The administration has got is answers wrong in the case of what is being termed as India’s new terror, Naxalism/Maoism.
With tigers vanishing from the so-called reserves and parks, the judiciary has ruled that tourism be stopped in the jungles. This, it was felt, would help the tiger live in peace, and procreate in greater peace.
But the animal has not been disappearing because of tourists. It is being relentlessly poached by a notorious band of criminals, and the number of tigers is now shockingly low.
What has tourism got to do with poaching, which is the reason for the species vanishing?
With the tiger reserves and national parks now quieter without visitors, poachers would probably have an easier time to go about their nefarious activity.
This is a classic case of not being able to hit the nail on its head.
The administration has also got is answers wrong in the case of what is being termed as India’s new terror, Naxalism/Maoism.
The recent brutal killing of 18 tribals in Central India’s Bastar – some of them mere children – by the Central Reserve Police Force and the Chhattisgarh Police some days ago reminds us of what doctor-activist Binayak Sen said.
He told the media that the confrontation between Naxalism/Maoism and the state could be viewed as two railway engines speeding towards each other at top speed. We all know what the result will be.
There are many versions of what happened that night at Bastar. Some say Maoists/Naxalites used the tribals as shields. Others aver that the tribals were willing compatriots to the extremists.
Whatever it be, more than six decades after the British quit India, the government is still to address the issue of the tribals.
The administration has also done precious little to help tribals and the poor. Often grinding poverty has forced them to join radicals like Naxalites/Maoists.
The poor take up arms in the hope of a life that has a modicum of decency. “You take up guns, and we give you food”, is how the extremists lure the poor tribals and others.
If the tribals and others have to be weaned away from the path of violence, they need to be given food, house to live, safe drinking water, schools, hospitals and roads.
The poor, and the tribals in particular, do not have these, at least enough of these. So, when the Maoists/Naxalites dangle these “goodies”, the impoverished poor readily take them hoping that they would get at least two decent meals in a day. If they have to take up the gun for it, so be it.
If Maoism/Naxalism has to be eradicated, tribal welfare needs to be urgently addressed. They must not be hungry.
Let us not forget that the French revolution was spearheaded by hungry masses, who saw the royals and nobles grow fat on State money.
India’s hungry tribals may be witnessing the same.
Gautaman Bhaskaran is a Chennai-India based author, columnist and film critic, and can be contacted at [email protected] He is an FMT columnist.