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Convention on "The War Within : The Maoists, The Tribals and The State

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7 Nov 2009 15:00

CONCERN (a student body in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore), is hosting a convention in IISc, Bangalore on 7th November titled "The War Within: The Maoists, The Tribals and The State". We would like to invite you to the same. We  plan to screen documentaries, presentations, petitions, hold panel talks and host a photo exhibition. One of the documentaries is an exclusive 13 min long footage of our visit to VCA, Dantewada and the demolition of the ashram (as much as was possible before our cameras were seized). Please spread the word.  Poster is attached.

Concern Presents,
The War Within : The Maoists, The Tribals and The State

Introduction : As the government plans to unleash its biggest ever operation against the Maoists in India's heartland, this convention aims to debate the why's and whether's behind the move and raise fundamental questions about treating socio-economic and political issues by military means.

Schedule :-

Note: There would be a photoexhibiton of photographs by Javed Iqbal at the venue.

3:00 PM Documentary Screening and a Presentation on Salwa Judum.

4:15 - 4:30 PM Tea/Coffe Break

4:30 PM Panel Talk and Discussion

Ground realities in Chhattisgarh.*
Himanshu Kumar

Double Tragedy of Tribals in India
Ramachandra Guha
Maoist movement in India : The story so far
Sudeep Chakravarti

(* Tentative Title)

About the speakers:-

Himanshu Kumar is a Gandhian Activist from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh. He set up Vanwasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) in 1992, a Gandhian organisation at Kanwalnar near Dantewada, commited to work for the survival, development and dignity of the tribal people of the Bastar region. VCA works on several modes of empowerment, with emphasis on human and legal rights and justice, community health services, elementary education, access to and implementation of NREGA and other government schemes and natural resource management activities. The VCA  documented several instances of human rights violations in the fight against Maoists and Salwa Judum and was also involved in highlighting the complicity of the state administration in several cases of extra-judicial killings – including the Singaram massacre on January 8, 2009.

Ramachandra Guha is a well known Historian , Sociologist and Columnist. His research interests includes environmental, social, history of independent India and cricket history. He is the author of well known books such as The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya (University of California, Berkeley press; Oxford University Press (OUP), This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India (OUP) (with Madhav Gadgil, 1992), Ecology and Equity (with Madhav Gadgil, 1995) (Penguin), Savaging the Civilized— Verrier Elwin, his tribals and India (University of Chicago Press; OUP)(1999), Nature, Culture, Imperialism: Essays on the Environmental History of South Asia (with David Arnold).  His books on India after Gandhi and  A Corner of Foreign Field have been extremely popular. He holds a Ph.D in sociology from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and a masters in Economics from Delhi School of Economics.

Sudeep Chakravati is an Author, Journalist, Professional futurist and Syndicated columnist. He is the author of the extremely popular book on present day Maoist movement called “Red Sun: Travels in the Naxalite country” (Penguin India)(2008). He previously worked with Asian Wall Street Journal, Sunday Magazine and India Today. He held variety of positions with India Today Group as Business Editor, Senior Editor and Executive Editor. He also served as a consultant editor for Hindustan Times and is a visiting faculty at Manipal Institute of Communications , where he is the member of Board of Studies. He holds a Bachelors in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.

9th November
Talks by Mr. Himanshu Kumar at IIM Bangalore and Department of Political Science, Bangalore University.


Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Pl browse

90 users have liked.


shall try to attend from Mysore.  Also please browse dated 4-11-09 - question floated : Should India use army against Maoists?

vasanth mysoremath

pathykv's picture

Seminar on Maoists

106 users have liked.

Please give the venue details.


murali772's picture

Isn't this the way to go?

85 users have liked.

Some two weeks back, the Union Home Minister, Sri P Chidamabaram, during a discussion on NDTV, accused civil society members of extending overt and covert support to Maoists, and suggested that the state may have to start criminal proceedings against them. In response, Mr A K Agarawal, whose PIL was partly responsible for blocking the Cogentrix project in Mangalore, over a decade back, wrote the following open letter to PC (which a member posted on the HU y-group). While certainly not sympathising with the violent ways of the Maoists (which is also what the other civil society members are also at pains to state), I thought, the letter brought out the crux of the problem. I have not quite been able to comprehend how or why people like PC, Arun Jaitley, Ratan Tata (check this), who otherwise appear to be a very rational lot, can't see things this way. Or, I am missing something. A bit long; but, worth a read.

Dear Shri Chidambaram,

This is in response to your repeated taunts on NDTV that the civil society must respond to the wanton killing by the Naxals. It appears that the interview was tailor made for getting the consent of the Cabinet for more firepower and airpower to combat the Maoist. The diabolic support of  Arun Jaitly, be it by  describing you an injured martyr, was designed to achieve his ambition through the support of the mining barons of the BJP ruled states.

As a member of society I hope I am being civil in disagreeing with you on your hard line approach against the innocent tribal,. I also hope you will not find it too shocking for being accused of being largely responsible for the rise and growth of Naxalism, as the following happened on your watch as Finance minister.

Is it not true that  Naxalism  grew exponentially in the last ten years  to become the present menace ? In fact you have yourself identified the time frame of the last ten years in your interview with NDTV.

Is it not true that the rise in popularity of Naxalism is also coincidental with the rise in iron ore mining profits which increased from around Rs50 per tonne to over Rs5000 per tonne in the last ten years?

Is it not true that the map of Naxalism is also the map of the Indian Minerals. These minerals belong to the people of India but have been handed over to mining barons and corporate in a relationship of mutual benefit, more appropriately described as crony capitalism. It is for this reason that Arun Jaitly is your staunchest supporter because the fate of four state government ruled by BJP is dependent on the money from the mining mafia..

Is it not true that during your watch as Finance Minister for four and half years, corporate raked in a profit of over two lac crores through legal and illegal mining, mostly in the iron ore sector? How was this profit shared?

Is it not true that during your entire tenure as FM the royalty on iron ore was not revised and remained at a ridiculous  Rs 7 to 27/ tonne ( depending on the type and grade of iron ore)  with the average of around Rs 15 per tonne.. This royalty was neither made ad valorem nor was it revised from year 2000 onwards when the international price of iron ore rose to dizzy levels.

Is it not true that the minerals are owned by the people of the State? Is a meager 0.5 % royalty on iron ore profits adequate compensation to the owner of the resources? Would you sell your one crore property for Rs 50,000?

Did you fulfill the oath that you took as a Minister to abide by the Constitution, in particular Article 39 (b) and (c) of the constitution which directs the government to use natural resources owned by the people of the country  are used to subserve the common good?

Would the Naxal problem have been there if 25% of the mining profit was spent on the poor and the tribal living in the mining area and whose life was uprooted by the greedy corporate/mining mafia with active connivance of the law enforcers and policy makers ?

What prevented the government from nationalizing the iron ore mine industry and handing it over to a PSU or NMDC whose shares of Re1/- was lapped at a premium of Rs300 (30000% premium) and using the profit for benefit of the people?

Are you aware that even a resource rich and affluent country like Australia with a low population base is imposing an additional 40% windfall tax on the mining profits? Can a poor country like India afford to forgo these windfall profits?

Will you reveal as to how many times you have defended public interest through PIL and how many times you have defended corporate interest during your professional career as a lawyer? The question is relevant because of your empathy for the corporate sector is in apparent conflict with that towards the toiling masses.

Is it wrong for the civil society to conclude that both as Home Minister and Finance Minister you have been protecting the corporate profiteers (by first allowing them to loot the mineral wealth belonging to the people and now securing these mines for them) and not protecting the interest of the poor and tribal people who are victims of corporate greed and crony capitalism of the political parties? You in particular should have known better having been a Director of Vedanta Resources!

In your appearance on NDTV you talked about the two prong approach and one of them having been weakened. It is the prong of development which has been weakened and is non existent. The royalty collected is not sufficient to pay for the various types of direct damages done by the mining industry (health, environment, water, roads, rehabilitation etc) let alone the cost of security forces.

Is it not true that the killing of innocent security forces and tribal is the direct result of the policy of securing the mineral wealth for the corporate profiteers and political parties who share the loot?

It was shocking  to know that you were more concerned about your CV falling short by a few months of completing five years as Finance Minister when you met your maker (refer the NDTV interview) than about the blood of the innocent that has been spilled on both sides as a consequence of corporate profiteering.

It is not surprising that all the State governments which get reelected on the money of the mining mafia are interested in using air cover to make mining safe and profitable ever after. You should know better the role of money in elections after having managed to squeak past the post while the DMK MPs romped home with handsome margin. Mr Raja retained his portfolio!.

What is at stake is the credibility of the State : that it is using force to benefit the mining mafia and that it has a vested interest in the profiteering of the mining mafia which is prospering because of crony capitalism.

To restore its credibility the Government should resume all the mines which in any case belong to the people and give a solemn pledge that a minimum of 25% of the mining profits will be used for the benefit of the local people. The solution is not only just but one mandated by the Constitution. It is only after restoring its credibility that the State will have the right to act. That one hopes, will not be necessary because honest development based on the resources belonging to the people is the best contraceptive against the Maoist ideology (One is happy to note that according to newspaper report the Mining Minister has made a similar proposal and not surprisingly facing resistence)

What happened Mr Chidambaram, you used to be a nice guy? You resigned over the Fairgrowth affair when you were not even guilty.

Life is not about arguing a brief in Court for money. It is about arguing for what is right. You have wrongly accused us  being “clever nor being devious “ (refer interview with NDTV), because we are not capable of it. We cannot argue the way you do. Your arguments in Parliament over the oil for food programme while shielding Reliance from being referred to the Pathak Committee were indeed “brilliant.”  Were you being clever or devious in your arguments (Refer the book Reliance the Real Natwar written by the undersigned for deciding the issue)? Please do not use the civil society as an excuse for your omissions and commissions. We have no vested interest except that what belongs to the people should go to the people and that innocents, whether the security forces or the people forced to join the Maoist, should not die for corporate profits. We are not powerful to tie the State governments with legal cases on police excesses. Those trying to uphold human right violations do so at considerable risk to their life and liberty and deserve our respect and not condemnation as misguided romantics.

On a personal note Sir, Will you resign and argue my PIL before the High Court involving three lac crores of iron ore being gifted by the State to Posco and Arcelormittal (as Palkhivala did to argue the Minerva Mill case). It will be difficult to lose the case because law, facts and most important you will be on the same side.  

If you agree to do so, Sir, I am sure He will give you far more credit than He would for the extra six months that you missed out as Finance Minister! In case you are interested, I will send you a copy of the petition.

Looking forward to hearing from you. For far too long you have been shifting the blame on the civil society. We too need answers..

With warm regards

A K Agrawal

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Excellent Read

99 users have liked.

Thanks Mr Murali - this made extremely good reading.

In fact, I was also symapthizing the maoists despite their aggressive stance since they were at least fighting for something just & of serious concern - & the stupid politicians can't ever see, even the likes of our home minister.

silkboard's picture

Excellent note

86 users have liked.

Poses questions, with defendable facts and not just rhetoric (Iron ore mining, naxal problem correlation), and talks about a possible remedy (25% windfall tax on mining) along with an example (Australia, 40%).

Educates as well as provokes, hats off to you Mr Agarwal, that was a well written note.

murali772's picture

Can we stick to a barren philosophy of touch-me-not-ism?

87 users have liked.

Vedanta will make profits. Why not, if honestly earned and suitably taxed, if a good employer, and a dynamic corporate citizen acting as a development trigger with a commendable record of CSR. A tall order? Maybe. But should this not be the goal rather than adherence to a barren philosophy of touch-me-not-ism?

For the full article by Mr B G Verghese, which appeared in the New Indian Express, click here

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