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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Violence by State-Lessons to be Learnt

Comments by Arundathi Roy have always annoyed the Indian government,her latest one on Kashmir is only an addition to it! I have listened to her and Gautam Navlakha on the issue of "Violence by State". I appreciated their views which strongly opposed the use of violence by the government in many parts of the country and criticised the apathy shown by government towards a large section of its people over the years. But, i start sensing cynicism in their words when they get extreme with their criticism of the Indian government. I start suspecting their belief in democracy. Its ironical, these people speak against the only system which gives them freedom to speak! How can a person speak of peace and secession at a time and still be considered logical?

I ,personally, also do not support the use of violence by state against its own people. But unfortunately, also, find no other way out in situations like Maoist violence, North East India and Kashmir insurgency.The government was left with no choice other than to use force. Use of force leads to mistrust among the people in the government agencies which makes the condition prone to speculation. Speculation and Mistrust lead to misery and loss of human life. This can be brought under control by strong political will and government action. This is a proven fact, we have examples like Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and many parts of North East India. Thus, there are ways out of such situations.

My point is a little different. I feel, we should look at these issues from the point of view of the lessons that they teach to India as a nation. If we look at Naxalism,Maoism,NE insurgency we can see that the root cause of these problems is negligence by the government on the economic front. Our development plans were not comprehensively covering the country and were focused on some parts of the country. We have realised the problem and, hence, find development as a default agenda in the manifesto of all political parties. Although, implementation of the plans is debatable,but,that then becomes a political matter and encourages us to participate in the political process to set our system in order. In any case, the learning is very good. We as a nation have learnt that we cannot develop by focusing on some sections/regions of the society/country. We need to take all the people along with us. I hope,we soon see the implementation also!

Now,let us consider the Kashmir case. The only reason,i find for insurgency in Kashmir is religious. We,as a nation,believe in the concept of secularism(at least by the constitution). If India agrees to secession of Kashmir from the union, what lesson does it teach to our coming generations? I feel that they would be:-

1) India respects the views and aspirations of various communities.

2)Muslims do not consider themselves to be Indians. As and when Muslims get majority status in any state, they will break India.

I will be happy with the first lesson,but,will never like India to learn the second lesson. We have seen it once during Partition in 1947 and are trying to forget it as a nightmare. But, problems like Kashmir forcibly remind us of that time.

These are my personal views and would appreciate your comments on it!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Third World War

It is a common practice in most of the Middle Class Indian house holds to employ maids and servants to help them in their regular house hold chores. Some people who come in the upper middle class and rich class bracket also employ drivers and assistants to help in day to day activities other than daily house hold chores. Rich people all over the world are known for their lavish life styles and the number of servants and assistants employed by a person can be considered as parameter for judging a person's richness! It is not possible for the middle class in the most of the rich nations to employ maids and servants,because the middle class there cannot afford them.

Similar is the case with industries, here labourers work to produce goods and services. Such huge is the supply of unskilled labour in India that they cannot demand a price for their services. Thus, the government had to fix a minimum wage rate. This does not happen in case of highly skilled labour which has demand in the market and can demand wage on their own terms. These skilled labour have been beneficiaries of the growth and development in the country and now, have themselves become employers. These people form the majority of the "Middle Class".

If we closely look at the above scenario we can see that, in a way, it is the poor who subsidise the luxury of the rich and being poor or rich are purely relative concepts. Had there not been poor people in India, the middle class would not have had the luxury of employing people for their daily chores. This can also be observed from the world history, rich have always exploited the poor for their luxuries. How did Europe become rich? They exploited their colonies to the extreme. US also does it in a limited way, as is observed in its Middle East policy. In India, at present, the exploitation is within the country. Slowly, as Indians start getting richer, India might have to explore options outside in order to meet its internal demand for resources(both human and energy). Thus, India will invest outside and that would be an economic decision.

Let us look at this from one more perspective. Human thought has also developed with all this economic growth. In India, at least as per the law, employing someone to clean Human Excreta is prohibited. Thus, we can see at least some kind of Human Development. This kind of development is supported by "Technology". Technology, in many cases, has been very useful in substituting the use of poor people as servants to rich people. This can be observed from our day to day life activities. We no more exploit animals and humans to travel, instead we use machine driven vehicles. Our dependence on servants at our homes has also reduced by machines like vacuum cleaners, washing machines etc or by the availability of ready to cook food.Thus, i believe that technology is a big factor in trying to ensure equality to people.

Thus, from the above explanation we see only two means for development. Exploit the poor or develop technology! There is no other way to ensure a person's luxury. Also, we can observe that poverty is relative. In India, factor for determining the poverty of a person is his nutrition intake whereas in a rich nation could be nutrition along with basic amenities of life. Thus, i believe that the standard of poor will improve with time,but, they will still remain poor compared to the rich and will always aspire to achieve what the rich have. Many of these poor will also be against the lifestyle of the rich and of the means employed by the rich to accumulate wealth. Because, as discussed earlier about food and air security, issues of conflict might be different then. I personally believe that all this will be centered around use of natural resources. In any case, these relatively poor people will be subsidising the luxury of the rich what ever may be the technological development.

Also, there will remain some poor as well as rich countries. Only, the definition for rich and poor would change. Next generation conflicts, as discussed in the previous blog, could be for water and air rights! In any case, conflicts between the rich and poor will remain.Let us consider the other possible option which most people would discard by calling it as "Utopian".Here all people become rich.Such becomes the world that there are no rich or poor, almost all people come in a specific "bandwidth of richness" and their luxuries are supported by technology. We have robots instead of humans serving people. This might seem to be a very happy state and we might see no reason for conflict in such a scenario.But, technology requires energy and natural resources.Do we have the resources to support such technological luxury? We might find alternatives for energy,but do we have even have a faint idea about the source of getting extra land, water and air. Hence, we will fight for them. Thus, even in this "Utopian" case there exists a scope for conflict.

Thus, if we are able to appreciate the above analogy, we can understand that we might grow but we might not be able to solve our conflicts. Conflicts for known reasons and because of a known system. I do not say that we will have a conflict free world tomorrow if we solve these conflicts,but, i expect that at least the conflicts will reduce and we will develop an attitude to address conflicts instead of the current attitude of taking extreme stances.

Now that we have understood that conflict will exist, let us look at another aspect, the ferocity of the conflict.  As we have discussed earlier that poverty is a relative concept, the poor of the would be technologically and financially far better off that what they are today. They will even be better equipped in terms of weaponry. Even today, we find America raising hue and cry over the possession of "weapons of mass destruction" by many countries. In the present scenario, imagine of a deadly nuclear attack on America and its effects on global politics!

Thus, if we are so worried about the state of affairs today when the weaker section of the society is not very well equipped and the resource crunch is not as much as is expected to be in the near future. Imagine when it becomes a matter of survival and the person who's existence is at stake is very well equipped to cause substantial damage to the world. How long will we be able to rely on the conscience of the rebel (we see this when Maoist rebels kidnap our policemen) when we ,the main stream people, are killing our conscience every day today?

Thus, if we go on like this, a "third world war" is inevitable! The division for it,this time, would be along economic lines. It will be between the rich and the poor. But, by that time, the poor will be so well equipped that mass destruction would be inevitable.  If today we are not able to manage land disputes,imagine how will we be able to manage water and air disputes? And, all this is set to happen in our life time!

All this will be because of the system that we are following. Mad Capitalism! Although, i personally believe that "Democracy and Capitalism" is the best combination among the systems that we have got in the present times.We also need to look at the extreme negative side of this growth and take necessary corrective action.  Radical changes might not be possible at the moment,but, at least a step towards improvement is necessary! Also, I personally do not have any concrete solutions for this problem.But,am sure, recognising the issue is first step towards resolving it!