The Re-emergence of the Tamil Nadu Factor in India's Sri Lanka Policy

M. Mayilvaganam is Associate Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detail profile.
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • November 2007

    The Tamil minority in Sri Lanka have traditionally exerted a sympathetic pull on their co-ethnics in Tamil Nadu. This has inevitably influenced India's policy towards Sri Lanka. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 changed this pattern and the popular sympathy for Tamil militancy ebbed considerably in its aftermath. However, the spontaneous reactions by the political parties of Tamil Nadu to the Sri Lankan government's indiscriminate air attack on Tamil majority areas since mid-2006 and the flight of refugees to India indicate that Tamil Nadu may have resurfaced as an important factor in India's Sri Lanka policy. For New Delhi, it can neither afford to see the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) strengthen its foothold by taking advantage of influx of refugees, nor can it be a silent spectator to the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka as the Government of Sri Lanka appears determined to find a military solution to the ethnic problem. There is, therefore, a need to analyse the re-emergence of the Tamil Nadu factor in the post-Rajiv Gandhi assassination phase.