July 04, 2010

Barely left the 15th

The Atlantic carries a fascinating and encouraging story about one man's plan to bring news to tribal areas of India (Bringing News to India's Poorest People). His tool? Naturally, the cellphone: "The internet, cable television and newspapers reach only a fraction of the 80 million [tribal population] but about half the population now has access to mobile phones."

(Note that "half" is also about the fraction of India's population as a whole that has access to mobile phones).

It's an experiment that I hope will succeed. But here are a couple of observations in the article that might give you something to think about:

* "A principal cause of the [Maoist] unrest is that the tribal people remain largely outside the mainstream of India's rapidly developing media."

* "Among [such tribals] who can only speak a regional dialect and who are unable to participate in the country's broader political debates, the local Maoist influence is particularly strong."

* "The ubiquitous cell phone could bring news with incalculable benefit to people who … have barely left the fifteenth century in so many other ways."

The point: Whether we like it or not, Maoists have a lot of support across the middle of the country. And there are reasons for that support.


Jai_C said...

I had wondered why, along with train stations and school buildings, cell phone towers were also targeted by Naxals (train stations bring in their 'enemy' and school buildings house them so that was sort-of understandable but the cops dont depend on cellphones to communicate).

Maybe this is part of the answer.


Anonymous said...


it is not maoists who have support. it is the poor tribals. surely, you know the difference?

i don't know a single person who doesn't sympathize with the plight of tribals weighed down by lack of governance, justice, economic opportunities. i know hardly anybody who sympathizes with maoists - bunch of crazy morons. what virtues did 'Mao' have? name one.

Anonymous said...

dilipsaab, do you contest this entry in wikipedia on Mao? is it a coincidence that happens again and again that Maoists are again and again associated with mass murders everywhere they are? Maoism is the cure that is far far worse than the ailment. do you disagree with me?



Conversely, Mao's social-political programs, such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, are blamed for costing millions of lives, causing severe famine and damage to the culture, society and economy of China. Mao's policies and political purges from 1949 to 1976 are widely believed to have caused the deaths of between 50 to 70 million people.

Jace said...

I was fortunate to meet Shubhranshu Choudhary this April. He has suffered persecution for the groups he supports, but as far as I can tell, mass murderers are not among them. Shu's viewpoints are far too nuanced for simple classification.