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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Maoism - Are We Beating Around The Bush?

Team Being Cynical

I am no fan of Maoists, Terrorists or Arundhanti Roy. Neither am I any supporter of violence in any form. Irrespective of the ideology (good or bad) violence against the nation, community or for that matter, individuals is not what any sane individual can appreciate or support. So where in this scale of conclusion the Maoists and their sympathizers stand? Were they to be blamed entirely for the mayhem the nation is facing from inside? Can we as a nation and people like us having all the facilities and avenues of the world at our disposal, blame their violence as plain maverick and wash off our hands? Does terming their act as a war against the state going to lead us anywhere near a solution to this latest problem that is spreading more rapidly than cancer? Perhaps not. Not, because we are becoming judgmental without caring an ounce to figure out the root cause of the mess. All that one wants to be, when the topic of Maoism comes for debate is to turn intellectual – either in support of the movement or against. We should keep it in mind that intellectualism not necessarily always helps solving the problem. At times we need to look beyond the reading glasses to see if things are as being written and promised in the books. This is for sure a problem which needs to be addressed in a hurry before it goes out of proportion and playing ostrich in this endeavor is certainly not going to help.

I belong to a state which has a considerable part of its geography affected by these Maoists. After having seen the once peace loving tribal (now up in arms) from close quarters, I for sure know a thing or two about them. I am no way saying, all that I know could just be the reason for these tribal to take up arms, but for certain could be one of those many reasons that drove these simple humans to turn scavengers. I still remember the old tribal lady used to work as our house maid when we were in a tribal village of Orissa, called Harbhanga (thanks to my father’s transferable job as a banker). Being barely 6-7 year old then, I still vividly remember the plight and agony that lady and her family had to go through on daily basis. The life of almost all the tribal in that small hamlet was ruled by the local moneylenders and crooks. Every day on my way to school, I used to see a long line in front of the moneylender’s house with individuals carrying one or the other household utensils in their hands. Initially what I thought to be a routine process turned out to be a moneylending business. The tribal were there to mortgage their household utensils (because that’s what all they have to mortgage) and borrow some money so that their house can run for another day. No bargain or negotiation was entertained – whatever the moneylender feels like giving for the goods has to be accepted. Not to mention, the money borrowed is attached with a huge interest rate. Forfeit for missing interest even for once– you are inviting troubles and forget the goods that you have mortgaged for the price of peanuts. Being the only bank (where my father was the manager) I used to see the goons of the moneylender seated in front of the bank for entire day during the first week of every month. Their job was simple – the moment one tribal withdraws his money from the bank, they will collect their due interest amount (which in average 80% of the money the chap might have earned for the month). No paperwork or any acknowledgement furnished. This leaves the tribal no option but to scavenge his household that night to see what else he can keep as mortgage so that he survives for another month. From utensils to his jewelry. Then to his domestic animals and finally his land and other immovable properties. All are promptly mortgaged in exchange of peanuts. At the end the tribal is left with nothing but his destiny to cry for and somewhat a bondage labor. I still remember the cry of agony of our old housemaid when the lender forcefully taken away her tow cows, as she was not able to pay her interest for last few months. Believe you me – the exploitations for generations altogether like these are what has prompted the tribal to stand up and defend themselves.

There was system; all form of governance including a police station in that tiny village. There were people’s representatives in the form of legislatives from that village. But none was interested to listen to the plight of the poor tribal. The SHO who should have proactively stood for justice of the poor was rather seen hobnobbing closely with the moneylenders. Where the tribal would have gone for help? The police station where even the guys are reluctant to register heinous crimes like rape or the MLA who was always sure of his vote chunk in exchange of country liquor.

Backbreaking work in the fields was not enough to even get them a decent square meal per day. Their agricultural produce was always taken away from them against peanuts or to balance out an existing debt. Most of the time either they were hoodwinked or red-eyed to compromise on their legitimate due. Their women are treated as objects than humans by the thugs of higher society. What else can justify the hundreds of tribal women being kidnapped, raped and then sold to brothels in different parts of India?

Now look at the contrast - The other day one of the leading daily carried the news of a gentleman who gifted his wife a luxurious personal plane on her birthday. On the same day I happened to view a program aired in one of the social channels with the title 'Big Fat Indian wedding'. There the whole bunch of 250 odd individuals, including the guests, relatives and the bride - groom were shown hopping from Nainital-Delhi-Pataya at various stages of their marriage ceremony spreading over a staggering 15 days. On the same day and in the same daily there also a news in page 12 or 14 of a tribal widowed mother from a remote village somewhere on the Chhattisgarh-Bihar border selling of her 5 months old child for Rs 1000/- to support the rest of her family.

When there is such a society residing at both ends of the spectrum, where one can gift some crores of rupees in gift while the other would thank God if he gets to have a decent meal once in a week then you left stunned and stop blaming none. Either the billionaire who is doing rounds in a Bentley showroom for his new purchase or the lady roaming around the village to find prospective buyers for her child. The law of averages will take over someday to square things up. If the law doesn't initiates on its own then some brute force would make sure that it does sooner than later.

All the wrong that has happened to our country or happening now are the creation of our able and corrupt leadership. For decades together our Mantris left no stones unturned in creating enough mess, so that it would take at least 3 generations to clear up, provided no fresh mess is created in the process. A classic example could be the Kashmir issue which the Kashmiri populace along with our Army and different Para-military forces are busy cleaning up for last couple of decades or so and keep it in mind - it is far from over yet. The latest entrants are these Maoists (Gifted by our able leadership again). God knows how many decades it would take to clean this one.

When you deprive a whole society of basic amenities like education, health, and even a decent square meal per day, then it is obvious that there would be few from the oppressed who would stand up someday and say enough is enough. If we are going to be deprived of our legitimate dues only because we are begging it for ages; let’s snatch it then, if that is so. For God's sake, they are not asking for a Delhi metro type stuff running in their village from the Panchayat office to their village pond. Their day starts with a hope and aspiration of getting something to eat on that day and majority time ending with going to bed empty stomach. To top it, all their land rich with minerals and natural resources were snatched from them against peanuts by the mining mafias playing under the safe and vast protective umbrellas of the ministers. Whatever little being sanctioned for their development are handsomely syphoned by the crooks and ministers alike, taking advantage of their lack of outlook or knowledge. I can't even ask you to be in their shoes, as they never got a chance to put on a pair themselves.

If record books are scanned then we would find thousands of instances where these tribal were mercilessly butchered, their women raped or worse kidnapped and sold at different brothels across India, children orphaned and left to die on their own. All this for what? Because they did the mistake of their life by deciding to raise their voice against the injustice inflicted on them for decades. I am no way justifying this should be a reason enough to take up a Kalashnikov and start shooting. This is how we intellectuals think and somewhat believe in. But think of those thousands who haven't seen what a school looks like much less attending one. They don’t carry the much needed sense of thinking like we intellectuals do. All they need is a little brainwash by guys like Kishenji or Kobad Gandhi and a small a promise of having a square meal per day. They are ready to take up the gun and fight. Majority of them might not know what they are fighting for.

Our Home Minister’s idea of using army to neutralize them didn't go down well with many including me. It is no wise an idea to have our defense forces shooting at our own people. They might be against the states, but end of the day they are a bunch among us only. Only solution to this could be and should be development. Providing basic amenities is the first step in taking these chaps into our confidence. All will be well as I feel these Maoists are motivated by circumstances unlike the terrorists who are driven by religious blindfolds and are fanatics to the core. Can we for once try this approach before calling it a day? Hope I am being listened…Am I?

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