Friday, September 17, 2010

Indian Maoists

A representation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka...Image via Wikipedia
Foreign Policy: Fire In The Hole: about 2,000 villagers who had been hiding behind the commando vanguard clambered over the fence into the compound and began emptying the magazine. Altogether they carried out 20 tons of explosives on their backs -- enough firepower to fuel a covert insurgency for a decade. ..... For years, the Maoists had lived in the shadow of India's breakneck modernization. Now they were thriving off it. ..... railing against what the rebels' spokesman described to us as the "evil consequences by the policies of liberalization, privatization, and globalization." ...... a full-fledged guerrilla war. Over the past 10 years, some 10,000 people have died and 150,000 more have been driven permanently from their homes by the fighting. ...... "Operation Green Hunt": a deployment of almost 100,000 new paramilitary troops and police to contain the estimated 7,000 rebels and their 20,000-plus -- according to our research -- part-time supporters. ..... a country 20 years into an experiment in rapid, technology-driven development, one of globalization's most celebrated success stories. ....... Today, India's GDP is more than five times what it was in 1991..... Economic liberalization has not even nudged the lives of the country's bottom 200 million people. ...... India's vast hinterland remains dirt poor -- nowhere more so than the mining region of India's eastern interior, the part of the country that produces the iron for the buildings and cars, the coal that keeps the lights on in faraway metropolises, and the exotic minerals that go into everything from wind turbines to electric cars to iPads. ...... If you were to lay a map of today's Maoist insurgency over a map of the mining activity powering India's boom, the two would line up almost perfectly. ..... Revenues from mineral extraction in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand topped $20 billion in 2008, and more than $1 trillion in proven reserves still sit in the ground. ...... foreign investment in the country has grown to 150 times what it was in 1991. ....... some $80 billion worth of projects are stalled at least in part by the guerrilla war, enough to double India's steel output. ...... ining companies have managed to double their production in the two states in the past decade, even as the conflict has escalated; the most unscrupulous among them have used the fog of war as a pretext for land grabs, leveling villages whose residents have fled the fighting. At the same time, the Maoists, for all their communist rhetoric, have become as much a business as anything else ...... Shimmering waves of heat, thick with carbon monoxide and selenium, waft through jagged cracks in the pavement large enough to swallow a soccer ball. A hundred feet below, a massive subterranean coal fire, started in an abandoned mine, burns so hot that it melts the soles of one's shoes. ....... this blaze could easily smolder for another 200 years before the coal seam is finally burned through. ...... A fire ignited in 1916 by neglectful miners near the city of Jharia has grown so large that it now threatens to burn away the land beneath the entire community, plunging the 400,000 residents into an underground inferno. ...... statehood only enabled the rise of a new cast of villains. ...... The guerrillas shun email and mobile phones and rarely communicate with the world beyond the jungle, mostly via letters ferried back and forth by foot soldiers. Over several years of attempted correspondence, we received only a few missives in return. All were written in an opaque style full of the sort of arcane Marxist jargon that the rest of the world forgot in the 1970s. ......... many of their local commanders appear to be in it for the money alone. ...... "The only way to stop the attacks is to negotiate." ...... a state where less than half of raw materials are extracted legitimately. ..... The protection money, like the small bribes Kumar says he pays to the police to avoid troublesome safety and environmental regulations, has simply become another operating cost. ...... "If you want to be somebody in Jharkhand, just kill an aid worker" ...... Salwa Judum, secretly assembled by the Chhattisgarh government in 2005 to fight the Maoists; its 5,000-odd members patrol the state armed with everything from AK-47s to axes. Some roam the forest with bows and arrows. ..... After leftist author Arundhati Roy paid a visit to the Maoists this year, the Indian government reinterpreted its anti-terrorism laws to make speaking favorably about the rebels or their ideological aims -- including opposition to corporate mining -- punishable by up to 10 years in prison. ...... mistaking industrialization for development -- by thinking that it could launch its economy into the 21st century without modernizing its political structures and justice system along with it, or preventing the corruption that worsens the inequality that development aid from New Delhi is supposed to rectify.
The Economist: Nepal, China And India: Rivals On The Roof Of The World: Great-Power Rivalry Grows In The Himalayas: China has played a low-key role in Nepal until recently. But the emergence of the Maoists as the largest party has shifted the balance, with India becoming more closely aligned with the anti-Maoist faction. The prime minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, says India’s government distrusts them and wants the party to make sweeping changes to its organisation and beliefs. .... one MP said his daughter stood to lose her scholarship in India if he voted Maoist. ...... Senior staff at the country’s largest newspaper group, which Indian diplomats think hostile to their country, say they have been unable to get newsprint through India and that Indian companies have been asked to withdraw advertising. .....politicians of all stripes think India is trying to micro-manage Nepal and anti-Indian sentiment runs high. Indian diplomats “swagger around like viceroys” .... the ceasefire is looking ever more threadbare .....Being sandwiched between two giants might seem promising for a poor country. With skill, Nepal could play one off against the other. Instead, with peace in the balance and fears growing that both neighbours are vying to pick the next prime minister, Nepal risks being ground between their vaulting regional ambitions.

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