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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Force should be met with force

Earlier this year, a fashionably 'progressive' essayist lauded India's Maoist terror squads as "Gandhians with a gun", a description that is about as persuasive as 'celibate rapist'. Not that either mockery or public anger plays any role in tempering the perversity of those who flaunt democracy only to subvert it. In the wake of the second massacre in Dantewada in two months, the experts of terror have raised their sophistry to bizarre heights.

Take the justification of the May 17 blast that killed 44 bus passengers – all local inhabitants and all poor. Since the earlier claim of paramilitary forces being a legitimate target is clearly untenable, it has been suggested that the presence of a few off-duty special police officers in the bus was a direct provocation. "If there were indeed civilians in the bus," writer Arundhati Roy told The Times of India, "it is irresponsible of the government to expose them to harm in a war zone by allowing police and SPOs to use public transport."

The logic is revealing: anyone remotely connected with the state, even a SPO drawing a pathetic Rs 3,000 allowance each month, is an enemy and must face the bloody consequences. It is further implied that by using public transport, these functionaries are inviting collateral damage on fellow passengers. The real Mao once wrote that "revolution is not a dinner party"; his disciples have reminded us that there is no place for squeamishness and table manners.

How the conduct of these armed 'Gandhians' squares with the Mahatma who called off the Non-Cooperation movement in 1922 after an angry mob killed 23 policemen in Chauri Chaura, is best brushed aside. For the moment, it would be unwise to disregard the menacing overground message from the underground.

Those who can conduct military operations with such ruthless efficiency have long lost the right to be called "misguided ideologues" and treated with benevolent indulgence. What is the difference between Kasab and the Maoists who ambushed the CRPF jawans on April 6 and detonated a deadly explosive under a bus last week? Kasab believed that he was part of God's army and that every Mumbai resident was a legitimate target for murder. The Maoists too believe they are a People's Liberation Army waging war on the state and its flunkeys.

The only obvious difference is that while Kasab came from Pakistan, the foot soldiers of the Red army are Indian by birth. In every other respect, the Islamists and the Maoists are the same: both have transformed grievance and utopia into inhumanity. They may well have had a place in the statecraft of preceding centuries; judged by contemporary norms, they have forfeited all claims to human rights.

It is important to stress the mismatch between Maoist insurgency and Indian democracy, if only to drive home the necessity of a unified response from both the state and civil society. The argument that equitable economic development will blunt the anger of those who resent their marginal status is true only up to a point. However, if the benefits of state welfare and the market economy are to reach every corner of India, it is necessary for the state to be in physical control of territory. The Maoist approach is not to present the wretched of the earth with a revolutionary alternative that can compete with bourgeois politics on equal terms. It aims to exercise a military stranglehold over a region and either intimidate or eliminate dissent. Maoists don't believe in choice; they are committed to total control.

It's literally a chicken and egg situation. Sonia Gandhi may feel that NREGA and a Food Security Act will deliver the deviants to the Indian Constitution and isolate the doctrinaire Maoists. However, the district administration and the panchayats need to be physically present to undertake good works. To undertake Bharat Nirman in a large chunk of forested, central India, the state must uproot an illegal military presence first. The development route to counterinsurgency is, ironically, prefaced on a military victory. Reduced to essentials, the difference between the hardliners and the appeasers is one of articulation.

It may be tactically prudent to keep the language of retaliation less robust and peppered with piousness but there is no escaping the fact that the Maoist leadership will not be moved by either persuasion or bribery. To make Maoism unattractive to frightened villagers, force will have to be met with force. Siddharth Ray showed the way in West Bengal in the 1970s.

Unlike separatist movements that can be coerced into compromise, there is no halfway house in confronting Communist insurgencies. In the war for state power, it's either us or them. One side has to yield. The choice is stark: it's either Maoism or the democratic way of life.

Sunday Times of India, May 23, 2010


Jai said...

'celibate rapist' - LMAO...

Swapan - thanks. And could you also write something on Manipur maybe?

mukesh said...

very well said,swapan da "if the benefits of state welfare and the market economy are to reach every corner of India, it is necessary for the state to be in physical control of territory" In reality govt is losing its control over territory. opne travel few km away from capital raipur and can feel the vanishing sign of indian govt replacing with red terror. In large part of affected area which are in control of maoist, there is no ideal governance and education system been set up so far to support their claim that they will establish people government. Only training tribal there are getting is how to use gun & kill people. unfortunately many self proclaimed intellectuals are too endorsing this brutality without suggesting a concrete alternate to the present democratic system, they are targeting. Those, who romanticizing red terror and dreaming of ruling India think about the poor villager getting killed. A front cader of maoist is too naive to grasp the true essence of Marx, lenin and Mao ideology.Firstly, Their leaders,policy makers and some prominent intellectuals must be get to pay the heavy price of raging war against India and need to be shown their right place.

Anonymous said...

dear sd
yes,first india has to rule in those areas,then benifits can reach there.
but in the 50 years of governance after independence,in the corrupt rules of gandhis,how much benifits reached to hepless bpl?apart from lip services,do sg,rg have will or skill to adress the rootcause?rather they with mms are the rootcauses!they want to survive at the cost of bpl,swiss money,black notes,ministers like rajas!whom they are fooling?many hearts cry when they see helpless poors sleeping with empty stomach for the sins of gandhis,,mms are such thick skinned,that can see crores of bpl suffering,how they can be indians by heart?
cji is apublic servant.he is paid for delivering justice and not for threatening his masters i.s public for filing pils,as in any case there is aprovision to dismiss apil if proved frivilous.on the first day he should have shown concern for alarming misuse of institutions,including,cbi,judiciory etc.rather it is high time that cbi`s and sc`s handling of high profile cases need investigations,as myth of absolute power has corrupted them absolutely.constitution do not want them to act like puppets damaging democratic processes.hardly any govt.officer is not corrupt,whereas not all businessmen are dishonest.but due to powers,whatever govt.officer act is considered in good faith,whereas all acts of businessmen are with mensrea,though money found with ias are more than from businessmen,in raids.

mukesh said...

Post independence, except 6 year of NDA and short janata dal tenure after emergency, Country was run by congress only and out of that most of the time it was gandhi family, who ruled. Media managers within party are projecting RG & SG as if country would have been perished if these people were not around. one could be surprise how this civilization survived thousands year without them. though media has not left any stone unturned to make us belive to see real messiah of downtrodden in RG but their own constituency amethi and raibarely where they ruled continuously and there is no saffron brigade to blame for anything, still languished in poverty, literacy is 48%, well below than national average, health facility is below expected and in the name of public transport private three wheeler on pathetic road are only option. They have never given any explanation for this extra ordinary performance. they should first develop their own constituency before claiming their candidacy to lead the nation & yes we are yet to hear what is their view on naxal menace other than developmental line prepared by diggi. they have not spoken much on naxalism yet.

Anonymous said...

Naxals have now targeted a train with common people traveling. So Arundhati Roy will now say that no govt official can travel on trains. Or may be because the trains are owned by govt.

ravinder said...

Dear Swanpanda,
When the Talibans started out in the Badlands of Pakistan, every idiot in that country was expecting a superhighway to Heaven. Now they know how the Talibani zealotry supported by Harlotry of those earlier day Pakistanis was the foundation upon which the Pakistanis build there superstructure of misery.
These Indian Progressive Intellectuals are trying to peddle just the same harlotry in India with the Maoist is the vanguard.

Anonymous said...

Your argument of use of force to restore democracy that has been sabotaged by the Maoist forces in areas under their armed control, is presumptuous of the fact that there exists democracy else where. If that is so, it is but unfortunate, that a journalist of your stature is either ignorant or plain arrogant. The fact is that democracy, justice, law of the land and access to basic rights just donot exist in most parts, for most people, mostly poor, underprivileged, underfed, under-educated....!Democracy assumes different meaning for different people, and for a few it becomes the very tool with which they subvert and derange it. What kind of force you suggest should be used against them. I just hope that the Maoists' path is not followed by everyone who is denied democracy in the very name of it. Because when that happens, even the minuscule amount of democracy that exist for the minuscule number of people will be lost, may be forever!