Reality Check India

Bloodbath in Chattisgarh

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on March 15, 2007

In any other country in the world, this would have been the number one headline for atleast two weeks. 

Should we talk about the killing of 11 unarmed protestors in Nandigram by police fire (or) the killing of 49 policemen by naxal fire ? 

Reality Check thinks that the killings of the policemen are more shocking because the police represent the states’ monopoly over the use of violence (or in this case, the lack thereof). The monopoly over the use of force is the bedrock on which countries are built. India cannot progress beyond the kindergarten stage unless this monopoly is assured and enforced.  In fact, Max Weber even went to the extent of defining a state as an organization that has the legal monopoly over the use of physical force.

In the latest attack Naxalites attacked a police camp in Chattisgarhs Bijapur district killing 49 policemen. You would expect that the sheer magnitude of this attack and the fact that policemen were killed would be enough to make headlines for days on end. Not. Not in India.

Sahara Samay reports that the Naxals even shot those who ran to save their lives.

Raipur, March 15: As many as 49 security force personnel were killed on Thursday morning in a major attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur area.

The personnel of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and Special Police Officers (SPOs) were killed when Maoists attacked their Rani Bodali camp located in the interior of Bastar region, around 510 km south of capital Raipur.

The naxals set ablaze the police post and shot those running to save their life.

74 policemen, including 24 personnel of CAF 9th battalion and 50 SPOs deployed at the camp when the rebels attacked it.

Source : Sahara Samay

The time has come for Indians to accept the possibility that there need not be a non-violent solution to every violent problem.  Policies like “Naxals can claim their own bounty” will not help. The earlier attack on the Salwa Judum camp must have led to the policemen being better prepared to repulse a flash attack. What happened ? Can funds and lack of technology be any restriction here ? What are the issues here ?

Does the Indian state have the will and the resources to demonstrate to the Naxalites that violence will be met with even more furious violence ? A disproportionate use of force is a well known deterrent. Talk to the American police about it.  We have all seen on COPS how SWAT teams demonstrate their “macho power” even when the suspect is a 70 year old lunatic. I am not advocating airstrikes but something along the lines of “You hit me with a stone, I put a rocket launcher in your mouth and then hit you back with a stone“.

Does the Indian state, at the same time, have the will to define and address their social justice concerns ? Do they see any space for themselves on any of the social justice platforms in India (SC – ST – OBC – or minority) ? What is the way out for them ?

Most importantly.

Does the Indian state have the will to hold political parties like the AP Congress accountable for its Naxal policy ? Is it okay to make temporary policies based on electoral interests rather than national interest ?

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  2. Jai_Choorakkot said, on March 15, 2007 at 9:54 am

    1. SWAT teams apply overpowering tactics in well contained scenarios against clearly identified threats that are isolated from collateral to the best possible extent. Disproportionate force as executed here is more typically revenge attacks and torture of ‘suspected sympathizers’.

    2. I think its rule of the jungle out there. I have seen it reported that Salwa Judum are into more than just peace marching and defensive fighting. Some of them have been torturing/ killing *suspected* Naxal informers apparently.

    3. Tribals deserve the full protection of the state as us, the rule of law and not naxal raj.

    4. Strengthening the police forces, esp. *intelligence* is the way to go than converting civilians into combatants. W.r.t “You hit me… rocket launcher… I hit you”, the rocket launcher is not required to counter a stone, if you know whom to hit and where they are.

    5. Would like to hear more on how the social justice concerns can be addressed.


  3. Urban Bourbon Ninja said, on March 15, 2007 at 11:27 am


    first, dont quote from 2 year old articles, they’re inaccurate now. If we’re to follow your point of view, (the rocket launcher) then Andhra has the best naxal policy in the country. Their shoot-first-talk-later policy has made sure naxals are on the backfoot, heck, even behind the stumps in AP.

    While raw force may temporarily stop naxals, i dont think its a great solutions. Maoists aren’t a gang of serial rapists. There is no Gang of 50 people that go around raping, and if you kill em all, the streets are safe.

    Its an ideological battle. While you do need to use force, its also important to understand what they’re about, and address the basic underlying problem.

    A lot of people are against the maoists. Me for one. But before you decide to be against them, you might want to try and understand them first.

  4. realitycheck said, on March 15, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Urban Bourbon Ninja,

    >> 2 year old articles, they’re inaccurate now >>

    Dated – yes, inaccurate – no.

    Please read the rocket-launcher analogy completely. I said – show the rocket launcher, but dont use it. There is a big difference. A show of the states majesty and might is necessary in this situation. The naxals do it all the time, read my story about the time they blew up a tourist boat on Nagarjunasagar.
    This is a well known tactic in law enforcement. Why do you think the American / British / Israeli soldiers dress up like aliens ?

    The naxal problem is rooted in social justice. The test of the governments will is to explore whether the groups susceptible to maoism can be accomodated on our social justice platforms. 20 or 30 point programs are not going to work. They must be given space on the primary platforms (read educational and job quotas or political quotas like SCs).

    Irrespective of what their problems might be, the state must maintain the monopoly over the use of force. There can be no compromise on this if we ever dream of calling ourselves a country. Everything else is secondary to ensuring this monopoly.

  5. Barbarindian said, on March 15, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    This is a bonanza for the politicians. Most UPA politicians have been claiming for quite sometime that OBC quota is the solution for the Naxal problem.

  6. Reason said, on March 15, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    The monopoly over the use of force is the bedrock on which countries are built. India cannot progress beyond the kindergarten stage unless this monopoly is assured and enforced.

    …be aware of what Dr Ramadoss (the senior) has accomplished for his Vanniyar community. It is nothing short of remarkable.

  7. realitycheck said, on March 16, 2007 at 4:11 am


    You are probably a bit disturbed at my observation about Ramdoss.

    He is like my cousin who had a knack of getting past unruly crowds at any messed up ticket office or while vying for bus or train seats (unreserved). There is a lot of pushing and shoving, there are others like him who are trying to get their way, but his physical size and strategy ensured that we always managed a ticket or a train or bus seat. We felt proud about him, and as school kids we enjoyed the fruits of his efforts in the form of sitting and travelling on crowded trains or buses. Sure, a lot of weaker people were affected. If not for him, the weaker would not have got their tickets anyway. Another strongman from another family would have trumped. The system is designed to work like that. If you cant run behind a bus and put down your towel, you dont get a seat. I hope you get this analogy. With Ramdoss, we are not talking about the system, we are talking about his ability to “put down the towel” for his community.

    When dealing with politicians who are riding the OBC wave, remember this line “The truth (data) shall set you free” – Jesus Christ

  8. Anoop Saha said, on March 16, 2007 at 4:23 am


    Its not about numbers. It is about who is using force against whom. In Nandigram it was the agents of the state, the police that opened fire on women and children, without warning without provocation. And then the chief minister has the audacity to say that “the villagers should have acted wiser”. Of course this is a significant news item, the evenst are reminiscent of Jalianwala Bagh hatyakand. Also note that though the state has a monopoly on power, it is bout by the constraints of rightness. To kill innocents by the state, and then to justify it is arrogance of the state power.
    What’s happenning in Bastar is actually a war. You need to look at it that way. A couple of weeks ago, the paramilitaries and SPO’s razed down the Gacchinapalli village. The entire village was burnt down. Nobody knows how many died. Have you seen anybody in the media report it? Salwa Judum is wreaking havoc in village after village. Which newspaper is covering it? You justify the use of disproportionate force by the state, ostensibly to preserve the monopoly. Note that the people who bear the brunt of this force are actually the innocents, caught between a wrong war. The state was missing in Bastar for 40 years. The only face of state that the people of Bastar have seen is that of force. Force and oppression. By the police, the forest guards, the thekedaars protected by the state, and of course the mining companies. Naxals came here just 20 years back. They have earned the support that they are now getting. Ask me, I have grown up in Bastar.

  9. realitycheck said, on March 16, 2007 at 6:24 am

    I always look forward to your views Anoop.

    I am little uncomfortable with the idea of Salwa Judum myself, but they are still agents of the state. The state must ensure they are in full control of its activities. The state must be able to switch on, switch off, or calibrate the actions of this group. If not, we have the “monopoly” problem all over again. A Salwa Judum on the loose is as dangerous as Maoists on the loose.

    I certainly do not have the first hand knowledge of what is happening on the ground in Bastar , Dantewada etc. What I do know is that no matter what the ground issues are, the monopoly of force is paramount! No grievance or oppression can trump the states monopoly in this regard.

    What happens when there are two contenders to the monopoly of use of force ? It is the very definition of a civil war – the end result of which shall be a restoration of monopoly to the winner or carving out multiple territories in which monopoly of force is enforced.

    The use of force is not without effect. The Javadi hills of Tamilnadu in the 70’s is not what it is today. People shuddered to go there due to naxal activity. This was until a supercop Walter Dawaram was able to enforce the monopoly in that area. There were reports of overuse of force, collateral damage, and such. Today both the people of that area, as well as tourists can enjoy the beauty of these hills. I remind everyone who takes a trip to Yelagiri hills to say thanks to Mr Dawaram for it.

    What happened to BR Hills after the SIT led by Vijaykumar busted the Veerappan gang ? Mr Vijaykumar restored the TN governments monopoly in that area. Anyone visiting the new resorts in that area needs to say thanks to him too.

  10. […] threat to national security” and promptly did nothing about it. This week Naxalites massacred more than 50 police and para-policemen in Chattisgarh’s Bastar area. It is no longer […]

  11. Reason said, on March 16, 2007 at 9:23 am

    I was pointing out that Ramadoss used violence (still does, as seen during release of a Rajnikant film for example). When ‘mainstream’ politicians resort to violence – and speak of ‘direct action’, ‘blood bath’ etc – how do you ensure the State has monopoly over use of force?

    I can see that the scale was different, but it still negates the principle.

    But I do agree with the principle that State should have monopoly over use of force (it is obvious). Anyone who thinks he can resort to force – however serious his grievance may be – takes himself outside the system. This is an idea of civil society that you can see in very old works like John Locke.

  12. Barbarindian said, on March 16, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    West Bengal might blow up. That state pioneered many things in the past. Should I be hopeful for the civil war I have been looking forward to?

    The monopoly of State can not be sustained without a degree of consensus. We have a matrix of dissent – across religion, caste, prosperity level – now region and culture as well, perhaps race too if you include the North East. It’s only a matter of time.

  13. Revathi said, on March 16, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Dear Barbarindian,
    I wish you wouldnt speak of india splitting into many parts in a light way. It is very unlikely that such a division will be a civilised affair like czech republic and Slovakia. It will be more like India-Pakistan divide if not worse. It could be preceded by a long drawn civil war like in Iraq. I think at least for the time being, it will be best for all concerned to maintain faith in the Indian union. In fact, the indian union seems to be an oasis of stability amidst a whole lot of worse scenarios like in SriLanka. If the tamils in SriLanka wanted to join India instead of asking for a separate state, the outcome would have been very different.

  14. Arindam said, on March 17, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Do you guys have any idea about the root cause of this violence? What is their demand? Can it be solved within the framework of our Constitution? I am from another violence hit state ‘Assam’. There we don’t support separatist like ULFA as many of their demands can’t be solved within the framework of Indian Constitution. We have seen division of our country and my family suffered a lot. We certainly don’t want that division again. Mr. Revathi is right in this regard. In any kind of violence it is the peace loving common people who suffer.

  15. Barbarindian said, on March 17, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    I am as peace-loving as anyone else too and the last thing I want is violence.

    First – a point about bloodshed. What exactly would you consider a large amount of violence? In my opinion we are already in civil war, like it or not. Just because you and I are lucky enough to mostly stay out of the harms way does not mean it will stay that way. India has been bleeding and bleeding heavily. Just because you read the newspaper and shake your head and go about your business does not mean that the 49 that got smoked here, the 11 that smoked there do not add up, does not mean that they don’t leave behind the 3 year old toddler who will never understand why daddy will neve come back home.

    Most of us bloggers and commenters here form a narrow part of India. Possibly bachelors/masters in professional education, a comfortable job. Yeah, the last thing we want is violence. Does not mean it is that way for everyone else, especially those who remain exposed.

    I do not think that there is not a region where a separatist movement of some sort or other is not going on. I do not think that Indians can really run or create a lasting nation – this is not a racist notion. Just look at the way we are treating the North East and the way China is managing Tibet. Have you ever been to Itanagar or Aizawl? You must be aware that it is like visiting a foreign country. You even need a special pass! The day India was created with states divided along cultural lines, we were doomed. The day our constitution acknowledged that people need to be compensated for things way into historic past, retroactively, India was doomed as a nation state.

    It could be sustained if we had a strong but ballsy central Government. But as Osama bin Laden said: when people see a weak horse and a strong horse, they like the strong horse. The concept of a center is beginning to look more and more weak.

    I see the Indian situation as one which is fraught with moral hazard. It is not just the politicians who are bad. Just look at the statements some of them made in the recent past. One wants to punish the cement industry for “profiteering”. The other wants to drive away (implied use of force) an established retailer from a region. Yes, politicians make bravura statements. But not illegal and not slanderous comments like that. A reknowned lawyer bullied a woman journalist and people thought it was funny. These things do not seem real until the bullet actually leaves the muzzle and hits one on the chest. You gotta be kidding – the man must have thought. In Nandigram.

    In my opinion we should divide the country. The longer we wait, the worse it will be.

  16. realitycheck said, on March 17, 2007 at 4:27 pm


    It does not matter what their “socio-economic” background is. We are past that point. At the moment they have military objectives. The state has to first demonstrate to them that “it is not ok to challenge its monopoly over the use of force”.


    Taking your line a bit further, what do you think is the ultimate stable unit ?. It just does not exist. We have to fix this mess, we just have no alternative.

  17. Barbarindian said, on March 17, 2007 at 5:34 pm


    You raise an important point. I will only say this – maybe there will not be anything stable, maybe it will disintegrate into a permanent Chechnya/Basra/Darfur combo.

    Except for the US, there is not a region in the world which has a stable non-homogeneous population. Middle-East: totally fragmented. Europe: fragmented. Africa – frag again. South Africa is an uncomfortable co-existence. You must have heard the story, there is a Pakistani man who is advocating breaking that country into multiple pieces.

    We have no alternative, I agree, but turning completely blind to historical precedences will not fix the issue. To stabilize India, creation of a National Identity is a must. It can not be based on religion because even within Hinduism we have many chasms and personally I do not prefer it. The National Identity could be based on a platform of progress but I am afraid we are losing the bus.

    I believe there is a 30-40% chance of serious trouble within 2020. If it happens, there may be three outcomes. First is what I already mentioned, but it is not likely. The second is a permanent fissure, some sort of a decentralized arrangement. The third outcome could be a re-unification, a collective sense of guilt etc.

  18. Reason said, on March 17, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Though India had a common religious/cultural background for a long time in its history -a pilgrimage to Varanasi was never complete without a visit to Rameswaram, a Namboodiri brahmin Shankara set up institutions in all corners of the country – it was never a single political entity.

    The common religious/cultural identify might have helped avoid civil wars though there were wars between kings – one king won and the society continued on.

    But the common religious/cultural identity has been under attack for a long time so it is difficult not to agree with Barb on the prospects of a civil war.

    Cho Ramaswami has written about this in this week’s Q&A – the question was about states demanding autonomy, and in reply he says ––A-by-Cho-Ramaswamy/
    “If that happens, the USA, China, Russia, oil exporting nations, et al will develop commercial interests all over the country and convert the nation into a plethora of vassal states with the use of pelf. This in turn will result in many of our states becoming “associates” of foreign powers. The differences existing here due to the existence of multifarious languages will develop into huge chasms. The silent wars of foreign countries will morph into running battles here. Corruption will grow manifold. After paying such a huge price, nothing useful will come of it. ”

    More fun.

  19. Barbarindian said, on March 17, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Statecraft and polity is not always rational and public opinion is hardly ever so. You know and believe that there is a point of staying together. I know and believe there is a benefit in the Union. RC feels and wants to continue the state. The question is, do the powers that be and the emotional public believe in it too?

    There is another objection to Ramaswamy’s argument. European nations, individually much smaller than many Indian states, at least for now remain in a state of peaceful coexistence and cooperation. It is rather simple really, if the states do not have the political maturity to strike those qualitions, there is no reason to believe forced to cohabit together they will at all achieve anything good. They will constantly impede one another, as is happening today.

    There is no question that fragmentation will attract wolves. But there are many states which can theoretically form that can become very powerful. Just as an example (not a very realistic one), if the deemed privileged come together and form their own nation, they can become a knowledge/manufacturing economy and import all the food from the world. It will be better and cheaper food, not to mention much more diverse.

    No matter what anyone says, the state does not inspire any confidence any more.

  20. Reason said, on March 18, 2007 at 3:34 am

    >> There is another objection to Ramaswamy’s argument. European nations, individually much smaller than many Indian states, at least for now remain in a state of peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

    But during the cold war, eastern european nations and Germany were stages for USSR.

  21. Arindam said, on March 18, 2007 at 5:09 am

    India as a state is too soft and have too much politics without rigid policies.

  22. Revathi said, on March 18, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Solutions exist and have to be tried out and can succeed if everyone agrees that violence should be the last option. I dont think that the situation in chattisgarh can be compared to Israel-palestine or the kashmir problem where solutions are difficult to imagine. So what is the solution for the tamil separatists in SriLanka? Why was it allowed to grow out of proportion in the first place? Most srilankans blame India for abetting the separatists but the srilankans are equally to blame for ignoring the moderate voices until the tigers took the whole movement hostage. Why can we not learn that when a population expresses discontent, one should look into the grevances before violent elements surface inevitably. If leaders can approach problems with the aim of solving and not buck passing, then things can happen.

  23. Barbarindian said, on March 18, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Looks like Sri Lanka is deadlocked now, will continue as a low-yield violence occasionally erupting into bigger events for the foreseeable future.

    The group identities are well established.
    The smaller group has political ambitions.
    The bigger group has shown ambitions beyond status-quo ante (i.e. stripping citizenship).
    There is fear of demographic scale tipping.
    There is a big country above which can be shaken down and which is vulnerable because of its unique domestic politial situations (which prevents it from letting the conflict be and allowing Tamils/Sinhalese to duke it out).


  24. Conrius said, on March 18, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    I have been following your blog for quite some time now. Very impressive.

    I would like to bring forth the second amendment of the US constitution here. A states monopoly is a double edged sword. It allows the state to protect its subjects at the same time providing an opportunity to do what it wants with impunity. Whenever the state falters there are four means to set it right, we have four choices of boxes to set things right again, in the order of soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Notice ammo falls last. Surges of populism and apathy of the middle class often makes the first two choices void. Unlike the US system, we do not have juries in India, justice is often meted out through the power of a single judge, human as he/she may be, the judgment can easily be swayed. This brings out the necessity of exercising the last option or having the last option open.

    Taking post Godhra riots as an example, what is there to protect any minority or small group within India when the state, having a monopoly on force fails to protect them ? Au contraire, what would happen if only some minorities have access to arms and choose to use them against rest of the population ?

  25. Observer said, on March 19, 2007 at 12:55 am

    Barbarindian and RealityCheck:

    I find the very notion of India breaking up into multiple pieces somewhat impolitic. It will not prove to be of long-term advantage to Indians of any background. Devolution of power to local bodies, and creation of a few more states based on developmental needs is more of a stable solution. Also, rationalization of taxes and inter-state movement of goods in the form of VAT is of prime importance. If we think of India as a free-trade zone of a billion people, it provides many companies with the scale and consumer reach to be able to take on the global giants like China, USA, EU etc. I believe people will eventually see through this, and decide to cooperate if bureaucrats are willing to relinquish power, and let the local bodies and state governments make a few mistakes and learn from them.

    A land-locked state like Chattisgarh would have sealed its fate it were to become its own country. How would it be possible for it to acquire and develop expertise in terms of financial, infrastructural, agricultural and educational responsibilities? I believe the tribals who are fighting the police are aware of this, and are not interested in a separate country. What they are asking for is greater representation, freedom from overt repression by police and other authorities, and a greater say in development.

    Similarly, the TN Dravida movement for a separate country fizzled out once the immediate threat of Hindi imposition had passed. The TN Dravida OBC leaders are not stupid or reactionary. TN does have its own coastline which will allow it to trade with other nations, but it does not have any rivers which originate in TN. If it were to become a separate nation, and Karnataka and Kerala, which harbor many anti-Tamil sentiments, were to cut off access to Cauvery and tributaries, TNs agricultural economy would be severely affected. Not to mention loss of the Kalpakkam and Koodangulam nuclear power plants, return of the many migrants from TN to Delhi, Bombay, Pune and other parts of India, and various other problems. The additional need of raising and maintaining a military to defend its long land border with the rest of India, and the seas would impose a huge drain on its meager finances as well. Being cut off from the large Indian market, why would automobile majors keep their factories there? What is to prevent Sri Lanka from launching proxy attacks in TN once it is no longer part of India? How is TN going to attract WB money, and the expertise to manage its infrastructure, ports, railways, develop its local air network etc, without strong central backing? How will its currency be valued?

    I think deep down Indians know they need each other and it is advantageous to stay together. The “game of chicken” that RC alluded to earlier is being played by each group to maximize their advantage, but once they look into the deep abyss of actual separation, and the above issues, saner minds will prevail. We should also not play the game of chicken and stoke these feelings further.

  26. Revathi said, on March 19, 2007 at 8:22 am

    I think splitting India into a multitude of states is not really viable.At one point some thought that the north would split from the south but there is no real unity among the southern states as of now to result in such a split. The east could split from the rest- the west would probably not separate. However, the example of Europe shows that every country does not need to develop its own army and nuclear power plant in order to survive as a national entity. I admit that there is an extra drain on resources like that of the swiss army that has spent a lot of money and has solved most of its neighborly problems through negotiation.

  27. realitycheck said, on March 19, 2007 at 9:05 am

    >> Taking post Godhra riots as an example, what is there to protect any minority or small group within India when the state, having a monopoly on force fails to protect them ? Au contraire, what would happen if only some minorities have access to arms and choose to use them against rest of the population ? >>

    The monopoly is necessary but not sufficient.

  28. Observer said, on March 20, 2007 at 4:36 am

    I think splitting India into a multitude of states is not really viable.At one point some thought that the north would split from the south but there is no real unity among the southern states as of now to result in such a split. The east could split from the rest- the west would probably not separate. However, the example of Europe shows that every country does not need to develop its own army and nuclear power plant in order to survive as a national entity. I admit that there is an extra drain on resources like that of the swiss army that has spent a lot of money and has solved most of its neighborly problems through negotiation.

    Almost every major country, like USA, Canada, EU countries, Japan, S. Korea, China, Brazil, Argentina etc has a nuclear plant(s) today. The problem with many Indian states is that water, coal, gas, thorium, uranium, oil, iron, and other mineral resources are not evenly distributed. The cost of a state such as Chattisgarh, or TN trying to establish their own energy infrastructure etc assumes a crippling burden in the scenario of forming a separate nation. India is like a free-trade zone with 1 billion people, the population of the entire world just a couple of hundred years ago. Once people actually start thinking about this seriously, it is almost guaranteed they will back off quickly, and look for a solution inside the Indian framework.

  29. realitycheck said, on March 20, 2007 at 5:06 am


    The state (as we know it today) are far from stable units. Issues like power, irrigation, are lesser problems. The states (as they exist) are stable only because they are part of the Indian union. For example : Do you want to guess what the constitution of TN would look like ?

    Smaller countries mean that the monopoly of force is now restricted to a much smaller geographical area. This greatly increases the incentive for players to challenge that monopoly.

    This is why I asked Barbarindian, what he thought was the ultimate stable unit. In my view, there is none in India.

  30. Revathi said, on March 20, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Dear RC,

    You forget that less than a hundred years ago, India was a multitude of small states-an easy prey for a colonial power to dominate. So if we split into several parts there is a strong likelyhood that an Iraq like situation will arise. There will be UN peace keeping forces all over the place and some of us will be receiving international food aid. However, this doesnt mean that the states in India cannot get more power and more autonomy ( I think the political situation in the country has already resulted in increased power for the states).

  31. Observer said, on March 21, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    realitycheck said,

    on March 20th, 2007 on 5:06 am


    The state (as we know it today) are far from stable units. Issues like power, irrigation, are lesser problems. The states (as they exist) are stable only because they are part of the Indian union. For example : Do you want to guess what the constitution of TN would look like ?

    I can only shudder at the thought. The only reason Brahmins are still able to live in TN is because of the connection to the rest of India. If TN were to be a separate country, they would soon become similar to the Irula and Toda hill tribes in Salem district, and end up on the UN endangered cultures list.

    But carrying this argument further, isn’t the natural inclination then for each group to demand its own state within the Indian union, and then formulate policies to maximize benefits at the central level? For example just like Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Jharkand, and the upcoming Telengana, Rayalaseema states. Each would then send its coterie of ministers to the centre, declare all state residents as ST or OBC or something like that, put that in the Ninth Schedule, (hey TN has proudly shown how this can be done!), and carry on a proxy fight for benefits and grants there?

    However, if a standard was set that all policies would have to be backed by data, within a framework of national law, and subject to review by the Supreme Court, so that there are avenues to address abuse of power (numerical or financial), this might go a long way towards halting this incessant demand for further and further subdivions of the Indian union into more states. If the state governments had been run by professionals instead of populists, with a strong law and order system, and a liberalized education and employment market, why would people want to split?

  32. B Shantanu said, on March 24, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Reason, you say that, “Though India had a common religious/cultural background for a long time in its history, it was never a single political entity” – that is not true. No doubt you know the extent of Samrat Ashok’s empire and there was also Chandragupta Maurya + you are forgetting the Mughals – who although did not have all of what we call India under their rule, nevertheless, held sway over large parts of the region.

    Barb: you say, “In my opinion we should divide the country. The longer we wait, the worse it will be” – Have you really thought this through? Where do you stop? As RealityCheck has said, “We have to fix this mess, we just have no alternative.”

  33. B Shantanu said, on March 24, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    By the way, great post RC.
    I have linked it here:

  34. Barbarindian said, on March 25, 2007 at 3:42 am

    You raise some interesting points.First of all, let me ask you, does the name Kalinga ring a bell? Quiz question: which part of India was not under Ashoka’s rule? No prizes though.

    If you are willing to consider the Mughal rule as a sign of unity, you might as well have said that the most recent political incarnation of India under the British rule should be taken as the final desired outcome. Even them the Pakistan and Bangladesh question comes back to haunt us. Even more surprising: Sri Lanka, Burma etc. are different nations while Arunachal Pradesh, Kashmir and most of the North East are not. There is no inherent logic to these other than certain logistical reasons faced by the British Empire.

    I have no problem in the current state of India. You have no problem with the current state of India. RC has no problem with the current state of India. But the fact is we have 300 million hungry and destitute and another 200 million living in conditions that only statistics will claim to be dignified in any manner. I believe this is an immoral outcome for a nation. Your choices might be different, once again no prejudices.

  35. Observer said, on March 26, 2007 at 1:35 am

    I think it is very important that India stay together, and all groups manage to live in peace together. Throughout history, it has been shown that a large, productive population has powered a society to be among the most powerful in the world. Take the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Indians, Chinese, British, Germans, and finally now the Americans. These were among the most populous nations at their respective times. Germany today has a lower population than it did during the early part of this century. The advantages of having a large population contribute to a military, internal economic system etc is quite significant. I would personally repose belief in the inborn tolerance of Indians to find a way to work out a solution among ourselves.

    One of the reasons the US does not face a big problem today is because, even though its population is fragmented, there is a clear attempt on the part of the government and judiciary to ensure that there is equal access to public facilities and there are laws against discrimination. If the Indian govt can find a way to provide greater autonomy to all states, while enforcing central laws against repression of ethnic/linguistic/religious minorities, it could prove very beneficial to everyone overall to stay in the Union. I do not think other than the NorthEast, any group is seriously demanding a separation from India. The Naxalites, I believe are looking for a solution within the Indian framework.

  36. Barbarindian said, on March 26, 2007 at 3:46 am

    I think it is very important that India stay together

    Important for who?

    Also, throughout the history all these entities have crumbled into tiny parts. Event the Dar-ul-Islam could not hold together, the middle east is in flames in various ethnic conflicts. Sunni, Shia, Kurd, Turk, Arabs – all want their own piece.

  37. Observer said, on April 1, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Yes, you are right about the Arabian countries. I hope India does not end up like those countries. I believe there is a tribal/ethnic undercurrent to all those conflicts, even though they share the same religion. In India, this tribal identity is not very strong, and except for the SC/STs, in most cases, castes are not tribal identities. Similar to England, I believe castes arose as a class system, blue collar vs white collar. Class mobility is not very high in England either, and is becoming more difficult even in the US. Once a distinction emerges between a group of people, it is natural all over the world for each class to marry within the group, leading to a gradual hardening of class boundaries.

    Hence, for example in the US you have a Southern culture, with its own distinct accent, a country-music sub-culture (blue collar predominantly), the Boston Brahmins subculture, Most marry among themselves. And these differences arose in just 200 years. Imagine the situation 2000 years later. Maybe the country-music blue-collar types will be like the OBCs of India today, the Boston Brahmins will become even more Brahminical etc. And then of course the accusations will start flying about cornering the wealth, mistreating OBCs (never mind they are no. 1 in oppressing Blacks, like their Indian equivalents oppress Dalits) and asking for quotas etc. And so it goes.

  38. Barbarindian said, on April 2, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    A more plausible scenario is a Hispanic oppression tale which is being creafted by historical forces. They already outnumber blacks and form the largest minority racial group.

    In 20 years you will hear how the US whites “oppressed” and underpaid them, not to mention subject them to inhuman tasks under grossly deficient work conditions. They were also forced to clean feces.

    European downfall is almost certain and occur in less than 25 years. There will be another Uganda that will be pulled on Indians living in Europe.

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