With experience of insurgencies in Jammu & Kashmir, Northeast and the Maoist over past decades, it should be clear that the reasons for armed dissent are multifarious. Lacking/absent/corrupt governance, suppressed political aspirations, denied democratic/constitutional rights, justice denial, poverty, lack of development, religious radicalism and cross-border proxies are all part of the conundrum. What is the state of our insurgencies and what are we doing about it? Poverty alleviation is not the sole factor in dealing with insurgencies but it is a vital catalyst.
India’s stand at Rio+20 to accord precedence to poverty alleviation over greening environment is laudable but do we look inwards? The poor in India has little time to bother about S&P warning of losing investment grade ratings, Fitch lowering our GDP estimates to 6.5 per cent with Indian bonds running risks of falling to junk status and Dr Manmohan Singh blaming Eurozone crisis simultaneous to RBI Governor pointing indigenous fault lines. What gravely affects him is the Planning Commission report of only 17 paise reaching ground of every rupee spent—something even Rajiv Gandhi declared as Prime Minister. Maintaining this rate of 17 per cent over a decade coupled with maintaining 134th position in the world in HDI (Human Development Index) over last decade are unparalleled proofs of mis-governance. At this rate, of the whopping ` 1,85,000 crore purportedly spent on poverty alleviation schemes during fiscal year 2011-12, only ` 31,450 crore reached ground level. Balance ` 1,50,550 crore went into what the Planning Commission terms as “administration”. View this matrix over last few years and talk to the man on the street. He bluntly tells you “gorment in tarikon se agle election ke lie paise ikatha kar rahi hai” (using these measures, government collects funds for next election) for which country in the world milks 83 per cent poverty alleviation funds before reaching the poor? Same is his comment about the unprecedented hike in fuel prices while every neighbouring country provides it cheaper. Common man talks about the political game of buying votes and coercing support through CBI inquiries that cease or prolong unendingly once support is garnered. Dr Manmohan Singh may show concern about industrial output but if you talked to small scale industrialists two years back they told you they were shutting shop because cheap Chinese goods have flooded our markets. Yet we do little about correcting the imbalance in Sino-Indian bilateral trade 60:40 in China’s favour.
Incidentally, Japan does not import rice to safeguard indigenous produce. HDI standings apart, the state of basic provisions and amenities in say Maoist areas is deplorable – drinking water, electricity, roads, health, education you name it. Look at the area Bhadrakali encounter of last year. The so-called NH 220 is no more than a dirt track in places. River Amravati is crossed in a makeshift ferry that barely takes four persons and a scooter per trip.
The recent document Nonalignment 2.0 states, “The fundamental source of India’s power in the world is going to be the power of its example. If India can maintain high growth rates, leverage that growth to enhance the capabilities of all its citizens, and maintain robust democratic traditions and institutions, there are few limits to India’s global role and influence.” We don’t seem to be focusing on any of those “ifs”. Security forces can at best lower violence levels. Balance has to come through good governance. No matter government admissions, Maoists have affected 180 districts in 16 states (35 per cent population in 40 per cent area) and are establishing urban bases. Fudging below poverty line figures through unsustainable benchmarks can hardly help. Ignoring the population (centre of gravity in any insurgency) amounts to rebooting insurgencies. The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author.
Mangled remains of a CRPF bullet-proof vehicle that was blasted by the Maoists in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh