Monday, April 19, 2010

Re-thinking the Maoist Question‎

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The aftermath of the gruesome killing of 76 CRPF jawans by the armed Maoists at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh has at least resulted in an important public discourse on several key issues related to India’s post-independent democratic functioning. If we are to delve into the cause effect and that too with an honest intent then what we will notice is that the Maoist problem is as much an outcome of the State’s failure all these years as it is about the failure of the Maoists themselves to look beyond their raison de’etre of an armed struggle. The problem with the so called discourse on the Maoist issue is that it is too naïve to say the least. Everything is viewed in black and white. The Maoist issue is far too complicated and nigh dangerous to even think of taking extreme positions. And because of this there is apparently lack of lack of clarity and consensus to tackle the problem in its entirety. Let us explore the problem with the current discourse. While lack of development in the tribal heartland and exploitation of the tribals is rightly seen as the root cause, the dilemma as well as debate seems to be about whether development should be carried out in tandem with the security operation, before it or after it. Then there are those who are arguing against use of the security forces against the Maoists.
The political class in India not surprisingly is therefore caught in this divide on how to deal with the problem. Even within the ruling Congress party, there are two viewpoints—one that is focused on security and the other taking the position of development first. Whatever may be the policy line taken, experience in dealing with the Maoist question is prove enough of failure of the present paradigm. It is laughable that today the politicians are using the theory of “lack of development”. And it is very convenient to blame the ‘State’. It is the people’s representative, the so called politicians who have been running the ‘State’ for the last 50 years and to now cry about the dire socio-economic condition of the people (tribals) is shameful. The State in reality is merely a myth. It is people like our political leaders who have failed the masses. The justification of the Maoists armed struggle should be found in the failure of the political class.

On the other side of the debate is the other vital question of whether the Maoists are themselves justified in indulging in violence? If the Maoists stick to armed struggle as a means of achieving their goal/s, the State cannot be also blamed for resorting to counter use of force. As far as we are concerned, there is no problem about who a Maoist is and what his goals are. The difficulty lies in accepting the modus operandi—the use of violence to carry out the “New Democratic Revolution”. The problem with the thinking of the Maoist is that they want to overthrow the government and capture political power through protracted armed struggle. What would any state do when an armed struggle is launched to overthrow it and capture political power? The Maoists should realize that such an approach will only discredit their rightful claim to legitimate power. The battle against poverty, exploitation, lack of development needs to be fought not through the barrel of the gun but adopting non-violent political measures. Against the backdrop of the current flawed paradigm both the State as well as the Maoists will have to do a policy re-think. The way forward is, therefore, quite clear.

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