An Interview With Bakwaas Toy

Ramblingsbybones sent Aparna on Special Assignment for an exclusive interview with Bakwaas Toy, the privileged champion of the underprivileged, the lazy thinker who picks points from Naom Chomsky’s writings and the goddess of big lies. I must warn you, this post is not for the peace loving.

Aparna: Ms. Toy, thank you for offering me your valuable time. I must say it is mighty generous of you to take time from your latest cause to speak to me about the Maoist problem. I’m sure you have read about the Maoist massacre of 75 CRPF jawans in Dantewala district of Chattisgarh. What are your views on the methods used by them to further their cause?

Ms.Toy : This war between the Maoists and the government is the most cowardly wars ever fought in history, a war in which the government of India is using military force to disarm poor defenceless people..

Aparna: But the Maoists are using violence too.

Ms. Toy: Let me finish. The Maoists are a poor marginalized people who are trying to resist the usurping of their land and resources by the rich and powerful. They’ve realized that dharnas and hunger strikes don’t work and so more and more of them are reaching for their guns. Will the violence escalate? Yes it will if the ‘growth rate’ and the Sensex are going to be the only barometers the government uses to measure progress and the well-being of people.

Aparna: So, you condone violence?

Ms. Toy: No I do no such thing. But the question is, is violence immoral? Morality is an elusive business, as changeable as the weather. Non-violent movements have knocked at the door of every democratic institution in India for decades, and have been spurned and humiliated. Look at the the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger strike years. What has been the result? We are in the era of sponsored dharnas and NGOs the sarkar is comfortable with. We are in a different time and place now. When people decide to take up violence because every other option has ended in despair, should we condemn them? Does anyone believe that if the people of Nandigram had held a dharna, the West Bengal government would have backed down?

Aparna: But the Maoists haven’t tried using peaceful democratic methods, have they?

Ms. Toy: Will you let me finish what I have to say? It’s sad that hundreds of innocent people are getting killed but they’re as much the victims of government policy as anybody else. For the Maoist guerrillas, the police and CRPF jawans they have killed were the armed personnel of the Indian State, the hands-on perpetrators of repression, torture, custodial killings, false encounters. They were not innocent people – if such a thing exists – by any stretch of imagination.

Aparna: So, if a poor farmer in Tamil Nadu kills his rich oppressive landlord out of frustration, would his action be justified?

Ms. Toy: No, absolutely not. He has no right to take another person’s life. You must understand that the situations are different. The Maoists are an organization fighting for justice.  To equate a resistance movement fighting against enormous injustice with the government to a personal vendetta is absurd. They are heroes, not demons. The farmer is a plain old murderer and should be hanged.

Aparna: I still don’t understand the difference. Murder is murder in my book. If you feel so much for the poor, weren’t you and your husband served a notice by a court in Hoshangabad district in M.P. for encroaching on tribesman Vijay Singh Desh’s land?

Ms. Toy: That’s got nothing to do with the topic we are discussing.

Aparna: So, you basically stole land from the same person you claim to represent. Is that ethical? Do you get paid by the movements you represent?

Ms. Toy: Wh-what?

Aparna: In one of articles, you’ve described Maoists as ‘Gandhians with guns‘. Could you please elaborate?

Ms. Toy: Well, in my book they are more Gandhian than Gandhi was. Maoists are poor and so waste nothing. They have no houses to call homes and roam the jungle looking for their next prey. They lead very simple lives. Did you know that they even recycle bullets and body parts? They are Gandhian environmentalists and should have been conferred the Nobel Peace Prize instead of that capitalist Al Gore.

Aparna: Ms. Toy, the leader of the Maoists had asked you to be the negotiator, the mediator between them and the Indian government. Why did you refuse?

Ms. Toy: Frankly, I don’t think I’m right for the job because I don’t have detailed knowledge of the situation or the language required to be a mediator. I mean, my knowledge of the Maoist problem is romantic at best and I use flowery language when I write so being a mediator was not an option.

Aparna: Thank you again Ms.Toy for sparing time for us.

(Disclaimer: I have used information from interviews and articles and have also added my two bits)

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50 thoughts on “An Interview With Bakwaas Toy

  1. Bones, this post of yours made me a little comfortable, hence the long comment – pls excuse. I know the Outlook article you are referring to – perhaps you should link it for those not aware of it. One gets the feeling that Roy is somewhat uncritical – yet, I wouldn’t negate everything she has to say. And this, despite any accusations of land-grab against her or her refusal to mediate – those shouldn’t deflect our attention from what she says.

    While not condoning Maoist violence, I did feel there is some truth in that Gandhian methods of resistance have led nowhere. The NBA’s campaign, as mentioned by Roy in that article – it is true that they have fought legally and morally for years and years and yet been unable to secure justice, either by preventing the dam or by effective resettlement for displaced people.

    Also, “the Maoists haven’t tried using democratic methods, have they?” is a bit of a misnomer – the maoists are not a distinct set of people that have descended from elsewhere – the cadres are drawn from these affected parts of the country – surely democratic methods have been tried in some of these parts, though naturally, it will not be every single maoist who has tried them; young people draw from the history of their ancestors – the feeling that democratic methods will be futile is I think widespread in these regions, and I wonder if one can really blame them for that; hence, the easy recruitment for maoists.

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    • See, Apu, I know the Maoists have been marginalized and persecuted and have a serious grouse…What I don’t agree with is their method…I don’t think violence solves anything…Have their problems been solved? No…Also, if they do come to power, I don’t think they’ll be any better than the government we have and governments we have had…They have now become power crazy and have also started using violence and threats to recruit people…They conduct show trials and sometimes shoot people they find guilty…They are outright brutal…How can someone support a political party that recruits child soldiers and kills innocents?

      I also don’t like Arundhati Roy…She talks without thinking…She should stick to writing prose and living a good life…

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    • The problem is that the Maoists in their fight for justice are taking on innocent people. I for instance, have never oppressed anyone, stolen from no one and yet I can be caught in one of their terrorist attacks!

      Let’s take another example of Gandhian methods. Last year, the Delhi HC decriminalized homosexuality. Till that time, they were legally criminals, were looked down upon etc etc. They took the fight to the courts and after eight long years broke through and got what they wanted within the law using NGOs like the Naz Foundation.

      There are ways to redress injustices in India. They take a long time, but no longer than the Maoists own methods are taking now. With all their resources, they could have combined to take their grievances to the court, filed relevant PILs and won if they indeed have a point! Instead they take up guns.

      I have little sympathy for those indulging in violence – especially when innocent people can be caught up in it.

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      • Bhagwad,

        While I am skeptical of Arundhati’s hypothesis, it states that judiciary, politicians, industrialists & ‘other’ Indians (“the Indian state”) are all colluding to wipe out tribals from their residence because of mineral reserves present. In simple words, there is a conflict of interest as big money is involved. Whereas, in taking a sympathetic view of LGBT movement, there were hardly such conflicting interests as nobody was gaining anything monetarily keeping homosexuality criminal! 🙂

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  2. Not sure what to think of all this Sraboney 😦

    I saw Arundhati Roy in an interview with Karan Thapar… and although I am absolutely against Maoist violence, I also agree with, “Look at the the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger strike years. What has been the result? We are in the era of sponsored dharnas and NGOs the sarkar is comfortable with.”

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  3. LOL! Especially, “they recycle their bullets”. 😉

    Thought first name of Bakwas was A’ruined-dirty!

    Maoists wouldn’t have killed the very people they purport to represent (not talking of armed forces, but other civilians – tribals & villagers – they kill to keep them ‘in line’).

    There’s no point in taking Ms. Roy seriously as long as she does not come up with viable solutions. There’s no point shouting save the tiger without telling how to do it sensibly.

    Me: ‘A’ruined-dirty’ is a good one…

    I agree with you…She doesn’t have solutions and that’s because she doesn’t go deep into things…I think she takes on an anti-establishment position for the sake of drawing attention to herself…In other words, she’s a narcissist…She shows up at hot spots as the crescendo seems to be building towards a climax, only to be whisked away by hired hands at the slightest sign of unrest or trouble…Eg. Singur…Why did she and Medha Patkar appear there?

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  4. It is no longer a law and order problem.I wish that the Govt came out of sleep a few years ago.
    Irrespective of any arguments,killing of innocent people is no solution to any problem.
    Roys/Toys are only here to fulfil their self interests.

    Me: She self-celebrates…In one of her interviews she said that Maoists leaders read her writings…

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  5. I just went through the Wikipedia articles on NBA & Sardar Sarovar dam project. So, turns out again that things are not as plain as they look. 🙂

    It’s not clear as to what extent the displaced people have been rehabilitated.

    There are also allegations against NBA activists of using violence against those families that had accepted compensation/rehabilitation offers.

    Is the movement really nonviolent?

    What about the deaths that occur because of starvation & farmer suicides partly owing to unavailability of irrigation?

    Is a person who ‘nonviolently’ blocks a critically ill patient’s entry into an hospital nonviolent?

    And consider a gem from Ms. Toy’s essay:

    “Big dams are to nation’s ‘Development’ what nuclear weapons are to its Military Arsenal. They are both weapons of mass destruction.”

    Only because she comes up with whacky analogies, I cannot take her seriously. Her writing, to the extent I’ve known is very low on reason and high on impassioned rhetoric.Absolutely spot on!

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  6. Let me agree with Ketan… if Roy does not have a solution, let her shut her mouth and return to writing books…. maybe something about her days with the maoists? it can be flowery and sentimental…

    The Maoists reminds me of the Tamil Tigers.. even the Tamil Tigers started in earnest but power got into the heads of the leaders… recruiting small children and innocent villagers and making them kill other human beings equally innocent and vulnerable will never get them what they want..

    The government needs to act now since they are at fault..If it needs the army then let it be… and let the blood of the victims be upon those in power since they failed to do their job! If a section of Indians can reach the Forbes list then there is no reason for such a vast disparity amongst a majority of the Indians… even after 60 years of independance…

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  7. Bones, like most other commentors here, I don’t support violence – and indeed, as Mao’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ and “Great Leap Forward’ proved, violence accomplishes little. However, the kind of ‘hatred’ that Arundhati Roy inspires among many of us, leads me to think that whether or not all that she says is true, there is something about it that makes us uncomfortable. It’s the kind of stuff people would rather not think about it.

    As for that stuff about big dams – yes, Roy’s rhetoric is overblown, but there is no denying that big dams displace one set of people to deliver benefits to others. The question to be asked is, how many of us would willingly leave our homes for the ‘public good’? I mean, c’mon, here we have a Lata Mangeshkar who objects to a flyover in front of her house, and we fail to understand why driving people out of their homes for dams and mines will eventually lead to violence.

    Again, not condoning violence – but, it is important to understand how a 1000 men and women can set an ambush so quietly; it is not possible without local support.

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  8. Apu,

    You’re right, Ms. Roy makes many uncomfortable. I can’t speak for others, but with me it’s because she does not provide alternatives or solutions.

    Comparing atom bombs with large dams is a bad analogy, ‘cuz if case of former no one benefits. Whereas, in case of latter case everyone stands to benefit provided government compensates and rehabilitates satisfactorily.

    It’s true, people would detest being displaced, but how can we be so sure of their attitude if they would be given adequate compensation & equally good or better settlement?

    Comparison with Lata is not appropriate because she is an affluent person. But instead compare with someone who wouldn’t know where their next meal would come from in their current economic condition. They might be much more ready for deals that government offers than the activists make us believe.

    Also, the idea of staying put at one place has been romanticized beyond practicality. How many of us live in villages where our great grandparents used to live?

    I’m not saying government is very fair in India or there’s no corruption, but to reject the very idea of constructing large dams is disingenious. Instead activists must concentrate on greater transparency & accountability. Moreover, if the SC has allowed raising height of dam on multiple occasion, probably we know only one side of the story! I’m worried that most people automatically become skeptical of any claims coming from politicians, but same courtesy is not extended to claims of activists. Is there reason to believe only one set of people could have ulterior motives?

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  9. Ketan, I have no issues with people fisking Roy’s articles or examining the validity of her claims; however, I find that in the majority of cases, people are primarily abusing her, not her arguments.

    And no – it’s not necc that all activists are absolutely clean; but, as regards large dams – I think there are many studies now that have demonstrated that these are not the ‘temples of development’ they were thought to be.

    Reg staying put vs moving – sure, it’s not necessary for generations to continue staying in one place, but this is not about the romanticization of migration or otherwise; it is about the forcible eviction of people, the key word being ‘forcible.’ I brought in Lata’s example to show how affluent people can protest even things outside their backyard, whereas, if tribals protest their very homes being snatched away, we view it as unreasonable or ‘primitive’.

    Yes, perhaps they would not protest as much if the compensation were adequate and delivered on time – I guess people know from experience that this is not the case. Hence the support for violence, from people at the ground level. My basic point is that the maoists are not necc “outsiders” misguiding local people – local people have certain reasons for supporting them.

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  10. Apu,

    Thanks! Probably, our positions are not very different. I know, the government does indulge in injustice, but opposition must be for inadequate compensation, not for development itself. Also, it’s not clear if the activists are truly representing the common people.

    I will not be able to comment upon the idea that large dams are counter-productive if that’s what you meant. Our country needs lots of electricity & food. How do we produce them? If they answer this simple question, I would stop disagreeing with them. These activists are also opposed to nuclear energy, it seems.

    What I’m frustrated by is the overall anti-science, anti-technology stance of Ms. Roy. In that passage quoted in Wikipedia, Arundhati has not enlisted harms of large dams (apart from displacement, which anyway might happen with multiple small dams), but talked of abstract things like humans’ connection with earth. What do I make of such statements?

    True, Maoists do get local support, but we won’t be able to determine if that’s totally out of their angst against government or coercion by goons-like Maoists. It could be both. It must be remembered, Maoists have killed villagers and tribal people, too which indicates at least some people are opposed to them.

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      • Thanks, Sraboney!

        If indeed her solution is rain water harvesting, then she needs to be gently reminded that Sardar Sarovar dam is hydroelectricity project. She also needs to be reminded that dams also prevent or mitigate the harms of floods. Plus, of course, that you can harvest rain only if it falls!

        I truly wonder is their any point trying to argue against such patently silly ‘alternatives’ if that’s what she truly has to offer! 😦

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  11. I’m not completely up to date with the current Maoist turmoil thanks to Sania saga hogging all the limelight 😦 But in Bones` style, this was good & I am more informed.

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  12. It is not as though what Roy writes makes us squirm in our seats.. not at all. .she is writing nothing new… but one fails to understand what she wants… she laments the day India got independance and why is that so?

    Even if one agrees that independant India has much flaws, what is the alternate that she offers? Is she herself ready to give up her comforts? If Roy couldnt handle the prison for more than 24 hours can she handle a maoist style of governance.. will she be able to utter a single word then?

    We dont need a Roy to tell us about our government, but please ask her to stop justifying violence. And if the Maoists are able to obtain sophisticated weapons then they do have external and internal support. Law abiding, tax paying citizens are at pain to see the tribals/villagers suffer but there seems to be no other way.

    Bones.. thankyou for the illuminating post.. you covered it all in such a splendid way..

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  13. Apu,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Naxalite-Maoist_insurgency

    The article mentions instances where villagers had protested against Maoists’ presence & were killed in return.

    A doctor had been killed.

    In one instance, over 300 villagers were killed (including, of course, women & children) in 2004. At the same time 50,000 people were living in relief camps hiding from their own protectors, i.e., Maoists! In light of these facts how appropriate is to think they have popular support from the locals? We should not confuse lack of resistance with popular support.

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  14. Bones,
    I agree with Apu here. Roy is an important alternate voice in India. I may not agree with her as I said in my post ‘can Maoists shun violence’ but I defend her right to tell what she believes. She should be attacked ideologically and not by calling her names or spreading canards abt her.
    As many pointed out she do not have any real solutions. Maoist ideology is the Asian version of original Communist ideology. The idea that ppl’s democratic revolution will lead on to a dictatorship of the working class which in turn lead to a classless Communism were the State will wither away was proved wrong in World’s history. In 1930s there were some takers for such an idea but looking back in 2010, one should be wiser. To say that dictatorship of a few ‘wise’ men will solve all problems of the poor is absurd. Attempting to establish a Dictatorship of Maoist ideology will see greatest blood bath ever seen in history of the World.
    But things are very bad for many poor ppl in India. High economic growth rate has not translated to better socio economic conditions for many. The gap between the marginalised sections who are left behind and those benefited by economic growth is becoming very big. Some may argue that most ppl have benefited.True but the aspirations of masses are also high.

    Best solution is real democracy from the Panchyath level. Elections should be fought on ideology and not based on money power. India should turn itself into a more equitable and truly democratic society so that there won’t be any grossly disgruntled poor who have nothing to loose by joining with Maoists.

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    • I agree with you when you say the gap between the haves and have nots is widening and something democratic should be done to improve the situation, but to support blood baths is not the way to bring about change…Maoists are ‘Gandhians with guns’ – is she out of her rockers? Yes, she has the right to say and write what she wants but I question her motives…What was she doing at Singur? I bet she got money for showing up and lending her voice…

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      • Bones,
        Why she turned up in Singur? I thought it was keeping with her style of activism to turn up there,a place where she believes poor peasants are being evicted by Govt to help corporates start a car factory.Alleging she is a ‘paid activist’ …..you have any evidence? Who paid her? Trinamool Congress? Is she also getting paid by NBA and Maoists?
        As I said before attack her ideology and not her thru such allegations.

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        • How do you know she’s not paid? She has this uncanny sense of timing and turns up just when an agitation is reaching it’s climax…In Singur, she had paid body guards to whisk her away if at the slightest hint of trouble…Why? Because she didn’t want to get her hands dirty…She came for a few hrs., said her bit and went away…She’s forgotten Singur now…

          I admire activists who are not affluent, attention-seeking con-artists like Ms. Roy but the humble, faceless, nameless social workers who pound the pavements day and night to bring about change… Action on the ground is worth a million words and numerous hollow sermons at book signing ceremonies and air-conditioned studios…

          A few years ago, I sat next to her on a trip to Paris – guess which class she was travelling in – First! It was probably paid for by an organization, but I can’t help but wonder about her motives…If she really felt for the poor, she could have travelled economy but she wanted the comforts of first…

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        • Charakan,

          There’s no solid evidence these people get paid, some circumstantial factors.

          1. Gujarat dam’s height was raised by SC orders. There can be some corruption in the lower courts, but it’s difficult in SC ‘cuz decisions are fully justified & proceedings monitored. This shows SC found many of activists’ contentions untrue.

          2. Arundhati’s clearly lied/manipulated Maoists’ image by sarcastically calling innocuous-looking girl & young any ‘greatest internal security threat’. She’d also lied that Maoists use “primitive” weapons. Why would she blatantly & publicly lie without ulterior motive?

          3. Yesternight Times NOW showed a lady whose husband (a normal villager) had been hanged by Maoists right before her. Another old man told how young boys were forcibly taken away for weapons training, & if parents opposed they’d be ‘harmed’. Possibly the villagers were lying, but then so could be Arundhati!

          Now coming to my speculation why all this:

          1. There’s an anti-development lobby all over the world mostly promoted by China. More the number of development projects get shelved elsewhere, more would they depend on imports from China. China is exploiting other countries’ respect for activism & justice. They crush both within their own territory.

          2. China sponsors sophisticated weapons used. Parts where Maoists are most active are contiguous with each other, & in turn in continuity with Nepal & China.

          3. Another important source of income for Maoists is probably cannabis. All/most of profit goes to China.

          4. In long term, China doesn’t want India to progress. It’s started encroaching upon India starting from Arunachal Pradesh & Kashmir. In 1947 had one even heard of “border dispute” at AP? How come there was sudden dispute? I think China doesn’t want these mineral reserves to get depleted before gaining control. Moreover, the less India develops, more would the World buy from China.

          5. Considering rate at which China’s industrialized there must be far worse human rights’ violations there. Tibet wants freedom (just like Kashmir!). She’s criticized US & Israel. Why little/no criticism for China from our ‘citizen of the World’?

          I see outcome of Maoist violence only as power struggle between Chinese & Indian corporations. It’s becoming increasingly clear who’s ‘winning’.

          All these are speculations, but none of what Arundhati says about large corporations wanting areas cleared for mining is supported by evidence.

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        • Charakan,

          My friends whose many relatives live in rural parts of Bengal, tells me elections have been traditionally won only by one who gets Maoists’ support. There’s open threat of massacring entire village if the party they support wouldn’t be voted. Not to mention booth capturing, etc. Previously CPM had got Maoist support, of late TMC gets it. Hence, we hear so many reports of TMC workers/Maoists killing CPM leaders.

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            • In a war of ideas your arguments will have more weight if you stop personal defamations and speculations that help your conspiracy theories Ketan. I am surprised why you did not state here the IH conspiracy theory of maoists being evangelists in a fake communist garb.

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              • Charakan,

                My ideas won’t carry weight from your perspective as long as you expect different strengths of evidence off Arundhati & me.

                I’d asked a simple question – why would someone lie without ulterior motive? You termed this question as personal defamation.

                You could’ve answered why the SC allowed raising of dam’s height? Where did you ask for evidence to come to conclusion that judges of SC are against the interests of tribals to have allowed for raising of dam’s height? Is this not a “conspiracy theory”? Does implying that activists (including Arundhati) were right, but judges wrong not amount to personal defamation of judges, terming them insensitive or suggesting they were “bought out by vested interests”? Implying villagers who spoke of coercion by Maoists were lying (because both they & Arundhati can’t be correct simultaneously) is not personal defamation of those villagers?

                I couldn’t find any critique of China’s human rights violation from her? Is pointing this out personal defamation?

                Yes, rest of comment contained a speculation based on a visible pattern. It is a mere hypothesis. But if you want to reject it, please tell me what in the theory is contradictory to known facts? Moreover, if you reject it, please come up with a theory that accounts for ALL the known facts.

                The current theory that Maoists are disgruntled tribals & using indigenous means to fight have at least two major discrepancies:

                1. The manner in which CRPF soldiers were killed & a visible blown up anti landmine vehicle. Forensic evidence & soldiers’ testimonies that both firearms & explosives were used also contradict it.

                2. 350 tribals & civilians like doctors that were killed were not “oppressive forces”.

                Does it matter if speculation comes from Internet Hindus? Is it not better to concentrate on merit of argument rather than its source? If Arundhati can be an alternative voice in society, not IHs?

                From what I have read Maoists have even supported jihadists in India (LTTE towards the end had started taking support of LeT). But I did not even mention such points.

                I have not read Maoists are evangelists. What I have read is evangelists support Maoists. If industrialists, SC judges, CRPF & politicians can be “bad”, why not evangelists? Please read this, & decide if what the author says is mere hate speech:

                http://offstumped.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/evangelical-christian-maoist-nexus-must-be-investigated

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    • Charakan,

      Irrespective of whether or not voice is ‘mainstream’ or ‘alternative’, it has to be allowed dissemination – no doubts on that.

      Next step is to determine what the alternate voice is trying to do? Is it creating an alternative for reality? In case of Arundhati, unfortunately, yes.

      I think Manju has misunderstood Arundhati’s arguments. In her essay she glorifies tribals’ current mode of living. She calls it elitist to consider tribals’ manner of living as “primitive” or “less advanced”. Please understand that from whatever I have gathered, she does not want schools, hospitals, toilets, electricity, irrigated fields, modes of communication for tribals, because the tribals are currently one with nature. If she would have been pro-development, I would not have argued against her views so much.

      Sample this:

      “Overnight, it (India’s Constitution) turned the entire tribal population into squatters on their own land. It denied them their traditional rights to forest produce, it criminalised a whole way of life.”

      (Source: Walking With The Comrades)

      Let’s not get misled by the abuse of the word “right”. “Right to forest produce” simply translates as “lack of alternatives to living as forest-dwellers”. Analogously, dying in a terrorist attack does not become humanitarian & liberating simply by qualifying it as “right to die in a terrorist attack”!

      So, what does she want?

      She wants that tribal people be left alone! That is why she sees Indian ‘State’ as opposed to tribals. She may not have verbalized this, but the only way tribals can be left alone is by making them free, sovereign nations. How has any of this got anything to do with “development” of tribals?

      In all honesty, if indeed a vast majority of a certain section of Indian population feels they would be happier if given independence, I believe they must be given independence. But what if their beliefs are based on false premises? What if they do not wish so, but only certain minority section within them projects so & is most vocal & violent about it? Arundhati had also called for separation of Kashmir from India because some people had demonstrated in its favor. But what about the fact that 55% was the voter turnout in the region? Which is greater: 55% of Kashmir’s population or some demonstrators?

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  15. My take-

    In my opinion, Arundhati Roy has no right to speak about India’s problems becaise she has renounced India and is ‘a citizen of the world’.

    As said above- she has no solution- in fact one gets the impression that she wants no solution. She would love the ‘struggle’ to continue in perpetuity.

    Like it or not- India is a democracy. Though we must consider the problems specific to minorities, majority does rule- that is what a democracy means. Those who want to run the country according to their ideas have to get a majority in parliament.

    Arundhati Roy thinks that the lives of the tribals should not change- others should not go into ‘their’ area of the forests and start industries there. At the same time she wants the tribals to get the advantages of modern life- education, medical facilities, etc. How can you have it both ways?

    Life is difficult for underprivileged people everywhere- in the cities as well as in the forests. And life cannot be static for anyone. It is unrealistic to expect time to stand still for the tribals.

    I definitely agree that the government should try to improve the condition of the tribals. However, THAT IS FOR THE LONG RUN. For now, the Maoist violence must be stopped, by whatever means.

    Me: Well said! Her motto is ‘Facilites without development’

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      • Ketan, I’ve been reading your comments with great interest- your clear thinking is very evident.

        And you are quite right that I have mistakenly said that Arundhati Roy wants devt. for the tribals. She does not. Others have, however argued that tribals should get education and health benefits without their lifestyle being changed.

        I wrote a comment here about property right which has somehow gone into moderation. Tribals do have community property rights over forest land- these are limited rights- for certain forest produce also grazing rights.

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        • Manju,

          Thanks!

          Yes, tribal people might be currently having rights, but I guess, larger issue is of facilitating their urbanization, so that they no longer remain tribal. 🙂 We can ensure that such process be symbiotic, rather than predatory as Arundhati is making us believe.

          Perhaps, education & health care cannot be provided independent of urbanization. Villages largely lack in both facilities because they are not urbanized.

          Many people paint urbanization as an outcome of greed, but I believe, greed is a fundamental human trait that has little to do with one’s surroundings. Even when there was no technology people used to kill each other with sticks & stones (out of greed). Urbanization is basically about efficiency – packing more things into less. And as I stated before, it is acutely needed in India because of high population density, which in other words means, less per capita availability of resources.

          I’m afraid, to illustrate my point I’ll have to make my comment longer. 🙂

          To make hospitals in forests, we’ll require roads. Initially, the staff working there would want at least a few ‘urban’ facilities like concrete houses, toilets, drainage systems, phones, etc. This would create small pockets of urbanization.

          Initially, we would only provide primary health care. Say, x-rays can be taken. But, then we would know that a few more lives could be saved if we would also have ICU, CT-scan & MRI. Will we stop at that point only because we would not want to use sophisticated technology? If we don’t stop, we’ll require electricity for all this.

          Likewise think of education. Till what class will we teach? Will we only make them literate, or also teach a bit of maths & sanitation? Will we tell them about agriculture, steam engines, internal combustion engines, electricity? Will we teach them how currency had replaced barter? Will we teach them how to wash hands with soap to avoid diarrhea & protection against mosquitoes to avoid malaria? Will we teach them how houseflies spread diseases, & will that make them yearn for drainage system? Will some find maths, science, history & languages interesting to study & demand colleges in vicinity?

          After learning so much will they really want to remain restricted to collecting fruits, honey & hunting? I’ve not even yet talked of urban distractions like TV, internet & air conditioners!

          Hence, I guess education & health care can’t be provided without imminent urbanization. 🙂

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  16. I don’t think there are any easy solutions; reg tribals and “their” areas of the forests – why do we have such a problem accepting property rights, if they are not urban?

    Ketan – thanks for the links; would like to point out however that there are differing views on the relief camps – that villagers were forced to enter these by the government. I’m just trying to say that the situation is not as B&W as we’d like to believe nor is the demarcation between ‘evil maoists’ and ‘poor villagers’ that clear.

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    • The rights of the tribals are community rights, not individual, and these have now been recognised by the govt. http://bit.ly/a8L9RA

      These are limited rights, and no one has a problem with that-

      The Maoists think their word is law and they murder anyone- even villagers- with impunity-
      A father and son (villagers) were murdered by Maoists over a property dispute http://bit.ly/akPWKX

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    • Apu,

      Coming to specific points you’d raised.

      Property rights. I admit this issue is very contentious. I’m not saying this merely to deflect your question. It is difficult to answer this simple question: what makes anyone “own” something?

      In essence, every squared inch of land owned by anyone today is a form of invasion, because unlike clothes or earthen pots nobody ‘makes’ land. If the criteria of birth & residence are chosen then, we’ll have to answer, why an urban baby just by taking birth does not get automatic ownership of a plot of land? An almost opposite question can be asked about oil wells – why do only some people come to own oil wells simply by taking birth in select families?

      If tribal people are given away land only because they took birth there, it gives me a right to ask for “my land”, where is it? Calculate the per capita land “owned” by tribal people, and then give that much land to every Indian citizen. (See, I was speaking the Maoist language of ‘equality’ 😉 Now, let me do some capitalistspeak.) Would equality ever be possible?

      I want to illustrate that concepts of ownership & inheritance are extremely complex, and inconsistent standards are used to adjudicate.

      Concepts of rights and ownership are employed to failitate human happiness, not to obstruct it.

      Urbanization has become imminent because of India’s high population density. If tribal people are made to (forcibly) evict “their” land it is simply because they are unfairly occupying much greater land than what an average India citizen holds.

      But to make them feel good about this “land grabbing”, they can be given a deal that makes them happy & not aggrieved.

      “If they get urbanized they would be happier.”

      To prove this, I’ll ask a question, how many of those currently urbanized, would like to go back to villages? How many of those living in villages would like to live in forests? Why is the flow of migration unidirectional? Because it makes people happy.

      Other issue you’d brought up was of government forcing tribals into camps.

      I can’t reject this idea, but I find it unlikely, ‘cuz had that happened, then armed Maoists would have protected the fellow tribals against the government’s oppressive forces as that’s what they claim to specialize in! And they’ve historically demonstrated they can tackle Indian forces. But I understand, things are not B&W, but sympathizing with Maoists seems a risky prospect.

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  17. Apu,

    Probably, a few issues have got mixed up over here. I am not arguing what the solution to problem is. I would be conceited to claim to know the answers. Up till now I was only concentrating on merits of Arundhati’s arguments, and veracity of her commentary.

    Her arguments will not have merit as long as she does not provide viable, practical & actionable alternatives to the establishments she seeks to destroy.

    She has been a vocal critic of democracy, but it must be remembered, though currently flawed and imperfect, democracy is the best system of administration we have been able to evolve. There was a time when there was no democracy in the world. Was that world arguably happier?

    True democracy is intimately associated with technological advancement and happier lives. Highest incidence of HIV/AIDS is in the African continent – largely in areas not ‘contaminated’ by technology & education. Ebola virus had eliminated 90% of villagers in a single attack. All this had happened in the “lap of nature”. It would be wrong to believe the same cannot or do not happen to tribals in India.

    My fundamental opposition is to her glorification of political and technological stagnation.

    I hope I have been able to demonstrate why I do not find merit in her arguing against science and technology.

    As to the veracity of her description, it is plainly apparent, she has insinuated lies in her article, and also used manipulative techniques to lull us into believing Maoists are ‘nice’ people.

    She has shown a naive looking girl wearing a jacket with pockets for grenades, and written in the caption: ‘greatest internal security threat’. Why has she instead not shown beheaded bodies & their wailing wives and children?

    She also states that the Maoists use only primitive weapons. My apologies to Arundhati, but laying land mines and killing with firearms are not primitive war techniques.

    My belief is, someone truly intending to report the truth would not indulge in such clever manipulations.

    So which brings us to the next important question: is she bringing us closer to the truth or leading farther away from it? This is difficult to determine, but I guess we can reach as close to the truth as possible quite independent of commentary by someone given to lying….

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    • …And let me explain why her projected alternate vision for the World is fatally wrong.

      It would be wrong to believe we’re living in complete democracy. Because we can at most vote for our rulers, and not the decisions they take. What creates this problem is the disparity between authority of the ruled & the ruler.

      Now, for a moment look at the Maoist social structure. I guess, 5 crore people are coexisting with the Maoists. If government estimates are to be believed, 10,000 people among these are actively fighting, and 6,500 have firearms. Even if these estimates are grossly wrong, it does not make difference to our analysis, because what is interesting about human nature and psychology is that they remain constant across times, regions, & communities. If the Maoists are able to create a free nation for themselves, will those currently in possession of weapons turn a e new leaf and give them up? Or more likely it will create a social stratification based on possession of gun? Will the one possessing the gun say, let me walk 2 km away and fetch water for all of us or instead would he point the gun at those not possessing guns and order them to fetch water for him?

      Will such power-disparity create a true anarchy or rather return the society to weaponocracy?

      Why is it difficult to envisage all this might even currently be happening in the Maoist affected areas?

      This deliberate glossing over of possibilities by Arundhati is what aggrieves & angers me the most.

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  18. I heard Bakwaas Toy on radio recently. She even opposes Democracy … No one says it better than Tunku Varadarajan, Editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal:

    …..
    Dotty Arundhati — — OpinionJournal, December 3, 2004

    The system Ms. Roy deplores has furnished her with a cordon of comfort: freedom of speech, and respect for women’s views (not, by the way, Osama’s strongest suit). Hers is a kind of infantile rebellion against the structure that houses her. Ms. Roy’s celebrated book, her lavish claim to fame, told us of “small things.” Now one marvels only at the smallness of her mind–and wishes, prays, that she would grow up. Just a teeny bit.
    …..

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  19. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5783795.cms

    The Maoist empire Rs 1,500 cr & counting
    BHUBANESWAR/RANCHI/KOLKATA: A yearly turnover in excess of Rs 1,500 crore. Targets raised by 15% every year, investments here, cutbacks there,
    acquisitions made, salaries paid, perks for the star performers … That’s the mid-sized corporation called the Maoist empire.

    If newspapers are to believed then the above tells it all…. It is time for action and our PM better wake up from his slumber…nd like those days of the Bombay underworld, right now it is the Maoists… there are beneficiaries amongst all and as usual it is the poor who are getting caught while the rich may get away by paying up….

    it is time people recognized that they are not avatars of yesteryear “Robin Hood”..

    Me: This is very interesting and I’m glad that you’ve brought it up…I’m sure they get funds from elsewhere too eg. China…It’s all about power now, not idealism…

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  20. Ketan, here is what Arundhati said 3 yrs ago abt China and other communist regimes.

    “I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that both Mao and Stalin are dubious heroes with murderous pasts. Tens of millions of people were killed under their regimes. Apart from what happened in China and the Soviet Union, Pol Pot, with the support of the Chinese Communist Party (while the West looked discreetly away), wiped out two million people in Cambodia and brought millions of people to the brink of extinction from disease and starvation. Can we pretend that China’s cultural revolution didn’t happen? Or that millions of people in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were not victims of labour camps, torture chambers, the network of spies and informers, the secret police. The history of these regimes is just as dark as the history of Western imperialism, except for the fact that they had a shorter life-span. We cannot condemn the occupation of Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir while we remain silent about Tibet and Chechnya. I would imagine that for the Maoists, the Naxalites, as well as the mainstream Left, being honest about the past is important to strengthen people’s faith in the future. One hopes the past will not be repeated, but denying that it ever happened doesn’t help inspire confidence”
    link

    I do not share her hope that after revolution they will become good boys and past will not be repeated.

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  21. Charakan,

    Thanks for the links!

    Yes, then I was wrong in not knowing her support for Tibet’s freedom through 1 hour dharna in Delhi (which is in India). Probably ‘cuz this demand has not been as vocal & frequent as her critiquing of US, Israel & India, the imperialists?

    I’m afraid, what you have quoted is merely her recounting history in response to a very specific question while passively answering an interview question (in India):

    “Given the autocratic ideology they (Maoists) take their inspiration from, what alternative would they set up? Wouldn’t their regime be an exploitative, autocratic, violent one as well?”

    Did she really have a margin to refute old communists’ violent past in context of such a question? This hardly amounts to protesting China’s recent industrial growth that must have caused much worse displacement of locals than in India. Moreover, the Chinese regime does not mind criticism coming from India, just like how India doesn’t mind criticism coming from Pakistan. She can oppose ongoing Chinese human rights’ violations only by going into the Chinese territory & awakening the masses there like she has done here (e.g., protests in Singur, which is in India). We should remember she is a citizen of the world.

    What she calls “military occupation” of Kashmir is really interesting. Fortunately, this once I don’t have to rely on second-hand info. I had myself been there in 2006, & though the locals were miffed by military presence because of frequent checks, slight restrictions in movement & bullying, on the whole they had felt secure ‘cuz of army presence. Because without them there would be lot many bomb blasts, & freedom fighters there are much more adept at committing human rights’ violations. Just 2 days after my family had left Kashmir there was a bomb blast at one of the places we’d visited, & needless to say, not armymen but locals were injured in it. There was a case of a teen girl killing ‘freedom fighters’ who’d killed her parents with their gun. Arundhati wants such freedom fighters to govern Kashmir. 🙂

    I am curious to know how Maoists & their supporters had found the passengers in Guwahati Rajdhani express oppressive? Plus, of course, what were the crimes of 350 tribals & around 10 doctors who had been killed by Maoists?

    Thanks again, but I still see her criticism of communist excesses as much less enthusiastic than protests against democratic excesses by US, Israel & India.

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  22. “Revolutions” through democratic means is perfectly POSSIBLE.
    For example, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.(democratically elected, brilliantly directing the OIL WEALTH of that country towards its poor).

    Evo Morales…..in Bolivia. First democratic leader from the “aymara” Indians tribes of bolivia. doing brilliant work in Poverty alleviation in bolivia.

    Maoist must learn from them. Revolution through democracy…….thats how 21st century works.

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