Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who will fight the robber barons pillaging India?

Mallika SarabhaiSunday, April 25, 2010 9:35 IST

How distant is your civics class from you today? In any case, when you were in school, did the Constitution make much sense, especially in the lousy way your teacher probably handled it? And, of course, if you are the normal educated Indian you have had neither the time nor the inclination to read it since.

In view of the continuing shenanigans of our greedy moneymakers — various ministers, the Reddy brothers, and Mr Modi, to name three of ten thousand names — I revisited the Constitution of India. To figure out what our great thinkers thought the state should be doing to citizens. And what it should be doing to protect the masses from the goonda robber barons out to sell our country and the earth.

The Constitution is made up of fundamental rights and directive principles, the first enforceable by courts, the latter not, but nonetheless fundamental and politically enforceable. Among the politically enforceable directive principles there are specific ones that forbid the concentration ofwealth and the unequal distribution of material resources to the detriment of the common good.

The government has the duty to constantly monitor the welfare of the people, securing their social, economic, and political justice. To do so, the government provides Rs32 lakh to each member of Parliament (MP) per mensem.

In 2006, with the rapid increase in civil unrest and the resultant violence, the Planning Commission set up a special committee to look into the causes of this unrest and violence. In its report published last year, the committee states that traditionally the poor have resorted to gathering forest materials and things grown in common lands to make two ends meet.

With the increasing use of common lands for profit by certain businesses or political interests, their livelihoods have been becoming even more tenuous. This, the committee feels, is the real cause of the spread of "Naxalism" and violence.

It further states that this widespread unrest has plagued the polity for some time. For a large section of people, basic survival is a problem. "The constitutional mandate (Article 39) to prevent concentration of wealth in a few hands is ignored in policymaking."

Have you noticed this principle being followed except in the breach? Can you say that you have seen the Rs32 lakh used by your MP in any way (every month) that has visibly changed the lot of the poorest? I certainly can't. And the travesty continues.

It is in this backdrop of governmental failure that Mr Chidambaram's violent statements against the Maoists and Naxalites and his unleashing of brutal force against Adivasis needs to be seen. Who is the bigger public enemy — someone who rooks the nation daily of hundreds of crores or a group of Adivasis agitating not to be deprived of ancestral lands?

Who needs the army out against them, the ministers and robber barons raping and pillaging India or allowing this rape for profit, or a bunch of women and children trying to eke out a living and protecting their menfolk even if they have killed wrongly?

Why is Mr Chidambaram not using the same language against Mr Modi and the Reddy brothers as he is against the Maoists? Why are these not seen as 'Enemy Number One' instead of bedraggled groups of protesters having to steal arms from the forces?

I am in no way condoning the violence of the Marxists or Naxalites. I abjure violence in all circumstances, and abhor it. But picking up a gun is only one obvious form of violence. The rape of the country in the name of business, of development, and the amassing of colossal sums of money at the cost of millions of people and the land is a much greater form of violence. Yet, it gets the blessings of our governments. In fact, it is lauded by the same inner circle with awards and plaudits.

The Naxalites are petty change as violence mongers compared to these avaricious robber barons. Let us call a spade a spade and go after the true enemies of our people.

1 comment:

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