THE trouble with our Leftist intellectuals it seems is that they have forgotten their Indian past and the concept of dharma. But can it be that many of our ordinary Indians in government service and in power have also lost their sense of right and wrong? But first consider the Leftists. They are the ones who have been brought up to think in terms of western values such as socialism and communism as means to establish social justice.
When the Communist Party was established in India, it was to Moscow that its founders looked up to for guidance. For Jawaharlal Nehru it was the British concept of socialism that shaped his thinking. It was only Mahatma Gandhi who could project Indian values and work out ways to resolve injustice as he first did in the mill workers’ strike in Ahmedabad, with remarkable success. If the Mahatma were alive today, he would have asked the CRPF to stay away and would have himself undertaken to take the journey to Dantewada, alone, and with no security surrounding him. He has undertaken a similar task way back in 1946 when he went to Naokhali, then reeling under communal tension, to restore peace in a struggling land. The then Governor General of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten was to call him his One-man Army. Our Leftist intellectuals have no self-respect.
In May 1969, a CPI-ML leader, Souren Bose went to China to seek Chinese guidance in the party’s aim to overthrow the state. He wanted chairman of the Chinese Communist Party to be chairman of the CPI-ML as well. The argument was: “China’s chairman is our chairman!”. The Chinese communists to their credit had the decency to rebuff that indecent idea. The most important CPI-ML leader, then, Kanu Sanyal, who, incidentally recently committed suicide, had the temerity in 1969 to endorse khatam karo thesis (annihilate class enemies) propagated by another lunatic revolutionary Charu Mazumdar. The Naxalite movement was treated as the beginning of the process of overthrowing the prevalent social order and-the sheer madness of its all-seizing state power.
There are now reports that some in the CPI-ML have realised that seizing state power in a democratic country with a parliamentary system of government is a silly dream. Kanu Sanyal himself had started denouncing the very party he had helped build, even going to the extent of questioning the need for its existence. But what many non-Left intellectuals have in recent times been writing demands attention. Thus, writing in Mainstream (March 5-11) Fr Ambrose Pinto, SJ, a former Director of the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi and currently Principal of St Joseph’s College, Bangalore has raised some points that call for urgent consideration. According to him, in Chattisgarh alone, over two lakh adivasis in 644 villages have been displaced “while this resource-rich land is being sold to mining corporations, both Indian and foreign”.
As he put it: “Accompanying this displacement is an equally brutal violation of human rights through perpetuation of torture, rape and physical violence against the adivasis”. Asks Fr Pinto: “Does the state expect the tribals to be silent in the midst of these brutalities? When the state takes away their right to live by denying them access to their land and resources, what other alternatives do they have?” Fr Pinto says there is “another group” that has encouraged violence in the area and they are the arms manufacturers and “the promoters of this local weapons industry may include Ministers, bureaucrats and some respected Corporations”. Fr Pinto asks a plain question: “Why should the adivasis and Dalits give up their homelands, livelihood and forest access ‘for the greater good’ as defined by the state?” The tribals are being asked to give up all these to companies like POSCO and Vedanta to mine aluminium and allied metals. That is just one aspect of the complicated problem.
One is reminded of another article written by an alleged Gandhism, Himanshu Kumar in Economic & Political Weekly (November 21, 2009) who had actually lived in Dantewada. Mr Kumar’s antecedents as a Gandhian are not explained but his complaints nevertheless call for attention. He says that he went to Dantewada seventeen years ago (in 1992) “following Gandhiji’s belief that the real India lives in the villages”. The villagers gave him land for an ashram, legally, and well within their rights to do so. Then what happened? Kumar says this year the government demolished the ashram sending a force of 1,000 policemen, just when “the adivasis finally acknowledged that I was like them!”. Kumar’s home was also demolished. Kumar repeats what Fr Pinto has written, namely that some 54,000 people from 644 villages were dispossessed to “sanitise” them and some 50,000 adivasis had to run away to the jungles.
Kumar adds: “The Supreme Court has ordered the government to rehabilitate the villagers and compensate them. Not one village has been rehabilitated, nor one adivasi has been compensated. Apparently on June 10, 2008, the Supreme Court had given instructions that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) investigate the conditions in Dantewada… Our activists took tribals from Dantewada to meet the NHRC team…. ” What followed was unbelievable. The tribals were beaten up by Salwa Judum. According to Kumar “for carrying one bundle of firewood the forest guards would punish an adivasi woman by raping her…” He says that the tribals “do not need the Naxalites or the Gandhians… If the Centre really wants peace, it can be got in a week. They should go and spread happiness among the adivasis. Aanganwadis, health services, schools – open all these again.”
Obviously there are many answers to the problems facing tribals but unless all the facts are available, as objectively as possible, no one answer would seem valid. There has been enough violence; can we expect a White Paper from the Union Government placing all the facts before the public? Charges and countercharges are made and we have come to a point where no one’s evidence is taken seriously. We need the immediate appointment of an independent body to go into all the facts concerning both the Maoists and the entire administrative structure. Perhaps the time has come for the setting up of an Indian Tribal Service (ITS) on par with the IAS responsible only to the Centre which can ferret out the truth and bring to book everyone who is guilty. One suspects that the country has taken the tribal issue too lightly all these years. It is time to wake up.