Tag Archives: naxalism

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.

For any comments, queries or feedback, kindly mail us at pioneerletters@yahoo.co.in

Marxism and the Saffron wave

Marxism and the Saffron wave

The other day I visited a tribal village, which was only 20 kms away from Bhubaneswar. The poverty I witnessed there was appalling: no drinking water, no proper housing, the children to whom we distributed food packets were sickly looking, undernourished, dirty and badly clothed.

The whole village was in a kind of wasteland, where one could not see a single tree, or any newly planted sapling. Paresh Nayak of Odisha International told me that thousands of crores had been sanctioned by the government in this area, for housing, development, or afforestation, but every single paisa goes in the pockets of corrupt officials, from top to bottom.

In fact the only organisation which is trying to do something — and which was responsible for the food distribution as well as the sole tribal school in the whole area — is the much maligned Washington-based IDRF, which is supposed, according to the Western and Indian press, to only ‘fund Hindu fundamentalism.’

Nevertheless, when one witnesses such awful and unfair poverty just a few minutes away from the nouveau riche glitter of Indian arrogant cities, one cannot but think that all the Arundhati Roys, Praful Bidwais, N Rams, Shabana Azmis, Prannoy Roys and other die hard Marxists are right: only a revolution will bring fairness and justice to the poor and downtrodden of India.

In fact, one can even go further: when people like myself, who keep defending a certain spiritual idea of India, the greatness of Hindu culture and ethos, are suddenly confronted by that ‘other’ reality of this country, our lofty drawing-room idealism is blown away by what we see, whether in Bhubaneswar, in Uttar Pradesh, or Tamil Nadu. If I were born an untouchable or a downtrodden, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have become a Naxalite — given my militant propensities!

And if tomorrow missionaries descend upon the village I just visited in Orissa and open a dispensary, a school, then a church, why shouldn’t these poor tribals convert to Christianity, when their own more fortunate Hindu brothers and sisters not only never cared after them for centuries, but stole the money which was meant for them?

Yet, all my years in India have taught me that there is a third way, which is neither of capitalism nor of communism. One could call it ‘spiritualised socialism,’ as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and today practiced by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living. A Hindu temple or a Hindu organisation has no meaning unless it also acts as a social centre, helps the poor, gives away money, houses, imparts education and hygiene.

Indeed the Art of Living foundation does just that with its volunteers going in thousands of villages all over India and selflessly bringing hygiene, housing, harmony and human values. It is true that there are countless NGOs all over India doing the same job, but unless they pass on along with their material help some spiritual values pertaining to India’s ancient culture, they are failing in their task.

Finally, I would like to tell my Marxist friends that instead of crying themselves hoarse over the BJP’s victory in Gujarat, of screaming about the ‘saffronisation of India,’ or the ‘fascist trend set by these results,’ they should look at it in a different manner. If this is a Nazi trend, then the millions of Gujarati Hindus: upper and middle class, low castes and tribals, who voted for Narendra Modi, are all Nazis.

Yet the Indian voter has always shown that he is smart and that he usually casts his ballot in a certain way because he wants to put across a message. What if Gujarat was the first sign that tolerant, peace-loving Hindus who for centuries have accepted other religions and ethnicities and allowed them to practice and prosper in peace (UNESCO recently released a report saying that out of 128 countries where the Jews lived up to 1948, in only one — India — were they not persecuted), are fed-up of being made fun off, sullied, harassed, killed, their temples sprayed with bullets and grenades, their train burnt, their Parliament attacked, their markets blown up, their women raped?

What if it was a warning to the Muslims of India that the majority community of this country will no more allow the burning of innocent children and women, for the only crime that they are Hindus? What, however reprehensible their acts was, if peace-loving Hindus have shown, for the first time, that they can retaliate in kind and that Islam doesn’t have a copyright on hatred, bloodshed and mad violence? At a time when India’s government is the laughing stock of the world — as shown by the contempt that much smaller countries such as Malaysia, Portugal or Saudi Arabia have shown to India by refusing to extradite criminals — the common Hindu is telling his government, his countrymen, whether they are Hindus, Christians or Muslims, and the world, that he has had it…