Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wanted - More Natural Calamities So US Could Take Over The World

If the US, after the cold war got over, is anyways going to take over the world as is evident from the article below and our cowardice at legitimising their illegal activities be it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa or now in Haiti just because they are rich and 'sophisticated', then I pray to Nature to introduce calamity all across the world periodically and thus help America bring 'peace (peaceful subjugation to their needs)', 'justice (equally denied to all)' and 'equality' (Americanization) to the world.

Nietzsche's thunder that "God is dead" is proven wrong here. God lives and 'He' is on the American side. God is surely helping America. Wonder when IT will help the Haitians?

Original Article:

The Kidnapping of Haiti

Jan, 28 2010 By John Pilger

The theft of Haiti has been swift and crude. On 22 January, the United States secured "formal approval" from the United Nations to take over all air and sea ports in Haiti, and to "secure" roads. No Haitian signed the agreement, which has no basis in law. Power rules in an American naval blockade and the arrival of 13,000 marines, special forces, spooks and mercenaries, none with humanitarian relief training. 

The airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is now an American military base and relief flights have been re-routed to the Dominican Republic. All flights stopped for three hours for the arrival of Hillary Clinton. Critically injured Haitians waited unaided as 800 American residents in Haiti were fed, watered and evacuated. Six days passed before the US Air Force dropped bottled water to people suffering thirst and dehydration. 

The first TV reports played a critical role, giving the impression of widespread criminal mayhem. Matt Frei, the BBC reporter dispatched from Washington, seemed on the point of hyperventilation as he brayed about the "violence" and need for "security". In spite of the demonstrable dignity of the earthquake victims, and evidence of citizens' groups toiling unaided to rescue people, and even an American general's assessment that the violence in Haiti was considerably less than before the earthquake, Frei claimed that "looting is the only industry" and "the dignity of Haiti's past is long forgotten." Thus, a history of unerring US violence and exploitation in Haiti was consigned to the victims. "There's no doubt," reported Frei in the aftermath of America's bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003, "that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East ... is now increasingly tied up with military power."

In a sense, he was right. Never before in so-called peacetime have human relations been as militarised by rapacious power. Never before has an American president subordinated his government to the military establishment of his discredited predecessor, as Barack Obama has done. In pursuing George W. Bush's policy of war and domination, Obama has sought from Congress an unprecedented military budget in excess of $700 billion. He has become, in effect, the spokesman for a military coup.

For the people of Haiti the implications are clear, if grotesque. With US troops in control of their country, Obama has appointed George W. Bush to the "relief effort": a parody surely lifted from Graham Greene's The Comedians, set in Papa Doc's Haiti. As president, Bush's relief effort following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 amounted to an ethnic cleansing of many of New Orleans' black population. In 2004, he ordered the kidnapping of the democratically-elected prime minister of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and exiled him in Africa. The popular Aristide had had the temerity to legislate modest reforms, such as a minimum wage for those who toil in Haiti's sweatshops. 

When I was last in Haiti, I watched very young girls stooped in front of whirring, hissing, binding machines at the Port-au-Prince Superior Baseball Plant. Many had swollen eyes and lacerated arms. I produced a camera and was thrown out.  Haiti is where America makes the equipment for its hallowed national game, for next to nothing. Haiti is where Walt Disney contractors make Mickey Mouse pjamas, for next to nothing. The US controls Haiti's sugar, bauxite and sisal. Rice-growing was replaced by imported American rice, driving people into the cities and towns and jerry-built housing. Years after year, Haiti was invaded by US marines, infamous for atrocities that have been their specialty from the Philippines to Afghanistan. 

Bill Clinton is another comedian, having got himself appointed the UN's man in Haiti. Once fawned upon by the BBC as "Mr. Nice Guy ... bringing democracy back to a sad and troubled land", Clinton is Haiti's most notorious privateer, demanding de-regulation of the economy for the benefit of the sweatshop barons. Lately, he has been promoting a $55m deal to turn the north of Haiti into an American-annexed "tourist playground". 

Not for tourists is the US building its fifth biggest embassy in Port-au-Prince. Oil was found in Haiti's waters decades ago and the US has kept it in reserve until the Middle East begins to run dry. More urgently, an occupied Haiti has a strategic importance in Washington's "rollback" plans for Latin America. The goal is the overthrow of the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, control of Venezuela's abundant oil reserves and sabotage of the growing regional cooperation that has given millions their first taste of an economic and social justice long denied by US-sponsored regimes.

The first rollback success came last year with the coup against President Jose Manuel Zelaya in Honduras who also dared advocate a minimum wage and that the rich pay tax. Obama's secret support for the illegal regime carries a clear warning to vulnerable governments in central America. Last October, the regime in Colombia, long bankrolled by Washington and supported by death squads, handed the US seven military bases to, according to US air force documents, "combat anti-US governments in the region".  

Media propaganda has laid the ground for what may well be Obama's next war. On 14 December, researchers at the University of West England published first findings of a ten-year study of the BBC's reporting of Venezuela. Of 304 BBC reports, only three mentioned any of the historic reforms of the Chavez government, while the majority denigrated Chavez's extraordinary democratic record, at one point comparing him to Hitler. 

Such distortion and its attendant servitude to western power are rife across the Anglo-American corporate media. People who struggle for a better life, or for life itself, from Venezuela to Honduras to Haiti, deserve our support.

Article: India's selfish elite holds the Republic back

In "THE SOCIAL CONTRACT" written written in 1762, Jean Jacques Rousseau argues that individuals voluntarily give up a few of their rights for a safe and secure existence under the rule of law they establish. However, the balance is tipped, when this 'invisible' contract is not maintained by either parties i.e. the ruler or the ruled.

India forms and poses myriad problems. In India, the financial and intellectual elite, that is you and me who are able to read this, have given up not just a few of these rights Rousseau talks about, but have given up much more for the security and safety of our city existences. Problem arises, when these rights are violated, by an incompetent ruling class as exemplified and mentioned in the article below about the middle class rage after 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

However, the above paragraph goes only for 30% of the population that too by a liberal stretch of imagination. The teeming 70%, the 'other' India, is in much worse condition where the conditions of law and order and security we take for granted in cities, is but a privilege there. And the true dangers we face, is not from the terrorists from beyond our borders, but the unrest of these 70% who are beginning to ask uncomfortable questions like: "why has 'development' eluded us when we provide almost everything you need e.g. water, food, minerals etc.?" "Why do we starve when we feed you (on an average 15,000 farmers commit suicide every year and remember farmers are more important than even teachers or doctors, for there can be no mind or body if you are not fed also India has been in a state of chronic famine with over 33% of its population malnutritioned and every second child who dies of malnutrition in the world, is in India)?" "Why are our homes attacked, our women raped, our children and old killed when we do not even ask anything of you (something that is happening rampantly in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and a lot of other places in the name of counterinsurgency)?"

What is worse, is that our ineffectual government, instead of curbing or finding solutions to these problems is actually aggravating them by various tactics like the famed 'Operation Green Hunt'. When take everything from a population who anyways have very little we ensure that they have nothing to loose, which means they will not sit back and watch in helpless desperation. They will fight to get back what they have lost and at worst, will try and take you and me together into their hell if they fail. This is a dangerous situation for people like us to push a lot of people who have nothing to loose to the brink of their fragile existences. The country is in the midst of a dangerous civil war that threatens to sweep even our safely encased cities, if we do not do something about it? If you and me do not even try to raise our voice.

Are you up to it?

P.S: And by the way, the surrender of a few of your freedom as illustrated by Rousseau does not involve the total surrender of freedom, something the American government has so successfully managed in doing to its citizenry, and which our own government in our own country is pushing us to do. Tell me, is the loss of our freedom and voices, our total surrender in return for few glasses of alcohol, some time in a discotheque with friends and lovers, many moments of pseudo existential angst and permission to indulge in our little flirtations and affairs worth it? You decide.

Original Article from Times of India:

India's selfish elite holds the Republic back

It is perplexing how the world’s most populous democracy is so flawed. How can a country, whose elections are cited as an exuberant example of
Republic Day
India's selfish elite holds the Republic back
people-power, produce governments that serve their people so badly?

As an outsider, it would be inappropriate to enter into the debate about India’s internal political structures. But the broader picture is troubling: the extent to which the aspirations and behaviour of citizens in the so-called democracies and authoritarian regimes have converged over the past 20 years of globalization.

From Mumbai to Shanghai to Dubai (to coin that phrase of whizkid financiers), via London and New York, we have witnessed the erosion of liberties in our seemingly insatiable quest for wealth and our urge for an illusory security.
The model for this new world order is Singapore. The city-state has a large number of well-educated and well-travelled people keen to defend a system that requires an almost complete abrogation of freedom of expression in return for a good material life. This is the pact. In each country it varies; citizens hand over different freedoms in accordance with their own customs and priorities.

Barrington Moore’s theories of “no bourgeoisie, no democracy” have been disavowed by these two decades of uber materialism. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the assumption was that free markets and free societies would work in perfect harmony. Instead, people in all countries found a way to disengage from the political process while seeking greater comfort.
Consumerism provided the ultimate anaesthetic.

Economic growth, rather than being a force for democratic involvement, reinforced the confidence of business and political elites. These neo-liberal advocates became consumed by their own intellectual overshoot, redefining democracy and liberty through notions such as privatization, profit maximization, disdain for the needs of civil society and social justice.

What matters, particularly for the middle class, are ‘private freedoms’ — the right to own property; to run businesses according to contract law; the right to travel unimpeded and the right to determine one’s own personal life. The pre-eminent freedom is financial — the right to earn money and consume it unimpeded. Public freedoms, such as free speech, free association and participatory politics become dispensable.

So where does India, with its raucous public discourse and its flamboyant democracy, come into this equation? As Pankaj Mishra points out, in order for India’s elite to fulfil its ambitions in a country of such poverty, inequality and misrule, it had to create a parallel universe. The events of November 26, 2008 changed that equation. Wealthy Indians’ fury at the Mumbai bombings arose from the realization that their pact had been broken. They never asked questions of the security forces when violence was meted out to the less fortunate. But what they did not expect, or take kindly to, was that their lives would be put at risk by incompetents at the home ministry, police department, army or intelligence services.

Till then, the wealthy had demanded little from the state and received only what they needed, such as the right to avoid fair taxation. They did not have to rely on lamentable public services. Their air conditioned SUVs would glide over the uneven roads; their diesel-fed generators would smooth over the cracks in the energy supply. The elite had been happy to secede from active politics.

How different is this from other countries? Circumstances may vary but the trade-off remains the same in each country. It’s interesting to note the way the Indian and Chinese systems fare in the delivery of good governance and liberty. In China, most of the wealthy find the small pro-democracy movement an encumbrance. These political activists are disturbing the pact that ensures one-party hegemony in return for social stability, continual economic growth and respect for ‘private’ freedoms.

In return, individuals do not meddle with the state. Pallavi Aiyar, a journalist recently based in China, offers this neat comparison: “While in China the Communist Party derived its legitimacy from delivering growth, in India a government derived its legitimacy simply from having been voted in.” She adds, “The legitimacy of democracy in many ways absolved Indian governments from the necessity of performing. The Chinese Communist Party could afford no such luxury.”

The problem in India, particularly since economic liberalization in 1991, is not wealth creation. Nor is it democratic institutions. It is governance, the inability to deliver freedoms for the vast majority of its people. Politics and business have worked together to use power as a means of enrichment. The comfortable classes could have been active in the public realm. Unlike in authoritarian states, they would not have been punished for causing trouble. They chose not to. The level of complicity is, therefore, surely higher.

John Kampfner is chief executive of Index on Censorship, London

Monday, January 25, 2010

Indian winter: Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh

While India's own media does not care about it's own people, it is heartening to see that Channel 4 spent a month to bring out this report. The footage is disturbing if you are a sensitive person. But that is what is happening in the beautiful state of Chhattisgarh. Having seen it myself, I can vouch for it.


Indian winter: Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh

Updated on 24 January 2010
By Nick Paton Walsh, Channel 4 News

A series of murders, looting, and rapes by a government-backed militia have targeted impoverished tribal people in some of India's most mineral-rich areas, according to witnesses and testimony gathered by Channel 4 News as part of a month-long investigation.

The tribal communities in the rural province of Chhattisgarh have been frequently targeted - homes burned, possessions stolen, and people often indiscriminately killed - by groups of armed men who victims claim are under government control.

These groups target a communist insurgency active in about half of India, known as the Naxalites.

One of the most harrowing accounts is of an attack against a two-year-old boy called Suresh, three of whose fingers were cut off by the militia.

They came to his village - Gompad - in October looking for Naxalites militants.

At first they poked the child with rifle butts and sticks, according to some witness accounts, in front of his mother.

When she failed to give them information on the Naxalites, they then reportedly cut off her one of her breasts and then stabbed her to death.

Suresh had begun crying incessantly, irritating the militiamen. They placed him on his mother's chest in a bid to stop him crying, but then – a witness and relatives told us – they cut off the three fingers from his left hand.

The child's great grandmother told one of our cameramen: "They stabbed his grandparents and aunt and after that they put this child on his mother's chest so that he wouldn't cry. Then they chopped his fingers off."

Suresh has, since our cameras filmed him in the jungle about five weeks ago, been taken into police custody where he now remains.

While the Naxalites are often rurally based militants who are also accused of atrocities against government forces and their sympathisers, they claim to represent the interests of the poor in a struggle against the onward march of industry in India's mineral rich provinces.

The conflict between state forces and these insurgents has raged for decades, yet recently peaked when the government launched an offensive last year, which they announced two weeks ago would be renewed in the coming months.

The Indian government has denied these allegations repeatedly in the past, but declined to comment on our investigation despite repeated requests.

The Channel 4 News investigation will also broadcast the first pictures of the village of Tetemadugu, razed by militia two months ago.

The images show about half the houses in the village burned to the ground. One resident from the village told us that he witnessed the murder of four people in the village by the government backed militia.

Another survivor, who has asked to be called only Madke in fear of reprisals, told us how she was raped. "Two people caught me and they took to me the jungle and they raped me, and left me there.

"They covered my mouth with their hands so I don't make a noise. Whilst they were burning the houses I fled."

A number of pro-government groups are operative in the areas where these attacks took place, although victims are often unclear who their assailants are as actual police, paramilitaries known as special police officers, and militiamen all dress in the same civilian clothes.

But witnesses often refer to their assailants as "police" or as belonging to a militia funded by the government called the "Salwa Judum".

These militia have also set up a series of camps into which the tribal people of areas affected by years of violence have been herded.

The government says this is to protect them from Naxalite violence, although some inhabitants we have spoken to complain their relatives have been murdered by the insurgency; once inside the camps the Naxalites consider them government sympathisers.

The Indian government has described the Naxalite insurgency as its number one internal threat. In the past few months it has rushed in thousands more troops into the Chhattisgarh area.

The government has also – according to local journalists - restricted the movement of the press in the area, leading to the claim that the campaign against the insurgency involves brutalities the state seeks to keep quiet.

Some activists claim the campaign is also aimed at removing ancient tribal people from their land, beneath which often sits large deposits of minerals such as coal and iron ore.

One activist, Himanshu Kumar, described a campaign intended to displace and terrify local communities, which the government vehemently denies.

He said: "Reports we are getting from the villages say some 70,000 people have fled to neighbouring states and more than this are hiding in the jungles, and forest. They're scared, they should be scared. That is the motivation of the operation, not just shooting the insurgents."

Arundhati Roy, the novelist who is a passionate advocate against the crackdown in these tribal areas, told Channel 4 News that the counterinsurgency was an "atrocity" against the "poorest people" of India.

"You've burned their villages. You have thousands living off the forest", she said. "It's a kind of structural atrocity. It's not about chopping up people or bombing them but a structural attack on the most vulnerable people of the country. It's displacement on a scale thats huge."

She added that she believed the crackdown was linked to the Indian state's appetite for minerals. "If you look at a map of India now: the forest, the minerals, the tribals; are all sitting on top of each other. So to get at the minerals you have to get rid of the tribals and the forest."

The Indian Authorities did not respond when we put these allegations to them, but have previously insisted they only target terrorists.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dissent - One Wo/man Against Many

21 years ago, in Tiananmen square in China, in 1989, one man stood before 4 tanks, shopping bag in hand, preventing the soldiers from moving forward. In a time that was back at that time, he could have easily been killed as had been 3000 or more like him. Yet, thanks to a moment of insanity, both for this man and for the soldiers that did not kill him, he survived. And though we do not know who he is, we know this photograph.

Now comes the video version, only this time it's a girl and this time it's set in the perennial conflict zone, Palestine. The girl is Palestini and the soldiers, Israeli. Both, in their own weird way, kind. She's kind for obvious reasons and the soldiers kind because all it takes is one flicker of their finger to silence her, and yet they don't do it.

Having been in slightly similar situation, actually not similar at all since no one was shooting, i can only tell you that it requires a crazy amount of guts to do this. And no, this is not bravado of the foolish. The girl is not displaying that madess that we call bravado where in that insane moment where for really no particular reason you don't care what happens to you. The girl knows what she is doing, she's calculative. And yet she does what she does. That is bravery and heroism, when you know the risks involved very well, yet you believe in something so much that you risk yourself.

This video did not have enough hits, so thought I'd post it so you could see and pass it on. It deserves 6 billion hits. Whoever she is, may Nature grant her more bravery. And may she grant you and me the wisdom to do the same when the need arises (even when no one is shooting a video, especially then) and also the intelligence to find and figure out how the Palestinians are suffering and why they die and why the modified sling shot has become their weapon of choice against extremely sophisticated guns and why it is a bloody sin on your part to call every Muslim a 'terrorist' if you do so right now?

A Gandhian's Take on Himanshu Kumar

Rajiv Vora ji, a veteran Gandhian, was in Dantewada during Himanshu's fast. I personally had a great time interacting with this articulate and highly experienced man. Here, he denounces both maoist and state violence and pens a poignant piece on his views and experiences in Dantewada, something he has flashed to Gandhians across the world calling for their support. He quotes Gandhi who had once said regarding the violence of a group of people who had been subjected to violence, "‘how can I ask them to be nonviolent after what they have suffered…’.  A must read for everyone concerned and unconcerned.

Rajiv Voraji speaking alongside Himanshu on his third day of fast.

Himanshu Kumar’s Satyagraha in Chattisgarh: Report of a Visit

By Rajiv Vora 
Not so long ago, from 19-22 Nov 2009, we congregated in Surajkund to revisit Hind Swaraj in the centenary year to rededicate ourselves to Gandhian values and principles in order to contribute our mite to  the reconstruction of a just and humane order by pursuing the path of truth, love and nonviolence.  You may recall the presentation by Himanshu Kumar of the Vanavasii Chetna Ashram (VCA), Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, on the 21st November plenary, sharing the experiences of his continuing Satyagraha in the strife- torn tribal belt of the state of Chhattisgarh in central India. A statement was jointly issued on the conclusion of the Hind Swaraj Centenary by Prof. U.R Ananthamurthy, Ms. Elabahen Bhatt, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Sri P. V. Rajagopal, Dr. Niru Vora and Sri Rajiv Vora in support of Himanshu’s struggle for making space for a Gandhian path in an environment of violence, lawlessness and impunity.

Rajiv Vora with Himanshu Kumar in Dantewada during Himanshu's fast

A committed Gandhian of a Gandhian parentage (his father Shri Prakashbhai  worked with Vinobaji), he is relentlessly seeking to intervene and restore peace in the predominantly tribal region of Chhattisgarh, scarred by intractable violence involving the Maoist Naxalites, the State and the Adivasis. In the 18 years of his selfless service and constructive work for tribal community, Himanshu has earned the credibility and goodwill of the people, many of whom are government functionaries and Maoist militants, who silently admire and respect him for his love for the adivasi and his pure motivations, even if they have strong reservations about Gandhian methodology of non-violence to which he is wedded. 

In this state of desperation and utter helplessness, when all democratic spaces were being shut, knowing not what to do, he decided upon a fast for atma shuddhi (Self-purification).  During this period (26 December 2009 - 04 January 2010) of self-imposed fast against none, simply for soul-searching for an answer; he survived on water, the spinning wheel and books. 

After sharing and discussing Himanshu’s resolve to go on a self-purificatory fast in the best Gandhian tradition with Ms. Elabahen Bhatt, Prof. Partha N. Mukherji, Prof. Ashis Nandy, and Dr. Niru Vora, I went to Dantewada and was with Himanshu on the 27 and 28 December. On my return, I shared my experience with them and with Sri M. P. Mathai. 

Satyen Bardoloi and Priyanka from Mumbai, Abhay Rathwa from Vadodra, Gangesh from Lucknow, team of VCA’s, fieldworkers and other staff, were by his side providing support in various ways. Satyen  and Priyanka were sending regular despatches fom Dntewada. 

Himanshu, with his thorough understanding of tribal structure and culture, and the contradictions between modernization and democratic governance that have led to this impasse necessitating such drastic action by the government, is of the view that we need to put our mechanisms of constitutional protection in place. If that is not done, if there is absolutely no way of getting heard without fear or favour about the brutalities that then go unchecked, the ideologically non-committed tribals who were apprehensive of Maoists, will only swell their ranks. From about 5000 odd in 2005, the Naxals are estimated now to be nearly 100,000 strong. In an agonizing voice he observes:
    “I stare dumbly at all these people who come to me – the old man who saw his daughter raped and son shot dead; the young wife who was gang raped; the families whose houses were burnt;…They come to me pleading for help. I keep quiet, not knowing what to say or how to help. Nor can I ask them to suffer quietly. It is in such situation of utter despondency and helplessness that I have resorted to this fast. I have no demands, no conditions underlying my fast. I am only trying to collect and strengthen my inner strength for nonviolence.”
His words are reminiscent of what Mahatma Gandhi said when he undertook  fast unto death during the 1924 riots in Kohat…(now in Pakistan): ‘how can I ask them to be nonviolent after what they have suffered…’.

It would be instructive to recall that the Bhoodan movement was born in Pochampalli village in Andhra Pradesh in response to the violent communist movement seeking to redress the sufferings of the poor and the landless. Acharya Vinoba Bhave had declared: “The Communists want your head and land both; I am asking for your land only, that too one sixth. Take the landless as the sixth member of your family”.

After more than six decades of democracy in our country, in the forests of Bastar, Himanshu is experimenting with the principles and practice of non-violent Satyagraha to find a way out of the dual challenge from the politics of Naxalism and anti-Naxalism. Going by the violence and terror unleashed on the tribals, by both the Naxal, the anti-Naxal “people’e militia supported by the state, namely Salva Judum, with total impunity and disregard of even minimum democratic governance, it would appear that the onslaught is a war on the  very existence of the tribal. If there is any truth in the corporate interests tying up with the government/state or Salva Judum to ‘clear’ the iron and  mineral rich areas of all tribal habitation, as some fear, then this must be properly handled. Himanshu is neither denying the development of mining nor the fact that Maoist violence is an impediment to development and democracy. If the intended or unintended consequences of Operation Green Hunt are to terrorise innocent people, chase them out of their villages and livelihoods, then it is duty of citizens to stand by the side of lakhs of tribal brethren who have turned homeless and are uprooted. 

Himanshu is seeking justice for victims of rape, arson and murder; he is opposing the savage violence of security forces and Salva Judum, armed and supported by the government against all democratic norms; he is demanding the return of the inhabitants of about 650 evacuated villages; he wants the adivasis, mostly forcibly concentrated in filthy, socially degrading camps, compelled to live on doles, to be able to return to their homes in the villages. He has already demonstrated how to get them back to their villages and begin anew by introducing the programmes of development, anganwadis, health services, schools and the rest. He promised them a non-violent human shield against any violent attack from any quarter.

He invited the Home Minister Sri Chidambaram to visit Dantewada for a jansunwai (public hearing) session with the public assuring him that no harm would reach him, or even any abuse. But the Governor  prevailed upon him not to visit the state at this juncture, as this could have a demoralizing effect on their operations. Under the pretext of giving him protection Himanshu is encircled by police, which keeps monitoring his every action or speech. A vicious propaganda against him is being built up to hound him out of Chhattisgarh. First, his ashram was bulldozed in May this year; next, on the 6th day of his fast his landlord approached him with folded hands asking him to vacate his premises as he was being pressured to evict him. Smilingly, Himanshu assures him that he will do so as he did not want him to suffer on his account! On being asked where he will move, he smiled in response, ‘I dont know’.

During the period of his fast, on 3rd January 2010, he organized that Shambho, a tribal lady who had been shot in the leg by the CRPF is sent for her second round of treatment to Delhi. Three times she and her escort were terrorised and prevented from boarding the bus to Raipur. Himanshu decided to escort her personally to Delhi in his jeep. A jeep-full of police kept tailing them most of the 400 km route, until they were prevented from entering Raipur and whisked away to Kanker Police Station, where they took her under police custody.

All this while, Niru and I were in the field, but we were in constant communication with Himanshu. At the same time we alerted some of our friends in Raipur and Delhi. In particular, we connected with Prof. Partha Nath Mukherji and Prof. Ashis Nandy. In turn, Prof. Nandy connected with an important TV journalist, whilst Prof. Mukherji was able to establish contact with the DGP and the DIG of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). As per request of the NHRC, Prof. Mukherji faxed a letter of complaint after sharing the draft with me and Himanshu. The NHRC promptly took action and sent the complaint to the S.P. Dantewada and also obtained some reply, which was to be put before the Commission. Prof Ashish Nandy followed up with NDTV, which gave a good coverage on its Hindi channel. This was the minimum that could be done by way of trying to secure some protective and restraining measures.

The way things are moving, it would appear that the government is doing exactly what the Maoists would like to happen, namely, the increasing oppression of the state on innocent, defenseless tribals who had so far shied away from them, but would now end up in their lap! Himanshu is providing a Gandhian intervention that is against none, only against violence as an instrument of solving the problem. In his conduct and language there is no trace of ill-will against anyone, including his tormentors. He speaks for truth, justice and love. He speaks for the tormented and the agonised. For a satyagrahi there is no scope for desperation, frustration or defeat. His is a win-win model. The Mahatma had once remarked that 80 percent of the consequences of nonviolence are not visible to the eye, they happen beneath the surface. Those who think that nonviolence does not work must grasp the meaning of this very insightful observation of non other than Mahatma Gandhi himself.

Himanshu’s is a test case, for all of us, nay for the nation perhaps. I have no doubt that the more he is tested the more he would shine. How does one reconcile with the fact that a satyagrahi, wedded to Gandhi and ahimsa is being horridly harassed and hunted? Has nonviolent action no legitimacy in a country which is a responsible democracy? Our security forces are fully accountable to our Constitution, not the Maoists who wish to destroy and rewrite it for a state governed by the barrel of the gun. We fully appreciate the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens. Himanshu Kumar, just as any one of us, is asking for the rule of the law. We mourn the casualties of violence, whether they are from among the innocent people,  the police or the Maoists.  The vicious circle of violence has to be broken. We believe that non-state options and initiatives in resolving problems of deep rooted violence strengthen democratic culture.  We also believe that civil society should address its actions and efforts of reforms more in the direction of the society. 

In this context, the nonviolent, self less Gandhian force must come forwards and  be allowed to intervene in order for the tribal people to share equally  the fruits of freedom and democracy  and assist the nation in wiping out the alarming democratic deficit that is plaguing the tribal regions of the country.  It will be sad if the corporate interests do not factor in the interests of the innocent tribal communities, who for centuries have inhabited these areas protecting national wealth. It is time for the corporate world to proclaim that they are not for the uprootment of tribal life and culture for their gains; that they will make the inhabitants of the soil their partners in their well-being and prosperity. Let them stand behind Himanshu’s Gandhian efforts to restore sanity and peace for the welfare of all.

I propose
  • That we research rigorously into the causes and consequences of the violent Maoist movement. 
  • That a team of accredited impartial persons visit the area urgently and meet all the concerned parties involved and affected by the situation of violence to prepare a non-partisan report particularly with a view to find possibilities of a nonviolent assistance in reducing violence. In this regard we have two models to learn from; one, the Bhoodan yatra ; and, the Chambal  dacoits surrender.
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