Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Over-exploitation of the Poor – Reason for the Rise of Maoist Movement in India

While travelling from Hyderabad to Vellore in train we talked to this train attendant in our coach. Deepa and I talked for over ninety minutes to this guy hailing from Jharkhand. I started the talk with that guy to test my Hindi speaking skills but soon the talk went into some serious discussion about how the poor people like him are exploited everywhere in India.
I forgot the name of this guy but let us call him Mr. Yadav. His job is to maintain the AC coach clean and also provide bed sheets and pillows to all the passengers for the entire journey from New Delhi to Tirupati (around 35 hours at a stretch). Mr. Yadav is working in this train for last one year. He was telling us how people like him are exploited by the private contractors like his boss. Here is his story.
The train halts at Tirupati for 24 hours before it starts it onward journey from Tirupati to New Delhi. People like Yadav are not provided any accommodation in Tirupati and are forced to spend the time in the train when the AC is switched off in this heat for 24 hours when the train halts in Tirupati. Mr. Yadav was telling us that Indian Railways gives the contractor Rs 6,500 as salary for each attendant like him but the contractor gives him only Rs 100 per day he works. So if the train is halting in Tirupati for a day this poor chap is not paid. So finally he makes around Rs 1500 to Rs 1700 with which he has to support a family of four back in Jharkhand. The worst part – he is responsible for the sheets and pillows in all the seats. If one passenger decides to take the pillow with him the contractor reduces the price of the pillow from this guy’s salary. He was telling that every month he ends up paying around Rs 500 for the missing pillows and sheets as he has no power to check the bags of the passenger even if he knows one of the passengers has taken a bed sheet or pillow cover. So at the end of the day Mr. Yadav is making close to Rs 1200 each month. He was asking us with that salary how he can support his family back home?
Mr. Yadav was from a place close to Ranchi, a place where Maoists have a great hold. I asked him about the Maoist and his replies were very candid. Before joining the Indian Railways, he was working in a mine and half of the salary he earned every day has to be given to local politicians. He was telling me that the same was the fate of all poor people in that region. Maoist has stepped in to help these over-exploited people and now protect them. He was telling me that Maoist give between 50,000 rupees and 1,00,000 rupees to the family of poor girls during their marriage. Mr. Yadav was telling us that local villagers support Maoist to the core because they are fighting for their cause and no way would local population support government efforts to eradicate Maoists. All those people who were exploiting the poor till now have to pay a hefty tax to these Maoists on a monthly basis that forms the revenue for the Maoist.
Throughout the talk with Mr. Yadav I could feel a sense of grudge towards the rich and politicians who have taken advantage of them for ages. With this sense of frustration I won’t be surprised if Mr. Yadav one day joins Maoist movement and fights against the rich and powerful whom he believe has deprived him and his fellow brothers a decent living.
Talking to Mr. Yadav reiterated my belief – the long term solution of Maoist insurgency in North India can only be contained effectively by over all development of that region and not through the use of force. Hope the various state governments and Union Government under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh understand this and solve this problem forever by overall development of the region rather than using the force that will only bring misery to people who are already leading a miserable life.
Photo Courtesy Click Here

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Blogger Sriram said...

What started and still retains some flavour of their original aim has now turned into something a lot more sinister. That is the whole problem with the maiost movement. Granted, they took to arms due to dire straits but that is not the way to go. We didnt gain independence by that means did we, though we had the capability to.

Also, this is only one side of the story. The fact that the maoists actively hinder development works and murder/kidnap/blow up development workers and works, the government can longer sit back and let large tracts of its own land be governed by a psuedo govt. It has to take the initiative and enforce the law. But and its a big but, it has to move its butt to ensure that the law applies to its own machinery and delivery systems too. That was the whole cause of this mess and without finding a solution to that, this problem will not go away in a day even if we wipe the maoists out by force.

June 22, 2010 5:48 AM  
Blogger Jijo V.G said...

Low and order is very much important for any Government along with development efforts. Being exploited is a not a solution for violence. How many Indian forces are being mercilessly killed recently? But I agree there is limits of using force and brings everything under control.
As of I know our honorable PM just asking them to arms down and comes for discussion, that is well and good.

June 22, 2010 6:28 AM  
Blogger Subash Naduvil Vadakkut said...

feels similar to the story of naxal movement in Kerala long time back

June 22, 2010 5:41 PM  
Blogger subu.ps said...

Even if it is for a noble cause, mass killing of civilians does not do any good for the maoist movement. A kind of a dirty system has been set up in the country and many top politicians do not want to bridge the gap between rich and poor for obvious reasons. So who is to be tamed first?

June 22, 2010 10:14 PM  

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