A danger to the region
The Tigers have spread their tentacles
all over the world. Although the conflict per se is confined to
Sri Lanka, their fundraising activities take place in many
countries. There have been occasions when they actually carried
out error attacks on foreign soil.
India was one of the first countries in the world to ban the
LTTE, after the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister
Rajiv Gandhi. This was one of the first instances of an LTTE
terror act outside Sri Lanka.
This was a turning point for the LTTE. It lost whatever
sympathy it had for the cause of ‘Eelam’ in India through the
assassination of Gandhi. Tamil Nadu, many of whose denizens were
earlier receptive to the ideas of the LTTE, openly turned
hostile towards the Tigers in their midst. The LTTE later
aplogised for their “historical mistake” but it was too late.
Now there are signs that the LTTE is increasingly using Tamil
Nadu and the Southern Indian States as a launching pad for their
clandestine activities against the Sri Lankan State. Recent
arrests of top Tiger operatives in India indicate that not only
Sri Lanka, but also India is facing a threat from LTTE elements.
The recent arrest of a Sea Tiger leader in India, along with
the seizure of a boat he clandestinely purchased, signifies a
renewed effort by Indian law enforcement authorities to clamp
down on LTTE activity in Tamil Nadu. The detection of explosives
meant to be smuggled to Sri Lanka from Kerala is another case in
Tamil Nadu in particular and India as a whole have woken up
to the danger posed by the LTTE, especially after the formation
of the terror-group’s air wing. Although some Tamil Nadu
politicians including Vaiko and Nedumaran have raised a hue and
cry over the killing of Thamilselvan, there has been little
response from the public. Tamil Nadu Police have taken a dim
view of such antics, warning that supporting terrorist groups
would not be allowed.
In a recent report, we quoted a senior Indian Army officer as
saying that Indian defence authorities would be bolstering
security measures to face any threat from the LTTE. The time has
come for both India and Sri Lanka to work even closer together
to crush LTTE terrorism.
Joint patrolling in the Palk Strait could be a good beginning
for such an initiative. Both countries should also work under
the SAARC anti-terror frameworks to combat LTTE terrorism which
poses an acute danger to the entire region.
Back to the Future
Even as these words are being written,
the TV screen in this room is carrying ‘live’ pictures of a
cricket match played thousands of miles away. Switch over to CNN
and we get live pictures of news as it happens all over the
Need to contact someone on the other side of the world? Just
pick up the phone and dial the number - you will feel he is on
the intercom. Want to send that report to your associate
holidaying in Rio? Fax it or email it with just one click.
We take these possibilities for granted today, but it was one
man’s vision that revolutionised communications and the way we
live. And that man is not yet done with predicting the future.
At 90, his mind is still a hive of activity and creativity.
Sir Arthur C Clarke, that genius who suggested the use of
geosynchronous satellites for uninterrupted communications in
his famous article to the October 1945 issue of Wireless World
magazine, steps into his 91st orbit around the sun tomorrow.
This event is very significant for Sri Lanka as it has been
his home virtually since 1956. A distinguished resident of Sri
Lanka and one of the very few people accorded the country’s
highest civilian honour, Clarke has become synonymous with Sri
Clarke is a giant in the international literary scene. Along
with Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, he nurtured the genre
of science fiction. While 2001: A Space Odyssey remains an
all-time favourite for its film interpretation and the
futuristic computer HAL (fast becoming a reality), his other
books have dealt with subjects as diverse as the terraformation
of Mars and space elavators.
From Prelude to Space (1951) to Firstborn (2007/With Stephen
Baxter) all his books give us a glimpse of the future. Some of
his predictions have indeed come true while some others have
not. They could be several decades or even centuries away.
Clarke once said: “Sometimes I think we’re alone in the
universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case the
idea is quite staggering.” But Clarke is still hopeful that
aliens will call us or at least, we will pick up one of their
The discovery of life or better still, intelligent life
outside our Earth and Solar System will be a fitting tribute to
a visionary who has given life to new worlds and new worlds to
our life. Happy Birthday, Sir Arthur.