Bharat as the last great civilisational defence
20/06/2010 11:42:08 Dr.Vijaya Rajiva
India continues to show amazing creativity in the face of great odds. A colonized
nation that suffered the night of two long Occupations, the Islamic and the British,it is still contending with a dangerous neighbourhood, and as well internal enemies.
Hence, even small initiatives, can make a difference. In what has been called the ‘Maoist’ problem, the Congress government has only mouthed platitudes such as they are our own people. The main leaders should be dealt with as much force as is suitable under the circumstances, and it might not be inappropriate to try the cowardly wringers of chicken necks(target practice for the coming bloody revolution!) such as Kobad Ghandy and mete out the appropriate punishment.
Regarding the Tribals themselves, the Centre needs to do much more than pay lip service to ‘development’. There is no question that land rights must be seriously granted to the Vanavasis. And the mining corporations must be reined in. Meanwhile, the West Bengal government, which has bungled many other issues, has for once shown a creative Gandhian approach to the Tribals who are incarcerated in jails, for participating in the Maoist armed struggle against the Indian state. Many young tribals of both sexes continue to be killed by
the might of the Indian state, even while benighted activists, sitting in their comfortable homes in the metropolises, continue to send them to an early death with misleading propaganda.
Hence, the West Bengal initiative to rehabilitate the prisoners is to be commended \both because it is the civilized thing to do and the Bharatiya thing to do. The prisoners are divided into two groups, those who are educated and those who are not.The former are encouraged to develop their prior skills in art and literature, while the latter are given training in vocational skills. An article by Dola Mitra outlines the activities(‘ Working Class for the Maoists’ Outlookindia,June 28,2010).
Both the author and Outlookindia are to be congratulated for reporting on this important event.
Why is this the Bharatiya thing to do ?
There are two main reasons.
The Vanavasis or forest dwellers are indeed our own people in more ways than one. The forest dwellers worship indigenous gods and goddesses linked to Hindu deities that can be traced back to Vedic origins. The 1,008 plus hymns of the Rig Veda celebrate the forces of Nature with unabashed zeal. The deities both male and female are personifications of the
celestial, atmospheric and terrestrial forces of Nature.This tradition has persisted in Hinduism down the ages, and the popular belief in 33 million gods and goddesses is nothing to be ashamed of, as some decracinated Hindus tend to think. And why should there not be many more ? The arrogance and mental stupidities of the practitioners of monotheistic faiths must be firmly rejected by Hindus.
Nor is it necessary to imitate the monotheistic faiths with their androcentric male dominated one god. Both the pluralism and the environmentalism of the Veda has been preserved in the worship of the female principle as the creative princicple of the universe. The entire land is peopled with centers of worship of the goddesses,just as the Vedic seers called upon the female deities in their daily rituals. No other nation today has this practice. For this alone, Bharat can be called a Punya Bhumi (Sacred Land).
It is no wonder then that many Vanavasis are returning to their ancestral faith,much to the chagrin of the Christian missionaries, who labour to convert the Hindu masses to their monotheistic faith (and this ofcourse, includes the Vanavasis). Here, tribute must also be paid to the sterling work by the RSS in their Vanavasi schools. The dedicated work of the teachers and supporting staff in spreading literacy and learning goes hand in hand with pride in the indigenous traditions of worship.
The second reason that the West Bengal initiative amongst the Maoist prisoners is to be celebrated is that one of the great Hindus of all time, is well known for his Sarvodaya (the Welfare of All). Mahtama Gandhi revived the Hindu concept of the village economy.
Gandhiji based his ideals of the village republic on the ancient Hindu village where the economy was based on agriculture and manual labour . He did not object to occupation based divisions in society so long as they did not harden into animosity towards any one caste. Clearly, he objected to the existence of Untouchability and worked for its amelioration. So did many other Hindu leaders of his time such as Savarkar. Today, the RSS and the Sangh Parivar organizations work actively in this humanitarian enterprise.
But the pride and excellence of work associated with stable caste based occupations
was endorsed by Gandhiji. Any individual was free to change his occupation but the advantage of staying in one occupation can easily be appreciated. Artisans and craftsmen developed their skills through long years of experience.
In the correctional centers of the jails in West Bengal, the emphasis appears to be on vocational training. Skills such as shoe making are encouraged. More industrial type work such as smelting etc. are also engaged in. Young tribals who picked up guns are now acquiring occupational skills working with metals to produce the type of objects that had been one of the contributions of the Hindu economy in ancient times.
India is an emerging economic giant based on its industrial might. Neverthless, the village economy will continue to be its existential mainstay as in ancient times. The revival of handicrafts and economies of small scale are being encouraged by the RSS and other organizations affiliated to the Sangh Parivar.
In Marxist terminology this might constitute broadly speaking the petty bourgeoisie of the Indian economy as opposed to the big bourgeoisie of industry and big business. So be it.
The failure of socialist style economies in terms of human interaction and quality of
life and the environmental disasters visited on the planet should make it imperative that India should continue its dual track economy.
All things are possible in Bharat. That too is as it should be.
(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)