Tuesday, April 6, 2010



There are two Indias.

The dazzling India which we see every day on our TV channels, in the spins of our political leaders and in the writings of our so-called strategic analysts. This is the India which, according to them, is moving rapidly forward to take up its position as a world power, which is courted by the other nations of the world.

But there is another India which we rarely see or write about. This is the India of grinding poverty---- a victim of social exploitation of the worst kind, where the inhabitants---mainly tribals--- are treated like chattels and domestic animals by the upper caste political leaders, landlords and forest contractors.

We rarely see India of negative images because it has been sought to be pushed under the carpet by the dazzling India, which feels embarrassed to admit to the world that such an India exists 63 years after independence.

It is this India kept pushed under the carpet, which has managed to struggle its way out from under the carpet and is hitting out with ferocity at all its perceived exploiters---- whether in the Government or in the society.

It is this India coming out from under the carpet, which is flocking to the banners of the Maoist ideologues and taking to arms against the Government and its social exploiters. For it, the Government is not of the people, by the people and for the people, but of the exploiters, by the exploiters and for the exploiters.

Unless we have the moral courage to admit this harsh reality we are going to see more and more incidents of utter savagery as we saw on April 6,2010, in the Dantewada district of Chattisgarh where a group of Maoists ---estimated at between 300 and 1000--- ambushed and butchered about 75 members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who had gone into the jungles for counter-insurgency operations.

This is not the first incident of butchery of the security forces in the history of our counter-insurgency operations. This will not be the last unless and until we realize that counter-insurgency is not only about putting down violence against the State and Society, but also about making resort to violence unnecessary by addressing the problems and grievances of the tribals.

It would be very easy to dismiss the Maoist insurgency as the political manipulation of illiterate or semi-literate tribals by Maoist ideologues from cities to achieve political power through the barrel of the gun. Yes, there is an element of cynical political manipulation of the tribals by many city-bred Maoist ideologues.

But the claim of political manipulation alone cannot explain how hundreds and hundreds of tribals are flocking to the banners of the Maoists. Intense anger over the failures of successive Governments to recognize and address their problems are driving them to heed the calls of the ideologues to massacre their perceived class enemies.

Unless and until we have a two-pronged approach to the problem---better counter-insurgency to put down violence and better governance and administration to remove the expoitation of the tribals by the non-tribals and improve their quality of life, blood will continue to flow in the jungles and roads of the tribal homelands in Central India.

Tribal India had always posed law and order problems. The tribal homelands in the North-East did so when Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were Prime Ministers. They put down the Chinese and Pakistani supported tribal insurgency in the North-East with a firm hand. At the same time, they interacted vigorously with the tribal people and addressed their problems in an attempt to wean them away from violence. Nehru started a special service called the Indian Frontier Administration Service (IFAS) and inducted the best officers from other services into it to improve governance in the tribal areas not only in the North-East, but also in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. They were always ready for a dialogue with the tribal leaders---even with those who had taken to arms against the State.

They addressed poverty and social injustice not only in the tribal areas, but also in the rest of the country. Indira Gandhi used to start her day every day by mingling with poor and exploited people outside her residence and listening to their tales of woe. Her shoulders were always available to the poor and exploited to rest their head on and cry.

After Rajiv Gandhi, we have had a succession of Prime Ministers without a human touch in governance and administration in the tribal areas. They tend to look upon the tribal revolt in Central India as purely a problem of law and order, but not also as a problem with human dimensions.

The Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh is rarely seen or heard. He hardly ever mingles with the poor and downtrodden in the tribal belt of Central India. He deals with the tribal belt of Central India in the same way as the Pakistani leaders deal with the tribals of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)---- as mainly a problem to be tackled by the security forces as if the political class has no responsibility for leadership.

There is hardly a medium and long-term strategy --- with a judicious mix of the law and order and hearts and minds dimensions. All new ideas on counter-insurgency coming up are about how to make the security forces more effective. It is important for them to be effective . But it is equally---if not more---important for the political leadership to be seen by the tribals as caring and sensitive to their anger and bitterness towards their exploiters.

The time has come for the Prime Minister to take up in his hands the responsibility for working out a comprehensive political, operational and human strategy for dealing with the problems of the tribal homelands in Central India

If we continue to dither as we are doing now, Mao Zedong may have his last laugh in India. (7-4-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )


Unknown said...

I have to agree 100% with you. In fact, just as the americans have native american reservations which are self-governing, so also, in india, there ought to be self-governing notified tribal areas. Self governance by the tribal areas will make the problem of exploitation go away and make it less easy for the Vedanta's and Hydro power people to just walk in and take over traditional tribal land

shaan said...

Six months ago I came across an article in a Western magazine that mentioned that 40% of Indian population lacks electricity. I thought it was wrong and did a search and to my shock I found a status report from an international electricity organization that confirmed the number mentioned in that article. I was not able to believe it but it is the truth. Even my friend who is from a Delhi suburb said that they didn't have even electricity lines in his area till 15 years ago! I was double shocked because I am from a small village in TN and we have had electricity in our house from our great grandfather's times. How can an area so close to the country's capital and hence close to the eyes of the country's leaders lack even basic things like electricity?

Nehru and Indira may have given their shoulders to the poor but did they do proper planning to take basic services like roads, electricity and water to all parts of the country? I don't know. Slogans and dramas don't help. People lose hope and patience after a period. Political parties should accept their failure and take real actions to provide at least basic services and avoid exploiting people's shared resources for the benefit of a select few. Without this the threat against our democracy will continue to grow and hence the power of politicians will continue to erode. Politicians should take sincere action at least for their own survival.

nupura said...

This blog pretty much says why Mao Zedong, Taliban, Pakisthan have been defeating India inspite of these RAW people.

I had provided an example of how maoism works/flourishes in a comment a month back. But lets see what Raman says to understand the mind of people who worked in the corrupted Neheruvian era,

Raman says tribals are exploited and treated as chattels by 1- "Upper caste political leaders" , 2- Landlords . 3- Forest contractors.

1- Forest is a shady area. Contractors or Veerapan types - This is not a "social" problem. It is an issue of govt. Upper castes are not anti-forest Aryans from Newyork - India was filled with jungles and villages 5 decades back.

2- Land lords - In many areas they are absent. Mostly they are not "Lords", most of the villagers in India are near poverty line, unless employed by modern structures.

3- Most of the maoist affected areas had lesser "Upper castes" - One reason why maoists used those areas.

How did all tie up for "social" justice ?

In fact social justice is a maoist excuse which our intelligentia can't figure out.

What Raman Misses out is Maoist doctrine,source, history, motivation and methods. Times of India doesn't say that. We are in a sorry state. Replacing it with a bunch of nonsense makes a lot of sense when it feels good - only for shortest period of time. We will learn the real analysis in retrospect, published from London - Much after Kashmirs are destroyed.

nupura said...

Shaan :
Few years back somebody commented Indians even don't use toilet papers.All statistics will confirm that.

I have more respect for Hamid Karzai - who survives on Nato aid- than Neheru.

Having said that, let us not confuse that lack of toilet papers is a reason for maoist struggle. I meant lack of electricity in this instance.

ambi said...

Ha Ha Ha!

Raman sir wants Congress leaders to be sensitive to its people. Hee Hee Hee! I am not Mao But still laughing. ‘Sensitive’ word you used Sir ji? Don’t you know how Congress ‘rules’? See I have mentioned the word ‘rule’ & not ‘govern’.

Congressis know how to rule & not how to govern. The latest example is from my state of Maharashtra. In a secret operation our enlightened CM has already buried all the 9 Pakistani terrorists who took part in the 26\11 terrorist attack. Yes! You are right! Without informing the opposition or the House. Our bright CM did this excellent job in Jan 10 & informed us in April to make us April fool

Now I won’t be surprised, if I hear that, the lone surviving terrorist of 26\11 Amir Ajmal Kasav is released & is in Pakistan now.

Sab milke ek sath bolo.

Maa Soniya ki Jai ho!
Rahul baba ki Jai ho!
Manmohan Singh ki jai ho!

For Manmohan Singh to be sensitive, he has to associate himself with this country. He is more American than Americans. Even Sonia Gandhi must be having more information about India than him.

Hee hee hee! Raman sir wants Congress to be sensitive. You must be out of your mind. Kutte ki doom bhi kabhi seedhi hui hain? Haa Haa Haa!