I have been thinking about the recent warning issued by the Home Secretary G.K.Pillai to Indian intellectuals, especially to those who are seen to be sympathetic to the Maoists. He says that they could be booked for their intellectual support to the dreaded enemy of the nation called Maoists. I felt like thanking him. For once the government, rather the state seems to have taken notice of the importance of the breed called ‘intellectual’. They do matter! Their opinion is valued! The masses are influenced by them!!! They are heard!!!
In a democracy, in a paradoxical way, intellectuals are often left ignored. They do their work, teach, write, pontificate. The state hardly cares. Yes, they are asked to sit on committees, participate in policy-making exercises, support the state with their research but that is it! After that the state rarely seeks their approval for its existence. Its validity does not depend on their support to it. You are free to be silent.
On the contrary, if you are working or breathing in a totalitarian regime you are valued. The state keeps an eye on you. Or it keeps looking to you for validation. There, you do not have the right to remain silent. You have to be either for the state, or against it. You have to choose your side. And if you fail in doing so, the state would do it for you. You would be enlightened by the state about your political principles. A totalitarian state cannot function in ideological fuzziness. That is the drawback democracies suffer from. Lack of clarity!! On the other hand ‘great nations’ have absolute clarity about their roles, the path they are taking. They cannot afford to grope in darkness. They have to be, therefore, vigilant about the thought processes that might create confusion in the minds of the people.
It becomes, therefore, the sacred duty of the state to ensure that the minds of the people are not corrupted. Or, only the right kind of ideas are expressed and heard. A few days after the pronouncement of Mr. Pillai, which is unjustly being seen as a threat by many misguided intellectuals who seem to have been ‘wrongly influenced’ by the Maoists, our own Home Minister spoke his mind. He was speaking to the representatives of The Confederation of Indian Industries. You should see the video clipping of his interaction to believe his sincerity. He spoke in genuine anguish. He said that there is trust deficit in the areas which are afflicted by the Maoist menace. He said, and he spoke with pain, government delivery systems have failed. He wanted industrialists to understand the gravity of the situation. The state has failed to work in these areas, people no longer trust it. And then he made an appeal to the industrialists, which seemed to emanate from the bottom of his heart , ‘why don’t they fill the gap?.’ Why don’t they take development to these unfortunate areas?
This admission on part of the Home Minister of the government should be seen as an honest confession. But there are some troubling questions, is not POSCO already trying to take development to the starving people of Orissa? And are not TATA and ESSAR already on this job in Chhattisgarh or the Mittals in Jharkhand? If government is the problem and industrialists can replace it, why is there so much opposition from the people in all these states to the ‘kind gestures’ of the industrialists? Why does the state have to rush to their aid with its police and paramilitary forces?
The Home minister is right at least in one respect. The state is not trusted in these areas. One need not repeat the reasons for this situation, a subject on which reams of paper have been wasted which include the report of the government’s very own Commission on Administrative Reforms. The state in all its manifestations, be it the school, health centre, ICDS facility, forest department, has proved by its actions that it is not there to support the tribals, but to lord over them. The tribals have seen all their resources being siphoned away though these canals which are the creation of the Indian state. They have always been treated as lesser beings. They are seen as problems, sitting over precious resources, which the ‘nation’ badly needs for its development.
I seem to be digressing. Coming back to the Home Minister’s outpouring, he said that whereas there are intellectuals, who advocate the cause of the Maoists, their number is not very large and there is a majority which does not speak. He said that he expected all of them who were supportive of what the government is doing, that is bringing development to the unfortunate tribals, to speak up. Our Home Minister is a cautious man, cautious with his words, I mean. He therefore clarified his stance by pointing out that by ‘supportive’ he in fact means those who are opposed to the violent overthrow of the state.
I read Pillai’s warning along with Home Minister’s lament. His touching appeal to people, to not remain silent, speak up, speak up in favour of the pious intentions of the state has to be seen in its right perspective. What he finds painful is that there seems to be only one educational campaign, and that seems to favour the Maoist viewpoint. Frankly speaking he cannot fathom the reason. He wants a counter mass education. If you feel this is not education but state propaganda, you need to cure yourself. States, especially modern states are educational devices. It is their duty to educate their people on the correct lines. I found the Home Minister quite reasonable in his expectation from the intellectuals. This is of course the least they can do for the people i.e. speak up in favour of government policies.
But why is it that when rewinding the clipping, trying to read his true nature, I saw, to my horror, the face of our peace loving , democrat Home Minister being morphed into that of Lenin and then again into Stalin? Is it because like him they too disliked silence, because the whole nation needed to keep speaking up, singing praises of collectivization, of the Party, of its love for its people. We know the fate of those, who refused to read the given script and we also know about the ones who chose to remain silent. They had to pay a price for it still. So, friends, it seems we do not need a revolution anymore. We are already in a Leninist state.