THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 29 September 2020 Making amends: On India’s appeal to Sri Lanka to address Tamil aspirations (The Hindu)

Making amends: On India’s appeal to Sri Lanka to address Tamil aspirations (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2:International Relations 
Prelims level: 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution
Mains level: India and its neighborhood- relations


  • India’s appeal to Sri Lanka to address the aspirations of its Tamil minority will certainly find resonanceamong the Tamil-speaking populace on both sides of the Palk Strait, but it is doubtful if it will have any effect.

Reiteration of policy:

  • A joint statement by both countries after a virtual summit between PM of India and his counterpart reiteratedIndia’s stated policy of seeking to ensure “equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka” for Tamils.
  • It also explicitly mentioned the need to carry forward the reconciliationprocess through the implementation of the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution.
  • It said Sri Lanka’s PM expressed confidence that SL would work towards “realising the expectations” of all ethnic groups, including Tamils.
  • However, he appeared to qualify the commitment by linking it to “reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people of Sri Lanka”.
  • Significantly, a separate statement by Mr. Rajapaksa’s office issued later made no reference to the 13th Amendment, which envisaged power-sharing with the provinces based on the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of 1987.
  • The omission is unsurprising.
  • Mr. Rajapaksa has the required two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend the Constitution as his party pleases.
  • But the gulfbetween the sort of devolution that would fulfil Tamil aspirations and what his brother, President Gotabaya, would want to prioritise is quite large.
  • India’s interest in the matter is undoubtedly related to speculation that far from implementing the 13th Amendment, Sri Lanka may heedcalls to roll back the provincial council system itself.

Hardly any leverage:

  • The trajectory of relations, in which India is keen on limiting Sri Lanka’s exposure to China’s sphere of influence, may not afford the country much leverageover its smaller neighbour.
  • When India was backing Sri Lanka after the war resumed in 2005-06, it chose to ignore the de-merger of the northern and eastern provinces.
  • Now, when there is little global interest in holding SL to its past promises on ethnic reconciliation and justice for war-time excesses, there is room for considerable scepticismabout how effectual any appeal to the Sri Lankan regime would be.
  • The Rajapaksas are aware of their mandates and are unlikely to do anything that does not have the approbationof the majority Sinhala community.
  • While announcing steps on bilateral cooperation and a $15 million grant for Buddhist cultural exchanges, India held back its decision on Sri Lanka’s request for a currency swap and a defermentof debt.
  • It would be watching developments on the legislative front, as the Rajapaksa administration plans to undo legislation that had curbed the President’s powers.


  • Given Sri Lanka’s majoritarian turn, appeals to address Tamil aspirations may be ineffectual.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the AICTE Visvesvarya Best Teacher Awards 2020, consider the following statements:
1. The first ever AICTE Visvesvarya Best Teacher Awards 2020 were presented by Union Minister of Education to 12 faculty members of AICTE approved institutes on the occasion of Engineers Day.
2. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is the statutory body and a national-level council for technical education, under Department of Skill Development.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1)What is the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, and why is it contentious?Why is the 13th Amendment significant?