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Sri Lanka Table of Contents

Sri Lanka

The Indo-Sri Lankan Accord and Foreign Relations

In an exchange of executive letters coinciding with the July 29, 1987, accord, President Jayewardene gave assurances to Gandhi that the port of Trincomalee would not be used by foreign powers, including the United States, and that agreements with the United States to upgrade the Voice of America facility and with Israel and Pakistan to provide military security would be reconsidered.

Indications in early 1988 were that although New Delhi wanted to avoid accusations that it was turning a formerly independent country into a client state, India was determined to prevent Sri Lanka from developing closer ties with unfriendly or potentially unfriendly foreign powers, such as Pakistan, Israel, and the United States. The India Today correspondent quoted a senior Indian military officer as asserting that "Pakistan's military involvement in Sri Lanka ended on July 29, 1987." But other observers wondered whether India, by cutting the Gordian knot of the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis and hoping at the same time to thwart Pakistan's ambitions, was finally exercising its full potential as one of the world's major nations or was being drawn into a military nightmare that would bring costs in men and money but few rewards.

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S.J. Tambiah's Sri Lanka Ethnic Fratricide And The Dismantling of a Democracy gives a critical account of both the ideological and socioeconomic bases of the ethnic crisis and forcefully argues that the Sinhalese-majority government bears a major responsibility for the violence and for the erosion of democratic institutions. A book by Craig Baxter et al., Government and Politics in South Asia, provides a detached but useful overview of Sri Lankan society, political dynamics, and governmental institutions. Janice Jiggins's Caste and Family in the Politics of the Sinhalese, 1947-1976 provides analysis of the pre-Jayewardene era, giving an excellent description of the often neglected factor of caste in politics. On the evolution of political institutions and attitudes from the very earliest times to the 1970s, see K.M. de Silva's A History of Sri Lanka.

The biweekly India Today and the weekly Far Eastern Economic Review provide good coverage of the latest political developments. Articles on Sri Lanka are also frequently published in Asian Survey, Pacific Affairs, and journals covering comparative politics, such as the Political Science Quarterly. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of October 1988