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Domestic Politics and Diplomacy an absolute ‘must read’

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Domestic Politics and Diplomacy an absolute ‘must read’
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Shelton Kodikara, one of the few great intellectuals produced  by this country in the field of political science and its sub-field international relations. His forte was Indo-Lanka relations. Despite the fact that India is perhaps the one country with which we need to have the closest of relationships, it is most unfortunate that we do not have academics or political scientists of the caliber of Kodikara who have made the study of Indo-Lanka relations their life occupation.

President Chandrika Kumaratunge described the relationship in the following words: "India is our immediate neighbour, with whom we have been inextricably bound by ties the origins of which have long been lost in the mist of time. We have with India the broadest and deepest interaction that we as a nation could have with another state. India therefore possesses the capacity, given her vastly disparate strength and influence, to help or hinder to a great extent. In a word the India factor is crucial to the existence of our nation. Forging and sustaining a mutually trusting and supportive friendship with India must therefore be for us, not just a conscious and soundly judged policy, it is a natural and vital ingredient for our national well being."

It is not a definition that could be improved upon for it captures all the elements of the relationship between our two countries.

 India has many intellectuals and also ‘practitioners’ including a number of Think Tanks who have made the study of Indo-Lanka relations a special area of interest. There is no doubt that they make a significant input into policy making. In stark contrast is the situation in Sri Lanka where we do  not have a single academic who has specialized in India studies, we do not have a Chair for India studies in any of our Universities nor do we have a single Think Tank that has its focus on Indo-Lanka relations. The India desk at the Foreign Ministry is manned by officers between postings and it could be safely stated that the intellectual input into policy making is significant by its absence.

 The above scenario serves not only to indicate the lacuna that exists in this all important field of study but also the value of Shelton Kodikkara and the contribution he has made to an understanding of the compulsions that have determined India’s and Sri Lanka’s policies towards each other and the history of our relations.

 Prof. Kodikara has written two books relating to Indo-Lanka relations, and a third book on strategic factors in interstate relations in South Asia; he has edited three more books relating to Indo-Lanka relations. His is indeed an outstanding contribution to our understanding of India’s concerns and compulsions in her relations with Sri Lanka .

Dr. Kodikara passed away many years ago but thanks to the efforts of his son Dulip, who found the manuscript in his father’s library partly handwritten partly typed, Professor Amal Jayawardena, Dean of the Faculty of Arts who suggested that it be published and Prof. Dorakumbura who undertook the Herculean task of editing the manuscript of which some pages had not been numbered, this invaluable book is now a reality.


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