Is US envoy venturing into India’s “Kashmir” in Central Sri Lanka to woo Hill Country Indian Tamils?

Geneva diplomatic protocols appear not to apply to US envoys and Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister/Ministry is little bothered to remind diplomats that there are protocols to their movements. Having said that, it is interesting how the US is aggressively entering the Hill Country wooing the Hill Country populace who are Indian Tamils brought in as slave labor during colonial rule. It is said that a call from India was enough to decide who the Hill Country Tamils would vote for at any election but will the calls from D.C make the new difference?

US envoy was hosted by the Hayleys Plantations in March 2023 (the Japanese envoy was invited the previous year)

Clearly the focus of her visit was the “needs of the plantation workers”. How this “need” will be defined is the question.

In June, the US envoy visited Nuwara Eliya – and we should know social media was used for regime change. How far India reads this scenario is interesting particularly as USAID is involved in Central Province & working with a group called PREDO Sri Lanka.

PREDO stands for Plantation Rural Education & Development Organization, registered & headquartered in Kandy. Note what PREDO’s main aim is “LANGUAGE RIGHTS”.

She met Hill Country families & her twitter post took pains to claim they were in the region “going back 200 years” – of course, they were imported by the colonial invaders and dumped in Sri Lanka to work as slaves of the colonials. She went all the way to the Hill Country to ‘hear directly about the economic & political obstacles they face”. Key words that India should take note of.

The US solution is to create “English Access Microscholarship” program – 2 years of free after-school English language to you. Will this end up ending the estate plantation economy!

She also met T-Field Child Development Federation. What is the “food security” she is referring to?

USDA & USAID are providing meals for 241 schools in Nuwara Eliya as well as “cash assistance” to pregnant mothers.

How an Estate Tamil was nominated to be Governor of the East and how caste-conscious Tamils are willing to accept this appointment is interesting, but clearly the Governor is keen to impress the US and how will this impact India’s influence over the estate community in time to come is also worthy of consideration.

In October 2022, following the revolutionary “exit” of an elected President, the take-over President appoints a Committee to seek how best to integrate Tamils of Hill Country origin into society. Wait – does this mean they were all this time not living as part of Sri Lankan society?

While the President has disallowed Temples to fund Buddhist Temple development, a consignment of medicines from Pondicherry in India is gifted to only the Ceylon Workers Congress that too at the Presidential Secretariat.

The US envoy was also guest at the World Water Day event & it emerges that the Minister is Jeevan Thondaman from the Central Province & US is partnering to improve water management. USAID is working with Lanka Rainwater Harvesting Forum since 2012 to bring “good” drinking water to Sri Lankans following US 2023 theme “Accelerate Change” – quite a lot of “accelerations” for “change” are taking place. As per her speech the US has helped bring drinking water to 100,000 people via 1600 rainwater harvesting tanks  in Central Province (since 2012 – isn’t this too small a number)

Equally interesting is how World Bank has been partnering Sri Lanka since 1998 to provide drinking water & sanitation to Sri Lankan citizens and its now 25 years and still water issue prevails or is said to prevail. Are these programs being monitored or do foreign entities use themes simply to get access to resources & people?

Its not only the US envoy interested in the Central Province of late, the USAID Deputy Mission Director Debra Mosel even addressed the Malaiyaha Tamil community reminding them of “structural exclusion, discrimination, frequent violence’ and their long ‘peaceful struggle for full citizenship’. She seems to have forgotten that none of these Indian Tamils wanted to leave their South Indian homes but were forcibly dumped in Sri Lanka to be used as slave labor by colonials. If anyone should be held accountable it is the former colonials who dumped them in Sri Lanka. So when US says they support the “aspirations” to become a “distinct political voice” not only India, but Sri Lanka must start to worry what the proposed plan is.  This visit was on 19 May 2023,

No surprise, on 24 May 2023 D B S Jeyraj’s article “Hill Country Tamils aspire to a non-territorial community council” to be enshrined in the constitution confirmed all doubts, where these “aspirations” were heading. So now we enter a new sing song of another “unique ethnic community” for the close to 900,000 Indian origin Tamils (2012 census) though the figure doesn’t tally with the voting numbers.

The fact that US funded Verite Research to do a report on the Hill Country Tamils is equally interesting

It was in 2017 that Indian PM Modi visited the Hill Country Tamils, the first by an Indian PM. However, nothing has been happening since though clearly the US & its associates are making much headways amongst a segment of people whose origins are in India. In fact, any aspirations of these people, should be directed to the colonials for acknowledgement, apology and reparations for all that they had been subject to, simply for the colonials to become rich. This is certainly an avenue that Hill Country Tamils must consider or demand citizenship in these western countries.

What is clear is that the US is now wooing the Hill Country Tamils, is this part of a QUAD exercise with the nod of approval of India, or does US think that it does not require permission from India to meet Hill Country Tamils and discuss “aspirations” with them.

What we perceive is nothing but looming trouble & it is for India to wake up to ground realities.

With India purchasing oil from Russia & alliance with BRICS, is it not strange that the Khalistan movement suddenly emerged with even pulling down the National Flag in the Indian High Commission in London & pro-Khalistan parades in Canada. Incidentally, quite a number are linked to the LTTE fronts as well. Rahul Gandhi is now in US and he may not have got a huge hug but there are developments taking shape.

Afterall, there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests.


Shenali D Waduge

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