Monday, February 23, 2015

DAWN.COM | World | Walking with the Comrades

DAWN.COM | World | Walking with the Comrades: "‘Maoist-infested.’ These are not careless words. ‘Infest/infestation’ implies disease/pests. Diseases must be cured. Pests must be exterminated. Maoists must be wiped out. In these creeping, innocuous ways the language of genocide has entered our vocabulary.

his backpack said Charlie Brown — Not your ordinary blockhead. He said his name was Mangtu. I soon learned that Dandakaranya, the forest I was about to enter, was full of people who had many names and fluid identities. It was like balm to me, that idea. How lovely not to be stuck with yourself, to become someone else for a while.

Every village has a family of tamarind trees watching over it, like a clutch of huge, benevolent, gods. Sweet, Bastar tamarind

Significant wars are often fought in unlikely places. Free Market Capitalism defeated Soviet Communism in the bleak mountains of Afghanistan. Here in the forests of Dantewara a battle rages for the soul of India. Plenty has been said about the deepening crisis in Indian democracy and the collusion between big corporations, major political parties and the security establishment. If any body wants to do a quick spot check, Dantewara is the place to go.

I found out that he’s one of a group of ten kids who are part of the first batch of the Young Communists Mobile School, who are being taught to read and write, and tutored in basic communist principles. ("Indoctrination of young minds!" our corporate media howls. The TV advertisements that brainwash children before they can even think, are not seen as a form of indoctrination.) The young communists are not allowed to carry guns or wear uniforms. But they trail the PLGA squads, with stars in their eyes, like groupies of a rock band.

But can we, should we let apprehensions about the future, immobilize us in the present?

think of what Comrade Venu said to me: They want to crush us, not only because of the minerals, but because we are offering the world an alternative model.

It’s not an Alternative yet, this idea of Gram Swaraj with a Gun. There is too much hunger, too much sickness here. But it has certainly created the possibilities for an alternative. Not for the whole world, not for Alaska, or New Delhi, nor even perhaps for the whole of Chhattisgarh, but for itself. For Dandakaranya. Its the world’s best kept secret. It has laid the foundations for an alternative to its own annihilation. It has defied history. Against the greatest odds it has forged a blueprint for its own survival. It needs help and imagination, it needs doctors, teachers, farmers.

It does not need war.

But if war is all it gets, it will fight back.

The Bodhghat dam was shelved in 1984 after local people protested. Who will stop it now? Who will prevent the foundation stone from being laid? Who will stop the Indravati from being stolen? Someone must.

Anribam Gupta Nigam:

two tropes underpin Roy’s rhetoric throughout: the constant equation of weaponry with beauty and joy, and the repeated emphasis – if without much insight – on the militarisation of daily life. Both seem to suggest to her, the epitome of revolutionary spirit – the one we have learnt India needs right now. But this affinity of death with beauty harks back to another – perhaps more accurate – tradition that Susan Sontag spoke of in her 1975 essay ‘Fascinating Fascism.’ National Socialism, she wrote, stood for values which at the time she was writing, were deeply cherished by ‘open societies.’ Among these were “the cult of beauty, the fetishism of courage, the dissolution of alienation in ecstatic feelings of community.”

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