A Rendezvous with the Maoists, and other links

Arundhati Roy reports from her rendezvous with the Maoists:

It’s easier on the liberal conscience to believe that the war in the forests is a war between the Government of India and the Maoists, who call elections a sham, Parliament a pigsty and have openly declared their intention to overthrow the Indian State. It’s convenient to forget that tribal people in Central India have a history of resistance that predates Mao by centuries. (That’s a truism of course. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist.) The Ho, the Oraon, the Kols, the Santhals, the Mundas and the Gonds have all rebelled several times, against the British, against zamindars and moneylenders. The rebellions were cruelly crushed, many thousands killed, but the people were never conquered.

And are the Maoists the only ones who believe in protracted war? Almost from the moment India became a sovereign nation, it turned into a colonial power, annexing territory, waging war. It has never hesitated to use military interventions to address political problems—Kashmir, Hyderabad, Goa, Nagaland, Manipur, Telangana, Assam, Punjab, the Naxalite uprising in West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and now across the tribal areas of Central India. Tens of thousands have been killed with impunity, hundreds of thousands tortured. All of this behind the benign mask of democracy. Who have these wars been waged against? Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Communists, Dalits, Tribals and, most of all, against the poor who dare to question their lot instead of accepting the crumbs that are flung at them. It’s hard not to see that the Indian State is an essentially upper-caste Hindu State (regardless of the party in power) which harbours a reflexive hostility towards the ‘other’. One that, in true colonial fashion, sends the Nagas and Mizos to fight in Chhattisgarh, Sikhs to Kashmir, Kashmiris to Orissa, Tamilians to Assam and so on. If this isn’t protracted war, what is?

MJ Akbar on Mayawati’s garlands:

When Mayawati flaunts her public or personal riches, she is sending a message to her own constituency, that wealth is a source of power, and power is no longer the monopoly of a traditional elite that has brutalized Dalits for thousands of years. She displays contempt for the “legality” that has kept her community socially enslaved and economically impoverished;…

Joe MS has a wonderful article on the upper caste usurpation of the Sree Narayana Guru led reform movement in Kerala:

The ‘revolt’ of Narayan guru was infuriating only the extremely orthodox, but accommodative for the mainstream. As a result his programme was appropriated in to the Hindu fold easily. In fact the workings of a bourgeois democracy allows the space for such minimal adjustments or dilations necessitated by the dynamics of capitalism. It never attempted a violent denial/de-construction of the idealistic philosophic core of the Brahmanic caste system, either in practice or in theory. The totalitarian structure of Brahmanic system remained untouched. In a way it was like the project of the savarna Hindu’s marginal social reform advocated by the Aryasamj-Vivekanda coterie, at least even in the realm of ideology, but of course emanating from the lower strata . As a result SNDP naturally drifted towards assisting the project of making of mainstream(Vaidik) Malayalee identity.

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