Tuesday, March 2, 2010

India Targets Rights Groups as Maoist Insurgency Grows

It is conservatively estimated that Maoists, also known as Naxalites, control almost 25% of Indian territory in eastern and central states. Indian defense analyst Bharat Verma claims that "New Delhi and the state capitals have almost ceded the governmental control over 40 percent of the Union's territory to the Naxalites". A Newsweek story last year quoted Deepak Ambastha, the editor of Prabhat Khabar, a Hindi daily newspaper in Jharkhand state, as saying that "the state's writ runs only within city limits." Similar situation exists in many of the 20 Indian states, home to nearly 80 percent of those 836 million Indians, where the Maoists dominate the rural landscape. Indian government knows that it can ignore the Naxal threat at its own peril.

Maoists can hurt India's best laid economic growth plans, according to Reuters. While the economic impact may be small compared with India's trillion dollar economy in the short term, the insurgency and the sense that it is worsening creates a sense that India does not fully control its own territory and adds to risks for companies mulling investments.

A recently released ministry of rural development report in India accuses the government and companies like Tata and Essar of a corporate takeover in the hinterland of Chhattisgarh. It describes it as the "the biggest grab of tribal lands after Columbus."

The Indian government has now offered to suspend all contracts with mining companies in central and eastern parts of the country in a bid to persuade the rebels to lay down their weapons. Violence in Lalgarh has worried the country's third-largest steel producer, JSW Steel, which is setting up a $7-billion, 10-million ton steel plant in the area. India also depends heavily on coal as a primary source for its energy needs, and about 20-25% of Indian coal mining is affected by the ongoing Maoists insurgency, according to Asia Times.

Responding the the growing threat, Indian government has deployed 100,000 troops to quell the insurgency in what is called Operation Greenhunt. Many analysts, including British writer William Dalrymple, believe the Maoists insurgency in India is no less serious a threat than the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan, where Pakistan has deployed 20,000 troops in its tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. Is the growing Maoists insurgency the beginning of a bloody revolution in India? Only time will tell.



In comments published in the Hindu, Indian civil rights activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, says that the "war on terror has degenerated into war against tribals":

“For every 100 Maoists eliminated, thousands more are created”

“Suppression of dissent is fascist and will escalate into civil war”

NEW DELHI: Human rights activists, journalists and fact-finding committees were being targeted to intimidate them so that there could be no dissenting voices against the State’s alleged war on terror, which had degenerated into a war against the tribals, advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged here over the week-end.

He was speaking at a press conference held to protest against the alleged labeling of civil rights groups and peoples’ movements as Maoist front organizations.

Charge-sheet against Ghandy

Reading from the charge-sheet filed against Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, Mr. Bhushan said: “Their other front organizations like Revolutionary Democratic Front, People’s Democratic Front of India, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers took up the issues
of human rights violation, civil liberties, atrocities by the police…

Other civil liberties and human rights organizations i.e. People’s Union for Democratic Rights, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights also take up the issues of their outfit — CPI (Maoist). These organizations play a very important role to broaden the base of the outfit.”

People, who expressed sympathy with human rights activists or exposed and criticized government actions, were accused of being front organizations of the Maoists, he added.

Tribals harassed

Mr. Bhushan said: “The government has done little for the tribals and now they are trying to snatch their land. When tribals agitate peacefully, the State security forces descend on them, harass them and burn their villages.

“About 700 villages have been burnt in the past two years in Chhattisgarh. People are bound to protest and take up arms. For every 100 Maoists eliminated, thousands are created through collateral damage.”

The country was turning into a fascist State through suppression of dissent and this would lead to an escalating state of violence resulting in civil war, he added.

Talks favored

Stressing that the State could not use illegal means to curb violence, retired Justice Rajinder Sachar said: “The State cannot be a terrorist. It is the ultimate repository of law and order.

"Talks should happen between the government and the Maoists in an open atmosphere where there is no fear. Both sides should cease hostilities for dialogue to take place. The Maoist representative should be granted immunity for the period of talks. In case the talks fail, both sides should be able to return to their respective areas.”

To approach court

“PUCL will go to court to remove its name from the charge-sheet,” he added.

Concurring that the government and Maoists should have talks amid a ceasefire, writer Arundhati Roy said: “Fight for civil liberties, prisoners’ rights and mere thoughts are being criminalized. If those who support human rights activists in their struggle are considered front organizations of the Maoists, by the same argument the Home Ministry too should be considered the over ground representatives of big corporations.”


Mr. Bhushan, an urban civil rights advocate, is defending the rights of the poor peasants who are led by the Maoists leaders like Kobad Ghandy, a foreign educated urbanite from a well-to-do family.

Talking about the probability of a bloody revolution in South Asia, let us remember that the French Revolution was not led by the poor French peasants. Instead, the ideology, the leadership and the resources came from the petty bourgeoisie who were from the urban middle class, dominated by small business owners, shopkeepers and self-employed urbanites. They were not the have-nots, they were have-lesses, relative to the feudal elite favored by the royalty.

Unless Pakistan's urban middle class leads such a revolution, it will not succeed. The poor and rural Taliban or similar other groups will probably be crushed by the Pakistani military. The Maoists in India, led by the left-wing intellectuals, civil society and their urban sympathizers, have a greater chance of success in India than the poor, rural Taliban in Pakistan, whose violent tactics and suicide bombings have destroyed whatever support they had in the cities. They have dug their own graves.

Related Links:

India Deploys 100,000 troops Against Maoists

Taliban Digging Their Own Graves

Bloody revolution in India

Maoists Impact on India's Economy

Are India and Pakistan Failed States?

Arundhai Roy on Maoist Revolt

India's Maoist Revolution

NY Times on Maoists

Can Indian Democracy Deliver?

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Pakistan's Choice: Globalization or Talibanization

The Tornado Awaiting India

Countering Militancy in FATA

Taliban or Rawliban?

Political, Economic and Social Reforms in Pakistan

Fix ing Sanitation Crisis in India

Western Myths About "Stable, Peaceful, Prosperous" India

Taliban Target Landed Elite

Feudal Punjab Fertile For Terror

Caste: India's Apartheid

The Three Dangers Facing India

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Riaz has gone mad...25% of Indian territory... Maoists are active in West Bengal does not mean they have control over whole state. They have their strong hold in Jungles in differnt states. But out of Jungle they will be dead ducks. Yet they are not armed like Talibans but regularly looting weapons and rifles from police forces which is a headache for the Administration. As prsently deployed State police forces and CRPFs are not trained for Jungle war fare it will be hard for them to take on the Maoists (If anyone does not have idea about indian jungles please consult who knows about it).

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "..25% of Indian territory... Maoists are active in West Bengal does not mean they have control over whole state. "

25% of Indian territory controlled by Maoists is a conservative estimate. Indian defense analyst Bharat Verma believes it's "over 40%" of the territory:

New Delhi [ Images ] and the state capitals have almost ceded the governmental control over 40 percent of the Union's territory to the Naxalites [ Images ]. The Naxals are aided and abetted by the crime mafia that runs its operations in the same corridor from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh, as well as Maoists of Nepal who in turn receive covert support from other powers engaged/interested in destabilising India.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's part of a personal story about Maoists in Jharkhand by a Newsweek reporter Sudip Mazumdar:

The Maoists finally got word that I wanted to talk. It was well past midnight when my mobile phone rang. The caller gave no name and spoke in a local Hindi dialect that I understand and speak well. He gave a little speech about "establishing a classless society." Before he could hang up, I asked him why the Maoists terrorize ordinary people. He denied harassing "the poor and the powerless." End of phone call.

It would have been nice if he had conveyed that message to the gang of Maoists who raided the house of a former village headman a few days earlier near Gaya, in the neighboring state of Bihar. The man and his son happened to be away from home when it happened, visiting a nearby village. Someone rushed to warn them that a company of Maoists had been spotted heading for their home village, and the son called the police immediately. The Maoists rolled into the village unchallenged and looted the house. Then they ordered the women out, dynamited the place to rubble and melted back into the countryside. The district police chief later claimed that a team of police was sent to the scene. Villagers said the cops showed up nearly 15 hours after the raiders left.

A few days later, nearly 100 Maoists swarmed into a village near the Jharkhand town of Hazaribagh in the dead of night. They seized a schoolteacher and dragged him away despite his wife's entreaties, accusing him of being a police informer. They tied him to a tree and tortured him to death.

The more horror stories I heard, the harder it was to understand how any government could tolerate such atrocities against its people. I decided to call on the deputy commissioner of Dhanbad district. A computer-science graduate from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Ajay Kumar Singh is the man in charge of both district development and law and order in Dhanbad. He's an earnest young man who lives in a well-guarded bungalow with a manicured lawn in the heart of the city. Singh blames the state's crushing poverty for the Maoists' influence. "It is a Catch-22 situation," he says. "There are no roads, so there is hardly any development. And when we go to build roads, the Maoists attack and destroy all efforts, because roads will expose their hideouts." Besides, he says, the state's officials don't live in the impoverished villages and therefore they have no stake in developing the backcountry areas.

For a senior government functionary, Singh is unusually candid. He's convinced that the Maoists couldn't prevent development if the politicians considered it important. "Human beings have built tunnels under the sea," he says. "Obviously we can build roads into remote villages." It's not as if the Maoist leaders were committed revolutionaries, he says; many of them are only hoodlums who use villagers as hostages and human shields. They keep the ill-paid local cops terrorized by attacking them with overwhelming force and no warning.

I asked Singh what happens when people get extortion threats. Most pay up, he said. The state can't provide armed guards for everyone who needs one. I didn't have the stomach to ask about people who don't pay. It was getting dark outside the bungalow. I asked Singh if I'd be OK driving to Giridih, about 40 miles away through some desolate stretches of forest. Wait until morning, he said. I walked out of Singh's bungalow into the dark streets. Until India's government gets serious about stopping the Maoists, I have no answer for my sister and her husband.


Find this article at http://www.newsweek.com/id/195669

Sandy said...

Thats a typical post by Riaz. I guess you have forgotten that ur blog is about Pakistan. In any case. here is my response to your blog.
And trust me, unlike you, comments in my blog are not moderated and they wont be deleted.

http://sandywriter.blogspot.com/2010/03/india-and-pakistan-future-scenario.html

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy,

Your assumptions of India's economic growth in your post are based on perfect weather conditions for the next several decades, and Pakistan's growth on pessimistic assumptions. You see clear skies for India, and continuing dark clouds hanging over Pakistan.

Pakistan's current dismal growth is at least partly because of the Taliban insurgency.

But India, too, faces growing Maoists insurgency and how it plays itself could make a big difference in India's growth.

Maoists can hurt India's best laid economic growth plans, according to Reuters. While the economic impact may be small compared with India's trillion dollar economy in the short term, the insurgency and the sense that it is worsening creates a sense that India does not fully control its own territory and adds to risks for companies mulling investments. The Indian government has now offered to suspend all contracts with mining companies in central and eastern parts of the country in a bid to persuade the rebels to lay down their weapons. Violence in Lalgarh has worried the country's third-largest steel producer, JSW Steel, which is setting up a $7-billion, 10-million ton steel plant in the area.

I have been around long enough to know that it's hard to extrapolate these things over any length of time.

I have seen many a demand forecasts presented by marketing guys gone awry due to normal economic cycles....much less Black Swan type events that hit the US and the world last year.

The law of big numbers also kicks in as you grow bigger, because it's much harder to grow at 10% for the larger economies like those of US and Japan.

Sandy said...

My assumptions are moderate and observations are balanced. As far as perfect weather conditions is concerned, that is true. No one can predict that with absolute certainty. But given the performance of Indian economy despite global meltdown, I would like to be optimistic. Furthermore, the growth assumptions are fairly conservative. India and China's growth are unlikely to be similar to that of Japan where growth flattened quickly. Both countries are extremely poor and hence there is enough scope to grow rapidly.

Comparing Taliban n Maoists is inaccurate. Maoists mostly blowup train tracks or some mobile towers. They are rapidly losing support, both from the Tribals and intellectuals. The present Govt has launched massive devpmt programs like NREGA which is the world largest social initiative. Taliban by contrast are radicals and much more capable militarily. They target innocent civilians unlike Maoists. Their attacks are in cities as well.

But there is no doubt if they are not crushed, they will impact our growth. But this problem has been there for sometime and that hasn't affected the growth numbers.

"I have been around long enough to know that it's hard to extrapolate these things over any length of time."
Trust me, i have read your articles and I know how much wisdom you really bring to the table. Even if I look at your arguments in your comment, you have actually countered me on India's problems and haven't said a word on Paki issues. So should I assume that you accept those predictions.

Comparing India and Pakistan without comparing the two societies and political system is ridiculous and thats what you continue to do through blogs. Democracy is India's biggest strength but that is something that you can never understand.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "Even if I look at your arguments in your comment, you have actually countered me on India's problems and haven't said a word on Paki issues. So should I assume that you accept those predictions."

No, I don't accept your predictions for India or Pakistan.

Taliban threat is small compared to what Pakistan has faced before. And I already see Pak military starting to get an upper hand in this battle in the north west.

Pakistanis have gone through very tough times, including the breakup of the country in 1971, and the forecast of state failure during the last year, and have bounced back each time.

Although Indians are used to much higher levels of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, Indians have not faced any political or security crises like the ones Pakistanis have faced. Indira's emergency doesn't even come close.

So the Indians have really not been tested by the potential difficulties that the growing Maoists insurgency could create in this decade.

Or the scenario that George Friedman offers in his book "The Next 100 Years" for possible disintegration of India in this century.

Sandy said...

Thats again a typical Paki response. To claim that we will rise, to look at false pride of 1000yrs. You can carry on with this false pride. No one help someone does not helps himself.

"Pakistanis have gone through very tough times, including the breakup of the country in 1971, and the forecast of state failure during the last year, and have bounced back each time."
They have hardly bounced back, and it is mostly becoz of foreign aid. And btw, why did ur Finance Min resign?

You say that Taliban threat is nothing but then u say that Maoist threat to India is much greater. Maoist dont have sophisticated weapons, they dont carry out suicide missions inside cities, inside army headquarters. So going by your logic if Taliban threat is nothing, Maoist threat is minuscule, right?

If you actually look back 20 years ago, Pakis were far better off. But that is not at all true today. With rapidly growing population, illiteracy and stagnant growth, the gap with India is more likely to widen in the coming years. There isn't much FDI. Whatever comes is mostly Chinese or Saudi.

Other than throwing up rhetoric, u have barely proved ur wisdom. You have hardly countered anything what I have written. You are merely stressing on Maoists, something that I have already mentioned in my article itself.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "They have hardly bounced back, and it is mostly becoz of foreign aid."

This shows your own mental contradiction.

Sandy: "There isn't much FDI. Whatever comes is mostly Chinese or Saudi."

The FDI has slowed, but it's not a permanent condition. It's just a couple of years ago that both FDI and portfolio investments were booming in Pakistan. And FDI is starting to come back in selected sectors.

As Mark Bendeich of Reuters wrote on Jan 10, 2008: "A little more than six years ago, immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. cities, few sane investment advisers would have recommended Pakistani stocks.
They should have. Their clients could have made a fortune.
Since 2001, the nuclear-armed South Asian country, blamed for spawning generations of Islamic militants and threatening global security, has been making millionaires like newly minted coins.
As Western governments have fretted about Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of militants, the Karachi Stock Exchange's main share index has risen more than 10-fold."

Pakistan's KSE-100 is booming again, in spite of all the doom and gloom. Pakistan's KSE-100 stock index surged 55% in 2009 in US dollar terms and 65% in rupee terms, in a year that also saw the South Asian nation wracked by increased violence and its state institutions described by various media talking heads as being on the verge of collapse. Even more surprising is the whopping 825% increase in KSE-100 from 1999 to 2009, which makes it a significantly better performer than the BRIC nations. BRIC darling China has actually underperformed its peers, rising only 150 percent compared with energy-rich Brazil (520 percent) and Russia (326 percent) or well-regulated India (274 percent), which some investors see as a safer and more diverse bet compared with the Chinese equity market, which is dominated by bank stocks. This is the kind of performance that has got the attention of some of the top investors and investment firms around the world.

Sandy said...

Thats ur problem. You can barely come up with you sound arguments. I have seen ur blogposts on BSE vs KSE. And I saw enuff responses from various people criticizing ur arguments. You can refer them. And you seem to have forgotten about the tremendous crashing of KSE index, around 25% inflation, and what not.

And again I suppose you were short of arguments on Taliban vs Maoists, so u cleverly chose not to reply to them. Am I correct?

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy:"I have seen ur blogposts on BSE vs KSE. And I saw enuff responses from various people criticizing ur arguments. You can refer them. And you seem to have forgotten about the tremendous crashing of KSE index, around 25% inflation, and what not."

KSE-100 rose 825% over an entire decade, in spite of the KSE's crash and inflation, far outstripping stocks rise China (150 percent), energy-rich Brazil (520 percent) and Russia (326 percent) or India (274 percent).

These results speak louder than any words or arguments.

Sandy: "I suppose you were short of arguments on Taliban vs Maoists"

Maoists are every bit as ideological as the Taliban, and much better led than the Taliban. Maoists control a lot more Indian territory than Taliban do in Pakistan. India has deployed 100,000 troops to fight the Maoists, a much bigger size force of 20,000 troops that Pakistan is deploying in the north west.

The only difference is that the Maoists haven't hit big cities yet, giving a sense of smugness to the Indian urban elite and middle class. But the Maoists as capable of striking in the heart of Mumbai or Delhi as the Taliban in Lahore or Islamabad.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian home secretary Gopal Pillai says Maoists want to overthrow Indian by 2050, according to Times of India:

NEW DELHI
: Maoists have plans to overthrow the Indian democracy through their armed struggle and want to control the government by 2050, home secretary Gopal K Pillai on Friday said.

Addressing a seminar on "Left Wing Extremism Situation in India", Pillai said the Maoists might be getting the help of some former soldiers in carrying out subversive activities.

"The overthrow of the Indian state is not something they are willing to do tomorrow or the day after. Their strategy, according to a booklet they circulated, is that they are looking for at 2050, some documents say in 2060," he said.

According to Pillai, Naxals were not looking at to overthrow the Indian state in 2012 or 2013, it was a long steady plan and in the past 10 years they slowly build up the movement.

"Now they can bring many sectors of Indian economy into their knees. But they don't want to do it today. They know that if they do that now, the state will come very hard. They are not fully prepared to face the onslaught of the state machinery. So, they would rather go very slowly," he said.

The home secretary said the Maoists were a very highly motivated and well trained force like any armed force of any country and they could be help by some ex-army personnel.

"They are very highly motivated, highly trained. I am quite certain that there are some, may be some ex-army or some people who have been with them," he said.

Giving reason for this conclusion, Pillai said after launching any attack, the Naxals conduct a post-mortem and analyse the whole operation.

"After every attack, they do a post-mortem and analysis. The analysis is as good as armed forces of any country does," he said.

The home secretary said 908 people have lost their lives last year, the highest since 1971, in Naxal violence and it may go up in this year and next year become coming down.

"It is quite like that the violence will go up in 2010 or 2011 before the tide is begin to turn," he said.

According to Pillai, even though the joint anti-Naxal operations were going on, the Naxals have not suffered any significant reverses so far and the government would need seven to eight years to have full control over the areas which were lost to the Maoists.

"The operations have not hit even five per cent of hardcore militants. The real armed cadres are yet to come out," he said, adding unless they feel the heat they will not come for talks and whatever statement they were making about peace were not serious.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Maoist leader Kishenji threatening to overthrow Indian government "much before 2050", according to Times of India:

Tags:G K Pillai|Koteswar Rao|Kishenji
KOLKATA
: A day after Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said Maoists had plans to overthrow the Indian state by 2050, top Naxal leader Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji tonight claimed it would be achieved much before that date.

"We will overthrow the Indian government much before 2050," Kishenji said from an undisclosed location.

He claimed the Maoists had their own army with the help of which it would overthrow the Indian state much before 2050.

He said the Maoists had offered a 72-day peace offer and "the question of regrouping does not arise. (Union Home minister P) Chidambaram is trying to divert the attention of the people from the real problem."

He said it was for the Centre to act on the peace offer. "We are fully prepared for a long-term revolution against the government and so we don't need any specific time to restructure ourselves."

On Pillai's contention yesterday that some ex-army personnel were helping Maoists, he said "we don't need the support of any army man. For the last 30 years, we know the type of war we do better than any military officer."

Reiterating that the repeated offer of talks by the Maoists had been turned down, Kishenji said "we have repeatedly offered talks to the government but it has been turned down."

Claiming that innocent people were being killed in the name of tackling Maoists, he said "we are trying to save them from state-sponsored terrorism."

He also denied West Bengal Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh's claim that arrested Maoist leader Telegu Dipak had links with ULFA and Kashmir militants.

"A lot of rumours are being spread deliberately about the arrest of Telugu Deepak. He does not have any connection with any terrorist organisation."

He said Deepak was not a member of the Maoist military commission as the ultras did not have any such organisation. "We have only a state committee, central committee and politburo."

Dipak, he said, was only a state committee member who was in charge of Nandigram.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's recent piece in the Guardian from its departing Indian correspondent Randeep Ramesh after six years in India:

In my six years there, it was hard not to be infected by the hubris of India – a nation that feels part of history, an essential actor on the global stage. Yet even as I admired a country that had thrived as a democracy despite unbounded poverty, mass illiteracy and entrenched social divides, experiencing India as a reporter was a string of enervating and dispiriting episodes.

Whether I was visiting a rural police station where half-naked men were hung from the ceiling during an interrogation, or talking to the parents of a baby bulldozed to death in a slum clearance, the romance of India's idealism was undone by its awful daily reality. The venality, mediocrity and indiscipline of its ruling class would be comical but for the fact that politicians appeared incapable of doing anything for the 836 million people who live on 25p a day.

The selling of public office for private gain was so bad that the only way to make poverty history in India would be to make every person a politician. Last year the wealth of local representatives in the northern state of Haryana rose at an astonishing rate of £10,000 a month. Their constituents were lucky if their income increased by a few pounds.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Ravi Rikhye, editor of Orbat, criticizing Indian home minister's boast about defeating Maoists in three years:

We told you speaking first thinking later is not just a Pakistani trait but is a subcontinental trait. Now the Indian Home Minister has announced that the Maoists, who are active in one-third of India's districts (counties) will be defeated in three years. What's so sad about this amazingly stupid statement is that the Minister is actually quite a brainy fellow and an effective administrator. The Maoist problem has plagued India for 40 years, and a lot of it tied up with social injustice. Its absurd to think its going to solved in three years when India has not been able to defeat straightforward secessionist insurgencies in its northeast for 40 years.

Rahul said...

Mr. Riaz,I don't understand that why are you twisting analysis just to show India in a bad state. Yes we have the Maoist problem. But also bear in mind that this is currently being tackled. and unlike taliban prevalent in Pakistan, it is not turning industries to not to invest in India.

The Maoist problem emerged because of our inefficient & corrupt delievery system of basic services. So our problem is not the ideology (unlike that of Taliban who want to impose Shariat), but development of basic infra. With large scale e-governance projects, NREGA, Bharat Nirman, NRHM, NUHM, PMGSY, and many more are sure to close the gap..

I also want to stress that these schemes have started in the last decade. Their efficeincy has been gar greater than the previous schemes, which were responsible for this proble. There was a 73% money transfer to the poor in NREGA two years ago. So you see currently rural problem is being tackeld.

I certainly urge you to concentrate on real points rather than twisting them to uplift the moods of your countrymen.

Riaz Haq said...

Rahul: "But also bear in mind that this is currently being tackled. and unlike taliban prevalent in Pakistan, it is not turning industries to not to invest in India."

On the contrary, the whole Maoist issue has taken on a new urgency because of industry...they want the land and the mineral resource in areas where the adivasis live. So they are trying to push the tibals out and meeting stiff resistance by the Maoists.

It's been described as the "biggest land grab since Columbus".

Rahul said...

Mr. Riaz lets not talk about moral issues here. yes there is a problem of land grab. Therefore the government has recently decided to auction the mines to ensure transparency rather than awarding them to any company. Also you should know that in 2006, a bill named Scheduled tribes & forest dwellers act has been passed, which gives the right of land to these tribals in the forest and scheduled areas.

In India, you can't cut a single tree in the forest without the approval of the Supreme Court's en powered committee on environment.

Please leave the moral issues aside.Pakistan also does not have a clean record in this aspect. Even developed countries also pose guilty in this aspect. and your 'all-weather friend China' is still culpable in this matter. So before you describe it as the biggest land grab in history, do a global check about it.

Even I have a blog

www.rahulspeakstruth.wordpress.com

Riaz Haq said...

Rahul: "Mr. Riaz lets not talk about moral issues here."

OK, if you insist, but it's more than a moral issue. Let's consider enlightened self-interest as our guiding light....and it dictates that having a healthy and well educated next generation is in the best interest of all in South Asia.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the story of "Shining India" as reported by a blogger at escape from India explaining why a million Indian escape each year:

Poverty Graph

According to WFP, India accounts around 50% of the world’s hungry. (more than in the whole of Africa) and its fiscal deficit is one of the highest in the world. India’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) score is 23.7, a rank of 66th out of 88 countries. India’s rating is slightly above Bangladesh but below all other South Asian nations and listed under “ALARMING” category. Ref: IFPRI Country Report on India

Around six out of 10 Indians live in the countryside, where abject poverty is widespread. 34.7 % of the Indian population lives with an income below $ 1 a day and 79.9 % below $ 2 a day. According to the India’s planning commission report 26.1 % of the population live below the poverty line. [World Bank’s poverty line of $1 a day, but the Indian poverty line of Rs 360 a month, or 30 cents a day].

The Current Account Balance of India

“A major area of vulnerability for us is the high consolidated public-debt to GDP ratio of over 70 percent … (and) consolidated fiscal deficit,” says the Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Mr. Yaga Venugopal Reddy.

According to CIA world fact book, the Current account balance of India is -37,510,000,000 (minus) while China is the wealthiest country in the world with $ 426,100,000,000 (Plus) . India listed as 182 and China as no.1 [CIA: The world fact book]

Human Development vs GDP growth

The Human Development Report for 2009 released by the UNDP ranked India 134 out of 182 countries, working it out through measures of life expectancy, education and income. India has an emigration rate of 0.8%. The major continent of destination for migrants from India is Asia with 72.0% of emigrants living there. The report found that India’s GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is $2,753, far below Malaysia’s $13,518. China listed as 92 with PPP of $5383. Read the statistics from UNDP website.

Population:

According to the Indian census of 2001, the total population was 1.028 billion. Hindus numbered 827 million or 80.5 %. About 25 per cent (24 million) of those Hindus are belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. About 40 per cent (400 million) are “Other Backward Castes”.

15 per cent Hindu upper castes inherited majority of India’s civil service, economy and active politics from British colonial masters. And thus the caste system virtually leaves lower caste Hindus in to an oppressed majority in India’s power structure. Going by figures quoted by the Backward Classes Commission, Brahmins alone account for 37.17 per cent of the bureaucracy. [Who is Really Ruling India?]

The 2004 World Development Report mentions that more than 25% of India’s primary school teachers and 43% of primary health care workers are absent on any given day!

Living conditions of Indians

89 percent of rural households do not own telephones; 52 percent do not have any domestic power connection. There are daily power cuts even in the nation’s capital. The average brownout in India is three hours per day during non-monsoon months, 17 hours daily during the monsoon. The average village is 2 kilometers away from an all-weather road, and 20 percent of rural habitations have partial or no access to a safe drinking-water supply. [Tarun Khanna, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization]

According to the National Family Health Survey data (2005-06), only 45 per cent of households in the country had access to improved sanitation.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting commentary on India's growing social inequality threatening stability published in Fast Company:

Can a country where a third of the population is illiterate be an Information Technology superpower? Can a country where 78 million rural homes have never seen electricity be an economic superpower? Can anyone feel safe living in islands of prosperity in a sea of poverty? While India’s educated elite are reveling in their new found status on the global stage, inequitable distribution of wealth and opportunities are shaking the very foundation of India’s new economy. Will the Indian government’s apathy towards the rural poor bring India’s party to an abrupt end?

In the last 12 years, India's economy has grown at an average annual rate of about 7 percent, reducing poverty by 10 percent. However, 40 percent of the world's poor still live in India, and 28 percent of the country's population continues to live below the poverty line. More than one third live on less than a dollar a day, and 80 percent live on less than two dollars a day. India's recent economic growth has been attributed to the service industry, but 60 percent of the workforce remains in agriculture.

The rate of increasing disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, is hard to miss in tech centers like Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi. Technology professionals are returning, having made their millions in the US. They are driving expensive cars and living in luxury apartments. Cities are growing in all directions. Farmlands are being acquired to build luxury townships, golf courses, five star hotels, spas and clubs. Poor farmers get paid off, and are forced to move further away from the city. And while global leaders and businessmen wax eloquent about India’s growing status as an IT superpower, everyone turns a blind eye to the majority of the population untouched by the economic growth.

And the scenario is not too different in smaller cities. Nagpur is a bustling metropolis in the heart of India, in a region known as Vidarbha. There are signs of economic boom everywhere in the city – shopping arcades, multiplexes, pubs, and luxury clubs. Yet, right outside the city, farmers are committing suicide due to their inability to repay debts as small as $100. In the last five years, almost two thousand farmers in the region have killed themselves.
------------
While, the government must own primary responsibility for social upliftment, the answer to India’s woes probably lies in a public-private partnership towards addressing India’s deprived poor. It’s happening in pockets. Companies like the Tata Group have ingrained social responsibility in their DNA. Azim Premji Foundation, promoted by the Wipro Chairman, is working with state governments to improve grassroots level education in rural India. What’s probably now needed is for all private enterprises and government bodies to collaborate, to create a larger, more meaningful, nationwide impact.

Corporations should not view it purely from a philanthropic perspective. A bigger pool of educated and employable population will mean availability of better quality human resources. And a stable society creates a far more secure environment to do business in. Cleansing the environment where you are running your operations definitely makes better long term business sense. And the sooner corporations realize this, the better it is for everyone.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent BBC report on Indian operation against Maoists in Jharkhand:

"East Singbhum district in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has been considered the heartland of the Maoist insurgency for more than two decades now.

"Either walk or ride a motorbike," I am advised by Faiyaz who is heading a group of paramilitary troops from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

We are in the forests of Derabasa in Ghatsila sub-district and Faiyaz tells me that the road is littered with landmines.

"Venturing in this terrain on a four-wheeler can be risky," he says.

Recently, a massive anti-Maoist operation was launched in the area by the federal home ministry and the Jharkhand state government.

Battle lines

Thousands of paramilitary troops, including the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (Cobra) - the special force raised to tackle the Maoist insurgency in India - have been deployed in the operation.

Battle lines are drawn as the security forces take position to "liberate the forests" from the armed Maoist guerrillas.

The region has seen several violent incidents, including the killing of a member of parliament, Sunil Mahato of the state's governing Jharkhand Mukti Morcha party.

Last August, the insurgents killed 11 security personnel in the Burudih area in a powerful landmine explosion.

The rebels also blew up railway tracks derailing the prestigious Rajdhani Express train.
---------------------------
However, almost a fortnight into the biggest operation against the Maoists so far, the security forces have not made any significant breakthrough.

No weapons have been recovered, nor any big Maoist leader been caught. And no one knows how long this will go on.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed, waiting for the day when this all ends. We have not been to the forests and there is no other source of income for us. We pray that normal life returns soon," says a villager in Jhatijharna.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about the deadly Maoists attack claiming 75 India soldiers' lives in Cahhattisgarh:

Maoist rebels have killed at least 75 Indian soldiers in a series of attacks on security convoys in the central state of Chhattisgarh, officials say.

A large patrol of federal paramilitary troops was ambushed at dawn by hundreds of heavily armed insurgents in a remote part of Dantewada district.

Rescue teams were later ambushed in attacks using landmines and gunfire.

Correspondents say it is the worst attack on security forces by the rebels since their insurgency began.

India's Home Affairs Minister P Chidambaram said the attack showed the brutality and savagery that the rebel army was capable of.

But he suggested lessons had to be learnt quickly by the security forces.

"Something has gone very wrong. They seem to have walked into a trap set by the Naxalites [Maoists]. Casualties are quite high and I am deeply shocked," he said.

Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai said that the rebels had booby-trapped the area of the ambush.

"Preliminary reports indicate that the Maoists planted pressure bombs in surrounding areas at places where the security forces might take cover," he said.

"As a result of this, the bulk of the casualties have arisen from the pressure bomb blasts."

The Maoists have stepped up attacks in recent weeks in response to a big government offensive along what is known as the "red corridor", a broad swathe of territory in rural eastern and central India where the Maoist rebellion has been gathering strength.

Nearly 50,000 federal paramilitary troops and tens of thousands of policemen are taking part in the operation in several states.

The rebels have tapped into rural and tribal anger among those who have seen no benefits from India's economic development and this attack is another chilling reminder of the growing threat they pose, says the BBC's Chris Morris in Delhi.

Riaz Haq said...

Part of the problem fueling anger and insurgencies is the growing number of the poor in India. Here's a recent Reuters report:

India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday.

The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, a change that will require the Congress-ruled government to spend more money on the poor.

The new estimate comes weeks after Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party, asked the government to revise a Food Security Bill to include more women, children and destitutes.

"The Planning Commission has accepted the report on poverty figures," Abhijit Sen, a member of the Planning Commission told Reuters, referring to the new poverty estimate report submitted by a government panel last December.

India now has 410 million people living below the U.N. estimated poverty line of $1.25 a day, 100 million more than was estimated earlier, officials said.

India calculates how much of its population is living below the poverty line by checking whether families can afford one square meal a day that meets minimum nutrition needs.

It was not immediately clear how much more the federal government would have to spend on the poor, as that would depend on the Food Security Bill when it is presented to the government after the necessary changes, officials say.

India's Planning Commission will meet the food and expenditure secretaries next week to estimate the cost aspects of the bill, government officials said.

A third of the world's poor are believed to be in India, living on less than $2 per day, worse than in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, experts say.

http://in.reuters.com/article/topNews/idINIndia-47791820100418

Riaz Haq said...

India(49) has more than twice as many billionaires as Japan (22) which is a far richer country.

Indian and UNICEF officials concur that Indians are much worse off than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in basic nutrition and sanitation.

Meanwhile, India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement in the area despite big money being spent on it, says Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.Lizette Burgers, chief water and environment sanitation of the UNICEF, said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia.

Most of the 8-9% growth has fattened the bottom line of a small percentage of India's population, with the rest getting poorer. India's Gini Index has increased from about 32 to 36 from 2000 to 2007.

India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday. The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, according to a Reuters report.

The rising gap between abject poverty and obscene wealth in India is fueling anger, and insurgencies such as the Maoists'.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts of Nehru University's Prof Jayanti Ghosh's video interview on Real News Network in which she says there is "no Indian miracle":

JAY: So in India you're saying there never was major reforms and it's getting worse.

GHOSH: Absolutely. If you look at the pattern of Indian growth, it's really more like a Latin American story. We are now this big success story of globalization, but it's a peculiar success story, because it's really one which has been dependent on foreign—you know, we don't run trade surpluses. We don't even run current account surpluses, even though a lot of our workers go abroad to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, to California, as IT workers. We still don't really run current account surpluses. So we've been getting capital inflow because we are discovered as this hot destination. You know, we are on Euromoney covers. We are seen as this place to go. Some of our top businessmen are the richest men in the world. They hit the Fortune top-ten index. All of that kind of thing. This capital inflow comes in, it makes our stock market rise, it allows for new urban services to develop, and it generates this feel-good segment of the Indian economy. Banks have been lending more to this upper group, the top 10 percent of the population, let's say. It's a small part of the population, but it's a lot of people, it's about 110 million people, which is a pretty large market for most places. So that has fuelled this growth, because otherwise you cannot explain how we've had 8 to 10 percent growth now for a decade. Real wages are falling, nutrition indicators are down there with sub-Saharan Africa, a whole range of basic human development is still abysmal, and per capita incomes in the countryside are not growing at all.

JAY: So I guess part of that's part of the secret of what's happening in India is that the middle, upper-middle class, in proportion to the population of India, is relatively small, but it's still so big compared to most other countries—you were saying 100, 150 million people living in this, benefiting from the expansion. And it's a lot bigger. It's like—what is it? Ten, fifteen Canadas. So it's a very vibrant market. But you're saying most of the people in India aren't seeing the benefits.

GHOSH: Well, in fact it's worse than that. It's not just that they're not seeing the benefits. It's not that they're excluded from this. They are part of this process. They are integrated into the process. And, in fact, this is a growth process that relies on keeping their incomes lower, in fact, in terms of extracting more surplus from them. Let me just give you a few examples. You know, everybody talks about the software industry and how competitive we are. And it's true. It's this shiny, modern sector, you know, a bit like California in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa. But when you look at it, it's not just that our software engineers achieve, it's that the entire supporting establishment is very cheap. The whole system which allows them to be more competitive is one where you are relying on very low-paid assistants, drivers, cooks, cleaners. You know, the whole support establishment is below subsistence wage, practically, and it's that which effectively subsidizes this very modern industry.

Anonymous said...

the sad part is the casteism, that is rampant in this region. i heard a story, about a woman maoist sniper, who had played havoc with the security forces. they could not find her for three months, and toll was mounting....one day by sheer luck, they caught her and killed her. she had fallen and the security forces just watched her die, gasping for breath, for they were afraid, that she might detonate a hand grenade. the officer of the troops however took a chance to approach her and give her water. she just spat that water on his face. he says there was a look on her face that he will take with him until his death. she was high up in the maoist hierarchy so the officer went ahead to check her background. he found that she was from a village in srikakulam, in andhra pradesh. she was married at 16. On her first night, it was not her husband who came to her, but the landlord of the place. a 60 year old man abusing a 16 year
old. it is a custom it seemed in that region, that the first night should be with landlord. she lost her mind after that night, recovered , left her husband and wandered ,eventually joining the maoists.

there are many indians here who blame pakistanis. we say Pakistan is going wrong because of its establishment. namely the mullah, military and rich anglican pakistani elite. dont we have that oligarchy here in india! do we not have the upper caste hindus, the landlord, the rich businessmen and the politicians forming an oligarchy? An oligarchy that is simply growing rich by exploiting the vast riches of our soil?
whatever we might say about Pakistan, please understand that atleast some of them, have opened their eyes to this oligarchy. have we in india done that? the answer is no.

there is a company called vedanta resources. it is headquatered in london, and they are billionaires. they want minig rights to a mountain hill in jharkhand, that a real rare find. it has amongst the best Bauxite content. but the gond tribes who are in that area say, our god lives on this hill! we have a temple there, so we will not allow you to mine!
you know what the company management said? We will rebuild a better temple for you in the plains? (take it from our corporate social responsibility account) WOW! great minds these MBA`s are from our management institutes?
we have a temple atop palani hill in tamilnadu. we have been praying over it for few thousand years, if vedanta or anyone tells us, hey there is gold in that mountain you guys better shift, then do you think we will allow that? we will skin those MBA`s right there and hang it to dry.
but then the poor gond tribals and their tribal god? thats fate isnt it?
the officer who told me this story, weeps at the guilt of having killed a poor girl. i left him saying if you carry fighting with guilt, you will get killed.
how many more lives will we corrode?

Riaz Haq said...

Chairman of the UCPN (Maoist) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” on Saturday warned India not to interfere in Nepal's internal matters, according to a report in the Hindu:

Addressing thousands of party cadre here on the occasion of May Day, Mr. Prachanda said: “If India thinks that by backing Madhav Kumar Nepal, it will make everything all right; if it thinks that it now holds the command of Nepal Army and the Army would do whatever it says; and that the Maoists want to kill Nepali people, then the Indian leaders are making a mistake. We appeal them not to make this mistake.”

He said the party cadre had gathered to protect Nepal's sovereignty. The Maoists say the CPN (UML)-led government is “remote-controlled” and is a “puppet” of India.
Stance changed

Mr. Prachanda said the government's stance changed after Mr. Nepal's visit to Thimphu, Bhutan, where Mr. Nepal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He pointed out a recent announcement that the Nepal Army could be mobilised to control the Maoist movement. “I believe you would not listen to a voice that came redirected from Thimphu,” he told the gathering.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on a Maoist female fighter in India:

The guerrilla fighter was tough, experienced, leading a platoon of around 60 insurgents.

"I am from a very poor family," the fighter told me.

"Life was very difficult. I joined the party and now I understand many more things. I think revolution is the only option."

One thing you should know about this hardline Maoist rebel - she is a young woman.

She is one of the growing numbers of poor Indians who have joined a four-decades-old Maoist rebellion, in which thousands have died. Last month the rebels killed 76 members of the security forces in a single attack.

More than 20 of India's 28 states are affected by the insurgency. The remote tribal villages of Jharkhand state, where the fields are still tilled by oxen, are at the centre of it.

The area is home to some of the country's poorest people, mostly members of indigenous tribes. There is little sign of India's economic miracle here.

Local people feel the government has neglected them. So the Maoists, or "the party" as the villagers call them, have got on with running the place.

Parallel government

"The government here has no health programmes… so our party sets up health clinics to help the people," one Maoist fighter told me.

"This area is plagued by illness... Our party gives free medicines in the clinics - and we get help from doctors and nurses. We run them in the rainy season when people are suffering most."

The Maoists have drawn a lot of support from poor villagers like Chachi.

"They are like our sons, our brothers," she says.

"Before, we were not allowed to go into our forests - the authorities used to cut the trees but we weren't even allowed to gather firewood. Now we can.

"The party makes sure there is no tension between rich and poor… that's why we want the party here."

But not everyone agrees. The Maoists have blown up schools because the security forces use them as barracks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about Manipur blockade by Naga insurgents:

India is flying in emergency supplies to the remote north-eastern state of Manipur after key roads were blocked by separatists from a neighbouring state.

Road links were cut off by supporters of Thuingaleng Muivah, a rebel leader from Nagaland who has been denied entry to Manipur by the state government.

Mr Muivah's home village is in Manipur, which says allowing him to visit would inflame ethnic tensions.

The road blockade has led to a severe shortage of fuel and medicines.

For the past five weeks, two highways which serve as the lifelines of this remote mountainous state on Burma's border have been blocked by supporters of Mr Muivah, the leader of India's longest running separatist insurgency.

Mr Muivah has been barred from visiting his home village, Somdal, which lies inside Manipur in an area dominated by members of his Naga tribe.

It is a bitter standoff between the Nagas and the Manipuris who share a history of animosity.

The blockade has had a massive impact on Manipur. Petrol stations have shut down, with no fuel available.

"The situation is dire. There is no petrol or cooking gas available anywhere. Whatever is available is on the black market at ridiculous rates," retired air force officer Rajkumar Ronendrajit told the BBC.

Hospitals are also running short of life-saving drugs and oxygen.

"We normally carry out 20 surgeries a day. We are down to about eight because our stocks of oxygen are fast running out," managing director of Shija hospital Dr KH Palin said.

Officials say cargo aircraft carrying rice and medicine have now begun arriving to try and ease the situation.

But with the blockade continuing, things continue to remain tense.

Anonymous said...

This whole blog now becomes "Pakistan is that" and "India is that" kind of shit, where the city dwelling scum bloggers like Rahul and Sandy are now acting as SOLDIERS fighting on behalf of India and Mr. Haq on behalf of Pakistan. Both forgot that on the Human Development Index, both are very close.
From the posts of Rahul and Sandy, it's very much clear that they are among the metropolis dwelling (metropolises like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai) upper class and upper income group, who don't consider most of the fellow Indians as human beings and their well being is "well being of India". The way they repeatedly talked about "Maoist problem will be tackled" means clearly they support atrocities of the Indian paramilitaries and police forces and don't bother about the effects of demonic laws like UAPA and allied laws. Dumb and bluntheads like these two are basically the reasons behind the uprising of Maoism and as long this kind of supporters of India state (NOT INDIAN PEOPLE) will remain and WILL GROW. If in future, some kind of attack will organized by Maoists on such kind of "civilians", at least I wouldn't consider it unethical. Problem with this kind of hybrid INDO-EUROPEANS is that, they have the worse characters from both sides. I guess, if in future Maoists will ever take power, where will these people go. In Russia, during 1917 and some places of Europe, the world population was small and there was enough empty space in US and other western countries to accommodate them. But, though they are a very small minority, but still they are big in comparison to the population of US and other western European countries. Where will they go?
Mr. Haq, perhaps you too forgot that Pakistan is behind India (though very little)in HDI. The way you are talking about military taking care of Taliban, the same way the Indian Govt. is trying to tackle the Maoist problem. BUT WILL RESULT IN INCREASE IN POWER. You can not deny the fact the the birthplace of Taliban was Pakistan with aid from US and NATO to overthrow the Soviet backed Nazibullah Govt. of Afghanistan. Once, Pakistan was the route of US aid to Taliban and other Mujaheddin groups fighting in Afghanistan. Former friends have now turned into friends. But, actually I want to say that there are lot of similarities between Taliban and Maoists. At present, poor people are joining and supporting them and the support is increasing day by day, at least for the Maoists I can say. Don't listen to what big media houses and gobbets like Sandy and Rahul are saying. In fact, they are living in another planet apart from common Indians. They don't even know and have the urge to know the slum dwelling people of their own cities. But, doesn't conceal the fact that inequalities exist in Pakistan in the same and higher scale of India. Actually, the condition of India worsens after 1992. But, the condition of Pakistan remain similar at nearly about the same level after independence.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an OpEd piece by Shoma Chaudhry in Tehelka.com:

FAKERY HAS always been a key instrument of power. But last week, as the President and Pr ime Minister of India made their Independence Day speeches, cocooned symbolically in towers of glass, the scale of that fakery shot skyward. Both leaders augustly urged the Maoists, yet again, to “abjure violence” and come for talks. Few among the millions of Indians who heard them would have caught the cynicism.

Swami Agnivesh certainly would have. It’s just over a month since the State shot down a man called Azad. There’s been some fitful noise over it. Civil society has protested valiantly; Mamta Banerjee has asked for a judicial inquiry. But for the most part, Indians have gone about their business, registering little and understanding even less. (I tried sharing some of its indignant shock with a public icon from Mumbai. He replied: “So what if they shot one guy?” The chasm was so wide, I subsided into silence.)

But the hard truth is the killing of Azad is a desperate new low in Indian public life. Azad was not just a key leader of the CPI(Maoist) — a mans whose death would be a face-saving notch on the carbines of competitive violence, one big fish to even the score for 76 jawans. He was a man mid-stream in a peace process initiated by the government itself. How could the State just ignore his death, then stand coldly on the ramparts of the Red Fort urging a new round of talks? Where are the certitudes that make the foundation of a civilised society?

Much of the events leading up to Azad’s death has been reported earlier in TEHELKA (The Maoist and the Undelivered Missive, 17 July, 2010), but it bears a quick retelling. Some months ago, as pressure mounted on him to defuse the civil war in the heartland, Home Minister P Chidambaram called Swami Agnivesh and asked him to bear a letter for the Maoists, urging them to come for talks. Agnivesh acted in good faith and sent the word out. It was a hopeful time. Significantly, Chidambaram’s letter did not merely make flamboyant demands asking the Maoists to give him “72 hours” to set the world right.

Instead, it asked them to announce a date for talks so the government could plan its response. It also promised that if the Maoists would lay down arms, “it goes without saying” the security forces would also suspend operations for the duration of the talks. The Maoists — mandating Azad to be their point person — responded positively. A mutual cessation of hostilities suddenly seemed possible. Apparently, a fixed date was imminent.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a sad story of the growing population of Manipur widows in India as reported by the BBC:

For about 50 years, the Indian police and army have been battling separatist insurgents in the north-eastern state of Manipur, a conflict which human rights groups claim leaves at least 500 women widowed each year.

There were 10 of them. They were strikingly beautiful. They were all sitting chatting in a regular room in a regular house.

Nothing about the way they looked prepared me for the sad story they had to tell.

I only realised later that the book each of them was holding close to her was a family photo album. And that was the clue.

The album was full of pictures of their husbands and of their short lives together as families.

Edina, a young widow in her mid-20s with two children, is eager to show me her photographs.

She struggles to leaf through the pages. She suffered a stroke after hearing the news of her husband's death and her left side is now paralysed.

She told me how she had heard what happened to her husband on a chilly morning back in January 2009.

"He was a driver, and a very loving and caring father," she said. "That day after lunch, he went out and not long afterwards I heard, on the television news, that he had been killed by the security forces. They said he was an insurgent."

I asked Edina if the security forces had shown her any evidence for that claim?

"No," she replied in a choking voice, "and I know they are lying." Tears rolled down her cheeks, as she caressed a photograph of her husband, which she had arranged neatly in the album.

Stories of loss

These young widows meet every second Saturday to cry their hearts out and exchange stories about their losses.

It is a particularly strong image of this, one of the world's longest running insurgencies, here in the north-east of India.

The fighting has left many dead and injured - rebels, army and police officers, as well as innocent bystanders.

These young women have all lost their husbands, killed by the security forces.

They all insist that their husbands were innocent and had been picked up, under the special powers, and accused of being insurgents.

Being a widow with children in small towns in India means an extremely tough and deprived life.

Edina, Nina, Tony, Nitan and others became friendly with me after several hours talking, and began to open up and tell me a bit more about their lives.

"You know, we are young and beautiful and that makes our lives as widows even more tough," said one.

"Our in-laws and parents put a lot of restrictions on us. They don't like us to go out and work, as people start saying bad things about us.

"They are afraid we may remarry and that is considered very bad in our society."

I ask them if they would like to remarry, to fall in love? For a moment, they don't know how to react.

It is an option they are not really able to consider. They blush and start laughing.

Hunger strike

The sense of loss and void that one feels in Manipur is overpowering.

I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the controversial act, brought in more than 50 years ago, which gives these sweeping "special powers" to the armed forces.

They are regularly accused of abusing these powers.

For 10 years, activist Irom Sharmila Chanu has been demanding that the act be repealed.

This 38-year-old woman has been on hunger strike, and is alive only because she is force-fed at the hospital where she is kept in judicial custody.

I was allowed to meet her in 2007, but this time the authorities would not give me permission to see her.

But I went to the hospital anyway.
...

Riaz Haq said...

Amnesty International has criticized what it calls "Lawless Law" in Indian-occupied Kashmir, according to the BBC:

Rights group Amnesty International has criticised a tough Indian law which it says has been used to detain up to 20,000 people without trial in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Amnesty urged India to scrap the Public Safety Act (PSA) which allows detention for up to two years without charge.

The group also criticised the judiciary for its failure to protect human rights of the detainees.

Kashmir has been gripped by a violent separatist insurgency since 1989.

The detentions have been made since the beginning of the insurgency, the Amnesty says in a new report released in Srinagar city on Monday.

Titled Lawless Law: Detentions under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act documents how the law is used to secure long-term detention of individuals against whom there is insufficient evidence for a trial.

"The Jammu and Kashmir authorities are using PSA detentions as a revolving door to keep people they can't or won't convict through proper legal channels locked up and out of the way," said Bikramjeet Batra, Amnesty's campaigner for Asia Pacific programme in India.

"Hundreds of people are being held each year on spurious grounds, with many exposed to higher risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment," he added.

The report says the detainees include political leaders and activists, suspected members or supporters of armed opposition groups, lawyers, journalists and protesters, including children.

Often, they are initially picked up for "unofficial" interrogation during which time they have no access to a lawyer or their families.

Even minors are being held under the law, the report says.

Amnesty International called upon the government of Jammu and Kashmir to repeal the law and end the system of detentions.

It also asked the government to release all detainees or charge those suspected of committing criminal acts with recognised offences and try them fairly in a court of law.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed in full by both.

The region is also one of most militarised in the world with hundreds of thousands of troops present on both sides of the Line of Control - the de facto border between the two countries.

Riaz Haq said...

India's Supreme Court has told the authorities in Chhattisgarh state to disband civilian militias because they are unconstitutional, according to the BBC:

The judgement is being seen as a significant blow to the state government.

The government regards the armed groups as an important part of its battle against Maoist insurgents.

Chhattisgarh is one of the states at the heart of the Maoist rebel insurgency.

The Supreme Court ruling covers two types of armed group.

Special Police Officers (SPOs) have a semi-official status. They receive small salaries from the government, are armed by the authorities and have basic training.

The Salwa Judum movement is less formalised. The government has sometimes described it as a spontaneous response to the Maoist insurgents.

But the authorities have certainly supported them, encouraging villagers to organise themselves into anti-Maoist forces, says the BBC's Jill McGivering, who has visited the area.

Some of these villagers also received training and guns.
Human rights concerns

Our correspondent says these local groups do have clear advantages over India's paramilitary forces.

They have a specialist knowledge of the jungle terrain and nearby communities and can understand local dialects. They can also provide valuable intelligence to the security forces.

But there have been human rights concerns about their role as armed law enforcers, partly because of the lack of clarity about their powers and accountability.

Some of them have been accused in the past of attacks on other villages, of destroying houses and killing people who were allegedly pro-Maoist.

Critics say that the fact they have government support and can act with impunity has also undermined the rule of law and blurred the lines between fighters and civilians.

A key question is how effectively the Supreme Court ruling will be implemented. Monitoring the process will not be easy in the state's remote forests.

The ruling could have implications, too, for other Indian states with similar state-supported militias.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14036176

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India story on Maoists new plans and strategy for "revolution":

RAIPUR: Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has formulated a comprehensive strategy for 'New Democratic Revolution' through a combination of military and political tactics to create base areas in the country side and gradual encirclement and capture of urban areas.

The CPI (Maoist) vision for it's 'protracted people's war' against the Indian state is elucidated in its strategy paper titled 'Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution'. This Maoist document contains a comprehensive plan of action to capture political power and usher in the 'New Democratic Revolution' in India.

According to a PIB press release, union minister of state for Home R P N Singh had informed the Rajya Sabha that the CPI (Maoist) was the largest left wing extremist organization operating in the country and it was also response for almost 80 % of Naxal violence reported during the current year.

He said the objective involving creation of 'base areas', gradual encirclement and capture of the urban areas is sought to be achieved through armed warfare by the 'People's Liberation Guerilla Army' cadres of the CPI (Maoist).

Political mobilization through its 'front organizations' and alliances with other insurgent outfit, which in CPI (Maoist) parlance is called the 'Strategic United Front'.

Chhattisgarh has consistently remained the worst Naxal affected State with the rebels being active and have their presence in nearly half of the state's 27 districts. The Maoists are hyper active in tribal Bastar region, where they have established their liberated zone of 'Dandakaranya', spread over the forest regions of Bastar and parts of Andhra Pradesh. However, the state and security forces describe this region as "areas dominated by the Maoists".


http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-12-17/raipur/35869535_1_tribal-bastar-region-maoist-document-new-democratic-revolution

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story on the stunting of human capital growth in India:

At least 3,000 children as young as six are being recruited by insurgent groups across India, according to a new report published by a human rights group.

The New Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights says the practice of using child soldiers is “rampant,” with the majority recruited in Maoist-affected states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.

Maoist rebels, also known as Naxalites, have been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as India’s greatest internal security challenge. They assert control over vast areas of land in central and eastern India. The insurgency was launched in the late 1960s in West Bengal. The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribes and the rural poor, and their ultimate goal is to create a communist society.


http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/05/12/report-indias-3000-child-soldiers/