Dr. Manmohan Singh is a PhD in Economics, a subject which essentially deals with understanding human behavior when it comes to market, money and social choices. Most Economists study the situation and write reports; none of them actually sit down to applying their vast knowledge to solve problems. After churning out several books, reports and Budgets, Dr. Singh has a unique opportunity to treat two of his most challenging patients- The Kashmir Issue & Naxal Issue. Dr. Singh has been weak in Politics and unfortunately for him, he belongs to a party, without a mass-cadre, a party that survives on Political-Engineering & serving Biryani-Beer. So calling this a political problem would be a bad way to start the diagnosis. Thus he has to rely on his vast knowledge of Economics and Social Behavior.
When a plant grows in a pot and even if the pot is dug in a ground, its leaves would rarely ever come out of the pot. Similarly Dr. Singh has been a product of the system and he is unable to think out of it. He is relying on the tried-tested & failed Back Channel Diplomacy, Strict Security Deployment, All Party Meetings, CMs Meetings, Cabinet Meetings, Committee Meetings, Press Meetings and more Meetings, resulting in same old ideas. His team consists of people who would begin quoting reports and books, when asked for Fresh “original” ideas and Ministers who would only worry about political repercussions of every decision.
Ronald Regan is considered the Best United States President and I read in his Biography that he always told his staff, “Let us do what is right and not worry about the political outcome of the decision.” Some of his decisions were hard and at times very unpopular, but created a dynamic and strong nation. Dr. Singh displayed the same grit when it came to the Nuclear Deal but on the larger problems of Kashmir and Naxalism, Dr. Singh is weak and out of ideas. His ministers are becoming intellectually arrogant and fighting over possible solutions. But all solutions come with a major component of collateral damage. Kashmir and Naxalism may seem so distinct but both have the same medicine- An Overdose of Democracy.
Naxalism is a movement which is strong in the least developed parts of central India. It is not a movement for liberation but a system of turning India to a communist state by 2050. It is an armed guerilla struggle which has a support of a Lakh Indian Citizens and many more through coercion and intimidation. There is a debate about Naxalism in the country. While most agree on the cause of the uprising but there are disagreements the method being followed is right.
I believe that Free Democracy is the best form of Government. Amongst all forms of government known to man (& woman), this form of Government allows for real freedom of thought & economic freedom. It is the government which would allow citizens to excel according to their capabilities. Nature has one rule- “Survival of the fittest” and in the form of government, the fittest would rise and the poor would suffer. Communist Government curtail freedom and aim to undo the rule, the Government become unnatural to human sensibilities. Left with no alternative form of changing the government, revolutionaries spring up. Power is like a magnet, once you have power; one would anything to continue with it. Communist Governments become regime and subjugate their population to torture and inhumane conditions. Free Democracy has change within the system, but communist states do not have this feature to its form of Government. Most of the Communist states are formed by armed revolutions. The leaders wield the gun and one who attains power by the gun, would find it very difficult to let go it. These Governments fail and even if Naxal Movement is a success, the Regime would be a disaster for India.
While making analysis, one must remained biased, but I am a selfish Indian like everyone else and I feel the present system favors our selfishness so I would like the end of Naxalism. Not just the movement but also the reasons which fuel it, must be defeated. Victory over Naxalism would not be in an unnatural calm or in absence of conflict. Victory would be when we remove the strains of hatred among the people living in those regions.
Naxal Problem is not only a law and order one, but a social as well as an economic one. Defeating one problem will not positively change the other two. All three have to be attacked at the same time. To understand how Naxalites think, one must read the essay by Chemkuri Azad Rajkumar, a slain Naxal Leader, published in Outlook Magazine, Pg 18 July 19th 2010. He feels that the Urban Indians, who pay taxes to fund the war against the Tribal & Naxalites, see the tribal as people who need to be civilized. There is a feeling that the Urban India views the tribal as inferior uncivilized section of the society. He goes on to add that democracy is absent as leaders are authoritative figures. There is a concern that the global resources are getting concentrated in handful of persons. The displacement of over 6Crore people in the name of land acquisition is leading to destruction of lives, lands and cultures of the people. And as expected and (most probably) true, resentment against the atrocity of Security Forces and also of the ‘state sponsored goons’ called Sulwa Judam.
The belief in Chattishghar was that since the Government is unable to provide for security of the rural villagers, hence due to Naxalite threats and intimidation, more and more people take up the Naxalite cause. The Government trained and armed Village Defense Committees- to take on the Naxal. As it is true with anyone who wields the gun, harassment in form of rape, torture, murder and extortion became common. The poor tribal got caught in the cross-fire and slowly most of these groups got out of control of the government. Many even joined ranks with the Maoist. This exercise turned out to be a disaster as it was based on an incorrect premise.
Naxalites raise a very fundamental question for the entire world- Who owns the world’s resources? Does the person who explores the mineral resources have the right to own it or the person who owned the land where the resources were found owns it? In Bellary, Reddy brothers have a Permit to mine a piece of land, but are all the minerals theirs, as they own a permit to mine from it? The Oil found in Saudi Arabia is said to belong to the country, they could sell it. Similarly the minerals found in India belong to India. The Naxalites apply the same rule to the local village community that the minerals there belong to them. The Government may argue that they are being rehabilitated and the Corporate may argue that they built a hospital for them under their Corporate-Social Responsibility scheme. Some of them may also be employed in the mining units. But are the returns justified with respect what they are sacrificing for the benefits of others.
Dawood Ibrahim and others from the Mumbai Mafia have been made iconic figures thanks to cinema and media. But essentially they are involved in land deals where they get a bungalow owner to make way for commercial venture of apartments. These deals include threatening and murder of a few people, but in the rural areas the entire community needs to be removed, one could imagine the size of the mafia present. The armed revolution of the Naxalites could gain foothold in these areas because of the Jungle Terrain and because they were the only ones who heard their pleas and provided them protection.
Imagine a situation where you are slapped and abused by a person and then the same person comes to you without an apology but with gifts and goodies. Would you accept it whole-heartedly or would you throw it away? Well the Naxalites destroying the schools and hospitals could be seen in a similar light. Countering violence with violence would lead lots of bloodshed and deaths. Whoever gets killed, India will lose a citizen.
I propose a solution to this problem, by making the living more democratic for them. Whenever a bill is to be passed in the Assembly or Parliament, the Government tries to create a consensus amongst all concerned parties. Hence when land acquisition is required, one should not go and impose notices, instead hold discussions with one and all over it. One must be patient for a period of at least one year. Leaders must visit these places and political parties must scout for leaders from these areas. Their concerns must reach the Parliament and a sense of belonging to the nation must be created. The government must seem responsive to them. Development and progress must not be forced on anyone.
Export of raw minerals should be banned and a processing unit must be created near the mine, to provide for employment. The valuation of the company should be such that the estimated value of the mineral resource must be taken to be the ownership of the community, while the ownership of the company should be that of the money invested in the venture. There should be annual general body meetings and the shareholders must be treated with respect. The experiment has succeeded with Renuka Sugars in Karnataka and this is in lines of trusteeship as promoted by Gandhi ji.
There should be visible efforts to promote and protect their culture and way of life. Political parties must try to create cadres out of these tribals and even encourage leadership. Regular elections and promotion of discussions to settle grievances must be encouraged. A sense of imposing economic development or education must be removed. The British could survive in India as they began to respect Indian culture and stopped from tampering common man lives.
Guns are needed to fight the Naxals as the idea of violence must be destroyed. An over-awing sense of power and weaponry must be displayed, but not used. Their sense of belief in war should be destroyed. Dr. Singh, understanding and feeling the problem solves half of it, understanding the fuels which keep Naxalism buring bright would be a welcome first step.
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