peoples march

from the people against injustice in the society

Thousand small mutinies .

Posted by ajadhind on March 2, 2008

What about these helpless, hapless hungry souls On 16th of Feb, a horde of Naxilite militants attacked Nayagarh, in Orissa, and killed fifteen policemen and a civilian. In a well-coordinated operation, Naxilites, numbering about four hundred, simultaneously attacked, police station, police training school, and the district armory and decamped with large number of weapons. Orissa’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the state assembly said that the “security personnel were overwhelmed by the numerical strength of the armed naxals”. Huge contingent of CRPF personnel with two Indian Air Force helicopters was deployed to track down the fleeing militants. Deployment of Air Force in an internal conflict amply indicates the magnitude of the problem.

39-year-old Naxal leader, Sabyasachi Panda, “who gave up a career in politics, to realise the dream of revolution” is believed to be responsible for the violent act. For some people who are privy to the antics of Naxal leader, “Last week’s Nayagarh attack is just one stride in what he believes is a march for a communist social order”. Sabyasachi Panda, the most wanted Naxal leader in Orissa, has many admirers in the State, However most astonishing is the statement of the deputy leader of opposition in Orissa, Mr. Narsingha Mishra, “His voice is the voice of 57 per cent people in Orissa who have only Rs 12 to spend per day. It’s this injustice against poor, which made him a Naxal. I admire his ideas but disapprove of his violence.”

In Orissa, forty-four percent (according to some 57%) of the population is staggering below poverty line (BPL) “an average rural family in western Orissa survives on an annual income of less than Rs5000”. Few years ago there was uproar allover for starvation deaths in Kalahandi, a western district of Orissa where eighty-seven percent of the population reels under BPL.

‘Naxalite movement’, extends to thirteen out of thirty districts of Orissa. Incidentally these areas also happen to be the most backward and impoverished in the state. This only lead’s one to the conclusion that the growing Naxilite violence in India reflects the deep cleavages in rural Indian – it is a class war, a conflict between ‘haves and have-nots. When deputy leader of opposition in Orissa, Mr. Narsingha Mishra refers to Sabyasachi Panda’s popularity, “His voice is the voice of 57 per cent people in Orissa”, in very tactful way he concedes the very reality of a ‘class war’.

When BBC’s Jill McGivering, (who spent three days traveling with Maoist fighters in the jungles of Chhattisgarh) asked Maoist commander, Gopanna Markam, a veteran of 25 years with the guerrilla force, how he would describe what he was fighting for. “We are fighting for a new democratic revolution in this country,” he said. “People are hungry, there’s nothing to eat. They have no clothes. They have no jobs. We want development for the people. That’s why people are coming to this fight”.

India is a vast country having a massive resource base but equally faced with enormous problems. Spread of the Naxalism and lawlessness in the length and breadth of the country seems to be getting worse and worse with each passing year. (“Naxalism, a euphemism for the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutionary movement in India, drawing the nomenclature from an unheard of village, Naxalbari in West Bengal that became the epicenter of tribal-peasant revolt in the spring of 1967.”) Out of total 604 revenue Districts, 160 Districts spread over thirteen states across India, are effected with the Naxilite violence, even though with a varied degree of effect.

In recent years, Maoists have successfully broadened their base in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “Security analysts now a day talk about a great swathe of Maoist militancy which stretches all the way from the border with Nepal, south through India to the sea”. Though government of India is more and more inclined to identify Naxaal violence as terrorism and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has even stated some time back that growing Naxal violence is greatest threat to Indian security. Evidently, menace of Naxalite violence poses a grave threat to the public order; nonetheless, it is purely born out of poverty and asymmetrical distribution of the resources. It is only after (not the opposite) when violence and lawlessness gets firmly ingrained in impoverished society then only divisive ideologies and politicking carves way in. National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, headed by noted economist Arjun Sengupta, recently published a report ‘Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihood in the Unorganised Sector.’ The report brings to fore a startling fact that in India “70% of the population has to live on less than Rs20 a day”. Rs20 a day, 600 a month, seems to be ludicrous, particularly in a situation where, a mound of rice or wheat cost around four hundred (through PDS), a sack of potatoes not less then Rs200, a kg of chickpeas more then Rs50. And forget items like oil, tomatoes onions, and milk. Will there still be anything left for these ‘luxurious items’? Rupees Six hundred for a month are barely enough to save one, literally from starvation. Food with proper nutritional value and requisite calorie intake is completely out of reach of over-whelming majority of the population in India. That is the reason why in India, more than 500 women die per 100,000 out of live deliveries due to anemia, and deficiencies of iron and other vitamins, while, as the ratio in America is 7 per 100,000. Perhaps, Arjun Sengupta, rightly peruse the current state of affairs, ‘‘we welcome the around 9 per cent growth rate, but unfortunately it has not touched, infact bypassed, 77 per cent of the population”. The phenomenon of ‘Thousand small mutinies’ in nook and corner of India although perturbing but is not inexplicable. India has been spending over the years tens of billion dollars to acquire new weapon systems and weapon of mass destruction, but at the same time, neglecting its rural areas that is the reason why the rural economy is in complete shambles. Agriculture sector stands totally neglected; thousands of farmers are committing suicide and millions missing a meal a day. The trend in India today is to invest in national security apparatuses, rather then in the social sector. This echoes the macho mentality of ruling, urban middle class. The middle class discourse has pushed away the social issues of paramount importance from the public arena. However, a simple rule of thumb is overlooked at a risk; if great majority of people stand alienated with the system, any strength of security will prove to be inadequate in the end. It is very difficult to describe India of today? India’s case study bewilders an average scholar of economics. Whereas there is buzz around the world Capitals about India’s up-and-coming super power status and still, in India, seventy percent of its population lives on mere Rs20 a day. What is authentic, a trillion dollar economy, a nuclear power with million strong army and 10 billion dollars defense procurement budget for next few years? And with more than “100 Indian companies now with the market capitalization of over a billion dollars.” Or according to United Nations human development report, 2005, where India ranks 127, “just two rungs above Myanmar and more than 70 below Cuba and Mexico”. India’s $728 per capita gross domestic product is just slightly higher than that of sub-Saharan Africa. And last but not the least, to whom free and modern India belongs? Tatas, Birlas Ambanis, Mittals, Murthys and Premjis, or 320 million hungry and poor, unable to buy food “despite food stocks piling up to unmanageable levels.”


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