Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Operation Greenhunt I: Chidambaram, when would your violence end?

vi·o·lence (v-lns)n.
1. Physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing: crimes of violence.
2. The act or an instance of violent action or behavior.
3. Intensity or severity, as in natural phenomena; untamed force: the violence of a tornado.
4. Abusive or unjust exercise of power.
5. Abuse or injury to meaning, content, or intent: do violence to a text.
6. Vehemence of feeling or expression; fervor.

ethnic cleansing –noun
the elimination of an unwanted ethnic group or groups from a society, as by genocide or forced emigration.

  • Seven per cent of India's children under five are malnourished.India ranks a dismal 66 out of 88 countries on the world's hunger index. That puts India even lower than the starved sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this, every year India lets substantial amount of foodgrains rot in FCI godowns. Last year, foodgrains enough to feed 10 million people for an year were let to rot while millions were suffering malnutrition and hunger.
  • An estimated 200,000 people are displaced besides losing rich ecological resources due to the dam on Narmada.Between 1951 and 1990, 40 million people were displaced as a result of 'development' projects like this.
  • Millions would be displaced in the central government's 'Operation Greenhunt', which is about to start with approx. 70,000 troops, against Maoists in Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Bengal, incidentally the states with most poverty in the country (with exception of Bengal). See the map.

Going by the definitions of 'violence' and 'ethnic cleansing' marked in red above and considering that all people mentioned above belong to same group/category, all the 'people' mentioned in the above 3 scenarios are being subjected to unspeakable violence by the government's abuse of power. The people are forcibly evicted from their land and made to starve to death when there are surplus grains around. They have no employment, no schools, no hospitals, no water, no electricity, no transport. They simply have none of the amenities any government provides. By forcibly dislocating the people and making them lose their cultural and economical moorings forever, the government is conducting ethnic cleansing.

The 'people' mentioned in all the above scenarios are tribals, voiceless citizens of this country living in the major parts of India that, far from being shining, are reminiscent of sub-Saharan Africa in hunger and poverty. They form 8% of this country's population and yet see no benefits of governance. In fact, in the sense of the term, they are not 'governed' and they never were, not even in colonial India. So the fathers of our Constitution rightly envisaged some protection for them in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution which grants the tribals complete rights over their traditional land and forests and prohibits private companies from mining on their land. The land is the only thing they own and it defines their culture and livelihood. And this land which is now labelled 'the red corridor' is rich in mineral wealth worth trillions of dollars. So the government is out to grab the land too from the tribals. The 'democratic' government unashamedly violates the constitution. And so we now have a full-scale war plan - Operation Greenhunt. The mandate for the troops is clear. Put the hills on fire and the tribals will automatically vacate the mineral rich lands.

It is in this context that it sounded ironical when Mr.Chidambaram asked the Maoists to "Halt the violence". Surely Harvard educated Chidambaram knows the implicit structural violence the state, of which he is now an important part, has been perpetuating over tribals for decades through its policy-making and so-called development initiatives. Even without firing a single bullet, the state with its actions and inactions, was committing violence of unimaginable scale, round the clock, against the tribals and against the letter and spirit of our own constitution. When would this violence end?


Vinayak Razdan said...

This should come as a no surprise. After all he was previously associated with Enron and Vedanta.

Amar said...

Yes Vinayak,
But its not just about him. Almost everyone before him persisted with the same line. Its in the system. The other day I read the RSS guys called Chidambaram a hero. So its a agenda sans political frontiers.