Except for the People's Militia
Prasanna Mohanty | March 6, 2010
The Maoists now claim to have developed an “alternative development model”. If you remember, while dubbing the
Maoists as the biggest internal security threat since 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also been taunting the rebels and their civil society sympathisers by saying that they didn’t have an alternative vision or development plan. More than four years later, these sympathisers have come out with their alternative model and circulated it at a press conference in New Delhi on March 5.
The note, titled “What the State Wants to Destroy is the Alternate Development Model”, is unsigned but carries names of 38 ideologues and intellectuals. Most of them are unknown and hail from Sangrur, Patiala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Taran Taran, Sirsa and Bhatinda. One or two are from DU sand JNU. The alternative model they talk of has been developed in the Dandakaranya, the forest spreading through Chattisgarh's Bastar into border districts of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. This is where the rebels run their Janatana Sarkars.
This is how the model is prefaced: “It will give us a glimpse of what the Maoists hold as a vision for the progress and development of our country—development which is indigenously and self-reliantly built, one which is people-oriented and is constructed in the course of the people’s democratic participation, and the one which cares for this land and its resources. ….such development will free us from the stranglehold of imperialist capital and its dictates….a course of action which can only be executed by the truly patriotic.”
What are the key points of this model? The note says lakhs of acres of land has been distributed among the peasants; women have been given rights over land; developed agriculture from the primitive form of shifting cultivation to settled farming; introduced wide range of vegetables like carrots, radish, brinjal, bitter gourd, okra, tomato
etc; planted orchards of bananas, mangoes, guavas etc; have built dams, ponds, water channels for breeding fish and for irrigation; dug wells for safe drinking water and set up rice mills.
Other elements include, running schools and hospitals, publishing books and magazines in Gondi language, providing
remunerative prices for Tendu leaves, bamboo, timber and other forest produce; establishing People’s Court to settle disputes; stopping sexual harassment and rape; and building up People’s Militia for defence in almost every village.
But hey, what the heck, every NGO worth its name has been doing all these! What is new in this list? Or innovative? Or alternative?
Besides, check out with the ministries of rural development, social welfare, tribal welfare, panchayati raj or agriculture, all these ministries run these schemes! Yes, their implementation sucks and corruption rules, but the point is, the model exists.
The only thing new with the Maoists' alternative model then is the People's Militia and that raises a simple question: In these model villages where everything is run for the people, by the people and of the people (there you go again, isn't that what the rest of us call democracy?) who is the People's Militia protecting from whom?
And how many villages have been blessed by this alternative model given that the Maoists control 40,000 square kilometers as Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told a parliamentary panel last September? The Maoists' note does not tell us that. And since none can enter the area under Maoist influence without their express clearance and escort, we have only their word for proof. Too bad if you can't believe them, your problem.
At the said press meet Arundhati Roy openly admitted: "Yes, I am a Maoist sympathiser.” She also said the battle between the government and the Maoists is a clash of two “imaginations” and wondered how talks would help because they had no meeting ground. Is this “alternative development model” a third “imagination”?
The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World By Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan HarperCollins / 284 pages / Rs 599 Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist and public intellectual, has often spoken of &ls
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