Saturday, October 10, 2009

Who's afraid of the Naxals, huh??

All hail!! India has found a new enemy – and it isn’t our neighbour - it is us!! The latest hate word is ‘Naxal’, and it is almost amusing to monitor how frequently it pops up and how obsessed the media is with this new menace. Night after night, we find Arnab and others getting apoplectic over the newest, most horrific murder committed by the ‘Naxals’. Now the Naxal has a face – Kobad Ghandy’s. We now exactly what the enemy looks like. And horror of horrors, he looks like us! I mean… Kobad?? Aapro Kobad?? A well brought up, well heeled Parsee gentleman, who should be listening to operatic areas in a book- lined den pulling gently on a pipe? What the hell is he doing with those junglees in that jungle… you now…. those tribals? It is impossible to reconcile the visual of this effete-looking person, who claims to be a writer (hello, that is a factoid we can handle), but now stands accused of the most heinous crimes against the state. How could someone like Kobad get mixed up with something like this?? Cherchez la femme. Of course, it had to be a woman. Kobad’s late wife is the one the media is nailing as the instigator who pushed the Mumbai man into a life on the run. A dangerous and terrible life that has led to the grisly murders of innocents. What an extraordinary story… and so unbelievable.
Such is the power of stereotyping, that we refuse to accept ‘someone like Kobad’ could get mixed up with a movement that is threatening to cause mayhem in gigantic swathes of our country. Idealogy of this nature is something one associates with hard core unshaven leftists, carrying jholas, dressed in shabby kurtas and scurrying around shanty towns causing trouble. Kobad does not fit into this grid. Kobad belongs to the elite world of Willingdon Club types - the burra saabs who drink beer on Sunday afternoons, after a leisurely round of golf. Kobad and Naxals?? Baap re baap. What next? The reason why this bizarre story has captured the imagination of the mediawallas is because of these crazy contradictions. Parsee revolutionaries are somewhat rare. I have never come across a Parsee who would walk away from a life of refinement and comfort in Mumbai, and devote long years to working for the upliftment of desperately poor, disenfranchised tribals. As the Kobad story unfolds, more and more information is emerging that is adding to the mystery. The nugget revealed his extensive travels in five countries. This piece of ‘breaking news’ emerged in the wake of the Red Ultras’ beheading Francis Induwar, the Jharkhand police officer, “ Taliban-style”( making me wonder whether the Taliban killers have a patent on this ‘style’ of butchering victims).

Police spokesmen are calling Induwar’s murder a revenge killing linked to Kobad’s arrest. Across channels, the clips of the cop’s young son making a heart- rending call to his younger brother’s school teacher, informing the person about his ‘pappa’s’ death have been played over and over again. Juxtapose that with the clips of a calm and composed Kobad in police custody, and it is easy to whip up public outrage. But towards what end??
For all we know there are several other Kobads hiding in our midst. Your neighbour could be a Kobad. Or the guy you have a drink with at your favourite watering hole. Your tennis companion maybe Kobad’s best buddy. So could the mild- mannered librarian you discuss Tagore’s poetry with. There are Kobads everywhere, if one is to go by the present hysteria. And they have just one agenda – to destroy India. The scariest part of the Kobad phenomenon is that one can be so easily fooled…. so effortlessly misled. Our conditioning prevents us from looking beyond the obvious … we have a readymade picture of what a terrorist is supposed to look like( thank you, Bollywood\Hollywood!). So…. How does one crack the façade? Look beyond the mask? Bewildered by the Naxal war that is being waged against the state, we don’t now how to react. We can understand the threat Pakistan represents. We can gear ourselves ( albeit, clumsily), to handle the Chinese intrusions, we can deal with the LTTE, and pretend we are winning the separatist war in Kashmir. We delude ourselves that we have the 26\11 terrorists on the run because we have Qasab in jail. But what we have consistently failed to acknowledge is the seething unrest that has been gathering force right under our noses for so many years in the form of the Naxals in our midst. Kobad did not suddenly spring up out of nowhere. Had we bothered to notice him ( and people like him) earlier, our ‘haalat’ would not have been this bad. By refusing to acknowledge there was a problem and that mega trouble was brewing, we allowed a mouse to grow into a monster. For decades, those who have had to deal with Naxal uprisings, have warned authorities about the potential danger of ignoring their presence. We shut our eyes, buried our heads in sand, and hoped they’d go away. But,guess what? They didn’t!And today, they are in our backyard, and we don’t now what to do….. either, with them or ourselves.
This is exactly what Kobad and his comrades have been counting on. By patiently waiting for the somnolent State to finally wake up and take heed, the Naxals have won part of the battle. They have consolidated their presence in several states, and made significant inroads into the heart of the political process. We can ill- afford to wish them away… marginalize them. Experts tell us more than one- fifth of India is under Naxal control. Perhaps, they exaggerate.But only a bit…Kobad is one hell of a foxy dude. He ain’t singing. That leaves us with P. Chidambaram thundering away on television, warning the Naxals to lay down arms or face war. “ As long as the CPI(Maoists) belives in armed liberation struggle, we have no option but to ask security forces to engage them. Yeah, right on, bro. A bit late in the day to be issuing this dhamki. But, koi baat nahi. Listening to all these warnings, Naxal bosses in China must be giggling away in glee. Perhaps, this Diwali will see Indian skies lighting up with Chinese crackers.


Eerie and creepy that this appeared on the day 17 more people were chopped up by the Naxals. Creepy that Barrack Obama was given the Nobel for Peace when the world is being ripped apart and he hasn't really earned the honour. I was watching the news in my hotel and shuddering at the irony of it all - Rawalpindi under attack, most pockets of the troubled world reeling from ghastly, insane violence. And here I am in Goa, critically looking at the 5 remaining contestants as they gamely go through some really tough 'tasks' Milind and I assign them - this evening we dunked them into a bathtub filled with blocks of ice and asked them to 'emote' 5 expressions for the cameras. Are we heartless??


My daughter Anandita is with me in Goa, so my mood's up! We managed to sneak out during lunch hour to devour the best masala crab on earth at Martin's Corner. Once there, we couldn't stop at the crab, and ordered half the menu - rawa-encrusted King Fish, dried chilly beef, and of course, Goa prawn curry rice. This is what I call serious pigging out.

Now.... it's back to work. Last night we shot till 2. 30 a.m and the crew rejoiced!! Watch this space for tonight's report!


kala said...

Naxalism or any movement has some idealistic roots. But then it tends to become the system it supposedly hates. Oppressive, ruthless and undemocratic. The hapless villagers and tribals have hobson's choice. Kobad may be educated genteel parsee attracted to naxalism. But that does not make it holy. And there was one published news in one of Chinese media that the aim of China is to break up India and thus naxalites have become one of the routes to achieve that aim.Exploit discontent. Prevent all the measures which will reduce that discontent so that the external forces along with the internal forces can weaken India is the motto of our enemies.

As for Pakistan and its terror experiences. Well, it may be a stage managed affair by Pakistan and USA to give more aid and arms to Pakistan to counter India.

Barack Obama's undeserved Nobel honour has not done good to the credibility of the honchos at Sweden.
Maenwhile enjoy your crab and rice goan style. The show must go on.

Jean-Pierre said...

1) I don't know why Obama's Nobel would be "creepy" (Shobhaa De) or "undeserved" (kala). Listen again to John Lennon's Imagine to un-creep Obama's Nobel. :-)

2) Sad to hear about the "beheadings" by Naxals. They are not the "romantic" revolutionaries we used to associate with Marxist guerrillas in Africa: Che Guevara, who even went to my country, the Congo, in 1965 to help bring down the Mobutu regime. Then again, in Africa, our guerrillas have turned into bandits, thieves, and rapists. We now talk there of sexual terrorism--women's bodies as the site of men's senseless war of loots and pillages!
By beheading their "prisoners," Naxals have joined the hall-of-infamy of these African bandits. For I don't see Che Guevara beheading a captured enemy... That's why I found it insulting that one blog purporting to be of the Naxalite Maoist India has illustrated one of its posts entitled Denial of Death with a picture of Che Guevara, a revolutionary qua picaresque saint... And, btw, the latest entry of that blog claim that E-trail led to Kobab Ghanhi's capture... (Commandante Marcos, where art thou?)...
And re-btw, why don't India arm the Uighurs the same way China is arming Naxals?

Another Kiran In NYC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Another Kiran In NYC said...

When we forget our own disenfranchised, it follows that one day we will lose our own ability to vote in freedom.

The Naxals ideology is a living breathing and now fearsome symptom of our neglect of "the greatest good for all".

ms said...

mz de, what aplomb! you sail from naxals to fried fish with such equanimity! the cringe that happens with your first sentence is miraculously gone by the time we reach the end of the post. this is exactly what happens when we see the news - the anchor reports the deaths and beheading, quick shots of grieving relatives/orphaned kids with a barely restrained giggle and then goes on to some happier thoughts. the tragedy becomes a flashing newsflash at the lower end of the screen, while item numbers, bigg boss footage and ads take over the main screen space. once i even saw a breaking news screaming about the 18 deaths, and the anchors giggling over the antics of mrs sawant. i am so proud. well, mz de, it is time you did something about these grinning marionettes - please convey to the powers that be how inappropriate their attitude is.
ps: i love the flavour of "some of my best friends are parsees" in your writing about kobad.

numerounity said...

Hmmmm From the national hero, Obama has suddenly become an anti hero. After all what was so noble about his 15 days in office that got him NOble? Mr Alfred nobel will be shrugging miserably in his grave...Here goes another prestigious award in drain!

तरुण गुप्ता said...

आपका ये आर्टिकल कल the asian age में पढ़ा और साथ में आपका लिखने का clear cut वाला अंदाज़ जिसमे आप हिंदी के शब्दों को रोमन में लिखतीं है मन को बहुत भाया.
आज जहां हम(हमारे राजनेता) बाहर की समस्याओं की तरफ मुँह किये खड़े है आपने घर की समस्या पर लिखा. अच्छा लगा. लिखती रहिये
आपका लेखन काबिले-गौर है ..

क्या ये कहने की गुंजाइश अभी बाकी है ?

Sameer said...

I am not a foodie but my partner is. After reading your posts, I am telling him that in our next india trip we must visit Goa and go to these cool places you mention. :) Goa prawn curry rice sounds mast. (It's a marathi mast as in khupach chhan). You inspire me to do fusion of marathi and english :) enjoy yourself in Goa and with Milind :) I am so envy of you - you get to be with Milind Soman and Dino Morea. Share some snaps na :)

Sidhusaaheb said...

As I switch between international channels like BBC World News or CNN (even though I would rate BBC World News a bit higher than CNN) and Indian news-channels in the English language like NDTV 24x7 or Times Now, the difference is highly discernible, especially in terms of professionalism.

The Indian channels, it often appears to me, could very well have been run by people who have no formal training in the field of journalism. I wonder whether they teach the so-called television journalists anything at all at the Mass Communication institutes that they get their degrees from.

As for Naxalism, perhaps it might actually have been noticed before if it had a religion- or Pakistan-angle.

Terrorism is fuelled by a sense of injustice, whether real or perceived, I believe. So, unless the root-causes are addressed, it is likely to continue, irrespective of the quantum of force used as a part of attempts aimed at its suppression.

tadepalliprasad said...

Both the Govt & naxals are akin to two persons fighting in a pitch dark room not able to see the face of the other. leave alone Aam-admi ,it's not very clear whether the parties concerned understand each other's agenda and what exactly they are fighting for?if the objective is the same,welfare of the poor & down trodden , then where is the scope for bloodshed?obviously, in the means!Ironically,this is the land of BAPU who said that "it's not only the end but he means are equally important"!

Anonymous said...

Shobha should get Nobel Peace Prize 2010...for tis excellent pience on Naxalism and explaining us that 'Peace starts at home'

boomshak said...

Shoba De. I can reset my expectations from your writing after reading this 'frank' admission of state of affairs. Brackets and asides. Guess when you have a name to back you up, anything goes.

Pathetic. Sad.

*Aham* said...

taliban ka bhai Naxal. wonder how many other people will be doing their nakkal. Some lead by example and some bleed as a specimen sample.

i wonder if we have actually opened our eyes to the very threats. Thank that we have Chiddu to take a tough stand. The offensive has to stop. And you cant win a gandhy with brand values of Gandhi.

India will be a new pakistan if this naxal threat is not tackled.

yes, Our conditioning stops us from looking at anything thats not obvious. thats why we are, such a reactive nation and not a proactive nation.

some intution tells me, that chidambharam will tackle it prudently and smartly.


Obama ka prize. i also have a nomination.

I toh want param poojya Rakhiji to get a Noble Nobel prize, she is sunder susheel and abla...


bathtub with ice. Hailaa... really! Milind and You are so sadistic. They would never ever say "Sun Yaar Chill Maar" to their pals.


2:30 am.. waah... raat raani you are, like me. But i guess the crew will be really happy to have you around. How often do they meet a down-to-earth celeb judge?? Most of them float in the air... oblivious to the efforts and pain that technicians go through.

Mast Che, my blogdost de.

kala said...

There was a time when every idealist wanted to become a naxalite or atleast support them. But naxalism degenerated into an orgy of violence like the LTTE. The leaders did not want the villagers get some decent education or jobs because of the fear of losing them. A vested interest in keeping them the eternal ignoramuses was and is prevalent then and now.Meanwhile the sensible idealists have seen through their game and distanced themselves from these blood thirsty people. Just recall the horrors of the french revolution where so called enemies of revolution were killed indiscriminately which was nothing less than holocaust. The nexus between LTTE, Naxals, Veerappan and other extremist groups is well known. The governments never tried to redress the genuine grievances and thus they gave birth to this present day monsters. And now didi, like all politicians wants to use them to deseat the marxists and the marxists themselves fear backlash from China if they try too hard.

pooja raathore said...

Naxals are real threat to our country if not checked we will pay a good price as you have put it in your book Superstar ignore them at your own peril.

mahatru said...

All are a big threat Naxals, Pak,Afghanistan, US policies, All Qaida, etc...... donno why sab log India ke hhee piche kyun pade hain....

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NAT said...

Shobha we are our worst enemy. What with being so used to brushing everthing under the carpet:
1. Corruption
2. Police atrocities, corruption. (even a senior woman citizen needs to give the rogues Rs. 1,500/ to address her issues)
3. Corrupt Custom Officers, who let off RDX consinments, and say that they thought they were Silver & Gold being smuggled.....
4. If one has money, power and connection, he get get scott free from even murder, forget hurting his neighbour.
There are 100's of issues,(which is no secret, and known to each and every Indian) which we should first tackle, and everything will fall in line.
Someone out there should have THE WILL TO BELL THE CAT.
One's house can be an easy target, if there is an insider who is unhappy....


sanjuayyar said...

So, after martin's corner, where next? Don't tell me Brittos!

Riaz-NJ said...

Europe is in LOVE with Obama; for the same reason, conservatives here like Limbaugh, Beck etc., in the US, hate Obama !!! The very fact that he stood on a platform of diplomacy (like will open talks with Iran and Cuba) and won the elections is a BIG achievement. That was the prize he won before Nobel Prize. The fact that he decided to deliver a speech to Muslim world (not from DC but from Egypt), which he delivered... Oh, I forgot about missile defense and nuclear weapon reduction, of course Black n White BEER with a police officer in WH... all worked in his favor...what else do you expect a leader to do... ???!!! Gimme a break.. He deserves it!!!

maha said...

nice posting....

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