Home India ‘Awarding Katchatheevu To Lanka Was Masterful Act Of Diplomacy’

‘Awarding Katchatheevu To Lanka Was Masterful Act Of Diplomacy’

The tiny, barren, uninhabited island of Katchatheevu has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately.

In this episode of ‘The Gist‘, Dr Arup Kumar Chatterjee, Professor of English, OP Jindal Global University, and author (Adam’s Bridge | Indians in London | Great Indian Railways) examines the historical, political and diplomatic aspects of the contested island and argues that awarding the tiny island (which by all accounts was Indian territory of Ramnad Zamindari under the Setupatis, comprising 69 small townships and villages and 11 islands, from the 17th century, if not earlier) to Sri Lanka in 1974 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a ‘supremely masterful act of bilateral and international diplomacy.’

Prof Chatterjee begins by arguing that one cannot discuss the Katchatheevu issue without understand the nuances of Adam’s Bridge, or the Ram Sethu, a chain of shoals which apparently connected the India with the island of Sri Lanka.

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He then looks at how Indira Gandhi handled several critical constituencies including the UN, Indian, Tamil and Sri Lankan Civil societies by formalising the award of the island to Sri Lanka.

Watch the full interview to get an expert’s view on a sensitive subject, as Prof Chatterjee navigates through the rocky shoals of political, ecological, social and strategic compulsions that determine the discourse over this tiny island.

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In a career spanning three decades and counting, I’ve been the foreign editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and the New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com. My work has featured in national and international publications like the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, Global Times and Ashahi Shimbun. My one constant over all these years, however, has been the attempt to understand rising India’s place in the world. I can rustle up a mean salad, my oil-less pepper chicken is to die for, and it just takes some beer and rhythm and blues to rock my soul.