Monday, March 05, 2007

Threat to Security, Or Democracy ?

Naxalism, or the Naxalite Movement is heralded as the biggest internal security threat to the nation, by the honourable prime minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh. Perhaps it is, considering the brutal killings of political leaders across the nation. Newspaper headlines scream of the recent killings of M.P Sunil Mahto in Jharkand, a separate congress party leader in Andhra Pradesh, the brutality of the killing of villagers in Chhattisgarh.

Violence is never a means to an end and fighting of this kind should be against the enemies who are out to kill you, or to invade you, not against your neighbour or brother who is committing a mistake. Now this is a touchy issue, because ultimately when I write this I am aware that I have never been directly affected by those whom they are fighting against. But ultimately the truth is their efforts or struggle so to say, has not brought collective good upon the nation.

Now, there is reason enough to admit that politicians are primarily responsible for creating discontent and frustration among people. When we hear of figures like a hundred crores, being spent for the functioning of the parliament, with only 85 days in a year, when they actually sit to work there. So ideally when someone raises commotion over silly issues and stalls proceedings, the nation loses 1 crore rupees in a day. Isn't that alone enough to cause irritation among the downtrodden or the labourer community.

The 'labourer' community specifically being mentioned here because naxalism is a violent and revolutionary offspring of the communist ideology and sadly this movement is growing much more rapidly, in fact achieving more than what the Communist party in it`s peaceful version has stood to achieve in India.

Violence v/s Non-Violence

Very evidently right from our freedom movement onwards there have been conflicting ideologies. The Nationalist movement which sought to peaceful means of protest headed by stalwarts like Gopal Krishna Gokhale, followed by Mahatma Gandhi and so on. On the other hand, we had the extremist movement which had great heroes like Lokmanya Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh and the charismatic leader Subhash Chandra Bose. But it would be very wrong if I were to be inspired from the violent form of protest they made and justify it for naxalism today.

Both their struggles had a common goal and the welfare of the common man of India in mind. It was not a matter of whether you were doing a right thing or a wrong thing, but whether you were doing it for the right/wrong reasons. Their reasons were right, and to comment upon the things they did then is not of relevance today.

The Fundamental Question

The fundamental question, we have in minds is of course about who they are a threat to ? Is it a threat to security ?

Yes! it is.! It is these kinds of movements and guerrilla warfare that led to the devastation in countries like Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or Srilanka for example, so it is a security threat.

So the truth is, ultimately the common man of India will have to bear the brunt, no matter which side wins.

Now to return to the question, it is an even bigger threat to Democracy or the present form of the government. It is a challenge and war cry against democracy.

Democracy should be a government of the people for the people, but the situation is sadly where we have today a government of the political class for and by the industrial class. There are reforms announced for the rural sectors, for the unemployed youth but the deep loopholes in the implementation will surely cause unrest in any nation.

It is a red signal from the red corridor that it is time, democracy seeks to cleanse itself and thereby oust such a movement. The Government needs to take stringent steps towards elimination of naxalism, but it should not start with an iron hand. It should start by first cleansing itself of it`s ills, and then seek to reform these misled, mostly tribal youth and address their concerns . The government would do well to slow down on aggressive steps such as land acquisition and granting of SEZ`s or at least take care not to do so at the cost of other sectors like agriculture or other cottage industries and by hurting local sentiments.

In a government which allocates ninety six thousand crore rupees for defence, it remains to be seen how much of it will get used to solve these internal problems. Because if it does not, tomorrow Naxalism could grow into terrorism. Civil War will not be far away.

This whole issue requires to be treated with sensitivity and an equal rate of alarm. With sensitivity, because they are mostly people of the farms and forests who have been wronged and with alarm, because their armies are recently regularly marching out from their forest hideouts.

As taxpayers and voters, we have a right to raise these concerns or to make it more pressing it is our duty to do so.


iamvisheshur said...

yes,the issue is sensitive..but lets nor forget the most important thing-these people have lost dear and near ones for no mistake of theirs and have also faced may other problems it should be the government which should raise the white flag.

mathew said...

just have a weird feeling that in the coming years it is going to be even more bad..with widening disparity between the rich and poor..nice analysis..

Srijith Unni said...

@Vishesh: Yes the government should be sensitive to the matter, after all they are also people of our nation..!

@Mathew: Truly Mathew, the tax we pay should show up as wealth across the nation..! Why doesn`t it..?

Sudha said...

i know, we r one of the few nations that attaches no value to the tax-payers' money.

Sreejith Kumar said...

The extremism at the time of the freedom movement cannot be regarded as a predecessor of the naxalism you see today. After Bose left the Congress and formed Forward Bloc, there were two meetings to be held on the same day; one by Congress and the other by Bose. My pleasure to let you know that Gandhi had asked Bose to change the date of his meeting, to which the latter agreed. The leaders of the Congress meet saw 5000 people assembled for it. But Bose saw 80000 of them in his meeting. You cannot rule out the fact that extremism was the biggest threat to the British.

Even Clement Attlee went on to say that the concept of freedom for India was largely due to the extremist movements and the RIN incident, and not because of the soft and slow approach by the Gandhians... It is better to have one successful attempt than many failures. You cannot say any of Gandhi's moves brought India any success. All missions failed/were aborted....

Sreejith Kumar said...

Now something less heated.... a tag waiting for you! :P

Srijith Unni said...

@Sudha: Not entirely, but yes taxpayer`s money should always be a reminder to the government of their duties. In effect all citizens also should be more responsible in paying tax.. We are also lax in that regard to a certain extent.

@Sreejith: Surely i wouldn`t have the audacity to say that the extremism of those times is a precursor to naxalism of today. Communist ideology hadn`t even spread it`s roots to india then, I brought in that angle only to speak about violence and non violence, and where each must be applied.

Extremism and revolutionary ideals will surely bear fruit in an authoritarian imperial setup as that of the british rule in India, but i am just expressing my doubts as to whether such steps are of any meaning , when they are taken against our own democratic government.

While i too do not accept many of gandhi`s steps, which were meaningless and in some cases outright injustice, I also understand that values like truth and non-violence had a strong fundamental foundation which kept these values strong in the hearts of many indians and in a way unified the country against the foreign rule. Youth is easily attracted towards extremism, but as we age, we will realize the importance these values.

While not undermining Bose and his efforts in any way, I also would not radically state that Gandhi and his Satyagraha movement failed.