Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Left-wing extremism: The "root causes" trap

Recent cover story by Indian Express on Left-wing extremism in India brought the looming danger on India to the fore-front once again. There was also an old article of Arun Shourie on the same topic.

I don't need to discuss how big the threat is. I wish to focus on the usual 'justifications' provided to this phenomenon by left-leaning intellectuals, like - it is "poverty" or "caste" that is the "root cause".

There is no denying the fact that there are some critical ground level problems like poverty and caste which need to be dealt with in combating naxal problem. However, to lay the entire blame on these factors alone will be over simplification. There are many many more factors which increase which this problem. Some of them being:

1. Development is not just State’s but your responsibility. Most of the complaints of the left-wing extremists border along the lines that the state did not provide them the necessities. But it is not State’s business to provide you, it is also yours.

In most of the instances in history, commie anger is more a result of laziness to work, instead of deprivement. When India became independent, Bihar, Bengal were some of the most advanced states; while many states like Maharastra, Gujarat, A.P were far behind. Later, some people worked hard for their development, and naturally developed; some others waited for free lunches from govt, and took to arms when they did not get it.

Factor which makes the difference here: Ideology, not ‘poverty’.

2. Armed struggle as a valid means to archive ones’ goals Take the case study of Kerala and Bihar. A century back, both of them had worst kind of caste-problem. Swami Vivekananda even goes to the extent of calling Kerala “lunatic asylum” of those days for that reason. But thanks to the efforts of people like Narayana Guru, Kerala demonstrated a path to social emancipation without invoking the dualism of the oppressed and the oppressor. Bihar on the other hand took the path of conflict and of violence as a valid means to archive its goals and the result is worse than what was initially the condition.

Factor which makes the difference here: Ideology, not ‘caste’.

3. Lack of differentiation between State and Government. State comprises of all the constitution, legislation, executive, judicial etc institutions. Whereas Government is a sort of tenant of the state, and goes in accordance to the constitution and customs of the state.

They may be angry with some political party or regional group. But they hate not just those governmental things, but the properties of whole state. They target railways, factories, etc etc. These are not govt. properties, these are state properties. So their anger against a political party or a regional group turns into anger not just for them alone, but against the whole "Republic of India".

Factor which makes the difference here: Ideology, not ‘poverty’.

4. Working within system vs working outside system. Democracy does not mean that every citizen thinks alike. There are bound to be differences. I too have lot of things in the Indian constitution and laws which I don’t agree with. The point is how you go about the differences.

It is like a large family. If you have an opinion different from the majority of the family members, you can exert your best to convince the others to your opinion; but meanwhile as long as the functioning of the family is concerned, I will happily submit myself to the majority opinion. Change in the system I want, but through the system; not by splitting up and waging a war against the former.

Factor which makes the difference here: Ideology, not ‘poverty’.

There are many more factors like this. If we neglect all these factors and only harp on they being 'marginalized', I strongly feel that we are aggravating the present situation and sowing seed for future problems.

Stuff like unemployment etc may be the contributing factors. But there are many more communist ideological factors which complete the journey from "want of bread and dignity" to "want to overthrow the Indian state in an armed struggle". The question we should ask ourselves is "can we afford to neglect these factors and continue to spread the auro of permissiveness?"


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