The New Delhi-based Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) has urged India to shed its "do-nothing" policy on Sri Lanka, and adopt a proactive one under which the LTTE is denied bases in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka is given economic support, in exchange for devolution of power to the Sri Lankan Tamil moderates.
"In view of the growing sympathy in India for the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian government needs to engage GOSL (Government of Sri Lanka) proactively and persuade it to avert the humanitarian costs of its war efforts against LTTE and put the peace process back on track," the IDSA's Policy Brief on Sri Lanka dated May 22, said.
"India needs to sensitise the key international actors on the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the North and the East and engage them in reviving the peace process in Sri Lanka," it said.
While making it clear that the task of finding a constitutional and political settlement of the ethnic question was Sri Lanka's responsibility, India should throw its weight behind the Tissa Vitharana proposals, which the moderates in all communities might look at seriously.
India should consider engaging non-political groups, think tanks, academics and civil society leaders in Sri Lanka to create a conducive atmosphere among the majority Sinhalese living mostly in South Sri Lanka. The Track II method could also be adopted.
CURB LTTE MILITARILY BUT ENGAGE IT POLITICALLY
As regards the LTTE, a critical player in Sri Lanka's war and peace, the IDSA said that India should ensure that the Tamil rebel group did not become a major security concern for it, and coastal surveillance should be strengthened to prevent it from using Tamil Nadu as a hub of its activities in India.
But at the same time, New Delhi must see that Colombo's efforts to weaken the LTTE militarily, were accompanied by a willingness to concede devolution of power to the moderate Tamils.
"Any effort aimed at weakening the capacity of the LTTE by GOSL will have to be weighed by the Government of India against the willingness of the GOSL to concede devolution of power to the moderate Tamil elements," the IDSA said.
On the question of engaging the LTTE politically, it recognised the difficulties arising from the ban on the outfit following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Nevertheless, it advocated the opening an acceptable line of communication with the militant group.
"The government of India could consider engaging the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the elected representatives in the North and the East, in the absence of direct dealings with the LTTE, in its efforts to find a solution."
"The Government of India can subsequently make efforts to bring GOSL and LTTE together in finding an amicable solution," the IDSA brief said.
Explaining this stand in the context of a general scepticism about the success of India's involvement, the think tank said: "Its (India's) leverages with both may be limited, yet the importance and the effectiveness of any serious role of India in the resolution of the conflict is understood well by both the parties to the conflict."
NEED FOR STRONG ECONOMIC TIES
India should win over the Sinhala majority, living in South Sri Lanka, to make its policy a success, the IDSA believes.
One way to achieve this end is for New Delhi to increase its economic ties with Sri Lanka. It should encourage Indian investors to set up manufacturing and service facilities in southern Sri Lanka, moving away from the comfortable Colombo area.
The policy brief said that this would lead to a better appreciation in Sri Lanka of the benefits which would accrue to people in the South from closer economic engagement with India.
Addressing the problem of displacement of lakhs of people due to the December 2004 tsunami and the resumption of war during 2006-7, the IDSA said that India could consider participation in the re-construction and rehabilitation work in the affected areas.
The victims had been Tamils, Sinhalas and Muslims, but mostly Tamils and Muslims. People in the South, North and East have all being badly affected by natural and man-made disasters in the past two years.