November 1, 2009

The Making of a Maoist

This whole Maoist and Naxalite thing is turning out to be too crazy. Earlier in the week I was at one of those la-di-da places in Khan Market exchanging ideas over a working lunch. Someone mentioned some thing about how someone becomes a Maoist. This simple stupid thing changed the very course of the conversation thereon. The fact that everyone present, including yours truly, had theorized similar questions a million times in their heads made the whole exercise more interesting. In addition to a hypothesis, all of us had suggestions that would shame the authorities engaged with such groups.

This Maoist thing isn’t funny anymore. Of course, before you coil up at the very mention of funny and Maoists in the same breath, may I say that I never thought of it as ha-ha funny in any case. The simple fact of the matter remains that there is amazing disparity amongst us Indians. It was always there. In the past the oppressed made peace with the fact that perhaps the white man is behind all this and if god were to come down things would be better off. Sorry. God’s dead. Or maybe he’s really busy. The brown man descended but discovered he could play God and went around plundering just about everything and every one in sight. The oppressed still didn’t know what to do. Someone should have told him to be careful of what you ask for. Initially he thought the white man don’t speak the same language so perhaps he won’t comprehend what was wrong. Now that he has someone who spoke the same tongue, he was kindly told there ain’t nothing wrong. Amidst all this some dudes get together and decide that enough’s enough. They take up arms against their own who now run things for they are just not concerned about the oppressed.

Simple. Not really. Forty years later, the state still hasn’t done enough for the people for whom the dudes took up arms. But things aren’t that black and white anymore. Anyone who has a little more knowledge than me about the whole thing would know that the oppressed is still stuck in between. If they defy the Maoists they had it and if they defy the state they are branded as co-conspirators. The so called modern Robin Hood figures who once claimed to represent the dispossessed of Indian society, particularly the indigenous tribal groups, were dismissed as a ragtag band of outdated dreamers. Many intellectuals and even politicians once sympathized with their cause, but their brand of violence has forced the majority to think whether they can still be tolerated. (Here’s a link to an article in New York Times which will simply explain the issue).

Back to the fancy lunch. We talked for a while and I realized that the mere existence of the small city person within us isn’t enough. We all shook our heads and followed the cues like trained actors on some stage by letting out heartfelt voices at the right time. We couldn’t believe why the hell was it so difficult to do the right thing- just provide for the people. Man! If we could understand it over a lunch what’s stopping the government of India from doing it.

Is this where the problem lies?

Just because I can convince myself that I’m a good listener to someone riling their heart out doesn’t make me understand the person better. And just because I intersperse the session by letting a word of advice escape my lips doesn’t make me a better person. I listen simply because the other person is talking. But more importantly I listen for someone might have heard me out some time. Worse still I listen because once you are done you might hear me out.

By the time I got out of the joint I realized, once again, that having one’s heart in the right place might be a good thing but that’s just a start. The problem with most of us residing in mega cities is that the simple desire to believe that we able to understand the other person’s problem is reason enough to not do anything else. Now just apply this to the state. Now we know why people are still dying of hunger. Why floods in one state and drought in the other is not affecting me as I watch a documentary on Hurricane Katrina.

Someone needs to do the needful.

4 Responses to “The Making of a Maoist”

  • Gautam, solutions are often simple, but greed often gets in the way. The forest that shelters the Maoists is a rich reserve of minerals, on which both industrialists and politicians have their eyes on it.

    People take up arms when their words fail to make the point. Poor people do not have a point of view, and their words are without a sound. And you know we live in a deaf country. I suppose which is why we are also bad listeners!

  • Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
    anyhow thanks for the good read!
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