Now a Member of the National Commission for Minorities, Praveen Davar said in a political commentary written for the Asian Age, that despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trips to as many as 57 countries, India’s relations with its neighbours, in particular Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives, have perhaps been never been so low.
As India this week remembers former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 74th birth anniversary, Davar said that Gandhi handled India’s foreign relations in a mature manner.
He said that when Rajiv Gandhi took over, the situation in Sri Lanka had been deteriorating. State violence against Tamils was on the increase.
This was also having an adverse effect on the psysche of people in Tamil Nadu and Tamilians settled in other South Indian states. They wanted the atrocities against Sri Lanka’s Tamils stopped, and launched agitations to pressure New Delhi to take early action.
It was under these circumstances that the India-Sri Lanka Accord of August 1987 was signed.
Davar said that Rajiv Gandhi believed it would safeguard the life and property of Tamils and also protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
Though the accord came in for criticism from many quarters, it managed to achieve both its short-term and long-term objectives, even though it took many years for its full realisation.
But the cost was too high: the precious life of Rajiv Gandhi. The writer said that as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was to say years later: “Had fate spared our martyred friend, the history of modern India would have witnessed one of the greatest giants who ruled India or were destined to rule it.” (Colombo Gazette)