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Tendu leaves – How Maoist-Govt Cabal loot Adivasis

June 13, 2011 3 comments
The Maoists-Naxals are fighting the Government for rights to extract from the adivasi. The adivasis have a choice. Pay protection money to the Government or to Maoists-Naxals. (Cartoon by Morparia; courtesy - development-dialogues.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

The Maoists-Naxals are fighting the Government for rights to 'exploit' the adivasi. The adivasis have a choice. Pay protection money to the Government or to Maoists-Naxals. Right now they are paying both - the State and the Maoist Naxal. (Cartoon by Morparia; courtesy - development-dialogues.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Dried tendu leaf used fo rolling bidis.

Dried tendu leaf used fo rolling bidis.

Governments and tobacco

Globally four major companies and government monopolies control a US$400 billion trade in cigarettes. These cigarette monopolies, directly or indirectly controlled by governments, take away US$1 from every  US$175 that people earn. China and USA are leaders in this extortion game.

Tobacco – India Govt.’s ‘innovation’

The Indian State also, on a much smaller scale,  replicates this same mechanism. Since Indians consume tobacco in a traditional, non-industrial manner, the Indian State changes the method of extortion. Apart from tobacco, the main ingredient of bidis, is tendu leaf. Tendu leaf is used to roll the tobacco in. While tobacco farmers are exempt from income tax, adivasis have to sell all their produce to the State. For which the State pays them wages. A newspaper reports

TENDU LEAVES, A major forest produce used for making bidis, is the main source of income for the tribal people in Chhattisgarh.  (Photo source and courtesy - hinduonnet.com).

TENDU LEAVES, A major forest produce used for making bidis, is the main source of income for the tribal people in Chhattisgarh. (Photo source and courtesy - hinduonnet.com).

Over the last two decades, the graph of tendu patta wages has shot up. This year, the Chhattisgarh government raised the wage rate from 70 paise to 80 paise per bundle of 50 leaves. But collectors like Bargu earned higher wages (Rs 1.05 paise) courtesy the Maoists. As the parallel authority in large parts of Bastar, they fix wages and even a system of wage payment.

For instance, officially, the state government’s minor forest produce federation auctions each lot of tendu leaves. Traders or contractors pay a sale price to the federation. A portion is sent to the federation’s field managers, who are supposed to disburse it as wages to the adivasis. But, in reality, the managers simply hand the money back to the contractor, who adds an extra wage amount fixed by the Maoists and sends his own staff to pay off the collectors.

“In our areas, we bargain with the contractor every year, and get a higher price for the adivasis,” says Gudsa Usendi, Maoist spokesperson. ”Last year, it was Re 1. This year it’s between Re 1.05 to Re 1.20. This way, we have stopped the exploitation of adivasis.”

That’s not an empty boast — but it’s only partially true. The Maoists have wrangled higher wages for the adivasis and expanded their support base, but they have also obtained higher levies for themselves. Most traders refused to divulge exact amounts, some reluctantly offered a rough range: 5-10% of the sale price. For one Rs 1 crore, that works out to Rs 5-10 lakh.

“The market of tendu leaves is not less than Rs 2,000 crore,” says K Sadavijaya Kumar, of the Association of Beedi leaf traders. Given that at least a quarter of the tendu growing areas appears to be under Maoist control, the amount of levies could run into crores.

By maintaining a monopoly over the ownership and sale of leaves, the state earns revenue. In 2009, Chhattisgarh Minor Forest Produce Federation made Rs 256 crore from tendu leaves. Rs 189 crore was paid to the collectors, and Rs 66 crore retained by the federation. (via Tendu leaves little hope for tribals – The Times of India).

Tendu leaves

Tendu leaves

And the Maoist- Naxalites are fighting with the State for ‘exploitation-of-adivasis‘ rights. From being owners of India’s forests, under भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, the adivasis have become wage earners. By this one single action, the State has impoverished crores of adivasis. Such are the reasons for Indian poverty – The Indian State.

And the Maoist- Naxalites are fighting with the State for ‘exploitation-of-adivasis‘ rights.

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India Non-Violent Struggle? The Myth

December 9, 2010 7 comments
Blaming political opponents is easier. Naxalism is one such trick. For 250 years, the Indian State has not solved this problem.

Blaming political opponents is easier. Naxalism is one such trick. For 250 years, the Indian State has not solved this problem.

The Madhya Pradesh Government are in consultation with the Centre on the action to be taken regarding Maharajah Pravinchandra Bhan Dev, Ruler of the erstwhile tribal State of Bastar in southern Madhya Pradesh. Among the charges against the Maharajah are that he has been inciting the Adivasis who number about eight lakhs to violence. The situation there is very delicate and calls for careful handling. The Adivasis still look upon the Ruler of Bastar as a representative of the Goddess Danteswari Mata in whose name the Maharaja ruled just as the Travancore Maharajahs ruled in the name of Lord Padmanabha. (read more via The Hindu : Today’s Paper / MISCELLANEOUS : This day that age).

Sense of priority

Bastar’s tribal peoples were never the quiet type. The British discovered that early in the day. The newly minted Indian State also discovered this – as this 50 year-old news-item shows. And that can be said for most tribals across the plateau. The tribal disaffection with the idea of the ‘modern’ State has been a permanent feature. It is all credit to the Unlettered Indian (aka The Indian Voter) who has been able to distinguish between shades of power grab.

Militant Maoists are seeking to using this disaffection for a power-grab. Just like Kashmiri terrorists. To impose a worse form of the ‘modern’ State – the Islāmic type in Kashmir or the maoist type in various tribal lands.

Increasing power and spending is the way of all 'modern' States! (Cartoonist - Daryl Cagle)

Increasing power and spending is the way of all 'modern' States! (Cartoonist - Daryl Cagle)

Sense of priority

These same tribals, now branded as Maoists, Naxalites, organized themselves into many armies and fought British armies for more than a 100 years. For the same reasons. Land grabbing by the State. The Indian State would do well to learn from the British experience. Probably, the modern Indian State does not know its own history – and believes in its own propaganda.

Official history, strangely, does not tell us that between 1800-1947, apart from the Anglo-Indian War of 1857, there were more than 75 battles, skirmishes, revolts, mutinies, involving thousands, up to lakhs of Indians, across India. And more than double that many conspiracies, hold-ups, explosions, bombings, which were not organized. These more than 200 violent actions have been completely glossed over by post-colonial India’s historians. Obviously, more than 200 incidents of violent opposition to British misrule over 150 years (1800-1947) deserves better treatment by official historians. Especially, the people who fought most of these battles.

The tribals.

Sense of priority

The Anglo-Mysore Wars, Anglo-Maratha Wars, the Sikh Wars, the Afghan Wars plagued British misrule in India.The 1857 Anglo-Indian Wars were a landmark in opposition to colonialism. These were the major conflicts that continued to blaze across India.

Apart from these major conflagrations, significant opposition to the British misrule came from Indian forest-dwellers and migratory peoples. The Chotanagpur area (Surguja, Ranchi and Hazaribagh areas) passed to the British from Mughals in 1765. War and famine followed. The Bengal Famine of 1770 (1769-1773) was much written and analysed. The Jharkhand area remained on the boil for nearly 150 years after Buxar.

On the conflict side, the Paharia Revolt (1766-1778), by the hill-dwellers of Rajmahal Hills, soon followed. Santhals, opened a wide front against the British. One of the first of many such campaigns, started operations from the Tilapore forest against the British from 1781-1785 – led by Tilka Manjhi (also spelt Majhi). The dates of Tilkha Majhi’s revolt, vary widely – some continuing till 1799. The Tamar revolt (1783-1789) was another revolt in the modern Jharkhand area which occupied British attention in India – while they were fighting the American colonies. The Anglo-Santhal battles continued for the next 100 years. The Kol (also Khol, Khole) continued these insurrections in early 19th century.

Immediately after Buxar, in 1764 Major Hector Munro, who took charge of “the Company’s army, found the sepoys in a state of open revolt. There is no instinct of obedience in native armies in India” complains the English ‘historian’. In 1780, the East India Company faced revolt in Benares from Raja ‘Cheyt Sing’ who was appointed to “furnish the company with three regular battalions of Seapoys” who instead ‘massacred , in cold blood, thirteen of Capt.Wade’s men, who fell into his hands in the Hospital at Mirzapoor’.

If this was not enough, there were the Sannyasi rebellions (1763-1800).

Sense of priority

The only system that will meet the aspirations of the tribals, the Kashmiris, is something that will give them access to ज़र, zar (gold), जन jan (people) and ज़मीन jameen (land). A system that will guarantee the four essential freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh (liberty) and धर्मं dharma (justice)

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

Focus on landless farmer, deprived tribal – not Maoist-Naxalite

Peasants and tribals who have lost lands in the last 800 years, that they owned earlier, are now being used by Maoists for a power grab..

Hot air will not help any more  |  Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; source & courtesy - indiatimes.com  |  Click for image.

Hot air will not help any more | Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; source & courtesy – indiatimes.com | Click for image.

Recovering from a heart ailment in January 1965, a little-known communist activist in a small town at the foothills of the Himalayas propounded the first of his eight theses for an armed struggle. Written in the backdrop of the 1964 split in the communist movement, worsening food crisis and a radical mood in Europe, Latin America and much of Asia, Charu Mazumdar’s documents laid the foundation of what would constitute the severest internal security challenge to India almost halfa-century down the line.

Had North Block cared to trace the genesis of the ultra-Left insurgency, they would have found that much of the Maoist mayhem closely followed Mazumdar’s script. The rare documents seem to have provided the guidelines to the Maoists for their recent strikes.

His first thesis, completed on January 28, 1965, instructed the communist cadre to set up secret and armed ‘activist groups’ in rural areas. The second thesis called for creating ‘liberated zones’ where ‘class enemies’ had been eliminated. The next paper gave a direct call for taking to arms to liberate more and more areas. The fourth paper emphasises on clandestine organisation to wage the armed struggle. In the fifth document, he asked the Maoist cadre—at that time a breakaway faction from the CPM—to be armed, to set up secret units and politicise the followers. Even before he could complete the fifth thesis, Mazumdar was arrested in September 1965. In the sixth thesis, he rejected the system of parliamentary democracy and criticised the conventional Left’s practice of organising strikes in industry. In his last two documents, he recognized the importance of drafting the students and youths from middle-class homes for ‘revolutionary’ activity, called for concentrating on rural areas. (via Charu’s theses – Naxals’ driving force).

Sloganeering can't solve this problem!  |  Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; source & courtesy - indiatimes.com  |  Click for image.

Sloganeering can’t solve this problem! | Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; source & courtesy – indiatimes.com | Click for image.

The Maoist red herring

The Naxalites-Maoists have hijacked the tribal peasant efforts to reclaim land usurped by (mainly) the Islamic and the British rulers in India. What the peasant and the tribal want is undisputed property right – the very thing that Marxists want to destroy. Like they demonstrated in Nandigram, West Bengal, when prime fertile land was taken away from farmers and handed over for ‘development.’

West Bengal should be an eye opener

What the Marxists want is complete control over the (at least) economic lives of the tribal and peasants – like we have seen in West Bengal. Marx himself thought that peasants were like a ‘sack of potatoes.’ The Maoists-Naxalite are stepping into the vacuum created by the Indian State – by a simple expedient of ‘aligning’ with the tribal and farmers against a ‘common enemy’!

It is the Indian State and polity which has done nothing for years – except trample on the property rights of the Indian peasants and tribal. From West Bengal to Orissa, from MP to Andhra Pradesh!

The Indian State has lost sight of rthe problem!

The Indian State has lost sight of the problem!

From Stalinist Russia in British arms

Fleeing from Stalinist Russia, after his arrival in India, MN Roy became a useful tool in British hands. It would do well to remember how the British and the Communists (like MN Roy) supported each other. It was the CPI that fathered some of these movements just before and after Indian independence. Starting with actions in  the then Travancore and the Nizam State and in Travancore. MN Roy’s understanding of Indian history is completely clear, when he wrote,

“The Mohammedan power was consolidated in India not so much by the valour of the invaders’ arms as owing to the propagation of the Islamic faith and the progressive significance of Islamic laws.

The Indian Government, by marshalling the might of the State against the Maoist-Naxal is possibly again losing sight of the real problem.

The landless Indian farmer and the deprived Indian tribal!

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