Maoists and Gandhi and That…

Got a piece on Guardian website today. Some credit needs to go to Michael Spacek‘s excellent recent article on Naxalism, which sums up the general situation beautifully and which I had meant to link to in this but forgot. Mine is a much woollier and rambling affair, but that’s the fun of Guardian op-eds:

The most tragic aspect of India’s civil war between the state and Maoist rebels is how it is destroying the country’s greatest ideological legacy – non-violent resistance.

Arundhati Roy’s article on her time spent with the Maoists (or Naxalites, as they are also known) in the jungles of Chattisgarh has been much debated here in India. No one can deny it offered a valuable insight into the suffering that leads young girls and boys to don the olive-green uniform and take up arms, but it has also generated some criticism, even from those who sympathise with the Maoist cause, for the romantic way in which she depicts the movement. After all, this is an organisation that indoctrinates children, kills police officers, and executes people it deems “class enemies”.

Fine – this is a war. Let’s not be naive about this, people get killed in wars. The adivasis (a collective term for tribal and lower castes) who form the core Maoist constituency face insane levels of police repression – murders, dispossession, rapes. Maybe I would be killing people, too, if I hadn’t grown up in a comfortable corner of Dorset where the worst form of state repression I faced was the introduction of speed cameras.

Read the rest here…

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