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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Naxals War on the Economy?

This shows the savage nature of the Maoists—the brutality and savagery they are capable of”—this is what P Chidambaram, Union Home Minister, had to say about the horrific killing of 76 CRPF jawans by Maoists at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh on 6th April. The fury and anguish that such slaughter generates is quite understandable. But the plain truth is: It takes us nowhere.

For, the Maoists did it simply to provoke the state to react brutally and perhaps indiscriminately too, against them and their sympathizers—Adivasis, tribal people, and marginalized rural folk—and thereby prove why their revolutionary path is right. The State must understand this logic of Maoists rightly with a cool mind and work towards its defeat, resolutely backed by an apt strategy for policing the errant.

After all, the Naxals too are the people of India. And, the State can only pursue politics to set its people on the right course. It cannot let army fight against them. But to police them, to show them that their ‘ism’ is wrong and to get them back on the democratic path, is certainly the job of the State. It must strive to achieve it intelligently sans emotions. At the same time, it should also show respect for the lives of the policemen who are fighting against the Maoists, who have deep endurance duly backed by large scale popular support of local population, by better equipping them with right intelligence and equipment.

To be successful, any fight against such uprisings, must essentially aim at destroying their very roots. Else, they keep revisiting, disturbing the lives of the peace-loving majority, as is happening in India since the early 1950s. But Maoists have entrenched themselves deeply in all those areas where they are currently operating from. Obviously, the first question to be asked is what has made them get entrenched so deeply so as to challenge the administration of the Sovereign in quite a large part of India.

Glancing through the pages of history, one comes across the late Begum of Bhopal, a stateswoman of great stature of pre-independent India, telling Lord Meston, the Lieutenant-Governor of the then United Provinces, that “the seed beds of revolution are the hunger of the masses and the discontent of the classes.” It seems she also warned him that both these conditions were present in British India.

This observation from history raises a simple question: What is the truest fact about today’s India? The answer cannot be anything other than: ‘Grinding POVERTY’. Isn’t it true that the self-respect of the classes is hurt at every turn by political subjection? Is it not a fact that the polity has squarely marginalized the tribal population and the rural folk from the newfound wealth of the country? Even 9% growth rate in GDP could not do much in altering their economic plight—they are still suffering from lack of access to the basic resources to sustain livelihood. On the other hand, such phenomenal growth witnessed for the last two decades has certainly widened the gap in the economic status between the village and town folk; between the upper and lower caste people, and between the industrial and agricultural labor. With the result, lot of dissatisfaction is brewing among the deprived sections. Secondly, the social, political, economic and cultural discrimination faced by the weaker sections of the society across the country and the displacement—enforced eviction of people on account of developmental projects such as irrigation projects, mining projects, techno parks, SEZs, etc.,—of tribals and other habitants from their lands and natural habitats have all cumulatively driven large number of discontented people towards the Naxalites.

Efficient and impartial policing is another important requirement of any society. But the weaker sections have no faith in the police that justice will be done to them against the powerful. On the other hand, Naxals are found attending to the grievances of these people with alacrity. As a surrogate state, Naxals have indeed been helping these groups in occupying substantial tracts of government land. Besides poverty, factors such as denial of justice, human dignity, etc., have led people to believe that relief can be had only outside the government system of administration.

In short, today, “we have two worlds of education, two worlds of health, two worlds of transport and two worlds of housing...” within the nation and it is this kind of “structural violence which is implicit in the social and economic system” that is offering support to the radical groups to justify their violent acts and thereby garner deep-seated sympathy among the ‘have-nots’ of the society.

To eradicate this deep-rooted evil permanently, the State must launch a two-pronged attack: one, to eradicate the structural imbalances between the different sections of the society, and two, to simultaneously police the Maoists with a strong determination to pluck out the malady from its roots. In the pursuit of the former, the corporate entrepreneurs have a great role to play. They need to appreciate that today, not only the management, but also the whole wealth created by the corporates of India, stays with the families that own them. It is time for the Indian corporates to move towards philanthropy like the Gates, Buffetts, etc., of the US if they want the kind of free market economy to exist for long. It is time they use the wealth to build a new social order in the country. It is only then that the entrepreneurship of these stalwarts will become meaningful.

Can an entrepreneur afford to live in a glass house and yet pursue ‘freemarket economy’ for long, while the masses around him are struggling to acquire basic resources to sustain livelihood?
                                                                                                                  - GRK Murty


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