Friday, January 16, 2015

Building a Just India

In last few years many jawans of central reserve police force were killed by naxalites. After the recent massacre in Chattisgarh, and watching innumerable TV debates for and against the killing, I wanted to learn a little bit of Naxalite movement. I admit, I have no understanding of the intricacies and nuances of their doctrine. My information gathering is from reading novels, and watching a movie. I read the novel “The Lowlands” by Jhumpa Lahiri “The Lives of Others” by Neel Mukherjee. I watched the movie “Hazaar Churashi ki Ma” on You Tube. Hazaar Churashi means 1084 in English. It refers to corpse of a young man which was numbered 1084. Mother of the young man goes to identify. The story revolves around the young man, his mother and society around them. 

Novels were sympathetic to naxalite movement. One may call them biased. Yet I could not but be moved by the courage of conviction of protagonists of the movement in novels and in the movie. What motivated them to give up their comfortable middle class lives, academic pursuits, sacrifieced their career prospects and started living in the jungle putting their lives at stake. Many had joined the movement taking stand against social inequalities and injustices and decided to do something about them. They were sufficiently moved to risk their lives. Some were killed by police bullet, many were arrested, brutally tortured and killed in fake encounter.

The naxalited movement believed, and still believes, in Chinese style social revolution where class enemies were purged violently.  The naxalites used the term annihilation  Growing up in the West Bengal of seventies, one could see walls plastered with slogan “China’s Chairman is our Chairman”. The Indian movement started from a village in North Bengal called Naxal Bari. The movement started spreading in rural areas. Young men and women would go live in villages and encourage poor and dispossessed to take up arms and kill landlords, money lenders, and police men. There was plan to start urban warfare and eventually throw out national government by force. Armed rebellion in Bengal was brutally suppressed by police and paramilitary forces. I do not know if there was other alternative. Subsequently, the movement has again resurfaced in other poor states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, where social inequality and injustice are rampant. In many states Naxalites are fighting for rights of tribals, at least that is what they claim, on ownership of forest land.

There is no doubt that the Indian administration is extremely corrupt and does not care for administering justice. People that we elect are more interested to serve themselves and their families than the community and nation. What answer can one give to a poor and helpless farmer whose land is usurped by landlord or money lender, whose wife and daughter are raped, and police does not want to register a complaint against the rich and powerful unless their palm is greased?. Even if a case is registered, for justice to be delivered it may take a life time. What do you do when a government buys up farm land at low price from farmers in the pretext of national cause and hands it over to private developers who sell the land at profit many times over the purchase price? Society wants justice, yet our government and justice system were not able to provide remedy to social injustice. 

In this backdrop many had taken to guns and adopted foreign ideology. I think, however, while the intent of naxalites was honest but the method was faulty, for the following reasons,  


Killing so called class enemies will spark retaliation. A civil war will  break out in all liklihood. Would eye for an eye not make the world going blind? Removal of class enemies in China as per doctrine of Mao Tse Tung resulted in loss of 1 million lives. 

Removal of intellectuals and professionals like doctors, engineers etc will result in a vacuum. Once party comes to power, new people will be filling the vacancies. How will they be different.

Communist China was not very successful economically. They have resorted to market economy since 1980s. Naxalite movement is anti-business and anti-profit. What would they say of the Chinese experience?

Creating an egalatirian society by taking from rich and distributing among less fortunate is a theoretical idea. After distribution, one person will invest and multiply the wealth. Another will squander on enjoyment. What next, are we going to redistribute again? Will this not promote laziness? We have seen, how efficient bureaucracy was in India where employment was guaranteed but responsibilities were not. 

It is the human nature to better his predicament. Those who are beneficiary of wealth distribution will protest strongly, if necessary violently, any sharing of their good fortune. I think charity should be left to individuals and should not be an organized government policy.

It is a sacrilege if a single Indian goes to bed hungry. No mother should go through what “Hazaar Churashi’s” mother had to go through. We must protect, preserve and see every Hazaar Churashi prospers. We cannot build a prosperous India by taking from rich and distribute among poors. We must educate our people, make them self reliant, create opportunities for people to take advantage of them. That may take long. But that is the only way. If people are not honest, then any system is going to become corrupt. In a society that is corrupt who will guarantee an honest administrator even if propped up by an honest movement?  By creating a responsive system, it may be possible to control corruption and bring justice to all. 

Tags: Central Reserve Police Force, Chattisgarh, Hazaar Churashi Ki Ma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Naxalite Movement, Neel Mukherjee, Lives of Others, The Lowlands, West Bengal
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