September 05, 2010

Lucas Tete

I'll admit: I think the root of our growing problem with Maoists is the years of abysmal governance across the middle of this country (and in fact, by and large, across the whole country); as also the way we have treated our tribals for too long.

But the Maoists' murder of their hostage Assistant Sub-Inspector Lucas Tete is a shameful atrocity, nothing else.

I'm all for talks and negotiations to bring some kind of solution to the crisis we seem to be hurtling towards. But you cannot take hostages and use their lives to demand that other imprisoned people must be freed. There is no negotiating there. Simple.

I mourn you, Lucas Tete.


shailesh gandhi said...

I agree completely. The Nation needs to declare it will not negotiate with criminals who take hostages.
shailesh gandhi

Anonymous said...

d'souza saab, you become a propagandist when you conflate 'maoists' with 'tribals', and use the two interchangeably. both journalistic precision and integrity requires separation of the two. don't you agree?

Jai C said...

In a broad unfocused sort of way, I used to consider Swami Agnivesh one of the "good guys".

Mr.Agnivesh "blasts Nitish for the death of cops" goes this article.

I find myself communication-challenged in conveying my feelings. A dull disappointment, a distaste for this whole thing, a sense of wonder at the polarizing power of whatever he has gotten involved in, a wish for some pullback
( maybe he is at 0.5AR units I wish he could get back to 0.3).

okay i'm making a hash of it.. so will stop now.
*AR =Arundhati Roy.

Dilip D'Souza said...

There is no conflation of maoists with tribals.

I know Swami Agnivesh and I have a great deal of respect for him. He is an exemplary Indian.

It's odd: you condemn Maoists for a "shameful atrocity", and some folks describe that as having "sympathy" for Maoists. Talk about being stupid.

Anonymous said...

btw, i have pointed out your conflation of maoists and tribals to you more than once.

there is nothing specific about maoists. it's the same with drug dealers, street hooligans and all sorts of people with weapons in their hands.

The dude who used many names said...

Did you listen to my recommendation?

Dilip D'Souza said...

"Pointing out" something doesn't conflate to it being a fact. Most especially when it's pointed out by people frightened of their own name.

Many names: I looked at the link. Any number of things to listen to there. Which one in particular?

Jai C said...

Thanks Dilip for your vote of confidence in Mr.Agnivesh. I realize exemplary Indians can differ in their opinions eg.

"...There is no negotiating there. Simple. ..."

and what Mr.Agnivesh seems to endorse.

As usual though I am stuck with not being able to respect both these positions simultaneously.

I respect your stand above. I understand, without quite respecting, where Agnivesh is coming from.

to clarify: If I completely lined with Agnivesh's thinking and respected it, I would be able to understand but not respect, your stand above.

Agnivesh has said many other things that I respect. I will continue to respect future speech /action of Mr.Agnivesh on their individual merit, to the extent they are worthy of respect in my opinion.


The dude who used many names said...

Okay, sorry, I did not realize Apple makes URLs ungainly. Here is the link to the lecture itself:

It's 2007 lecture titled "What is Intelligence".

Suresh said...

I'll admit: I think the root of our growing problem with Maoists is the years of abysmal governance across the middle of this country (and in fact, by and large, across the whole country); as also the way we have treated our tribals for too long.


This is too easy. Why do UP and Rajasthan not have a Naxalite problem? Surely, they are not much better governed than Bihar. Or why does Tamil Nadu, arguably one of India's better governed states, have one in parts of the state?

One of the serious problems in Social Sciences generally is the fact that we cannot do controlled experiments. As a result, it is easy to mistake correlation for causation. Yes, Naxalite areas are also areas where there is misgovernance. It does not follow that misgovernance is the cause.

Consider the fact that many of the Naxalite areas are also those which had the zamindari system of land tenure as opposed to the ryotwari. (This includes West Bengal and Telengana.) Consider the fact that in the tribal areas, the tribals were deprived of property rights in the very areas they lived in. This was done under the British Raj but remained unaddressed; the recent Forest Rights Act is an attempt to to address this problem but the problem is still not resolved as the dispute in Niyamgiri shows. There is quite a bit of evidence showing that land tenure is linked to Naxalism.

At any rate, the causes of Naxalism cannot be simply reduced to governance. Bad governance may be a related cause, no doubt but in my opinion it is not the main one. Focusing on governance will not address the Naxalite problem any more than focusing on governance will address the Kashmir problem.

Chandru K said...

"At any rate, the causes of Naxalism cannot be simply reduced to governance."

Naxalism is an ideology about obtaining power through violence, conducted by a people who feel they are entitled to that power, simply being what they are. If it was simply about governance, then surely by now, we would have heard a visionary expression of superior governance from these groups. Something along the lines of, we desire a government and political system that is more, not less democratic, more not less pluralistic, more not less progressive, more not less tolerant. But everything about the behaviour of the Naxals indicates they are heading in the direction of the Khmer Rouge, and we know what they are all about.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Suresh: As ever, I think good governance (in every sense) is a necessary measure towards solving the Naxal problem; it is not a sufficient measure. Absent governance, we have no hope.

My position in the hold said...


I have a grievance and that is that the government assumes authority (however democratically that was achieved). Now tell me how good governance, even as merely a necessary and not sufficient condition, will placate me.

Anonymous said...

dilipsaab, stout denial in the face of facts is only a symptom of dishonesty.

i don't use my name anywhere on the net. this is for privacy reasons. off the net, i have asked you this sort of questions in person after introducing myself. you always evade the difficult questions, whether in person or on the net.

here is the problem with the maoists. you ask them what they want. they will say something like 'revolution'. they are not interested in good governance. they want to be in charge, with guns in their hands to shoot anybody who gets in their way.

that is why negotiations with maoists are doomed from the start. negotiation is a tactic for them, not the means to a peaceful end.

Anonymous said...

i do not say that governance is not a problem. of course it is a problem. it is *the* problem, but the maoists are a more dangerous remedy than the affliction. 'intellectuals' like dilipsaab are the oxygen of the maoists. it is all fine when these intellectuals exercise their influence to keep the maoists within boundaries, but they frequently don't. the maoists have been committing large scale atrocities without a peep from them.

Dilip D'Souza said...

stout denial in the face of facts is only a symptom of dishonesty.

If you say so. But in that case, please don't deny.

off the net, i have asked you this sort of questions in person after introducing myself. you always evade the difficult questions, whether in person or on the net.

If you think I do, then it baffles me why you waste your time continuing to ask. Not least because your privacy reasons notwithstanding, I'm rarely inclined to answer people who are frightened of their own names.

they are not interested in good governance.

Who said they were?

syllogism did not die with the greeks said...


I don't understand your argument. Are you saying what dilip blabbers here matters in anyway? What or who the fuck is an intellectual? Anyone who spells alright? MS Word must be one then.

Someone wants to overthrow the status quo and that someone has a gun. How does what someone else think matter in that scenario?

syllogism did not die with the greeks said...

dilip, may I request you stop replying to comments? that you are a sad loser comes out even when the argument you make may be correct. just makes the whole situation a trifle silly.

syllogism did not die with the greeks said...

see, this exactly the kind of 'i am right' statement/sentiment that makes you a sad loser. hence my request.

syllogism did not die with the greeks said...

Delete if you must, this your blog.

The point though is what constitutes reasonable discussion. I am reminded of 'The Rambler' -- where one vision was laid out 2 Centuries ago:

But in the modern context, that does sound irrelevant in parts. What is a writer's responsibility towards the one's own writing and therefore by extension to the reader is something the 21st Century and Web 2.0 don't seem to have grappled with well.

Maybe I am wrong -- your own response or my comment must have changed in the last 10 years. Or have they? This is a topic crying out for an essay.

Anonymous said...

this sylogism guy is sounding lot like late lamented sapathan...

Suresh said...


Let me make a couple of points and I'll end. Among others, the economist Arvind Subramanian has observed that the quality of India's institutions is actually better than might be expected for a country with India's GDP per capita. (A significant part of the blame for this must lie with dedicated civil servants like your late father.) It has been deteriorating over time but it is still much better than might be expected. Asking for good governance -- of the standard that many Western countries have -- is asking a lot and I don't that is achievable.

We are not totally helpless, of course. In general, the quality of West Bengal's governance has not been great -- leftist rhetoric notwithstanding -- but one solid achievement which took place early in their tenure was Operation Barga. This was a land reform movement and by many accounts, it has helped the left stay in power in Bengal even though it has failed on many other fronts. (Note for instance that after 33 years in power, the literacy rate in West Bengal is 71.6%, which is 16th from the top and just barely above the all-India rate of 67.6%.)

I still maintain that in focusing on governance, we are on the wrong track. But we don't have to agree: Let us agree to disagree.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Suresh, I'll tell you my problem with such statements of guys like Arvind Subramanian, true as they might be.

When I read that thousands of tons of grain in government warehouses has rotted away, or when I consider the pitiful condition of the roads of this city, or when I look out from my window (as I just did) and see two dozen homeless people on the street corner -- when I do these things, it is really very little consolation to know that we have better institutions or governance than might be expected, or than elsewhere. (Since you mentioned him, this was my father's view too, and thanks for what you say about him).

The areas I visited in Chhatisgarh should have had reasonable access to reasonable healthcare a long time ago, for just one small example.

That they do not is one of many things that drives people there to support Maoists. That they do not is one sign of the years of non-governance I mean.

Getting re-elected said...

Maybe I am mistaken. But if an organization is incapable of storing a large volume of food grain, isn't the answer not to store large volumes of the said grain?

Worse, when such an organization does so not by using up its profits but by using its authority of taxation, isn't it all the more morally reprehensible?
If people are facing death due to hunger, why is it anyone else's responsibility? Compassion and responsibility are two different things and to conflate the two is to mistake intentions with policy.

Suresh said...

Maybe I am mistaken. But if an organization is incapable of storing a large volume of food grain, isn't the answer not to store large volumes of the said grain?

Absolutely correct. The fault, though, is not with the organization doing the storing. Professor Bharat Ramaswami, in a recent Indian Express article observes:

The Supreme Court ordered the Government of India to distribute foodgrain (that would otherwise rot) to the poor, free of cost. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has run out of storage space and so has to store grain without adequate cover from rain and pests.

For all its faults, however, the FCI is the fall guy here. It has no say in determining how much grain is procured and how much of it is distributed. The difference is the amount stored and it varies substantially across seasons and across years. With these constraints, even the smartest MBA in the private sector would get it wrong most of the time: either too little storage or too much of it.

Read the entire article here.

Anonymous said...

"sillyjism did not die with the.."

Like it or not, Dilipsaab is an intellectual and what he says matters -- even to people like you all the more since you visit this blog and continue with your stream of commentary. You are silly and indeed didnt die with the Greeks. May I request you to continue consulting MS Word for advice?

Dilip steps up and says what can be done better. Condemnation alone does nothing, so your losing strategy is definitely inferior.

Anonymous said...

dilipsaab, if using a name is such a big deal for you, why don't you disable the anonymous feature in the comments section of your blog? perhaps it's just my questions that you don't like?

i have asked this sort of questions to you in a room full of people. iirc, you looked very confused and didn't give me any answers.

let's talk about the maoists. do you know what they seek? don't answer yes or no. please elaborate.

Q.1. what do the maoists seek? discuss (5 marks).

Q.2. why are you ashamed to call yourself leftist? (5 marks)

Anonymous said...

Answer 1: (5 marx)

Answer 2: (5 marx)

Labeling someone as a leftist or other name is akin to attaching a hook for hanging unwanted baggage.

Answer 3: (karl marx)
Why are you so paranoid about hanging labels on people? Can't you understand anything otherwise?

Jai_C said...

1. Suresh,
Please do expand on your thinking here (if Dilip doesn't mind of course) or a link to your blog?

I'm only as knowledgeable of economics as I am of much else that DD writes on :-) but this reminded me of Hernando de Soto's talk with Shekhar Gupta. IIRC, their experiment in Peru with land titling considerably reduced their problems with Shining Path guerillas (or at least that was his claim).

2. I hope I am not the only reader that is not comfortable with "poor access to medical care leads to supporting armed maoists". I couldnt understand how this makes the situation better. If I were a medico, I would now be induced to stay farther away from this area.

Do maoists threaten to gun/ bomb reluctant medicos and get them to attend patients? Is there some "kidnap-a-doc" scheme running there that we are not aware of?


Dilip D'Souza said...

I hope I am not the only reader that is not comfortable with "poor access to medical care leads to supporting armed maoists".

Only because I have recent experience there, may I suggest: Please make a trip to rural Chhatisgarh and speak to people who travel up to 200 km for healthcare using unpredictable private transport and have to wait sometimes four days to see a doctor on an OPD basis. Please walk to the nearby Govt PHC and note that it never has doctors attending.

These are just two facets of the whole issue of healthcare in that area, but please go get acquainted with these two. Then ask some of the people you meet what they make of governance there.

That's all I'll say.

syllogism did not die with the greeks said said...

I do not understand why Jai C and Dilip are discussing what they are here. This problem has a non-trivial solution and it was propounded 2000 years ago and forms the basis of the modern political system.

It is called 'The Republic' and someone called Plato wrote[1] it. Read it sometime. You can find the free online version here:

If you cannot add to the base of existing syllogism, I recommend silence. Wittgenstein said it better though.

[1] -- Is it fair to say he wrote it? Should we not say he said it? After all, was this not the person who thought the Alphabet would ruin humans and their ability to think? Is there a modernist play where Plato gets an e-Reader? If not someone should write one soon.

Anonymous said...

dilipsaab, last time i asked you a question in person, you asked me to take a trip to kashmir.

aho, tumhi lokaanaa ikde jaa tikde jaa kaa saangtaa? tumhaalaa phar abhimaan vaatto ka, ki tumhi kashmir la gela, chattisgarh la gela? pan tyaane kunaachaa kaay phaydaa zhaalaa?

maovaadi lokaanchaa aadivaasi lokaana kay phayda hoto? tyaane tyanche aayushya kasa sudhaarta? naahin sudhaarat na? mag tumhi tasa spashta kaa nahin lihit?

-Mandar Kulkarni

Ketan said...

I was told very few doctors in Nepal would stay back to serve their society. One decided to go against the trend. He was nearly killed by Nepali Maoists for treating a policeman.

I would quit my job if I were posted at a PHC in one of the Maoist-affected (infested?) areas.

I'm a coward.

Mandar Kulkarni,

*if* you're Sapathan, I admire your intelligence a lot.

Dilip D'Souza said...

It truly is wonderful to see that guys who go off hammering on something I never said are admired for their "intelligence".

* The PHC I mentioned is NOT in a Maoist-affected area. (Did I say it was?) It is north of Bilaspur, in the north-central part of the state (the Maoist-affected areas are in the south). In any case, you don't need to go to Chhatisgarh to see such a PHC, I have seen ones like that in Orissa, TN, Maharashtra, etc. I mentioned this one only because it's the most recent one I've seen.

* I have not once claimed the Maoists are somehow "benefiting" people, either in areas like where the PHC I mentioned is, or in areas where they are present. (This post itself is about an atrocity committed by them, not what I'd call a benefit). Yet I'm asked repeatedly to explain what benefit the Maoists bring to people (which asking, of course, is hailed as "intelligence").

What I said is simple: there are people who feel that the Indian government has failed them -- for example, in delivering reasonable health care. Such people form, to quote my article about Chhatisgarh that is linked earlier on this page (please read it), "fertile ground for the folks who peddle the seductive message of overthrowing the state and bringing about some new utopia."

I truly believe more of us should visit Chhatisgarh (or, for that matter, Kashmir, or even TN and Maharashtra and Orissa). It tends to open your eyes.

Believe me, you don't need courage to go to areas unaffected by Maoists. I did it.

Rohit Deshpande said...

"mandar kulkarni"?? lol!

This guys pvs coment, hes defending his anonymous state. ("if using a name is such a big deal for you, why don't you disable the anonymous feature in the comments section of your blog?")

sudenly hes signing with a name?? that too "mandar kulkarni"?? thats like a British guy saying his name is "john smith".

kaay re?? pudhe saang.

Jai C said...

Repeating my request. If you have a blog could you provide a link?


I have been to places that are currently in CG and JH before they were CG and JH. I have seen some fair amount of poverty and neglect there and elsewhere too.

Its not on a scale of traveling 100km for medical care, and my travels dont scale upto yours, thats a given.

But I have met (some) people "who feel the Indian state has failed them"(*1). I havent found them to be particularly in favor of a violent revolution or to be fertile ground etc. but I dont really trust my read on people and its not like I developed a close rapport with them where I could be sure of they meant what they say and they could trust me.

I have seen people in dire poverty and occasionally other people on this topic ranted and raved that "they need a revolution". But the actual subjects seemed more stoic and accepting of their lot- a little too much so if you ask me- and I got the feeling there was some "transference" involved, the desire for revolt was being shifted from the person making the statement to the depressed people he was making the statement "on behalf of".

I freely admit I could be biased and "transfering" my desire to not have peace disturbed, onto people who maybe desire a shakeup and are not very finicky about whether blood is shed.

2. Coming to the next part:

If we accept that people are supporting and abetting a violent revolt, does this increase or decrease or not affect my tendency to do something for them?

This is not an easy question to answer. I dont wish to repeat myself from earlier threads(*2), but it is likely, even after a full appreciation of grim situations and drivers, that I will less support the people who resort to this.

Its probably honest to report this as it is, my support be danged.

3. Broken roads was another example you used.

This is an interesting difference in our thinking and one reason I keep reading you, but the first things that came to mind to me, were the maoists mining and blasting roads and railway tracks and stations.

I am unable to dismiss that thought while considering popular support for maoists in areas where people have broken or pathetic roads.

I dont understand Marathi but even in earlier incarnations in English,
I didnt find the awesome intelligence you so appreciate.

Please clarify for lesser mortals :-) so that I too may appreciate.

thank you,
*1 Its actually truer to say I havent met too many people who dont feel that the Indian state has failed them one way or the other. I meet one such guy every day I look in the mirror.

*2 I am referring to a scenario of victims A & B of riots, of which A starts revenge attacks while B slogs it out in court.

mandar kulkarni said...

ketandada, i am not that mandar kulkarni, but i am also highly intelligent.

in gadchiroli also, fear of maoists has chased out several dedicated doctors who have been serving the tribals in the area.

we come back to the same thing again and again. weapons in your hand and no system of accountability can make people go mad with power. normally kay hota, mala raag alaa, ki mee sheevee deto, or do some shouting. but if there is a gun in my hand, i shoot people on the slightest pretext. who will stop me? dilipsaab? oh, dilipsaab is busy with the publicity of his new book.

Rohit Deshpande said...

now hes saying hes not *that* "mandar kulkarni"?? lololol!! who're u fooling, that is apart from urself?

jai jai maharashtra maazha!!

Dilip D'Souza said...

Ketan: intelligence alert above.

Apart from that, I'm giving some of the commenters above (including me) the usual warning: delete your comments that are irrelevant to this post or I will, according to previously stated policy.

When I do it, and which ones I decide are irrelevant and delete, is at my discretion.

Anonymous said...

it is hardly my fault that there is more than one mandar kulkarni on this planet. and i was only joking when i said i was highly intelligent. dilipsaab has trouble understanding earthy humour from the rich soil of maharashtra. dilipsaab should learn some marathi.

i felt like i should make this clarification to safeguard my reputation on the internet since i have disclosed my name. i hope i will not have occasion to regret this act of mine.

dilipsaab, let us end this discussion on a positive note. i don't like your politics, which i find very hypocritical and full of illogic, but i wish you good luck on your new book and your next book also.

kind regards,

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you for your gracious wishes for my book. I appreciate it.

Here's your chance, since you mention positive notes. Without taunts and barbs from either side, please make an attempt to explain to me and whoever else is reading this what is hypocritical and illogical about my politics. I tire of the divide and the insults that are flung across it. So please give it a shot.

I'm pretty fine with Marathi, incidentally. Two evenings ago I even got complimented by two native speakers on how well I speak it.

Suresh said...

These are just two facets of the whole issue of healthcare in that area, but please go get acquainted with these two. Then ask some of the people you meet what they make of governance there.

There is no question about the truth of what you say. While I don't know personally, I do have a cousin who spends part of his time living with the Durva people of Bastar and through him, I get news about lack of health care among many other things.

It is just that the connection to Naxalism is not clear. To see the point, move a little south to Telengana. By all accounts, this is not a poor region; indeed, from the Wikipedia page on Telengana we learn that this region contributes 76% of the state's revenues even though its share of Andhra Pradesh's population is only 41%. Sure, Telenganis do have grievances but then so do most regions in India. Why doesn't Rayalaseema or Coastal Andhra not have similar violent communist movements?

I am not claiming that the government's actions and inactions has not added to the problem in all likelihood it has and unfortunately, this looks set to continue.

To conclude, I am not denying the problems in Chattisgarh. I am well aware of them, even if I've not visited the area. The point that I would like to make is that we should be very careful in drawing connections between different social phenomena.

It *seems* so obvious that deprivation has caused the Naxalite problem in Chattisgarh that to question it seems bizarre. Yet, we ought to remember that for many Westerners, the deprivation in many of our cities is so bad, the inequalities so stark that they often ask "Why don't people revolt?" (Many then resort to pop-theorizing about Hinduism, fatalism and so on.) I submit that in drawing connections between deprivation in Chattisgarh and the Naxalite movement in a facile way, we (the English speaking elite) are doing a similar thing.

To see another example of how "obvious" relationships may not be obvious at all, consider the following. For many of us (non-Hindutvavadi) Indians, it seems "obvious" that many (if not all) conversion of Hindus to Islam must be due to the iniquities of the caste system. Again, to question it seems almost stupid. (Note: If you are the Chandru/Nikhil/Sapathan variety high intellectual, please don't bother responding to point out that I am an idiot. I already know that.)

Yet, Richard Eaton examining the mass conversion in Bengal points out in his book that this is not all obvious. (For those interested, check out Chapter 5 which lists and discusses various theories in this regard.)

There is no doubt that deprivation needs to be addressed. What is happening in the tribal areas of Central India is something that should shame all of us. I am only saying that this will not address Naxalism. As with Telengana or West Bengal, that requires different policies, most notably land tenure policies.

Apologies for the length of the comment. Finally, Jai: No, I do not have a blog.