Apr 19, 2010

Voices of Resistance Becoming Clearer

Chidambaram's Dominoes Are Beginning To Fall
By Trevor Selvam
17 April, 2010
The dominoes are knocking over each other at such a rapid pace that India should not be surprised if Naxalites and Maoists find curious backers in the highest echelons of the State. Not because people up there are particularly endeared to Naxalite strategy and tactics, but some of them are reconsidering their options and have realized that in this insane rush towards ramrodding India into a neo-liberal Valhalla, a large majority of the citizens of India are being ripped apart, torn asunder and shoved into the gutters, sewers, swamps and bogs of this nation. Something is going wrong and if a course correction is not made now, things are going down the tubes to hell in a hand basket. The collateral damage has been so obvious that no less than the Central Government’s own offices have declared the attempts at displacing the “poorest of the poor” (the PM’s own words), and the forced evacuation and hamletization of aboriginal people, as the “biggest land grab since Columbus. ” Whoever drafted that phrase or statement is an extraordinarily thoughtful and historically wary person. Because she or he knew what was around the bend. And it has come about faster than the powers ever imagined. It was supposed to have been done surreptitiously, quietly and with the fanfare and dog and pony show associated with 9% growth drowning out the screams of the displaced. It did not pan out that way.
Indians, be they analysts, economists, bureaucrats, historians, scientists, advocates, IAS officers and even retired senior commanders in the services are not unconscious and ahistorical babblers. After all Indians bore the brunt of the British Empire for two hundred years. The process of colonization is such that it leaves behind a genealogy of awareness, of remembrance, the ability to connect the dots and not be taken for a ride. Indians pass on the lessons of their parents’ generation to their next in line. To put it bluntly, Indians are not fools. They do not take kindly to the incessant repetition of official speak. Just as Iraqis and Afghanis aren’t either. Indians know that occupation, whether it is by goras or by their proxies are never tolerated quietly.
The sons and daughters and the grandchildren of freedom fighters, of Gandhian activists, of Sarvodaya activists, followers of Vinoba Bhave, of the Congress Socialists, of the followers of “Nehruvian socialism”, of the followers of JP Narayan, of those the British chose to call “terrorists” and old-style retired Communists from the Tebhaga and Telengana period, know where “the buck stops.” They may not be supporters of the Maoists, but they know that this time around, something is going terribly wrong and this mad race to “modernize” India has only one group of takers—those who salivate over the glam and glitter of Ratan Tata, Narendra Modi, the Ambanis, the Jindals, the Mallyas and their main backers, Chidambaram, Ahluwalia, Kamal Nath and a handful of others.
The dominoes are beginning to fall. And despite the clear cut statement by the PM’s office that all statements on the Maoist issue will only come from the Home Minister’s office, within twenty four hours, Mr. Digvijay Singh spoke up, and he is no small fish.
“He (Mr Chidambaram) is treating it purely as a law and order problem without taking into consideration the issues that affect the tribals," Digvijay Singh, wrote in the Economic Times. Further on he went on to say, “We can't solve this problem by ignoring the hopes and aspirations of the people living in these areas... In a civilised society and a vibrant democracy, ultimately it is the people who matter," he added.
Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, the former Minister of Petroleum and Panchayati Raj had at one time this to say about Chidambaram. “His deposition over four sessions in the witness-box has shown him up to have been a most incompetent minister of state for internal security (1986-89) and most negligent as minister in charge of the investigation into Rajiv Gandhi's assassination from May 24, 1995, till his defection to the TMC on April Fool's Day, 1996. ” And in an add-on to Digvijay Singh’s recent article in the Economic Times, Aiyar said, "Digvijay is not one hundred per cent right, he is not even one thousand per cent right, he is one lakh per cent right." At an MSN India site, the following is stated. “ And at a conference on The Dynamics of Rural Transformation, organised by Planning Commission member Mihir Shah, Aiyar presented a paper which said "the consistent failure of the state governments concerned, and the total lack of conscientiousness on the part of the Centre in urging the states concerned to conscientiously implement, in letter and spirit, the provisions of PESA -- Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act -- have contributed more than any other single factor to the aggravation of the situation in forest areas. This has facilitated the mushrooming of insurgency directed against the state in the heart of India."
In the article in The Economic Times on Wednesday, Digvijay Singh further accused Chidambaram, of "intellectual arrogance". There are many in the Congress, including those who are close to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and her son, who have maintained a significant distance from the genocidal verbiage of “wiping out, sanitizing and cleansing” that has come from the entourage of Mr. Chidambaram, his Police and Paramilitary as well as the loyal mainstream media. In the final analysis, there is nothing sanctified about “law and order” and they know it. Because lawlessness has been a defining character of governance in the Indian countryside.
The chips are going to fall, one by one. It is only a matter of time, before Indians from all walks of life will speak up. It does not have to be the tireless voices of the Roys, the Navlakhas, Sundars, Bhusans, Himanshu Kumars only. And it will not be the voices of Justice PB Sawant and Suresh, Professor Yash Pal, Drs. Giri, Bhargava and Subramanium who officiated in the Indian Peoples Tribunal either. Soon other journals and magazines will join Tehelka, Outlook, Mainstream, Open magazines and occasionally The Hindu and even 24 Ghanta (the Kolkata TV channel), as well. Because, there is a tradition in India of quietly re-visiting the past and not simply concocting a present. There is a tradition of thoughtfulness and a renaissance mentality that gently warns against the rabid promotion of the “us and them” dichotomy. There is a tradition in India of being alert to upstarts who want to steal the show.
Actors, actresses, scientists, sports personalities will also speak up. News channels, despite the corporate sponsorship they enjoy, will eventually break their bondage and slip in the truth from the hills and rivers of Dandakaranya. There is a limit to how much an entire nation can be duped into this proto-fascist frenzy. Shades of George Bush, post-911! It lasted for a while and Ms. Susan Sonntag, Gore Vidal and a host of others were similarly brutally abused for questioning the rabid war-mongering and xenophobia that followed. So will it happen in India. Even in the Bombay movie tradition, there is a long list of Sahnis, Kapoors, Azmis, Abbas, the heirs in Bengal of Bijon Bhattacharya and Shombhu Mitra and the musical tradition of Salil Choudhury, Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri and others all over the country will come out and have their voices be heard.
This is a fork in the road. And if you take the wrong end of the fork, there is no retreat. Hidden agendas will not work in this India. Whether you are a Maoist supporter or not, the facts are clear that the Maoists are NOT on the wrong side of history. You cannot juggle the reality by endlessly discussing the dichotomy of law and order versus development. This is a falsification of the debate. To thump your chest and bemoan the plight of “ our Jawans” as the CPI(Marxist) and the BJP recently did in Parliament, smacks of the same anti-intellectual tradition that followed 911 in the US.
The Maoists have, as per their own interpretations, clearly figured out what is going disastrously wrong and they have chosen to highlight this. Their fight has been a fight of resistance, albeit violent. And while the Maoists did not choose violence as their first step ( the counter-Maoists can continue to whine away about the Maoists constitutional edict to seize power by armed struggle etc, highlighting the aspect of power seizure as if it is an overnight coup d’├ętat and not a long drawn out struggle for structural change) they have no choice but to defend their gains. For a long time, the fathers and mothers of liberalization sold the story to the media and who in turn parroted it out, day in and out that India needed to “liberalize.” Behind that well chosen misnomer, the Indian state sold a bill of goods to India’s proto-gullible middle class that questioning this “liberalization” would amount to un-patriotic activity. And the bloggers, twitterers, facebookers went all out to spread the same gospel. Well, that balance is now being tipped. Scores of blogs and sites have now hit out hard against this one sided misrepresentation.
If India was the same nation, it was some fifteen years ago, it would not attract much attention, either internally or externally. The times have changed. Today, what happens in Dantewada is written about in Washington DC, in San Francisco, in Moscow, in Amsterdam, London, Singapore, Paris and Johannesburg within hours. Call it what you will, there are representatives of the new media, stationed everywhere, picking up on each other’s pronouncements and belting out stories instantaneously. And some of these stories do not bode well for the folks who quietly promoted the camp of the suave and cocky Mr. P. Chidambaram. Because word has gotten around that within the ruling corridors that there is considerable double taking or to put it somewhat euphemistically some soul searching going on. Mr. Chidambaram had some vague notions that one day he would be an applicant for the position of the PM of this country. Dynasty or not, the Gandhi family knows that Chidambaram is a chip of the old block. For those of you who remember, this is the progeny of the Old Congress Syndicate. The ruling class of India are not a monolithic block and they continue to have their own skirmishes and cock-fights like Morarji Desai and Sanjiva Reddy on one side and the VV Giris, Indira-clan on the other side. Let us not forget that out of the Indian electorate of 714 million, 153,482,356 voted for the Congress party (21% of the electorate) and Manmohan Singh had to run in Assam and Chidambaram required a recount to get their seats. Within the UPA, there are plenty of forces who are not going to put up with the high-handedness of the Chidambaram coterie.
Somewhere amongst the denizens in India’s ruling corridors there are families, groupings, influences that have a long lineage going back to India’s struggle to free itself from Britain. In that lineage, non-alignment did well. Playing one superpower against the other. Despite the hidebound theories of the ruling classes’ propensities, the fact is that after all is said and done, the ruling class is not united. On the one hand there are the outright compradors and on the other side are the compromisers who desperately wish for a new superpower. There has always been an Indian state of mind, which eventually shakes itself out of its torpor and calls a spade a spade.
The people of India and I mean those who do not read blogs and do not know who George Dick Obama could be, vote with their fists, when they are kicked around too much. Mrs. Indira Gandhi found that out. The BJP realized that in no time. Karat and Yechury smarted under the same blows and Buddhadev Bhattacharya is going to find it out pretty soon. Even though voter turn out in India is still hardly anything to be proud of, when Indians do vote they vote with their minds. (Countercurrents.org)


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