Monday, 28 June 2010

Why I don't support the naxals

For most educated urban Indians, opposition to the naxals is a no-brainer. The naxals are supposed to be the biggest menace confronting India. It is the duty of every well-intended, patriotic Indian to oppose them tooth and nail, isn't it?

Or is it?

I am perhaps rather more socialist than most Indians and yet I would myself be the first to oppose the Naxalites/ Maoists. That is not to say that I hate them or see them as an evil force. On the contrary, I wholeheartedly support the cauzse they stand for. Nevertheless, I refuse to support them simply because I am sure that the means they have taken adopted will never get them where they intend to reach. While I readily understand and appreciate the need to make noise to be heard, I do not see how violence is ever going to help one achieve the desired ends. History is replete with instances where violence turned into a bloody boomerang that shed the blood of those who threw it.

I know that most people believe violence to be a quicker route to achieve an end- that's what I too believed when I was much younger. It is indeed true that an objective can be easily achieved at gunpoint. But pray, what next? Can a person who has already taken up the sword to achieve his ends then forsake it? Would his followers allow or accept it? What's the guarantee that a power-hungry bunch may not take up that very sword to overthrow he who has renounced it and install a dictatorship far worse than the regime they originally set out to overthrow? Just look at the condition of nearly every former European colony and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Which brings us to the inevitable question: what about India?

Having been to a backward village and seen first hand how bad things are, I can attest to the massive problems rural India faces (and we're talking about 65% or so of the population- about 700 million people). I am painfully aware of the caste system and how evil and vicious it is, how the upper castes mercilessly and ruthlessly exploit and oppress the backward classes and how they have selfishly barred the lower castes from education for centuries, ensuring that they remain backward and servile (to avoid any misunderstanding, met me clarify that I am a brahmin myself). It is equally true that the backward castes remain to this day just that, in economic terms that is. Despite thousands of success stories, there are millions for whom sixty-three years of independence has done little, if at all.

But where lies the solution? To me, the answer to both questions lies in education. Education will empower the backward people to improve their economic conditions and as history had always shown, economic prosperity is bound to eventually bring with it better social acceptance.

Which is why I believe that ideas like the Right to Education, PURA and the use of NREGS for creation of infrastructural assets in rural areas is a huge step in the right direction. For the better or the worse, that is the only way ahead. While the naxals have done a tremendous job of bringing the problems of the backward classes and the tribals into the national consciousness, they will surely realise that the final solution lies not in guns but in building schools, bridges, roads, sanitation facilities and providing electricity and water for the millions who are still denied access to these very necessities that we urban middle class Indians take for granted.

In this relentless war between the Government and the Naxals, victory shall go to the side that dares to restrain itself, to bury its ego, its vested interests and realise neither side can succeed without the help of the other, that the conflict between the two is a self-defeating one that could result in the needless annhilation of thousands or, God forbid, millions of innocents.

Can the two Indias realise that they need each other to survive? Can the two realise that they are no different from one another? Will the realisation ever dawn that no country was saved by destroying itself?

In the answer to these questions lies the future of a great country.

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