INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Posts Tagged ‘Ramblings

The Fire Last Time

leave a comment »

There’s an interesting article by Megha Baree on the Forbes website. She is the daughter of a Calcutta-based businessman who had to flee the city because of Naxalite violence during the late 1960s.  It was a particular brutal time:

Every day he and his colleagues would meet at a different spot in the city and be escorted by the police, in a convoy, to the factory. One day a colleague who usually traveled with Avinash in his car, fed up with it all, called a taxi to go home early. The cab had barely exited the 10-acre factory compound when it was attacked, and he was knifed to death. “He had six children,” Avinash remembers. “I had to tell his wife. She never forgave me.” While they were at the funeral two men on motorcycles drove by and threw crude bombs filled with nails at them.

The Naxalites of 1968 were a very different breed than the Naxalites of the 21st century. It was a movement made up largely of students, intellectuals and the working class. In the heady days of 1968 the rebels thought, with the support of China, they could quickly overthrow the state through insurrection and the ‘annihlation of class enemies’. They were wrong. Their brutality engendered a backlash and a viscious state response that virtually decimated the party.

The survivors learned their lesson. Rather than dramatic urban action, they would slowly cultivate support and control in isolated rural areas. It is a much smarter strategy.

(Photo: Charu Mazumdar, the founder of the original Naxlite group, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninst) )

Written by Michael

May 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Shifting Media Attention

leave a comment »

This is entirely anecdotal and non-scientific, but, I’ve heard a number of people note that the India media payed more attention to the Maoist attack against the police in West Bengal than it did to the near simultaneous Pune German Bakery bombings. This is an interesting development. I’ve been arguing for a long time that the media has payed far more attention to so-called ‘Muslim’ terrorism than it has to Naxalite violence simply because the former affects the country’s elite. Maoist and police violence against the rural poor could be safely ignored. Have we reached a tipping point where urban India now feels threatened by the Maoists? Or am I reading too much into this.

Written by Michael

February 23, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Objectivity and Maoist Insurgency

leave a comment »

My first comment!

My blog has been getting a respectable amount of traffic and I’d encourage anyone with an opinion or a thought to speak up. It’s great to know what people who share my interest think.

Now is a good time to clarify exactly what my, umm, ideological perspective on Maoism in South Asia is. On my coverage of the crisis in Nepal, a reader has said:

This article is inspired by all those anti maoist journalist of nepal.
In nepal journalist don’t cover new but always make news.

Had anybody seen that a nepali journalist speaking to cnn ibn not as journalist but a part’s spoke person…

I’m not a journalist and have never claimed to be. I do, however, try to be as ‘objective’ as possible. One of the many reasons that I’m interested in Naxalism (and South Asian Maoism in general) is my belief that they have tapped into deep and dangerous undercurrent of alienation, misery and rage amongst millions of people who have been failed by the economic, social and political system. Naxalism, in the first instance, is not a police problem.

Am I sympathetic to the ideology, goals and tactics of the Naxalites? Well, it depends on the day that you ask. Many of their immediate demands (such as their opposition to the alienation of tribal people from their lands in mineral-rich states like Jharkhand) are noble. The people whom they are purportedly fighting for have been failed by every institution in the country. On the other hand, the Naxalite’s ideology, their aims and some of their tactics are terrifying. I have a deep dislike of authoritarianism and cannot but think that much of the Naxalite concern for the interests of tribal groups and the lower castes is little more than tactical expediency.

As for Nepal, I am not at all ‘anti-Maoist’. It seems to me that all of the major players in the country (the Maoists, the other political parties and the army) are playing a dangerous game with the stability of the country and the future of her people. The leaked video of Prachanda’s speech to the leadership of the PLA did not just underscore the Maoist’s insincerity to building a democratic and pluralist Nepal, it also underscored the shallowness of the peace agreement. All of the actors are jockeying for control of the state. I may not much like the Maoists, but the reactionaries (to use a nice Marxist term) opposing them are even more unsavoury.

Maoism is a plant that grows from misery and desperation (terrible metaphor). That misery and desperation is real. If it takes the Maoists to get people to sit up and take notice, so be it.

Written by Michael

May 7, 2009 at 11:25 am

Post-Election Decompression

leave a comment »

No updates for the next day or two. I’m taking a break after a marathon session.

I started India’s Forgotten War earlier this week as my first foray into blogging (about four years two late!). I’m happy with the results so far. Considering how much of a minority interest Naxalism is, it’s amazing  how many hits I’ve had. I hope you come by often to see the blog develop and grow. Thanks everyone!

Written by Michael

April 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

India’s Forgotten War

with one comment

I first developed in interest in India after spending a year in Delhi working as an intern for an international NGO.  The brashness of her emerging arriviste class, the expansive dynamism of her major cities, the juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane, the disarming squalor, and the ingenuity and resourcefulness of her people was both fascinating and disorienting.

Living in Delhi I was able to enjoy 21st century material and social comforts. Regular internet access, espresso’s and the day’s morning paper at the local cafe and the occasional drink at one of the city’s many fashionable nightclubs.

Whether this life represented a ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ India is largely irrelevant. It is an India which is a world away from the lives of most of her people. The work I did gave me a chance to escape from the myopia of expatraite Delhi life and spend time in forgotten villages among people who are among the poorest and most oppressed on the planet.

While I eventually left India, I was determined to return. A few years later a former course mate of mine suggested that I take up a job in Chennai at her organisation. I jumped at the chance and returned in 2007. It was then that I developed a keen interest with 21st century revolutionary Maoism and the so-called Naxalite insurgents.

Indian Maoism is fascinating to me because it is something which, like so much else in the country, the new India of imported cars, upscale cafes and stock options is inclined to ignore. India is ablaze and the urban elite only notice the faintest hints of a fire… a bomb here, an attack on the police there… nothing to be troubled about.  ‘Islamic’ terrorism, as the recent spate of horrific attacks shows, threatens the cities and wealthy. Naxalism predominately affects the country’s poor and marginalised. This is a mistake. The government and India’s elite ignore the Maoist insurgency at their own peril. It is a movement which has not only survived but has grown in strength precisely because India has failed to create a society and an economy which provides meaningful opportunities for many of her people. Until this changes, India’s Maoists will continue grow and may one day be able to disrupt the comfortable lives of the urban elites.

Naxal War is a modest attempt to fill in the glaring information gaps which exist on a conflict that has seen far too little interest both domestically and internationally. I will link to the latest academic studies, press reports, combatant releases and anything else relevant to India’s left-wing insurgency. I aim to be an unbiased source for anywone interested in India’s forgotten war. And I will rant.

Written by Michael

April 18, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,