Thursday, 28 January 2010

Telangana, Naxalism, Green Hunt and a bad Kichidi

First up – The Rant

There has been a boom in manufacturing recently. The boomers are retired bureaucrats and police officers who have participated (with their fair share of collective negligence) in India’s democracy in the last 30 years. What do some of them manufacture? They manufacture superficial analysis with prolific proficiency. The manufacturing product of choice is analysis of terror, war, and security. It always comes without a warranty of being anywhere close to accurate. You get neatly packaged experts who are about to get celebrity status. Suhel Seth and Shobha De…WATCH OUT! You are not the only folks who believe that constables with automatic weapons are the equivalent of a solution.

Everybody has a right to an opinion. I just find some opinions extremely disagreeable.

Second – The Example –

The example is from the article “Telangana Liberated”. It appears in the January 2010 print edition of Pragati. Mr Ram Avtar Yadav, the author, “is a former director-general of police of Andhra Pradesh” (sourced from the original article in Pragati).

Here is a piece of domino style analysis that appears in the article.

Begin Quote --
Telangana is not only being formed with the support of the Naxalites, but will be encompassing the districts that are their stronghold. The security situation is bound to worsen further. It is likely to play out in the following manner.

During the next panchayat elections, the Naxalites will put up candidates and capture village panchayats and other local bodies in the fledgling state. Once the panchayats are under their control, they will have effective control not only over the people in the villages but also substantial funds from the exchequer. Then, in the assembly elections that follow, they will again put up candidates and win a majority—by intimidating and coercing the electorate—in the assembly and form a proxy government.
--End Quote

I am probably not the only one who fails to see the brilliance of this analysis. The following facts seem to be missing –
  • Every mainstream political party is fuelling the Telangana agitation including the Congress and BJP.
    E.g. - Chidamabaram has made enough U-turns to perpetuate a vicious cycle and Sushma Swaraj wants to table a bill in Parliament in support of Telangana. Based on the author’s logic ….both parties must be Naxal controlled. 
  • Naxals do not contest elections despite pleas to join mainstream politics from all sides. To theorise that they will not only contest (by proxy or otherwise) a Panchayat election but will win the legislature is like putting a truck on thin ice.
  • Let us assume that the first half of this far-fetched analysis is spot on. If they control the legislature, why would they need an armed rebellion within Telangana after that? Why have they not done this in other states already?
The analysis that A will lead to B and so on and so forth till we reach F (where state elections will be won by Naxal proxies) is naïve. The argument lacks logic. I just hope that the people who mange our intelligence have a greater understanding of complex problems and how they are likely to play out.

The police, bureaucracy and political parties through their collective negligence, brought about the current state of affairs. The lack of effectiveness in their past strategies is evident. After all, if they were effective, we would not have an armed insurgency within the country and there would be no need for a para-military intervention. I am confident that I am not alone in saying that the police and bureaucracy is in need of urgent reform. You will find people on all sides of the political spectrum saying this. So why should I take a doomsday prophecy from within their ranks seriously?

Third, driving the theory home

Mr Yadav and Pragati have their rights. They are allowed to say what they say and do what they do. They are not breaking any laws in the process. Mr Yadav can not be faulted for having an opinion. Pragati can not be faulted for publishing it.

That said, Mr Yadav’s article provides no supporting evidence for any of the domino theories presented in the piece. It is at best, an effort at fear-mongering that may catch the interest of a Hollywood director who admire's Collin Powell’s arguments on WMDs in Iraq.  So how do you make it look like a realistic prophecy?

A photo of a protest against operation green hunt is used as a visual in the article’s print edition.
  • There was no wording/caption to clarify the context of the image (in the print addition).
  • The article is about Naxalism and the creation of Telangana.
  • The picture of the protest was about green-hunt. In ‘green-hunt’ civilians get caught in the cross-fire.
  • Stitching the article and the image together and sliding it in as directly related is misleading,
The protest, according to this letter to Pragati, took no position on Telangana and/or Naxalism. Yes, they were on the left of the political spectrum – but they were protesting against violence.

The image fell into a trap. If they carry a red-flag … they must be plotting violence. This is a dangerous approach to take as we may end up pushing more people to the fringe.

A person who figures in the image in question is Dr. Ashley Tellis. His letter to Pragati is blunt and does not hold back any punches. I thought the letter was rude. But then, if my photo were to appear within the same article (because I am not comfortable with the idea of operation green-hunt) I would have probably used strong language myself. The use of the image was wrong because it was not relevant to the hypothesis that the article was making i.e. Naxalites will win elections in Telangana by hook or by crook. I do not blame Pragati. Finding something substantive to back the domino theory in the article is challenging.


  1. You should think about renaming your blog as anandarant !
    or declare your new avatar rantanand swami or something...

  2. @gyani

    Ranting is just one of the many interesting ways to use a blog. I admit that it is probably my application of choice!

    I will however have to stop ranting if i) I get paid for what I write OR ii) I solicit paid subscriptions for my posts OR iii) It de-sensitises me to issues.

    Till then - I owe nothing to the few loyal souls who read my blog.

    I am not too sure if it is the intention of your comment, but it is a gentle warning to me that one must not become like the folks I rant about. *Nightmare*- I start sounding like the Cuffe Parade brigade.

  3. Again very well said..and I for one think your rant is totally justified :D

  4. @Noufel

    Thanks for your comments.

    Unfortunately, the right in India is becoming dysfunctional and beginning to sound like the Republican party in the US.

    Thanks and #Intafada!