My comments on Himanshu Sharma s note Are we real Independent?
I hope the debate has not ended. Let me participate:
Historical processes have led to the present chaos and of course, the Indian leadership is responsible. But we must look into this as a part of larger global phenomena.
1. Evolution of civilizations and religions, leading to aggression on India by Persians, Greeks, Hunas, Arabs, Turks and finally Europeans.
2. Destruction of Vedic cultural heritage by the Islamic conquerors including looting of wealth, destruction of temples, conversions leading ultimately to disintegration of India.
3. European imperialism, epitomized by British Raj. Impoverishment, communal riots, sense of cultural inferiority, etc. emerged from this.
4. Latest, the globalization, read Americanization of the world economy, culture and politics.
All these are dynamic processes. They have imposed challenges on the Indian civilization. How has it responded?
Since the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan in 1192, India lost all the semblance of independent political authority. There was hardly any possibility of political response with the military debacles faced by the Rajput kings. Socially, we responded by making caste system more rigid (to make conversion difficult), isolating ourselves from the external developments (to avoid cultural pressures), restricting female participation outside home (to give them protection), etc. The response saved Indian culture from immediate annihilation (like it happened throughout Middle-east), but led to long-term decay and stagnation.
With exception of Akbar, all Muslim rulers followed a repressive policy, leading to formation of diverse protest movements based on religious and ethnic lines. Unlike the earlier invaders who were absorbed in the Indian society, Muslims maintained a separate existence as a ruling class.
The European imperialism led to impoverishment of three continents, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It created strata in society based on wealth (unlike what used to be based on qualities in these ancient societies as there was not much economic disparity). Another horrible feature was cultural imperialism. This led to alienation of the elite from the indigenous culture creating a great divide.
The main problems facing the country originate from these two events leading to:
1. Horizontal divide between Hindus (followers of indigenous faith) and Muslims.
2. Vertical divide between elite (educated and connected to the sources of power) and masses (dependent on the benevolence of nature and ruling class.
In 1947, a divided India finally got political independence. Many reforms were introduced to remove traditional social evils and problems of underdevelopment. But the two great divides were never bridged.
The last event which has precipitated the problems in globalization. Started in 1991 during a crisis (although contemplated since mid 1980 s), it has unleashed so many forces that things have began to go out of control. Let me deal with the specific issues in the next segment.
There are three issues you have dealt with in your paper. I highly appreciate the subaltern line that you have adopted, to the extent of discarding patriotism. Let us put all three issues in historical perspective:
1. Kashmir: It is the victim of the communal divide and the Indian army has to use its capacity to the brink to maintain its integrity with India. But how did the problem start? First, Islamization led to demographic transformation and then British imperialism complicated the situation. The Dogra dynasty led to the formation of its Hindu elite and marginalization of the majority Muslims, which was used to his advantage by Sheikh Abdullah. Nehru s Kashmir policy was a disaster. Finally. Pakistani interference, beginning with military invasion and continuing with proxy war (based on Operation Topaz). All these factors have to be considered. Now, the new wave of fundamentalist and jihadi Islam is sweeping the valley. Its influence comes from Wahabi and Taliban movements and its purview is not restricted to Kashmir.
The question is whether by giving azadi to Kashmir, the problem will be solved. Its a game of great global forces and not as simple as Indian army withdrawing and back to the Paradise. Either Kashmir will be a new theatre for jihadi forces and a launchpad for them to target North India (next target may be to liberate Muslim pockets in UP), Xinjiang autonomous region in China and Central Asian moderate Islamic republics. Or Kashmir will be a new garrison of Pakistani forces (supported by US and China) in order to contain the jihadi forces. In either cases, there would be no azadi, only new forms of imperialism. Just think what would be the condition of minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Shias) under such regimes.
In another case, J&K can be divided into pieces and distributed among various segments. What kind of peace can we expect? There would be one hegemon to maintain such a system, which will surely be US with help of China and Pakistan. India will also maintain stakes in Jammu and Ladakh regions. Just the frontier of conflict would be pushed a bit closer to the heart of India.
Whatever the historical mistakes, GoI should be pragmatic in its approach. It was sleeping after the lull in the violence in the previous decade and suddenly, the monster has risen the head again. It should not allow external powers to destabilize J&K and find ways to start dialogue with local groups. Its very difficult because all are under threats (from jihadi groups) and pressures from external powers (US, Pakistan and China).
2. North-east: It is nothing more than a geographical expression. The problems are diverse and cannot be clubbed together.
It all started with the Naga rebellion beginning with independence. Again, the cause was British imperialism, who created an Inner Line to restrict integration of the region. Within the line, they governed and looted the people and beyond (where there was not much to loot), they unleashed the Christian missionaries. The missionaries educated and civilized the dreaded tribes. Indeed, a appreciable feat, but no Indians were allowed to visit those places and as a result, the elite which emerged there was totally alienated from the Indian political processes, viz., the Struggle for Independence and emergence of the Indian National Congress. In search for a separate identity, they raised the banner of revolt, supported by the same powers (US... Christian solidarity and weakening Soviet ally India; China... weakening the rival Asian power which was sheltering its greatest traitor, Dalai Lama; Pakistan... its permanent enemy).
Next it was Mizoram due to the famine and following events, supported exactly by the same forces. But now the issue is resolved, even though the separate cultural milieu created by the missionaries remains, which might deepen with another crisis.
In Manipur and Tripura, the conflict is more for resources and power among indigenous groups (due to Hindu dynasties not allowing missionary activities during British raj), which often end up in demand for independence according to convenience. In Manipur, the conflict involves Meities, Nagas, Muslims and other groups. Among Meities also, there are groups who support deIndianization (that is giving up Vaisnava heritage and revert to tribalism). In Tripura, the conflict is between Bengalis (elite and mostly lead by Marxists) and tribals. What an irony! Marxists are the elite exploiting the marginalized, but this has been the reality everywhere from Russia to China.
In Meghalaya, again Christianity and West-toxication (used by my teacher Binod Borah) are in head on collision with the tribal culture. Political instability and corruption always aggravate the crisis. But things are under control. So, also in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, as missionaries have little impact there and tribals have adequate representation in all spheres of life. The major threat comes from China and its startegy of Western Development.
Assam is a world in itself. The main problems are:
a) Bangladeshi immigration (leading to Islamization of lower Assam and gradual rise of fundamentalism)
b) Ethnic conflict for share of social, economic and political resources (Ahoms, Kacharis, Bodos, Karbis, Dimasas, Mishings, Motoks, Morans, Koches, Baganias, Santhals, Kukis, Nagas, Nepalis, Bengalis, caste Assamese, the list is endless).
c) ULFA, NDFB and KLO independence movements, which have gradually lost sail. They are based on concepts like internal colonialism, relative deprivation, etc. But may get out of hand, if not resolved properly.
GoI cannot allow disintegration of this region. It will only lead to more chaos and suffering due to fratricidal war and economic unviability. Ultimately, China and Bangladesh are ready to swallow everything up. Bangladesh needs lebensraum, which will extend to North-east and West Bengal and also beyond. China needs it for strategic purposes and may extend greater influence in Bangladesh than now.
Sorry, got entangled with other things. The modern capitalist civilization has made life really very competitive. There is hardly any leisure for the working class. We are so busy with earning our daily bread that we have no time for intellectual discourse. No doubt the capitalist class is dominating the show and its agents, the politicians are firmly on the seats of power. Let me continue:
3. Maoism: Modernization is the product of Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in mid 18th century. The economic determinants (BASE) and political ideologies, social patterns, religious dogma, etc. (SUPERSTRUCTURE) are closely related. The combination of both produced what we call modern capitalist society (or modern liberal democratic society, whichever you prefer).
But this process was happening only in some parts of the globe (viz., Europe and North America), where the white race lived. The rest of the humanity was colonized for cheap raw materials and markets of finished products. As a result, rampart poverty and social backwardness (which are interconnected) emerged in what came to be known post-decolonization as the Third World.
Mao interpreted the problem of these countries as: development v/s egalitarianism. That is, the nation-building process required capital and police-control, which resulted in domination by a certain elite over the masses. This happened in all the countries, including Soviet Union, where the elite bureaucracy enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, while the common men had to stand in long queues to get the bare necessities of life.
Based on this understanding, Mao presented his own utopia for economic development The Great Leap Forward, resulting in death of 30 million Chinese, mostly peasants. When his pragmatic comrades tried to introduce some reforms after that, he launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, stating that although socialism had been established in China, capitalist tendencies still remained embedded in the culture, which had to be removed through revolution (Marx believed that change of relations of production would automatically transform the superstructure). As a result, the entire decade is remembered in China as the Decade of the Lost Generation (1966-76). Unfortunately, Mao died in 1976 and with it ended any possibility of establishing a Maoist Paradise. What happened after that is there for all of us to see.
Now,after learning about Mao, let us turn our attention towards India. As I had mentioned earlier, in India, a great vertical divide was created during British Raj, which continued to deepen after independence. Whatever remained was facilitated by globalization. The problem in India is that of underdevelopment v/s inequitable development. The government supports the latter and is especially post 1991, following the neoliberal economic policies as dictated by the global centres of capital because it needs wealth to bring development. As a result, even the notional socialism that had existed since independence has been discarded.
Naturally, the government is facilitating the national and foreign bourgeoisie to exploit all the resources available to set up industries, carry out trade, provide services, etc. Agriculture is totally neglected (the Green Revolution has already reduced the productivity of the soil and led to water pollution due to excessive fertilizers and pesticides used). Forest lands are now increasingly targetted for industrialization and mining purposes (there is a great demand for resources in this rising economy). The government is emphasizing on urbanization which is putting pressure on the cities, resulting in large scale migration from the villages (where there is lack of employment opportunities). The size of slum areas are expanding and crime rate is on the rise. In short, all this is nothing but the problems related with a developing society.
So, one can say that the tribals, dalits, etc., who are displaced due to land-grab and exploited by the agents of the capitalists and state agencies, have every right to revolt against and Maoism provides them with an effective ideology. As seen by the Nepal experience, even after death of Mao and disintegration of the Communist bloc, the radical thought has not lost appeal to the suffering masses. But one must analyze and understand the situation from a holistic perspective.
I shall end at that because my goal was just to put things into correct perspective. I already stated about other angles in the debate in BGPs wall. Another occasion would be required to further elaborate on the
issues. Thank you.
*My comments on Basu Ghosh Prabhu s wall: Dear Himanshu, your concerns about the rampantly corrupt and oppressive policies of GoI is justified. This naturally leads to sympathy for the suffering masses, whether in Maoist affected areas or J&K (do not forget the NE). Maosim provides... hope to these marginalized sections of the society. Of course, this is not true in every situation: in J&K, Islam or Azadi seem to be the inspiration; in the NE, it is ethnicity (mixed with Christianity or Marxism). But we must try to understand the nuances involved.
1. There is a difference between Marxism and Maoism, although the latter is a variant of the former and derives philosophical inspiration from it. There is a conflict between the two, as we saw from the Sino-Soviet confrontation (leading to a skirmishes in 1969). In India, also there is blood-spilling between the two in West Bengal. Mamata and all the criminal elements are in alliance with the Maoists in order to overthrow the CPI(M) government.
2. Who are the Maoists? You are right: the indigenous poor masses who have been deprived of their land rights by the capitalist-politician alliance. But are they really Maoists? No, they are illiterate people who are fighting for their rights. There have been peasant and tribal rebellions (without Maoist doctrinal influence) against various oppressive regimes in history. For understanding the actual nature of the Maoists, we have to see who is at the leadership of the revolt, who provides them ideological know-how and most importantly, how poor tribals get the weapons and training the fight the mighty Indian state mechanism. Please verify what is the role played by Christian missionaries (with Rs 40,000 crore budget in India) and the rising super-power China.
3. We cannot ignore the role of international power politics. How to weaken a rising ancient civilization? The best method is to weaken it internally. The game is very complicated. On the one hand, the US is using its capitalistic influence to push the neo-liberal agenda in India and the Indian establishment is obliging. On the other, it is supporting or ignoring various anti-India forces in order to keep India in its place.
e.g. it is fighting War on Terror, but not pressuring Pakistan to deal with groups targetting India. Are Omar Abdullah and P. Chidambaram insane that they are killing innocent Kashmiris? The situation in J&K had improved tremendously in the last decade. What has happened in the last few months leading to a sudden hatred for India? What is the conspiracy? How should GoI act?
Why do Maoists, who are supposed to be atheists, attack Hindu religious leaders, politicians and paramilitary forces, but never feel the need to stop Christian missionaries? The entire rebellion is most prominent where the activities and funds of missionaries are most involved. Where does all this support to these missionaries come from? The strategic partner of India,US who wants to stop the China threat as well as fight against Islamic terror.