THE NEW LEAM VIEWPOINT
What distinguishes The New Leam is its constant effort to see the deeper layers of social structure and collective consciousness in the rapid flow of news and events.
Maoism and the Vicious Circle of Violence
Violence as a political strategy—even for an emancipatory cause—takes us to a vicious circle; and eventually, it becomes counter-productive; and paradoxically, it encourages the oppressive regime to intensify its coercive machinery further. This is an inherent contradiction of the Maoist practice in India. While every sensible person would concede that ours is an extremely uneven society characterized by a mix of feudalism, caste hierarchy and corporate capitalism.
The intensity of economic inequality, heightened social hierarchy and marginalization, and pro-establishment bureaucracy has aroused a sense of loss, alienation and volcano of anger. Maoism has to be located in this context. In a way, it is an attempt to overthrow the system. Yet, because of its search for ‘instant’ solutions through violent strategies, it falls into a trap. It loses transparency; it seeks to withdraw itself from the everydayness of the world; and despite its ‘emancipatory’ agenda, it begins to alienate people; it causes fear, and acquires a sense of ‘stigmatized’ identity. It becomes easier for the oppressive regime and its pampered media to castigate the Maoists, arrest them for all sorts of ‘conspiracy’ against the state. The debate takes a different turn. It shifts the focus of attention from the real issues confronting us—poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, hunger, land question and forest rights. Instead, we are asked to loathe the Maoists as ‘conspirators’ causing the ‘law and order’ problem in an otherwise ‘good’ society.
No wonder these days, we are seeing yet another conspiracy theory: urban Maoists planning to assassinate our Prime Minister. The politics of assassination is ugly—an antithesis of the vision of a sane society. However, it is not yet clear whether there is real substance in this allegation. However, the fact is that the ruling establishment uses every opportunity to stigmatize and isolate the Maoists, and possibly, manages to get some sort of ‘moral’ support from ordinary people. This is tragic. The strategy of the Maoists can be wrong; but then, the harsh reality of economic inequality, social hierarchy, cultural marginalization and psychic alienation of the Dalits, tribes, poor farmers, industrial works and displaced victims of ‘development’ cannot be denied.
Yes, we would continue to condemn a political culture that generates violence—so-called ‘legitimate’ violence by the state, or the ‘counter violence’ by the Maoists. But then, we would request Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh to realize that Maoism cannot be combated merely through para- military forces and ‘encounter deaths’; it needs what Mahatma Gandhi would have regarded as a non-violent political culture aiming at real swaraj—emancipation of people from all sorts of bondage.
Colonized Self and the Craze for Foreign Universities
Ours is a society that has not yet been able to come out of the psychology of colonialism. Yes, there are many—particularly, from the aspiring middle class—who continue to believe that the West is a site of all that is beautiful, and there is no hope in this ‘despotic/anarchic’ India. No wonder, ‘foreign’ universities have tremendous appeal to the younger generation and their parents. Yes, we do admit that as a nation, despite our political independence, we have destroyed many of our leading research institutions and universities. Quite often, caste politics, poor academic infrastructure, irrelevant curriculum, demotivated students and teachers, and bad vice-chancellors who are essentially political appointees characterize these places. But at the same time, it would be wrong to say that we have no good colleges or universities in the country. Moreover, not every college/university in the West is like Cambridge or Princeton.
The West too has its share of bad universities. Yet, the ignorant middle class would spend a hell lot of money, and send the youngsters to those unknown Western universities. Possibly, the West too understands this weakness of the colonized; and hence, these universities do good business.
No wonder, you open the newspaper, and find an ad like this:
GET ON THE SPOT ADMISSION ASSESSMENT FOR TOP CANADIAN GOVERNMENT UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES ALONG WITH VISA ASSISTANCE
Truly, we live in strange times. While the state and the Maoists play ‘hide and seek’, there are many amongst us who engage in a different sort of ‘Quit India’ movement—leave India, and find the ultimate salvation in Canada, Australia and the United States!