Sunday, July 17, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Maoist ideologue Kobad Gandhy speaks from Tihar

Maoist ideologue Kobad Gandhy speaks from Tihar
New Delhi, July 16 (IANS)

A petite Mumbaikar, Anuradha Shanbag, captured the fancy of a tall,
lanky, bespectacled young man, who had returned to Mumbai from London
after a stay in jail.

The man was an affluent Parsi youth, Kobad Gandhy, an alumnus of
Mumbai's St Xavier's College. The two married in 1977 and 'Anu', as
Shanbag was called, became Gandhy's wife of 35 years, until she died
of sclerosis.

"Anuradha's simplicity and total lack of ego or arrogance and her
innate attitude to see all others as her equal drew her to the issue
of caste in her early college days," the jailed Maoist ideologue
Gandhy reminisces in the book, "Hello, Bastar", by journalist-writer
Rahul Pandita. The release of the book coincides with the third death
anniversary of Gandhy's wife.

Anuradha began "studying the caste/Dalit question at a time when the
issue was an anathema to most shades of communists and by 1980 she had
presented extensive analytical articles," Gandhy says in an essay,
"Comrade Anuradha Gandhy and the Idea of India". The essay is one of
the 11 chapters in the book.

It was written by Gandhy in April from his cell in the Tihar Jail
here. He was arrested in 2009. The 63-year-old leader headed the South
Western regional bureau of the Communist Party of India-Maoist before
his arrest.

The essay is a tribute to his wife, who had sown the idea of a perfect
India into his head, early in life with her pro-Dalit and pro-poor

The Mumbai girl inspired Gandhy into Maoist ideology and to work on
the ground in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and

"It is an occasion to remember her monumental contribution to the
understanding of caste, the Dalit question in India and the
significance of its resolution for the democratisation of individuals
and with it the society. In a society, where a small percentage of
people consider themselves superior to others due to birth, there can
be no democratic consciousness," Gandhy writes.

Gandhy explains the plight of the Dalits in 21st century India with an example.
In Chief Minister Mayawati-ruled Uttar Pradesh, a 16-year-old Dalit
girl was attacked by three upper caste youths Feb 5... They dragged
her away in an attempt to rape her; but when she resisted and shouted
for help, they chopped off her ears, part of her hands and injured her
face, the Maoist leader says.

This single incident brings out three facts, Gandhy says.

"First: the intolerance to any form of Dalit assertion, even if it is
an assertion to resist rape. Second: the impunity with which Dalits
can be attacked even in a state ruled by a Dalit leader which stems
from the confidence that the state will not touch the culprits. And
third: it brings out the arrogance of the upper caste youngsters,"
Gandhy says in the book.

Gandhy argues: "Major sections are seen as inferior (and nearly 20
percent people treated as untouchable), merely due to birth results.
It is a society that is hierarchical, not democratic."

"Caste consciousness supersedes national consciousness, identity,
loyalty - and everything," Gandhy says.

Gandhy attributes his wife's fiercely independent thinking as a great
help to a rational understanding of events, people and issues. "There
was no other person with whom I have had as vehement debates. This
normally brought a balance to my often one-sided views," he says.

Anecdotes such as these abound in the book, which weaves the story of
Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh's Bastar.

The book comprises accounts, interviews and analyses based on
reportage by Pandita for over a decade. The writer traces the growth
of Maoist insurgency in Bastar in the context of the greater Left
insurrection movements in south and central India.

"I have been going to Bastar since 1998 as a young reporter. In the
course of my visits, I got an idea that it would turn out to be one of
India's biggest internal security threats," Pandita told IANS.

He said: "The problem has become very big because of the policies of New Delhi."
"The thin line between the ordinary tribal and the Maoist has blurred.
They have more weapons to attack the paramilitary forces and more
support in the villages. The focus of Left insurgency has also shifted
from traditional hotbeds of Bihar and Jharkhand to the Andhra
Pradesh-Orissa border and Bastar," the writer said.

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