5 November, 2009 — CounterCurrents
Is Maoism in India really the only response to poverty and lack of development? Is an armed rebellion the only way to change the way the Indian State operates? Will such a movement lead to a better future for underprivileged people in this country? Are other forms of mass democratic struggles an alternative option at all?
These are the questions that haunted me as I sat through a public hearing on drought at Daltonganj in Jharkhand’s Palamu district late October this year. Questions that are not new and have been debated repeatedly within the various strands of the Indian left movement for several decades now, with no clear answers as yet.
While I mused, there was this young woman standing on the stage, slowly edging towards the mike, patiently waiting for her turn to speak. She need not have said anything at all. Her emaciated, frail frame, the harassed look on her face and the tears silently welling up in her sunken eyes had already conveyed to us this was another tale of unmitigated tragedy.
Barely in her early twenties, she had been diagnosed with tuberculosis a few months ago. Her husband was already on his deathbed due to the same affliction as there was no public health center near her village. Treatment in town was obviously unaffordable. The drought raging in the district, reported to be the worst in over half a century, would end up wiping out her entire family she explained in a quiet, matter of fact tone.