation also tried to deny to take the responsibility of quality control of the production of 108 aircraft in India. The Dassault provided for 3 crore man-hours for production of the Rafale jets in India, HAL’s estimate was approximately 3 times higher which resulted in an escalation of costs in the manifold.

Also Read: Make in India: France to set up production centers for Rafale fighters

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France in 2015 helped bring this deal to a final conclusion. The government-to-government deal of 36 jets was to completed as soon as possible.

On costs of the Rafale Deal, NDA government has said that it got better terms than those quoted in the original bid under the UPA government. The total savings are reported to be of more than 1600 million Euros. However, the cost breakdown of Rafale Deal in the original bid under UPA government and in the 36 aircraft in the NDA’s government-to-government deal is not available for the public domain.

The Rafale Deal involves no private party from the side of India. www.worldwide-military.com
The Rafale Deal involves no private party from the side of India. www.worldwide-military.com

Under the current agreement, the  Rafale Deals support the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Indian Government through the IGA’s Article 12. It states that France will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make In India’. These critical design technologies were already discussed between the two governments in previous meetings. The present Rafale Deal is signed between two sovereign governments and there is no private individual, firm or entity involved in the process from the side of India. The procurement process also does not include any private company or firm from India.

Also Read: IAF’s Rafale Deal with France: India confirms order

The fiasco that Congress is creating on the Rafale Deal is certainly not fair as the NDA government has proved that their deal is better than the one which was undertaken during the UPA government.