Saturday, April 10, 2010

The "criminalisation" of Adivasis by Maoist sympathisers

A large number of people would not call themselves admirers of Maoists, but see a value in them. They would see a large number of Adivasis supportive, and being part of, the Maoist movement. They refuse to condemn any violent action of Maoists, such as the Dantewada massacre. For instance, see an interview with Himanshu Kumar at; he goes round and round, but refuses to use the word "condemn". Alongside, what Himanshu Kumar does here is also to affirm that it was not Maoists, but the poor Adivasis who killed 78 CRPF jawans in Dantewada. I totally refuse to accept any such criminalisation of Adivasi psyche in India, which is nothing but a colonial anthropological notion.

What is the value that these people see in Maoists? I think it is a "subversive utility". They think that Maoists have a role in subverting the present system using violence, and this "subversion" can create spaces where other "democratic" movements can penetrate the political spheres with other agendas. Opportunistic politicians like Mamata Banerjee have followed the same strategy in Bengal.

I think this is a totally misdirected optimism and strategy. Little do these people realise that they are simply tools in the hands of Maoists. There is no subversive utility that Maoists have. They have absolutely no mass base among Adivasis themselves. They have no base among Dalits or the working people in general. As Prasenjit Bose put it:

The explanation that the roots of the Maoist insurgency lie in the systemic deprivation and exploitation of the adivasis by the Indian bourgeois-landlord state suffers from several infirmities, because it is entirely ahistorical. The Naxalite movement of 1967, from which the present day Maoists originated, was supposed to be the beginning of a protracted armed struggle; to wrest State power from the hands of the “comprador-bureaucratic” bourgeoisie who had kept India as a “semi-colony”. The experience since then has shown that such a road to revolution is not only inappropriate in Indian conditions where parliamentary democracy has taken roots, but such sectarian politics in a diverse society like India, inevitably leads to alienation from the people and degenerates into mindless violence and anarchy. Eventually, the Naxalites reached an ideological dead-end as domestic and international developments completely overtook their shallow and confused understanding of Indian society and polity (

The idea of a "red corridor" is some sort of a fiction story of the Indian state so that they can unleash terror to clear the space for mining corporates. The Maoists want precisely this terror to be unleashed on them. But they know they while they can retreat to safer havens while the state terror takes place, the poor native villagers can not. The Adivasis will be the sufferers of the terror, and the Maoists hope to widen their poor and narrow base via the feeling of increased alienation that this terror-unleash can bring about. They are thus enemies of Adivasis, and have no human element in their ideology. Charu Mazumdar's flawed ideology only fetishises blood and violence, and does not help to end it; he said,
“He who has not dipped his hand in the blood of class enemies can hardly be called a communist.”
I want to bring another element here, which is the interesting experience of the predominantly tribal state of Tripura in the recent years. This Adivasi state, under the Left Front government there, has had remarkable achievements in many spheres of human development. Land reforms has significantly raised access to land for not just Adivasies, but also other poorer sections (for a snapshot, see a box item from the Tripura HDR at Literacy rate increased from 30.98 per cent in 1972 to 81.05 in 2007. School dropout rate declined from 63.92 per cent in 1972 to 7.81 per cent (class I to class V), from 76.61 per cent to 14.79 per cent (up to class VIII) and from 87.29 per cent to 54.39 per cent (above Class 8). The number of dispensaries and health sub-centres has risen from 112 in 1972 to 698 in 2007. Paddy production has shot up over the last 10 years. Tripura is now a net paddy seed exporter to other States; it used to import paddy till recently. Above all, the trouble of insurgency has declined to very low levels.

I believe Tripura is the only example in India in the recent years, where the idea of Adivasi development has received priority attention from any State government. For those interested in this experience, please see the Tripura Human Development Report at The last chapter is a good summary. I wish other governments in Adivasi-dominated States learn from the Left's developmental achievements in Tripura.

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