Tag Archives: communism

Redefining India

Francois Gautier

This is an article meant for my friends, the "fringe Hindus"; those who have
either espoused a Marxist outlook, or are, for their own good reasons,
strongly anti-Hindutva, or are neutral; as well as for the Muslim and
Christian minorities of India. 

When Jawaharlal Nehru came to power in 1947, he sincerely thought that some
of Marx's ideas could be put to use in India and help level the terrible
inequalities that existed within between the very rich and the poor, the
high castes and the low castes, the mighty and the helpless. The motive was
noble but, unfortunately, Indian socialism often made the rich richer and
the poor poorer and created a massive, inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy,
that any government today in power finds difficult to dismantle. Everywhere
in the world, communism and Marxism are defunct - even China has more or
less done away with it.	 

However, in India, not only does communism remain alive in West Bengal and
Kerala, it also remains firmly entrenched as a powerful idealism in the
minds of much of India's intelligentsia. Most of India's English language
mediapersons and journalists, many of the writers, historians and thinkers,
are sympathetic towards communist thought. Once again, there is nothing
wrong with that: Indians show, in a world racked with materialism and
cynicism, that they remain idealists, loyal and dedicated to selflessness
and seva, as the thousands of Indian NGO's still prove today.

Nevertheless, the world is changing, Asia is changing, and even India is
changing. We have to live with our times, especially after September 11,
2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, which radically altered the
outlook of most Western nations. What is going to happen in Gujarat on
December 12 is equally of paramount importance to the 850 million Hindus in
India, the nearly 1 billion Hindus worldwide, and the Christian and Muslim
Indian communities, as it might redefine their own outlook. Indeed, if the
BJP and Mr Narendra Modi win with a handsome margin, an intense intellectual
debate will be triggered in the country. We will hear cries of alarm,
disgust or worry on the part of the Western press, the Indian English
language Media and the intelligentsia, about "Hindu fanaticism taking over
India", or "the terrible direction that the results of this election seem to
portend for India".

But, once again my "fringe" Hindu brothers and sisters, as well as the
Christian and Muslim communities of India, should remind themselves than in
the entire Indian history, Hinduism has always shown that it is not
fundamentalist, that it accepts the others with their religions and customs
as long as they do not try to impose these beliefs on the majority
community. Indeed, in a recent report, UNESCO pointed out that out of 128
countries where Jews lived before Israel was created, only one, India, did
not persecute them and allowed them to prosper and practice Judaism in
peace.

Moreover, if under the intense and often bloody onslaught of Muslim
invasions and later of European colonialism, such as the Portuguese - which
committed untold atrocities in Goa - the Hindus did not lose their peace and
tolerance, why should they do so now? Also, Hinduism is probably the only
religion in the world which has never tried to convert others, or conquer
other countries to propagate itself as a new religion. The same is not true
of Islam and Christianity.

Thus, it would be good if the "fringe" Hindus and Indian Christian and
Muslims do some introspection and look into the real causes of the Gujarat
riots which followed the burning of the 58 kar-sevaks on the Sabarmati
Express. If Mr Modi wins, instead of accusing the BJP of fanaticism, or even
"Nazism", a people which gave to India and to the world Mahatma Gandhi,
unique textiles and a solid peaceful culture, it may indeed be time to call
a spade a spade and to stop burying one's head in the sand like an ostrich.

We see the Gujarat riots through the eyes of the Western press and the
Indian Media: "Hindu fundamentalists who went on the rampage", etc. But what
if Gujarat was the first sign that good, peaceful, non-violent, middle-class
and even lower-class Hindus have had it and that they are tired of being
made fun of, attacked, bombed, burnt, killed, their women raped, their
temples destroyed? What if, rightly or wrongly, it is the portent of things
to come, that the next time innocent Hindu women and children are targeted,
Hindus might be tempted to take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, the
way Israel does at the official level? You may argue that it is a hateful,
mad and blind violence, but it is also true that Hindus have been at the
receiving end of Christians and Muslims attacks for centuries, that even
today 400,000 of them have been made to flee from their ancestral homes in
the valley of Kashmir.

Thus, our bother of sisters of Islam, most of whom are peaceful and
good-willing, have also to do a little bit of introspection. Every time
there is an attack on a Hindu temple, or a bombing, we accuse Pakistan or
the Al Qaeda. But none of these attacks could happen without the active
support of groups of Indian Muslims, as the Bombay blasts or Coimbatore
bombings have shown. In the same way, our Christian brothers and sisters
should think about this: The first community in the world, the Syrian
Christians, established themselves in Kerala in the first century and
prospered there in peace. At no time did the Hindus of Kerala try to impose
their own religious beliefs upon them, either by force or by allurements.

Is it right that the Indian Christian community today not only allows, but
often actively collaborates with, the foreign missionaries who are bent upon
making India a Christian kingdom, and are often using dubious economic
incentives to do so? Do not our brothers and sisters think that it is bound
to provoke sooner or later some kind of backlash and that the murder of
Graham Staines, however reprehensible, may have been a warning to
missionaries who convert by devious means, in the same way Gujarat riots
were a warning to the Muslims?

It may be true that the overwhelming majority of this country, which has
often been in minority morally, is waking up and trying to assert itself,
sometimes in an excessive and unforgivable manner. Yet, the fringe Hindus
and the Indian Muslims and Christians should not worry: India is a composite
society and it is a settled fact. Hindus, Christians, Muslims and other
minorities have to learn how to live together peacefully. There is no other
choice. And it will be done.

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1102>

New left still maintains the old heroes

Wednesday June 18 2008 09:25 IST
Francois Gautier

WHEN we were young, our heroes were Mao Zedong, Che Guevara, or even Pol Pot. Of course, in time, we learnt about the crimes of Mao, who killed millions of his own people — Pol Pot, of course was even more of a monster. Stalin was not much better.

Thus, in most of the world, communism is practically dead. One cannot call China anymore a communist country —indeed, there may not be a more ruthless capitalistic nation today — and even Cuba is inching towards free trade. In India though, not only is communism not dead, it is flourishing ! You find communist governments in West Bengal, partly in Kerala or Tripura and the present Congress government owes its survival to the communists.In a way, it is positive. You see a youth like Nandan, filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s son, who was a “Red Volunteer” at a recent CPI-M meet in Chennai. Or you come across an ardent communist like Dr Binayak Sen, now in jail. Communists often live a simple life and are committed. Witness the youthful leader Sitaram Yetchury.

Unfortunately, there is also a darker side : Indian communists have totally aligned themselves with Lenin and Mao, to the point that not only they are antispiritual, particularly targeting Hindus, but often anti-Indian. They will never criticise China and even take sides with the Chinese in case of tensions between Delhi and Beijing.There is an even more dangerous angle: when communism takes on an armed face.

In India it is naxalism. The naxal movement, basically a Maoist-inspired armed struggle, began as a violent peasant uprising against the landlords at Naxalbari village in West Bengal on May 25, 1967. It is true that naxalism may have risen out a wounded sense of injustice, seeing how there are still unforgivable disparities in certain parts of India which have suffered for centuries from caste discrimination, exploitation by landlords and the lethargy of the administrative and political system.However, the naxals are clear about their objectives.

They freely quote from Mao: “Its (Maoism’s) purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new structure.” Indeed, if one looks closely at naxalism today, one sees murder, rape, kidnap, extortion, money laundering and human rights violations.Today, 16 of the 35 States and Union Territories have Maoists operating. This affects 192 of India’s 604 districts.

In the last twelve months, naxalism has redoubled its efforts to break up Indian society. On March 15, 2007, Maoist rebels massacred 16 officers of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force, 39 Special Police Officers and injured 12 others at Rani Bodli village. On Oct 27, armed naxals massacred 17 people including a former Jharkhand chief minister’s son in Chilkhari village of the state’s Giridih district. On Dec 16, in a daring jailbreak, 110 naxalites escaped from Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada Jail. There are many other examples.Sometimes, the press says that the menace is on the wane. Nothing could be further from the truth. The naxalites have a budget of Rs 60 crores for their armed struggle during 2007-09.

This is raised abroad by NGO in countries like Norway, where there is some sympathy for them. Furthermore, emboldened by the Maoists in Nepal who have not only conquered the countryside, but come to government, Naxalites in India have recently released a stunning declaration:

* We pledge: To coordinate the people’s war with the ongoing armed struggles of the various oppressed nationalities in Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and other parts of the Northeast.

” To build a united front of all secular forces and persecuted religious minorities such as Muslims, Christians and Sikhs.

* To build a secret party apparatus impregnable to the enemy’s attacks.

* To build open and secret mass organisations among the workers, peasants, youth, students, women and other sections of the people.

* To build the people’s militia in all villages in the guerrilla zones as the base force of the PGA (People’s Guerrilla Army).

Also build armed self-defence units in other areas of class struggle as well as in the urban areas.The Government of India has tried everything to contain the naxalites: negotiation, counter-insurgency, arming the tribals, but with little result.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation has started a dialogue with the naxalites to show that the gun is not only solution. His teachings and initiatives have transformed many villages in the naxalite-dominated areas of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. During his visits to Bihar, more than 100,000 youths from warring factions such as Ranvir Sena, People’s War Group and Maoist Communist Centre vowed to spread the message of non-violence.

He also recently initiated a much needed peace and reconciliation conference in Oslo, Norway, on April 11, which focused on the internal armed conflicts of South Asia, particularly naxalism, and discussed possible solutions and means to solve them. Norway’s special envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Members of European Parliament Erika Mann, Nirj Deva and Aud Kvalbein, Deputy Mayor of Oslo were some of the prominent European speakers in the conference.

Finally we can only conclude by quoting Ajit Doval, Former Director, Intelligence Bureau : “Taking the trends of the last five years, we can build a model of the security scenario for the year 2010. Over 260 districts, nearly half of India, would be naxal-affected where the government’s writ hardly runs.”Is the naxal dream of a Red Belt, from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh, become a reality? We hope not. For the ancient Indian way of life, the Dharma, offers other solutions.

The writer is the Editor-in-Chief of La Revue de l’Inde. He lives in India.

Red banner of terrorism

From Daily pioneer
Francois Gautier

Mao Tse-Tung and his Little Red Book may have been all but forgotten in China where the revolution has been overtaken by free market economics. But here in India, Maoists continue to spread their deadly tentacles through terror and intimidation

It is not often nowadays that one can praise the Government. But in the case of Maoism, one has to, for not only everything has been tried, from negotiation to coercion, but the Government is facing a deadly and ruthless enemy which does not hesitate to kill and maim, so sure that it is in the sincerity of its purpose.

In most of the world, Communism is practically dead. One cannot call China a Communist country anymore — indeed, there may not be a more ruthless capitalist nation in the world today. Even Cuba is slowly inching towards free trade.

In India though, not only is Communism alive, but it is flourishing. You will find Communist Governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. The present Congress Government, till the opportunist Mulayam Singh Yadav stepped in, owed its survival to the Communists.

Communists are often not corrupt, they live a simple life and are committed to their cause, which is not always true of other politicians. Unfortunately there is also a darker side: Indian Communists have totally aligned themselves with Lenin and Mao Tse-Tung, to the point that not only are they anti-spiritual, particularly targeting the Hindus, but often anti-Indian. They will never criticise China, for instance, and even support the Chinese in case of tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.

There is an even more dangerous aspect: It is when Communists take to arms, what we know as Maoism. The far Left movement, which is basically a Maoism-inspired armed struggle, began as a violent peasant uprising against landlords at Naxalbari village in West Bengal, on May 25, 1967 (hence the name Naxalism).

It is true that Naxalism and later Maoism may have risen out of a sense of injustice, seeing how there are still unforgivable disparities in certain parts of India which have suffered for centuries from caste discrimination, exploitation by landlords and the lethargy of the local administrative and political system.

But today Maoists are largely driven by the goal of capturing political power. For, Maoists are very clear about their objectives and they freely quote from Mao Tse-Tung: “It’s (Maoism’s) purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new structure.”

Indeed, if one looks closely at Maoism today, one sees murder, rape, kidnappings, extortion, money laundering and human rights violations. As many as 16 of India’s 35 States and Union Territories are affected by Maoism. It affects 192 of India’s 604 districts. This prompted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare : “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the problem of Maoism is the single-biggest security challenge ever faced by our country.”

In the last 12 months, the Maoists have redoubled their effort to break up Indian society: On March 15, 2007, Maoists massacred 16 officers of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force, 39 Special Police Officers and injured 12 others at Rani Bodli village. On October 27, 2007, Armed Maoists massacred 17 people, including a former Jharkhand Chief Minister’s son at Chilkhari village of the State’s Giridih district. On December 16, 2007, in a daring jailbreak, 110 Maoists escaped from Dantewada Jail in Chhattisgarh. On February 8 this year in Orissa 300 rebels, including 100 women, gunned down six policemen at a police reserve which houses an armoury as well as others at a training school and two at Nayagarh police station in the heart of the district town. The Maoists also took away over 1,200 state-of-the art rifles and one lakh live bullets. It would seem that the Maoists are within striking distance of Orissa’s capital, Bhubaneswar, which is barely 100 km away.

Sometimes, the media says Maoist violence is on the wane. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Maoists have a ‘budget’ of Rs. 60 crore for carrying out its armed struggle during 2007-09. This money has been raised abroad by NGO’s abroad. Meanwhile, emboldened by the success of Nepal’s Maoists in virtually seizing power, Maoists in India have recently released a stunning declaration outlining their programme.

The Government has tried everything to contain the Maoists: Negotiation, counter-insurgency measures, and arming tribals. But with little result. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has now initiated a dialogue with Maoists to convince them that the gun is not the only solution.

His teachings and initiatives have transformed many villages in Maoist-hit areas of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. During his visits to Bihar, more than 100,000 youth from warring factions have taken a solemn vow to spread the message of non-violence.

Recently he initiated a much-needed Peace and Reconciliation conference in Oslo, Norway, to focus on internal armed conflicts in South Asia, particularly Maoism. Norway’s Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Members of European Parliament Erika Mann, Nirj Deva and Aud Kvalbein, the Deputy Mayor of Oslo, were among the prominent speakers.

The Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism FACT, while aware of the terrible inequalities that still exist in India and which provide a fertile ground for Maoism to spread, is mounting an exhibition on Maoism as a threat to national unity, at Habitat Centre, Palm Court Gallery, from July 8 to 13.

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