Thursday, November 10, 2011

THE LEGEND OF BHUPEN HAZARIKA


November 5th saw one of the darkest days in the annals of Indian music industry. It lost its last balladeer the dreamwover from the east Bhupen Hazarika. The maestro who had enthralled the audiences across the world took the music of Assam to the world stage. Not only was he a musician; but a legend who united the North East through his words and his actions.


Starting his journey as a 10 year old Bhupen Da as he is fondly called attained one musical height after another. He was infact a true successor to the Leonardo Da Vinci concept of a complete man .Bhupen Da was not only a singer but a lyricist, director, author and a poet. He held the post of President of the prestigious Assam Sahitya Sabha. In his stint as the director of Sangeet Natak Akademi Bhupen Da was able to bring Sattriya Dance of Assam national and international recognition. Infact Bhupen Da was not only a messenger of Assam but of the entire North East. This was reflected in his death when the governments of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland expressed mourning as well.

Bhupen Da was Assam’s “Jatir Pita” (Father of the Nation) where he commanded the love and respect of every Assamese. And his death now poses a dangerous proposition of the Assamese people being left rudderless. This was aptly exhibited in the fact in the story of the 4 pigeons. It was a breathtaking sight to watch 4 pigeons following the caravan of Bhupen Da from the airport to Judge Field and finally to the cemetery. It was discussed that these 4 pigeons were indeed the soul of the 4 great Assamese sons of the soil; Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla, Bishnu Rabha,Phoni Sarma and Khirod Baishya present to escort the maestro to the doors of heaven. But it later turned out that the pigeons had their legs tied up to give the whole last journey as supernatural feel. While the crime doesn’t need to be discussed the motive why it was done must definitely be done.

Another line of thought sought to play this turnout of Bhupen da’s death as a sort of assertive Assamese identity. What this Assamese identity however stands for; has mystified each of us for the last three decades especially as one of the strongest student’s movement in free India the AASU movement of 1980’s eventually became a terrible failure.

There has been another further tenacious tendency to count the greatness of the man in terms of his funeral attendance. In his life he was acclaimed, applauded but there was also a stage where perhaps his role was questioned especially his role during the “Khadya Andolan” and “Bhasa Andolan” in Assam in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s.It was his humanist greatness that he choose to look above the two struggle but a section of people of Assam at that stage couldn’t take it lightly. And yet his friends and more importantly his lifelong detractors arrived to pay homage to his greatness at his death. What matters is not the number of people attending the funeral but his ability to join his friends and foes with his death.

The death of the maestro perhaps should not be given a supernatural coloring in form of four pigeons nor must it be counted among the “Greatest Funerals of the World.”We all watched as the world cried there was invariably a section of people who smiled everytime the television camera zoomed on them. There was always a section who arrived to pay homage because it looked on camera and hoped that it would a few brownie points with the public. There was always a section who updated Facebook status about Bhupen Hazarika’s death and their well cooked biriyani within a matter of 2 hours. In such a scenario it is almost foolishness to count the greatness of the man in terms of “funeral attendance”.

What then is the real legacy of Bhupen Hazarika? Is it a supernatural journey, a record of funeral attendance or a sense of super-assertive Assamese nationalism? The answer is an empathic none of these.

To understand the phenomenon that is Bhupen Hazarika we must understand that the basic nature of the Assamese psyche is high short term emotional quotient and an extreme form of belief in simple symbolism. This short term symbolism is perhaps also the reason why Assam has never been able to produce another Jyoti Prasad Agarwala. The Marwari community, to which Jyoti Prasad belonged, today prefers to exhibit a strong Marwari identity instead of believing in the immersing Assamese cultural sojourn. These makes one wonder what is wrong with the psyche and how will perhaps Bhupen Hazarika be different and how can we make it different.

To understand this we must go back to the composition of the 4 pigeons. The 4 pigeons included a Marwari,A Kaystha,a Rabha and a Brahmin. And this cluttering is perhaps where the success of Bhupen Hazarika will lie. For the first time Assam that has formerly been Balkanized among its tribes, its various linguistic divisions and its two valleys the Brahmaputra and the Barak, stood together. The pain of Bhupen Hazarika was felt from Sadiya to Dhubri from Silchar to Dibrugarh. He united the people of Assam across its lengths and breadth. Those who arrived at the scene to pay homage were not Assamese linguistic speakers or Bengali linguistic speakers. They were not Hindus or Muslims or Sikh they were the people of Assam who were bound together by one common thread the love for their maestro.

And this is the point from which a new sense of cultural identity must be incolculated. Whether 1 man attended his funeral or 50 lakhs did it doesn’t matter as long as there was one solitary heart with a prayer in their lips and tears in their eyes. It doesn’t matter whether the 4 pigeons actually flew with the maestro or not. None of it matters as long as the true message of his legacy is understood. Assam as a concept is broad and encompassing. Assamese nationalism as an identity is perhaps not a reflection of a linguistic chauvinism but an identity moulded in homogeneity. This nationalism is not the reflection of a secessionist tendency but a strong sub national aspiration that runs parallel to the Indian identity. 

It is from this idea oh homogeneity the death of Bhupen Hazarika endows that Assam must move forward. The road to a new Assam lies in the road to reapproachment and forgiveness and humanity and that I belief is the true lesson of the legacy of the Bhupen Da.

He is truly the Jatir Pita the Father of the Assamese nation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TRAIN JOURNEY!

From my childhood a train journey has always fascinated me. I remember the first time I travelled in a train. I was 7 years old and carrying a pen and paper with me to document whatever I saw. It was a condition that my insistent father had put them. I did eventually throw away his dream of seeing me complete my masters in English from Oxford but writing as a hobby somehow stuck to me.

A train journey to Delhi is always special. The famed Rajdhani travelling at a blitzkrieg speed always astounded me. I loved the Rajdhani for its speed for its food and for the people that travelled in it.

Perhaps no mosaic of Indian culture is more vivid that a train ride. So at 6:00 AM on the 19th of October I boarded the Rajdhani for Delhi. I was the first to arrive in our coach. I always liked to arrive early and watch others board the train. My seat was reserved in the upper berth, so I tucked my luggage under the seat and quickly settled in my berth. The journey and the fun had began.

The first to arrive in the coach was a burly Sardarji. Disciplined and light traveler he was undoubtedly an Armyman. Unlike the Assamese and our mishti loving cousins the Bengalees, the Sardarji travelled light. The Armyman tucks his luggage and then climbs to the berth opposite to me. He then settles, gives me a smile and sits down to read Alladin. Yes Alladin man was I shocked!

The next to arrive was a meek looking person of Mongoloid stock. An Assamese no doubt. The easiest way to find an Assamese is to look for the quietest person in a room full of people. Of course like exception to every rule I was an exception to the quiet Assamese concept!

Suddenly there is a large thud on the ground and I look down. A middle-aged man surrounded by others who were saluting him and saying “Ok sir ji”,”Ok Sir ji”. The person was pumped out, the typical Jat.A Jat and an Army man there you have your chest thumping arrogance.

So here it was me sandwiched between two Armymen a Sardarji and a Jat and a meek Assamese doing what they do best-keep to themselves. The train started and the Jat officer started his stories about how valiantly he performed relief work in Sikkim during the recent post earthquake relief operations. After a point of time even listening to heroic exploits gets boring. Scenes kept changing in the Jat’s story sometimes an injured child sometimes a grieving woman sometimes a blind an old man. The end result was however the same the Jat officer arrives to save the day. Atlast fed up of his heroics he went to sleep. Sardarji and I, his ardent audience gave a sight smile to each other relived that the ordeal had ended.

It was about an hour of quietness in the berth when the newspaper vendor arrived with the newspapers. Now another vicious cycle started of 3 men exchanging newspapers. I have never understood the fascination of middle aged men with newspapers. They can gloat at one single newspaper for like ages!!!I knew this cycle would not end so I settled down with my book.

Morning gave away to afternoon and it was time for lunch. Me being the avid foodie ordered non vegetarian food. It arrived and at best the chicken was funny. What was even funnier was that the Sardarji the Jat and the Assamese all had vegetarian food.I thought they were being foolish who would want to not have their daily dosage of chicken! In less than an hour however I realised they were not foolish I was. Post lunch I started developing pain in my stomach. I felt like puking, Sardarji came to my rescue and gave me a tablet.
I climbed down and sat with the Jat officer. He had transformed from Chandragupta Maurya to Florence Nightingale.He was taking so much care of me that I felt like I was going to drop dead in the next 10 minutes. Truely the big hearted Jats did everything king size they loved you king size and hated you king size. And then I learnt a valuable travel lesson –Never have non-vegetarian food on train.

Afternoon gave away to evening and with the advent of evening a new wave stuck our little group.It was in the form of two men Shuklaji and Dwivedi ji .These men represented the typical Indian culture –gyan-knowledge of everything under the sun and most of the time useless! In one hour they gave us a heavy dose on everything from Anna Hazare to Shri Ram’s philosophy. Infact they took pride in asking questions like “What came first the Ramayana or the Mahabharata?”As we struggled to find an answer they sat there with a contended look on their face. They loved basking in the glory of knowledge
.
Finally not able to hold himself any longer our Jat officer burst out “Ok ji chalo ji sona hain.”Shukla ji and Dwivedi ji looked devastated that we didn’t want to further enhance our knowledge base; they didn’t want to leave. But what choice do you really have when you are against two army men one a burly Sardarji the other a rustic Jat!

Their departure was followed by a nap and a walk which I took up and down the train. When I returned to my compartment it was dinnertime and we were in Patna. Our nearby compartment got emptied and suddenly there was scream, laughter and talks of mishti. Bengalis in Patna??You got to be kidding me! Yet true to their form the bhadraloks had arrived and with them had arrived the famous Bengali ability to scream all night and share aloo parathas ;a skill no other Indian community has been able to perfect. And there it was all night long nonstop chatter. The last thing I heard was “Can Messi play for Mohan Bagan?”Yah right I thought!

The next morning I woke up early only to find the Bengalis awake and they were quiet. I peeked in hoping everything was all right. Suddenly I saw Shukla ji and Dwivedi ji seated right across the Bengalis with the famous contended look on their face! The Bengalis too were gasping for answers that related to cosmic energy, God, theory of relativity etc. Thank God for the cauldron of knowledge!

At about 10:00 we arrived at Delhi. I exchanged handshakes and numbers with all 3 men of my compartment and they left. Since I had the heaviest luggage I thought that I would be the last to leave from our compartment. However after they left I was not able to pull out my luggage from underneath the seat it had got stuck. I was perplexed not able to find a way.And then suddenly I heard a voice asking me in broken Hindi if I wanted help! I turned to find it was the Bengali gentleman, the mishti they had always reflected in their mishti behavior! He helped me arrange my luggage and then went back to his screaming hysterical family!

I turned towards the other with a smile in my face. My friend Gaurav had arrived to pick me up. As we piled our luggage onto the auto which was waiting at the gate I realised this is India a vivid sojourn a dream an enigma truly a mosaic!



Friday, October 7, 2011

62nd Republic Day-choices from here

As the night sets in I look at the clock ,its 10.08 PM .It's just two hours to go before India moves into its 62nd Republic Day.It is indeed a joyous occasion for all of us.Yet,deep in my heart there is a touch of sadness .As the day progressed today I heard that an honest Additional Deputy Collector was burnt alive in Malegaon.And I questioned myself is this why we choose to be a republic?Did the forefathers of the nation have this picture of India in mind while they were building this nation?

We all have indeed come a long way from being a colony to a superpower in the present world scenario.The American President declared that India has arrived.The WEF in Davos predicts that India will be the largest superpower in terms of economy by 2040.So in 30 years we will do the inevitable we will be the numero uno nation of the world.The theme India Shining seems to be on a high.Yet we all know that today something is deeply wrong in this nation.There is an ulcer which is waiting to burst.The bubble burst however will not be merely economical ,it will encompass larger parameters.,it will grab a larger domain.So as we sit on top of this time bomb called India I ask myself how can this timebomb be defused?And the answer lies in identifying the root problems and taking measures.Thus with this intention in mind I sit down to analyse the 4 big problem that plagues our nation today.

1. Corruption :- A few months ,or just a mere year back we would have been tempted to add the word Terrorism in this position .However in the past few months we have encountered such massive scams that there is no doubt that today Corruption is the biggest worry on our mind.People ask what is the problem with the Hawala Money the Black money .The problem lies in the fact is that this same money can be used by terrorist organization since this money does not leave a paper trail behind.In other sense this money cannot be traced.

Hence it becomes extremely important for us to understand the relevance in the present context.Reports suggest that the Telecom Minister has committed frauds to the tune of Rs. 1.72 lakh crore.The poor people of India doesn't even understand how many zeros are written in a lakh crore.Yet the system has allowed people to get away with that kind of money.On the other hand in the same country the Ranjarajan Committee decries any move to make the Right to Food universal since it will cost the national excheaquer Rs. 70000 crore.So the same nation in which Rs. 1.72 lac crore can be stashed as corruption money ,Rs 70000 crore cannot be manged to feed the poorThe Adarsh housing scam is another example of how immune we have become to the system.There is no respect left even for the fallen martyrs.The nation has indeed steeped to new lows.The Sukhna scam,the Cash for Judges scam the Nira Radia tapes expose that every arm of the nation is corrupt in one way or the other.

And the worst part is that this penchant for corruption has caught on to the new generation as well.So long ahd we heard in the "youth will come save the day " jingle that we had actually started believing it.But reality has struck indeed hard.Today even 24-25 year olds are involved in corruption.Noble professions like Civil Engineering are becoming lucrative for many because government sector jobs in these sectors offer large under table money.Indeed it has become a sad spectacle.The paneca to this problem lies in example from the top.The politicians the bureacrats the top officials have to come out clean.Else this nation is doomed to fail.

2. Internal Security:- While we all eke out fancy deals for fighter jets and aircraft's we all tend to forget that the biggest threat to India lies not from her external threats but from her internal threats.The question of Pakistan or China attacking us in the present context seems anything but prepostrous.The so called external threats merely exist in the minds of a few self proclaimed defence experts and the arms deal lobbyists.


Maoism and Terrorism are indeed two of the biggest challenges that India has to face .And as the experiences have shown over the past two years in Mumbai at Dantewada.We the people the government cannot remain complacent.The biggest way to combat this is stregthen our police and paramalitray forces .They must be trained and equipped in the most modern facilities.A larger sum of the defence budget must be actually spent on arming our internal combat units.Until policing gets strong India will always be vulnerable.If needed the government must think in terms of community policing and other such innnovative ideas.The general public must behave in more informed and vigilant manner.they must be aware of their surroundings.Small steps can go a big way in keeping the country safe.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

POPULIST MEASURE OR A REAL DEVELOPMENT TOOL





The government has recently announced a slew of measures which aim at making rapid improvements in the education scenario in Assam. However we must be able to dissect whether such measures are actually going to benefit the education scenario in Assam or they are merely populist measures.

Let us take the example of the Anundoram Borooah Awards (ABA) Scheme which is 7th year running in Assam. It is often considered a colossal achievement on part of the Assam Government .The scheme ensures that every student who has obtained a certain percentage of marks in the HSLC examinations would be given a computer/laptop or else cash in its place. The choice was left to the students whether they wanted to use the cash or the laptop.7 years has passed since this programme was started with much gusto .Now we must analyse what has been the actual achievement of this scheme. Let us examine what the programme has actually done in the past 7 years(Table 1)

 

Year
No of 1st Div.
No. of PCs/Laptops Distributed
No. of Cheques Distributed
Total nos. of Awardees
2005
12,756
12,649
107
12756
2006
13,493
12,358
1135
13493
2007
12,692
11,094
1614
12708
2008
17,331
14,722
2558
17331
2009
17,362
under progress


2010
19,335
17,637
1698
19,335
2011
19,459
17,288
2171
19,459

        Table1: List of awardees (From Amtron website http://www.amtron.in/htmls/Anundoram-barooah-award.html )

So the scheme has seen a quantum leap in terms of total awardees with over 8000 students’ addition since its inception. Now assuming that each computer comes at a cost of Rs.19943 (which was the value of the cheque) then the total money spend on the scheme in 2011 would be Rs 38, 80, 70837.If the government decides to further extend the scheme to 50% and above that on an average about 25000 more students would become eligible hence bringing the total cost to almost Rs 89 crores in that scenario. Now the question is that this money that has been invested does it assure the state of any long-term return, sadly it does not. In all probability it merely assures the “youth vote”, when a 16 year old turns 18 in two years he/she will be indebted for the computer.

Let us analyse why technically this money is a mere wastage of public exchequer more than anything else:
First of all no computer can guarantee a student would open up to the rich experience of the cyber world and would indulge in e-learning almost immediately upon obtaining a computer. When IIT’s are contemplating restrictions on student’s time with internet it seems almost frivolous to argue that one computer can change a student’s life. Of course there is no debate as to the utility of a computer today in a student’s life, but to argue that a computer will bring a revolution in student’s life is debatable.

Secondly supporters often argue that the ABA scheme has been designed on the lines of the famous UN OLPC (One Laptop per Child) scheme. This is an absurd comparison for many reasons. OLPC has been a well thought out programme. It’s most important component has been researching and designing a laptop which has the best possible features for a student at the least possible cost. Even the recently launched “Akashdeep” tablet featured as the world’s cheapest tablet has gone into years of research before being released to the market. The reason why such extensive research takes place is for the fact that when such schemes are unveiled the cost factor must be taken into account. The cost shouldn’t be such that it becomes a burden on the state exchequer, thereby affecting overall well being of its citizens.

In designing the scheme in Assam however no such considerations has been done. The ABA scheme has been associated with AMTRON. However AMTRON mainly deals in facilitation of IT projects rather than innovation; with the exception being the Broadband over Powerline scheme that AMTRON has envisaged. Thus in the case of the ABA scheme AMTRON has acted as a facilitator rather than a crusader for a cost effective innovative solution.  The Assam economy which already reels under a deficit budget (where the expenditure is more than the income) has to incur an additional expense of 38 crores with no assurance of return or real development to the State economy. This increases the chance for greater debt which might further devastate the already destroyed state economy.

Thirdly just as merely announcing new college building does not signal development, merely handing away computers with gusto doesn’t announce a revolution in terms of e-literacy in the state. What is required is a proper roadmap involving academicians, industry captains, educationist and people who are intrinsically attached to the IT industry. Such a roadmap was evidently missing on part of the ABA Scheme. A prime example of the lack of communication between the students and the authorities is regarding the goal of the scheme itself. The ABA laptops/computers come loaded with Linux Operating Systems. The students on reaching home realise Linux is not easy to operate especially to play games, watch movies etc. And they convert their systems to Windows Operating System. What they don’t realise is that Linux as a technology is miles ahead of Windows especially as a secure operating system. Linux with its open source programming also offers chance to the students to awaken their creative cells by tweaking the source codes to their own choice. In short Linux is a learning experiencing in itself. However students unaware of such benefits shift to Windows thus negating perhaps the most important benefit of the ABA scheme. This also creates the chance for software piracy since most of the students who move to the Windows system get a pirated version. This simple fact is a pointer to the theory that merely handing out computers doesn’t ensure a remarkable rise in e- literacy.

Fourthly supporters of the ABAS educationists, academicians etc often argue that the computers have brought about a sea change in terms of students quality in Assam. This is another colossal myth. Let us consider the figures for 2009.In 2009 there were almost 17,362 students who cleared in first division. In 2011 this batch appeared for the 12th examinations alongwith various medical, engineering exams etc. Yet in 2011, for example in the IITJEE examinations, under Guwahati Zone, 76 candidates qualified out of the 6,928 who had registered in Assam. By contrast 499 candidates from Bihar qualified in the highly competitive test. Similarly Assam recorded dismal performances in AIPMT, AIIMS entrance test, AFMC, CLAT etc. Thus computers haven’t been able to bring about a sea-change in the lack of competitive culture that is prevalent among the students of Assam. While the failure of students in competitive examinations can’t be blamed on computers, the justification for giving away computers on the basis that students will get motivated and start preparing for national level examinations is also an absurd idea.

In this case the way forward starts in reorienting the ABAS. It can act as a harbinger of change if it’s made exclusive to cover only merit and distinction holders would get a computer. That would in true terms increase the chance for competition to achieve the award. Apart from this, instead of awarding computers the government can draw out a well structured scholarship scheme on the lines of the NTSE examinations. This examination must be merit based rather than caste or community based. Students of Class 10 would be eligible to sit for this exam and those who clear would be given scholarships which would help them to complete studies upto Masters Level. The scholarship scheme should cover only top notch national level institutes in every field. Students should be encouraged to pursue research oriented career by offering them scholarship upto Doctoral level if they pursue so. As it is frequently argued the real wealth of knowledge lies in the doctoral research a country holds. In this way such a scheme would genuinely bring a competitive spirit among the students where their future is assured. Merit can’t be judged on the basis of the Class 10 examinations. The government must diversify the scheme to award proficient young dancers, musicians, painters etc on the Lines of the Presidential Award for Culture awarded by the Central Government.

Apart from this the Government must improve the IT infrastructure of the schools rather than handing away computers to students who would not be able to understand its true value. The Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Mission which was started in 2004-05 must be renewed with gusto. The government must make efforts to appoint one proficient computer teacher in every school whose proficient in both Assamese and English fonts while handling a computer. Such teachers can be selected on the basis of examination on the lines of the TET (Teachers Eligibility Test), only this would test the proficiency of the candidate. Finally apart from improving the education scenario the government must widen the opportunities for investments and start-ups by students who hail from Assam. This would ensure that students who benefit from the ABAS get a chance to come back and contribute for the state and the country in general. If proper economic policies are conceived and Assam is able to retain atleast 10% of its students then it would truly be a boon to its development. In this way instead of making ABAS a populist short term measure the government can turn it into an objective reality of being an instrument of change .It would truly usher in a new era of development in Assam.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

CLASH OF CIVILISATIONS-A challenge

It was in 1993 that Samuel P. Huntington published his seminal work “The Clash of Civilizations” as an article in the prestigious Foreign Affairs Magazine. Soon it was expanded into his seminal work a book titled the same. The basic underlying fact of the theory was that people’s religious and cultural identities will always be a source of conflict in the post cold war era.

In this particular case Huntington used the rise of Islamic terrorism as an example justifying his theory. He argues that the world was divided into major religious/cultural identities and these identities would be the source of conflict in the end. By the end of the 20th century as the world came face to face with a new source of terror called Al Qaeda academics began to look it through the prism of Huntington’s theory. They began to argue that the Muslim identity was the force which was at war with the West. Post 9/11 such clamor get stronger as the world invented a new term for itself called Islamic terrorism.

Yet however Huntington failed to notice the repetition of the same pattern that the world had gone over the years succeeding Industrial Revolution. In the post Industrial Revolution World or modern world as it is referred it somehow became necessary to exhibit a certain amount of control in terms of perhaps economy and political. This could be attributed to the fact that as empires began to fall apart and nation states began to 
emerge there was intense competition and clamor to be at top among the League of Nations

The world was no more covered by empires but dotted by numerous nations around the world. Each nation competed with each other in terms of finding out who had the greatest power. Usually it was economy which decided the ranking or standing order of the nation. Colonization was a manifestation of this desire itself as nations and empires began to understand the need of a standing in the global order.

Soon the world saw the First World War and the disposal of some of the greatest empires of Europe bearing the vestiges of a medieval era. Post First World War colonization too began to show a decline in different parts of the world. Direct economic and political control of nations was slowly beginning to weaken as the colonized countries became aware of their own rights in the global environment.

There was a need now for a new kind of weapon. A weapon which would not only sustain the needs of a nation but also act as a unifying force of its people which of course acted as the most vital link of any country its demographic force. A new weapon was required to wield the people together and it was invented -ideology. Germany and perhaps Adolf Hitler was the first man to understand the potential of ideology as a unifying force of making it a war of us against them. In this battle of ideology the goal was simple create an ideology, conjure an enemy and then set about to conquer that enemy. Hitler created an ideology called “pure blood” higher race and then set about finding its enemy the Jews, the Romas and the Poles. The world sat and watched as Hitler played his us versus them game to perfection. The world watched as Hitler relentlessly butchered millions of Jews in the name of striving for a pure blood. The western world the USA, Britain all watched as he made ways into Poland. It was only when Hitler loomed large as a territorial threat that the west began to look at concrete action. Of course that this was not without economic considerations can never be denied. But by then the harm was done a new force had been invented the force of ideology.

The Jew hating ideology took its toll on the world in the form of World War 2.And the West used this excuse to place Israel in the heart of Middle East as a balancer to the strategic interests in the oil rich region. For centuries the Muslims and Jews had coexisted in the Middle East but this forceful snatching away of the homeland of the Palestinians was a recipe for trouble..It was not that the world leaders did not recognize these dangers but they simple choose to ignore the resentment of the Palestinian people and the Muslims of the Middle East in general. However it must be remembered a few years hundred years ago that it was these very Christians which hated the Jews yet in the aftermath of the WW2 the Western World which could be read as the Christian world in some sense joined hands in building Israel a home for the Jews. And all this was for the convenience of ideology to fulfill the economic and political interests.

The world saw a relatively quite phase for some years now and thus there was the need for a new enemy a new shock and a new ideologue to sustain the economy to keep the global competition in place. Since the 1930’s Russia had developed its own ideas of economics which it called communism. It could loosely be defined as power to the people in short a government hand in the economics of the nation. This was in opposition to the Friedman brand of the economics the free hand of the market theory that the west chiefly USA and Britain professed. Soon the world saw the rise of two very distinct ideas of economics capitalism and communism. Both the ideas were diametrically opposite of each other and the world watched as USA and USSR the chief proponents of these economic instruments began to make rapid leaps and bounds.

The stage was set for a new tussle the tussle between communism and capitalism. The western world invented a new enemy for itself Communism. It moved from a mere idea to a sense of concrete definition of evil in the western world.USA was the chief architect of this anti communism movement which it felt would destabilize the world. Their campaign was not restricted to merely combating ideas but went to extent of toppling democratically elected communist/socialist regimes in their neighborhood in the quest for global peace. The Chile experiment was perhaps the first clear cut example of the battle between Capitalism and the new enemy-Communism. The democratically elected government of Chile was topped by a military dictator with the help from the American agencies. Soon the socialist schemes of the previous ministry were scrapped and free market was given a free hand. The Freidman displaces of Chicago school worked hard to turn Chile into a model capitalist experiment and it failed spectacularly. 

Yet this failure was ignored and the world tumbled into a new crisis of the Cold War era. The world was divided into the Capitalism and Communism block which reminded one of the Lenin quote “Either you are with us or without us.” A few nations like India tried to charter a different course but eventually these efforts were squabbled by the sword of ideological hegemony.

And this continued unabated for the next 30 years. Every policy that a nation made in terms of political, economic and social context was somewhere based on the concept of the “threat from them.”Matters reached such unthinkable proportions that Hollywood- the heart of movie making industry in USA was swamped by CIA agents who were out to find the Communist enemies. It was propagated worldwide that the Communists were terrorists who were out to destroy the global order.

The nature of this ideological battle is such that one always tries to find new allies in new regions in their battle against the common enemy. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan now provided the western world with a new opportunity that of acquiring new allies in the Muslim world with a common enemy Communism. It was a common fact that Pan –Islamism or the Islamic feeling of brotherhood was a remarkable feature of the Muslim community .The west choose to exploit this very facet and they began to shake hands with Islamic mujahedeen’s ,their goals were different but their enemy was one  Communism.

Western powers like USA, hosted organisation like Al Qaeda in their presidential mansions. Men from such organizations were often comparing the man in Al Qaeda to the founding fathers of USA itself. The Islamic mujahedeen’s were assured of every possible help in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world against their common enemy the Communists.

Meanwhile since the 1970’s Nasser a charistimatic leader of Egypt talked about a new African identity which was based on their African roots as well as their traditional ties. He advocated a stronger African voice a new world where Africa was heard .This ideologue was carried forward by his self appointed political protégé Muammar Gadaffi the young ruler of Libya. It was around the same time that Iran witnessed an Islamic revolution which was based on the rules of Shariat. T he Middle East was a traditional society which had a transforming identity pulled between the strands of modernism and traditional values.

The ruler of Iran tried to cover this distance on fast track which was not possible in a society that was still rooted in its traditional values. Thus Iran became ground zero for an Islamic revolution from which Ayatollah Khomeini emerged victorious. The moment he became the ruler Ayatollah too desired an enemy which he conjured in the form of USA to cement his own legitimacy as a ruler. What will always be interesting is however the fact that it was only after the USA had pulled the rug from below the feet of the Iranian Shah that Ayatollah Khomeini has declared himself the ruler of Iran.

These events were coupled with the Palestinian freedom struggle which was a legitimate ground for the Palestinian people. The West watched for years as these events took place and choose to ignore these even though these events occasionally affected their own citizens directly. Instead the west took active involvement in supplying arms to the Afghan Mujahedeen.

And then, the Soviet Union collapsed. Communism died from the minds of popular memory. The world frantically began searching for a new enemy a new ideologue to combat a new concept of us versus them. And once again the world turned to popular history and current developments to conjure a new enemy. This time it was branded Islamic terrorism. Every major strand of Islamic call from the Iranian ruler’s legitimacy tactic to the Libyan ruler’s call for acceptance and subsequent anger at being rejected by world leaders, from the Palestinian freedom struggle to the tribal sentiments of the Pashtun tribals were coloured under one big colorful umbrella called Islamic terrorism. And it was all branded underneath one big brand called Al Qaeda.

There were different cause’s different strands of each of these occurring. Yet the west chooses to ignore these and branded them all under Islamic Terrorism and Al Qaeda. The nitty –grittes like until a few years ago the West was hobnobbing with this very AlQaeda was pushed under the rug. A new type of realpolitik took over under the grab of Islamic terrorism called racial profiling (a gruesome reminder of the 1940’s all over again.).Worldwide Muslims began to develop a sense of alienation as they came under repeated attack and scan .A stage was reached when every Muslim in the world was looked upon with suspicion.Perhaps September 11 and other tragic acts could have been skirted had both sides shown restraint. Both sides could have showed the maturity of not trying to conjure an enemy and instead talk about those issues which affected humanity the trust deficit that existed in the world.

Perhaps things would have been different if the West had a better understanding of the Muslim world. Perhaps things would have been different if Al Qaeda was not made a partner in the war against Communism in the first place. These are things we will never know and yet to justify such faults, theories like clash of civilization were conjured up to hide one basic fact that it was all a battle of ideology to control economy and control the human life. Oil in the Middle East would always be the foremost factor.

It has been nearly 10 years since the war on Islamic terrorism began .A whole generation of people grew up learning the fact that Islam perhaps was the enemy just as 30 years ago people grew up learning Communists were the enemy. The war on Islamic terror is finally about to end. Osama Bin Laden the poster boy of Islamic terror much like the Gorbachev of Communism died a quite death. The USA is about to cut a deal with Taliban in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is perhaps in its lowest ebb. Guantanamo Bay is about to close down. New waves of popular secular uprising are sweeping Middle East. Finally the world seems to be going back to peace. And the question on the minds of the people is who is the next enemy the global enemy against which our citizens must be protected against ,which new alliances must be forged new deals must be cut?

Perhaps the blasts in Oslo in Norway seem to be an answer to that riddle. As Anders Behring Breivik was taken away by the police the world began clamoring for his identity. And then it emerged that he was FAR RIGHT -the neo Nazis those who hated the Muslims and the secular liberal cultural of immigrant welcoming Europe in General. It took the world by shock another ideologue? Will this be another opportunity for the world to launch into another senseless ideological battle against a nonexistent enemy or will the world finally come to its senses

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Maoist Threat: Meeting the Challenge


“This effort is dedicated to all those countless souls that struggled in history and all those revolutionaries who today struggle to make history; so that such struggles, such blood, such sweat and these tears, may forever become unnecessary.”

This is how Saket Rajan opens the preface of his book “Making History” Volume 1.The book is being taught in the Mysore University. It is the same Karnataka that has killed “Comrade” Saket Rajan. This; is a testimony to the paradoxical situation the Maoist threat poses today. The Maoist threat needs to be assessed carefully; deft handling and judicious decisions have to be its hallmark if this nation has to emerge victorious against this threat.

The genesis of the Maoism (often quoted as Naxalism) can be traced back to Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. In July 1948, about 2,500 villages in the south were organised into 'communes' as part of a people’s movement which came to be known as Telangana Struggle. Simultaneously the famous Andhra Thesis for the first time demanded that 'Indian revolution' follow the Chinese path of protracted people's war. In June 1948, a leftist ideological document 'Andhra Letter' laid down a revolutionary strategy based on Mao Tsetung's New Democracy. Thus the first flame of Maoism was ignited. The Communist Party of India (CPI) was a torchbearer of the struggle in the initial years.

Fragmentation is a common feature in the communist parties all over the world. In India the first great fragmentation of the Indian communists occurred in 1964 when Communist Party of India (Marxist) was formed after a split in the undivided Communist Party of India. The CPM decided to participate in elections, postponing armed struggle over revolutionary policies to a day when revolutionary situation prevailed in the country.

In 1965-66 Communist leader Charu Majumdar wrote various articles based on Marx-Lenin-Mao thought, which later came to be known as 'Historic Eight Documents' and formed the basis of the Indian Maoist movement. In 1967 the CPM participated in polls and formed a coalition United Front government in West Bengal with Bangla Congress. This move lead to widespread discontentment in the party especially among the younger cadres, including the "visionary" Charu Majumdar. They accused the CPM of betraying the revolution.
The rebel cadres led by Charu Majumdar launched an uprising at Naxalbari in Darjeeling district of West Bengal after a tribal youth, who had a judicial order to plough his land, was attacked by "goons" of local landlords. Tribals retaliated and started forcefully capturing back their lands. The CPI (M)-led United Front government cracked down on the uprising and in 72 days of the "rebellion" a police sub-inspector and nine tribals were killed. The Congress government at the Centre supported the crackdown. The incident echoed throughout India and the concept of armed struggle by the people received a boost. This ideology soon assumed larger dimension and entire state units of CPI (M) in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and some sections in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh joined the struggle. Thus a new era dawned on Indian social and political landscape one which came to be known as Maoism. 

When the movement first began in West Bengal in the late 1960, its theoreticians like Charu Majumdar advocated strikes on urban power centers. However, the police were able to detect and crush urban revolutionaries. The movement survived only by retreating into remote rural and forest areas where the police had no infrastructure. Separately, Maoist groups (like the People's War Group) in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh focused on championing the cause of tribals and the rural landless, staying away from urban areas. For the next few decades, Maoist groups controlled or had a significant presence in the jungle belt running from Bihar through Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra into Andhra Pradesh. The Maoists soon emerged as a parallel power centre, one which challenged the government and the ideals it stood for.

In recent times however the Maoists have started stepping up the ante. The recent massacre of CRPF personals in Dantewada is a pointer in this regard. With the Maoists menace engulfing 200 out of the 600 districts in the country the government must take concrete steps to defeat this menace.

The Maoist threat has to be countered by a three pronged approach- using coercive power of the state to combat and defeat the guerilla war of the Maoists challenging the authority of the Indian Republic and the political system of parliamentary democracy, promoting ‘development’ to improve the living of the tribals and countering the basic idea of Maoism (or Naxalism) itself.

The vital step in the approach towards defeating the Maoists has to be the use of force. However the government has not been particularly successful in dealing with the Maoists in terms of guerilla warfare. In recent times the Maoists have actually been able to inflict large scale damages on security forces. In 2010 as soon as operation Green Hunt was announced by the Central Ministry the Maoists retaliated by killing a large number of security personals. The government had to ultimately halt the operations for the time being. Hence this calls for a new understanding towards combating this menace.

We must first understand the basic advantage of the Maoists.The Maoists have bases in the dense jungles especially in central India. These jungles not only provide them shelter but also act as shield which protects them from security personals. In many places the Maoists enjoy local support. This support stems either from loyalty or fear but these locals provide them the much needed strategic information including troop movements etc. To combat such guerilla forces air force or the army may not be a viable option. These views have been echoed by the reluctance of the Air Chief Marshal as well as the Army Chief. In this regard the following steps can be taken;-

1.      Establish another guerilla welfare school which deals in jungle welfare on the lines of the Vairengte Jungle Welfare School. This school must be located somewhere in Central India since the local conditions would actually suit the conditions of the Maoists infested areas. The course content of this school must be meticulously designed; apart from imparting the usual army training the soldiers must also be taught the various tribal languages and customs. Knowing the local dialect might provide to be a boon for the soldiers especially when they have to undergo a manhunt mission-one which will require local logistical support.

In hostile areas; especially the jungles, soldiers often yield to psychological pressures.This results in the outburst of crimes against the local tribals out of sheer desperation or cropping up of suicidal tendencies. To combat this psychological warfare the Gureilla School must have a team of psychologists each of whom would individually condition each and every soldier who is a part of the academy. This mental conditioning can be done on the lines of the Navy SEAL training of the US Navy. Such a pathbreaking step would go a long way in keeping the self morale of the soldiers intact even in the face of paramount hardships. The soldiers who graduate from this school must be put into the exclusive combat unit COBRAS one which specializes in dealing with the Maoists menace.

2.      Recent reports indicate that the Maoists have slowly and steadily built of contacts on the northern and the southern side. These will have disastrous implications if not checked.

Reports of the Maoists building contacts in Nepal and getting Chinese made small arms through the porous Indo-Nepal border have become a source of headache for the military top brass. On the other hand, there are other reports of a covert alliance of the ‘almost defunct’ Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Maoists of India. If this fructifies, then the scenario would be more menacing for the Indian authorities. The sagging LTTE may want to bolster their structure through a fresh base in South India, close to the Lankan landmass whereas the Maoists would seek to cash in on the ‘land warfare expertise’ of the LTTE. Also, the worldwide arms racket that the LTTE is very much aware of can be an option for the Maoists.

Thus it is very important that these borders are checked. The border security in the Indo-Nepal region must be strengthened. The crosswire barbering of the fence along the border must be further fortified. The frequency of check posts between two points must be increased. It is of utmost importance that the small arms do not enter the Indian market in a large scale. If these weapons fall into the hands of the Maoists then the Maoists will be able to scale the urban walls as well; since research shows that 90% warfare around the world is based on small arms.

On the southern side the border patrol along the coast must be increased. The Coast Guard must be further mechanized and more state of the art patrol boats and personals must be provided to the coast guard. Protecting the national waters must be a prime agenda for the government. The coast guard must collaborate with the local fishermen who can act as vigilantes on the sea front. Fishermen sea boats must be fitted with basic walkie talkies or networking equipments so that the fishermen can immediately report to the coast guard if they see any unusual or suspicious activity.

3.      Since the ground level efforts in combating the Maoists menace involve the district administration as well proper steps must be taken to equip the police as well. The beat constable must be given proper arms, since he/she is already equipped with the local conditions it is of paramount importance that any army/paramilitary action must be done in coordination with the local police.

Any police effort in the ground level is coordinated by the IPS officers posted in the district. To equip the IPS officers of the Maoist challenge a training module must be added to the course of the National Police Academy in Hyderabad. It can be on the lines of the urban warfare training module that has been started in the police academy. Similar training courses must be run in the state police academies.

4.      The army and the police must carry out aggressive recruitment rallies. This will help in bringing in personals who actually belong to the communities they have to work in. It will be a huge tactical advantage for the police and the armed forces. For the tribals it will mean a regular source of employment and a sense of security of being guarded by the people from their own community.

5.      The fifth and the most important measure that must be taken is conditioning and equipping the ground forces with the right kind of equipments .These include:-

·         Lightweight machine guns must be used; this will not hinder the pace of the security personals when they have to trek in jungle for a number of days.

·         Special vehicles in the lines of Humvee vehicles used by NATO forces in Afghanistan must be deployed in these regions. Such vehicles are not easily damages by landmines and hence can be crucial towards saving the lives of security personals. This becomes all the more important since a number of ambushes with security personals are carried out by the Maoists, by placing landmines on the way.

·         In the jungle killer diseases like malaria create havoc among the security personals. As such each security personal must be well equipped with vaccines and medicines apart from painkiller shots carried in a small first aid kit box which must be made mandatory.

Such measures if properly implemented will go a long way in containing the Maoists violence to a large extent.
The next important approach that must be taken while dealing the Maoists menace is the path of ‘development’. This must however be preceded by the question –what kind of development. It would be wrong to classify industrialization as development in the Indian context.
In 1991 India was on the verge of bankruptcy, it was then the Indian government embarked on an ambitious slate of economic reforms, opening up the country to foreign investment, ending public monopolies, and encouraging India's public firms to behave like real commercial ventures. Today, India's GDP is more than five times what it was in 1991. Its major cities are now home to an affluent professional and business class that travels in new swanky cars on freshly paved four-lane highways to jobs that couldn’t even be imagined some years ago. It has high class transportation in the form of Metro in Delhi. The Indian businessmen repeatedly make it to the top 10 of the world’s richest. Indian companies have acquired major stakes abroad sometimes even buying out companies which were leaders in their market. India is a firm leader in IT and ITES .Its BPO and outsourcing industry is booming. While economic crisis engulfed the world in mid 2008 India’s economic status was fairly stable.

However the bottom half of Indians have missed out on this economic extravaganza. Economic liberalization has not even nudged their lives. India is now one of the most economically stratified societies on the planet; its judicial system remains byzantine, its political institutions corrupt, its public education and health-care infrastructure anemic. The percentage of people going hungry in India hasn't changed in 20 years, according to this year's U.N. Millennium Development Goals report. The performance of India in achieving the MDG goals has been anything but disappointing. New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabed now boast gleaming glass-and-steel IT centers and huge engineering projects. But India's vast hinterland remains dirt poor -- nowhere more so than the mining region of India's eastern interior, the part of the country that produces the iron for the buildings and cars, the coal that keeps the lights on in faraway metropolises, and the exotic minerals that go into everything from wind turbines to electric cars to iPods. If we were to lay a map of today's Maoist insurgency over a map of the mining activity powering India's boom, the two would line up almost perfectly. And this is where the problem lies.

The era of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalisation that started in 1991 meant that the government signed deals with companies with complete disregard for environmental or social consequences. Tribals were wrongly displaced from their lands by misinterpreting the provisions of the Land Acquisition Acts. When there were confrontations between the contractors of the multinationals and the tribals the state machinery took the side of the contractors. The tribal market system was destroyed; forest rights on minor produce like tendu leaves were snatched away. The tribals began harboring against the government officials and such areas became the hunting grounds of the Maoists.

The present situation in the so called Maoists effected districts is the outcome of accumulated anger building over the years. It is a protest against the nature of development that is being envisaged as the future for the people of these regions.

Stereotype schemes like NREGA are not an answer to deal with such complex situations. The policy of one size fits all cannot be implemented in these areas. The tribal areas have special problems and schemes of development should be designed and tailor made to meet the special needs of the tribal communities and their way of life.

After independence India had special tribal developmental block and schemes that were targeted in these regions .Such schemes must be brought back, ones which target the development of the tribal people. Some major steps which must be taken in this regard are:-
1.      Whenever we talk of development the first and foremost issue that comes to one’s minds is education. The state of education in these districts is dismal.

·         To counter this, special programme must be launched in these districts in the lines of SSA. There must also be efforts to integrate the tribal culture in the curriculum of the course .This will not only help the students in connecting with their curriculum but also give them a source of satisfaction.
·         In the era of computers there is dearth of basic computer literacy among the tribal students. To combat this, the central institutes like CDAC must be encouraged to develop courses of basic computer use in the tribal languages like Gondi. The OLPC (One Laptop per Child) scheme can prove to be a great burden on the state exchequer. Instead India can follow a model of OLPC scheme where the ‘C’ stands for classroom. The laptops can come inbuilt with softwares in tribal languages. Such innovative steps will open new vistas for the tribal children.
·         Pertaining to the issue of education another major problem these areas face is the dearth of teachers. To combat this instead of parachuting non tribal teachers into the tribal regions, youths for teaching jobs can be selected from among the tribals itself. Selected youths must be put under a fast track course which will help them acquire the knowledge required to be a primary level schoolteacher. They can then go back to their native villages and teach the children in those areas. Such youths will contribute a lot towards the uplitment of the tribal communities.
·         Often it is seen that during ambushes army and the Maoists make schools their base camps. This is a practice which should be banned atleast by the government. As often taking shelter by one group results in the bombing of the school buildings by the other group. And when the ambush ends the children are left with no school buildings. Hence their future is pushed into the dark.

2.      The second major issue when we talk of development is employment. The tribal people do not envisage the kind of employment that the market has to offer. Hence alternate mediums must be opened for them:

·         For the tribal artisans a provision must be made to sell their produce to government designated outlets/agents under fair price scheme. Government must make provisions to buy the goods from the tribal villages itself under the prices that are mentioned beforehand. There must also be an effort for financial inclusion of the tribal people. This can be done by letting them open no frills account in banks in return of a smart card. Banks can appoint agents who can travel to the tribal villages with a mobile ATM. With the smart card available the tribals can deposit or withdraw amount on the spot using the mobile ATM. Care must be taken that the scripts in these mobile ATM’s are the ones that are used locally and not English or Hindi. Such schemes can be particularly successful in tribal areas which are at the periphery and are yet underdeveloped.
·         The tribal people must be given a chance to showcase their culture heritage and their works of art in national arenas. Such mediums include tribal crafts mela, tribal mahaotsavs etc. To guide the tribals in a proper manner the Ministry of Tribal Affairs must appoint coordinators preferable one male and one female. Efforts must be made to select the coordinators from the particular community that the coordinators have to represent, or they must be atleast well versed in that language.

·         The tribal people must be given complete rights over minor forest produce. Tribals have been living harmoniously with nature for the last 2000 years. In fact they are one of the oldest inhabitants of this nation. It makes no sense to displace tribals in the name of conservation. The tribals always have had a sustainable way of living. Hence no efforts must be made to disturb such a harmonious coexistence, Infact they must be encouraged to continue their relations and way of living since no one knows forests better than the tribals.

·         Instead of a factory based economy the tribals must be encouraged to take part in green economy. A number of tribals run off to faraway places like Delhi and Mumbai to work as construction workers and laborers. Instead they must be encouraged to pursue environmental projects like carbon credits. Nurturing and caring for the forests will actually help them earn revenue which will make their livelihood better. The joint forest management (JFM) scheme started in the early 1990’s can be linked with these programmes to bring further stability to the system. The youth can also be encouraged to take up job as guides in eco tourism and rural tourism which will not only showcase but also protect their local environment apart from providing them steady sources of income.

3.      The third major issue is the development of basic infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals, installing tubewells etc. Very often such works are not completed due to a number of reasons. To combat this inactivity some innovative schemes can be taken.

·         The private sector must be incorporated as a part of the process by making them liable for compulsorily contributing to the development of basic infrastructure in the areas where they operate. Infact when new tenders are opened for various mining activities etc pre conditions must be attached to the effect of setting up basic infrastructure etc. Care must be taken that these constructions are not carried out by harming the environment but in harmony with the environment.

·         Tribal youths must be encouraged to take tenders of the development works in the region. The government must assist the youth in making decisions and must help them in coordinating the construction activities. Involvement of local youth will yield better results in terms of actual benefits obtained in the ground.

4.      The fourth aspect of development is awareness. The tribal people must be made aware of their rights and responsibilities. Very often these people become victims of the system .The government can take innovative steps in this regard:-

·         Massive awareness campaigns must be carried out about the tribal people rights and responsibilities through the medium of radio and vernacular literature. They must be made aware of pathbreaking legislations like Right to Information which can be used to improve their overall livelihood. Social workers must be enrolled to disseminate information. They can do it with the medium of songs, plays, puppet shows etc.

·         Justice delayed is justice denied. The tribal people have always been delayed and denied justice. To combat this special court called ‘Tribal Adalats’ can be set up in the lines of Lok Adalats. These courts can be moved to various areas. To each court judicial officers must be appointed. These courts can operate on the model of fast track courts. There can be provision for the tribal fighting his own case without the assistance of the lawyers. This particular aspect can be modeled on the lines of cases fought in the consumer forums. They can help settle disputes between a tribal and non tribal or between two tribals. Justice can be disposed of in a speedy manner in this way. 

·         A number of officials commit atrocities against the tribals. Such officials must be identified and their cases must be rapidly brought to justice. Wherever possible the cases must be fought in the tribal Adalats so that the tribals can actually achieve a sense of victory.’

·         In recent times unabated illegal mining has become a source of exploitation for the tribal people. Many powerful political leaders are often involved in these mining deals. To check this menace a proper moratorium must be established in concurrence with the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs must also be consulted.

5.      The fifth and the most important focal point of development is women. In any backward community the condition of women is even more deplorable. However researches have shown that women health and well being not only benefits the children but benefits the overall family. Hence it is of upmost importance that proper care is given to the wellbeing of women. Some steps which can be taken in this regard.

·         Conducting awareness programme about the health of mother and child. Distributing medicines among women. Educating the women about health nutrition and disease in tune with their daily diet. Such programmes should be carried out female governmental workers.

·         Establishing a health crop on the lines of ASHA programme. The health workers incorporated in this must belong to the local communities. Efforts must also be made to incorporate the traditional tribal healers who have adequate knowledge about the herbs and their medicinal uses and can also identify the diseases. Proper care must however be taken in differentiating the herbal doctors form the quacks/witchdoctors.
·         Bringing employment schemes specially targeting women in the tribal blocks.

If development is followed in this model rather than rapid industrialization then it will go a long way in solving some of the most long standing demands of the tribal people. It will also pull the rug of ‘issues’ from the feet of the Maoists. It will hit them on two fronts –first it will smash their efforts of recruiting new youth into their forces and secondly it will ideologically isolate the Maoists since their basic demand against “nature of development” will lose its sanctity.

The third and perhaps the most unique approach is combating the ideologue of Maoism itself .Today the Maoist ideology is not restricted to the poor tribals of Orissa or Chhattisgarh. Renowned people who are often in the national limelight have come out in open support of the Maoists often equating the on Maoists as one between the ‘Maoist terror’ and the ‘state terror’. 

This support (though visibly reduced) stems from the two sections of the society one in the highest echelons of national limelight and the other at the far end of the social ladder. First to counter the voices at the top the government should show a level of compassion and deep understanding. Most of the intellectuals in the higher echelons have their own view regarding the problem. The government must make provisions to include their views. The government while framing any tribal related policy must call these persons onboard. Their views must be listened to and accommodated. In this way the government will be able to bring over support to their side while working on the ground level.

Gramsci opines that the average Maoist is an intellectual too and not merely a tribal who cannot read or write. He calls them the new intellectual who no longer consists of eloquence but in active participation of practical life as constructor, organiser and permanent persuader and not merely a simple orator. These classes of intellectuals at the bottom have a very deft and clear understanding of the ground level. There is no doubt that the 60 years of development have not provided them anything substantiative.It is time India counters this ideologue by redefining the parameters of nationalism. As we move towards decentralization there has to be change in the fundamental characters of federalism Instead of asymmetric federalism the nation has to move towards symmetric federalism.

A major change in this regard is that we must refashion our administration of the tribal areas. A large number of young people who are well versed in tribal language, culture and way of life should be put in service in administrative positions in tribal areas. If necessary, changes must be made in the Constitution to accommodate this proposed Tribal Administrative Service (TAS) .Judiciary has to act to ensure speedy justice. The nature of development has to change. 

Root changes have to occur in democracy including provisions like recalling an elected representative midway in the lines of Sweden or changes in the ‘first past post wins’ system in elections. If such changes do take place it will make democracy truly inclusive and not based on a patron client relationship with the centre acting as a patron.

The last century was the struggle between the have and have not’s ones which have helped the cause of Maoism to a large extent. However the coming centuries will be the war between the skilled and the unskilled. Unless quick amendments are made this anger of lopsided development will spread to non tribals as well threatening the very existence of this nation.

Perhaps the words of a British socialist historian William Morris best capture the mood of the complex events that sometimes threaten the nation at its very core:
“…pondered how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing they fought for comes about inspite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.”
These lines should serve as the epitaph while dealing with the Maoist menace and moving towards a stronger India tomorrow.