Politics of entitlement and Naxalism
So I started this blog to address two issues that I think have the potential to lay the Indian state to waste.
- The disrespect shown to the constitution by the politicians, especially with regard to Article 14 (the right to equality). This has allowed the creation of vote banks based on the promise of special privileges to arbitrary groups at the expense of public goods. The issues such as unmonitored OBC quotas, special treatment for minorities, are just manifestations of this phenomenon. Today, the real interests of the public are getting congealed around these benefits offered or promised to them just for being members of these arbitrary groups. A larger and larger segment of Indians no longer care about the “big picture” issues facing us. They seem to have conceded the possibility that Article 14 is toast, and the real way forward is to press for even more special privileges for the group (or groups) they have organized themselves into.
- The unchecked Naxalite movement. Although it is not as systemic as the first problem. It has the ability to shatter this country in the near term. The naxalite problem is inextricably linked to the first problem (the politics of entitlement). The legitimate social justice tools of this country have not reached the really needy. Whether it is the tribals or the really backward, they have no way out of the social and economic hole they find themselves in. The extreme reluctance of the political class to study the true effects of the quota system points to the stark fact that the beneficiaries of the social justice platforms in this country are a very small segment and it is getting smaller. The inter-group (whether SC/ST or OBC) disparities are so huge that it would be impossible to bridge for the really needy. To this mix add the lack of land reforms and you get the picture.
Consider the reaction of Indians and the media when one of the most outrageous attacks on our country happened. No, I am not talking about the Mumbai blasts, I am talking about the military style attack on a Salwa Judum camp by Naxalites. I scanned all available media channels looking for direct coverage of the attack. No luck. It has found some print coverage but that too is full of platitudes and age old talk about “understand the root of the Naxal problems”.
Here is a summary of just how outrageous this attack was:
For those who dont know what Salwa Judum is, first a small detour
Salwa Judum translates to “Peace March” in Bastar district of MP. A large group of adivasis (tribals) in Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh got frustrated by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and naxal menace. The government is largely absent in these areas and the naxals have a free run, the naxals banned the tribals from conducting their weekly barter melas, which form the cornerstone of their culture. In a brave act, they decided to take up arms and protect themselves from these Naxals in April 2005. It is important that they took up arms only as a defensive measure. The state government also supported them. The lack of criminal ruthlessness, training and weaponry in the Salwa Judum activists made them no match for the dreaded Maoists. Anyway this part of India (13 heartland states / about 20-25% of the area) is messed up beyond belief. Entire villages are being moved into “relief camps”, to escape Naxal reprisals. Over 50,000 tribals from 700 villages no longer live at home, they live in these relief camps in the heart of India.
Interesting fact : At 39,000 sq km, the Bastar district is larger than Israel , larger than Kerala, larger than Belgium !!
Interesting fact 2: Bastar district has a “unsurveyed, unexplored” forest jungle called Abuj Mand. The forest zone is 10,000 SQ KM with a population of just 20,000. I did not know about this at all until I read this article.
Interesting fact 2: The Dantewada district has an area of 10,000 Sq Km (1/4 the size of Kerala) but has a population of just 700,000. Over 78% of then are Scheduled Tribes. For more information about this fascinating and beautiful district visit here
This is what Raman Singh CM of Chattisgarh has to say about Salwa Judum.
`Salwa Judum’ (peace march) against naxalism in the State would go down in history as one of the world’s most successful revolutions.
So consider the audacity of the military style attack last week.
- Errabore is the name of one of the 700 odd “relief camps” run for hapless tribals by the Salwa Judum. This is in Dantewada district of Chattisgarh. It seems like this camp had CRPF (a paramilitary force) protection.
- At about 1 AM on July 17th, a armed group of 800 Naxalites and Maoists attacked the CRPF camp. Later reports in Deccan Chronicle suggest that atleast 300 of these Naxals were from AP. The Naxals from AP were also believed to have led the attacks.
- The attack was military style. First they lay seige to all roads connecting the town of Errabore, then they attacked the CRPF camp as a diversionary tactic. Their real interest was to kill the Salwa Judum activists taking refuge in these camps.
- For two hours they laid siege to TWO CRPF camps. Three platoons of CRPF personnel were confined to their bases, while they targeted the relief camp.
- In the two hours, they ruthlessly massacred 32 refugees(hacked to death with sharp weapons or charred to death) , kidnapped 28. After the attack was over over 250 refugees were “missing”.
Where is the government in all this ? How can they raise or encourage a self-defense force without adequate training, weaponry, or protection ? Where is the rapid action team ? How can Naxalites lay seige for TWO Indian paramiliary bases for TWO hours, without sustaining heavy casualities ?
Why was AP CM YS Rajasekhar Reddy allowed to give a free run of six months to Naxals as an election reward ? His government as well as the UPA must be held accountable for this relaxation. Why should other states suffer because of acts of the CM of one state ? This is an All-India problem and no state should have the right to declare ceasefire.
There is total lack of interest in this attack on Indias heartland among the politicians. Even the general public who have now formed into “entitlement groups” do not seem to care. The media could care less because, its viewers are not interested in this public issue. The politicians who have allowed these naxals to regroup are not being questioned.
Only by snatching away the ability of politicians to play the entitlement card, can we get people to care more about common issues. Social justice programs must be studied, analyzed, tweaked, micro managed, and fine tuned to reach the neediest of the needy. If not, we have achieved nothing other than dividing the country along convenient groups.
Recommended site :
Excellent article :
A civil liberties site that turns around and attacks the self defense group Salwa Judum