Movement of thought

November 29, 2009

हम तुमस क्या उम्मीद करते-अंशु मालवीय

Filed under: Literature — movementofthought @ 11:12 am

हम तुमस क्या उम्मीद करते

बाम्हन देव!

तुमने तो ख़ुद अपने शरीर के बायें हिस्से को अछूत बना डाला,

बनाया पैरों को अछूत

रंभाते रहे मां … मां … और मां

और मातृत्व रस के रक्ताभ धब्बों को

बना दिया अछूत

हमारे चलने को कहा रेंगना

 भाषा को अछूत बना दिया

छंद को, दिशा को वृक्षों को,

पंछियों को समय को,

नदियों को

एक-एक कर सारी सदियों को

बना दिया अछूत

सब कुछ बांटा

किया विघटन में विकास

और अब देखो बाम्हन देव

 इतना सब कुछ करते हुए

आज अकेले बचे तुम

अकेले … और … अछूत

November 21, 2009

बड़ा पहाड़-छोटा पहाड़

Filed under: Literature — movementofthought @ 7:02 am

हमारे देश में लोक कथाओं की बहुत ही समृद्ध परम्परा है। यहां आदिवासी लोग प्रतिकूल यथार्थ के खिलाफ कल्पना को एक हथियार की तरह प्रयोग करते हैं, और इस तरह जन्म लेती हैं असंख्य लोककथाएं। प्रस्तुत है एक भूटिया लोककथा। जिसे ‘भारत के आदिवासी क्षेत्रों की लोककथाएं’ ( सम्पादक शरद सिंह) से साभार लिया गया है। -सम्पादक

बड़ा पहाड़-छोटा पहाड़

एक बड़ा पहाड़ था और एक छोटा पहाड़। बडे़ पहाड़ को अपने बडे़ होने का घमण्ड था। वह हमेशा छोटे पहाड़ को नीचा दिखाने का प्रयास करता रहता। बड़ा पहाड़ कहता कि वह बड़ा है इस लिए सूरज सबसे पहले उसके पास आता है, वह बड़ा है इसलिए बर्फ सबसे पहले उसके पास आती है और वह बड़ा है इस लिए आकाश उससे बातें करता है।
बड़े पहाड़ की ऐसी बातें सुनकर छोटे पहाड़ को बहुत दुख होता। वह मन ही मन भगवान से प्रार्थना करता कि उसकी भी उंचाई बढ़ जाए और वह भी बड़े पहाड़ के बराबर हो जाए। एकबार भगवान विष्णु ने उसकी प्रार्थना सुन ली और उससे कहा कि मैं तुम्हे एक दिन और एक रात के लिए बड़ा किये देता हूं। यदि तुम्हे बड़ा होना अच्छा लगे तो मैं तुम्हे सदा के लिए बड़ा कर दूंगा।
विष्णु ने छोटे पहाड़ को एक दिन और एक रात के लिए बड़ा कर दिया। छोटे पहाड़ को बड़ा होकर बहुत अच्छा लग रहा था कि तभी उसने देखा कि अनेक पशु पक्षी उसके शिखर को छोड़ कर नीचे जा रहे हैं। देखते ही देखते उसका शिखर प्रदेश सूना हो गया। थोड़ी देर में शिखर के नीचे आधी दूर तक के पेड़ों ने साथ छोड़ दिया। पेड़ों के साथ छोड़ते ही मिट्टी ढहने लगी और चट्टानें निकल आयीं। छोटे पहाड़ को अपना हराभरा रूप बदसूरत होता दिखायी दिया। अभी वह कुछ सोच पाता कि उससे बादलों का एक रेला आ टकराया और छोटा पहाड़ बुरी तरह भीग गया। एक तो उसके ऊपर के पेड़ पौधे नहीं बचे थे। और उस पर पानी पड़ जाने के कारण वह ठण्ड से थरथर कांपने लगा। पहाड़ के कांपते ही पहाड़ पर बचे पशु पक्षियों मंे भगदड़ मच गयी और वे उसे छोड़-छोड़ कर भागने लगे।
कुछ देर में पहाड़ सूना हो गया। वह अभी अपने सूनेपन से जूझ ही रहा था कि उसके शिखर पर बर्फ जमनी शुरू हो गयी और उसका दम घुटने लगा। छोटे पहाड़ ने सोचा कि यदि यही हाल रहा तो पशु-पक्षी कभी लौट कर उसके पास नहीं आएंगे और वह सदा के लिए अकेला हो जाएगा। उसने एक बार फिर भगवान विष्णु से प्रार्थना की। अब वह वापस छोटा बनना चाहता था।
विष्णु ने उसे फिर से पहले जैसा छोटा बना दिया। उसके शिखर से बर्फ पिघल गयी। हरियाली और पशु पक्षी लौट आए। इसके बाद छोटा पहाड़ बड़े पहाड़ के चिढ़ाने पर न तो कभी चिढ़ा और न कभी दुखी हुआ।

November 20, 2009

Citizens Initiative for Peace and the Maoist Challenge by Nandita Haksar

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 12:25 pm

 There have been different approach about on -going debate on Green Hunt, Maoist Insurgency, Adivasis, development, violence-non violence  and so on.  Here in this article Nandita Haksar intervene in whole matter in a rather different way…………. Editor

I have read the Resolution (entitled “Stop offensive Hold Unconditional Dialogue” in Mainstream) made by the Citizens Initiative for Peace very carefully and I would like to raise some questions about the list of six demands that have been formulated in the light of the discussion and debates around the question of the Indian State’s decision to deal with the “Naxalite problem” with brute military force.

The Resolution has put forward six “simple yet urgent demands”. The demands are addressed to both the Central Government and the Maoists because it calls upon both parties to stop the “offensive” and the “hostilities”, and start a dialogue. However, the Resolution states that the Government should take the initiative.

If we closely examine the six demands we will see that the Resolution has fallen into the trap of the Indian State which wants the focus to be on the question of violence and not on the very real problems that the Maoists have focused on. It is interesting that many of those people who have very deep ideological differences with the Maoists, including Gandhians committed to non-violence, have also taken the position that the basic political issues must be addressed before there is any discussion on the use of violence by the Maoists.

There is a very real danger that the State will not only try and crush the Maoists but will put down all resistance to the very unjust and unconstitutional economic policies being pursued which have deprived hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens of their rightful share in development.

The whole debate (and this includes other initiatives such as the one under discussion) around the issue of the Indian State’s response to the Maoist challenge reflects a certain political bankruptcy and poverty of philosophy. It lacks political imagination.

Let us examine each of the six demands and see if the demands formulated by the Citizens Initiative for Peace will help create democratic space for discussions on the real political issues or will in effect close the space and unwittingly justify the State action against the Maoists and so allow the repression of all protest, dissent and criticism of the State’s economic policies which are clearly in violation of the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV of the Indian Constitution).

The first demand states: “The Government should stop the offensive in the areas where the CPI (Maoist) and other Naxalite parties are active, in order to facilitate a ceasefire.”

The second demand states: “The CPI (Maoist) and other Naxalite parties should cease all hostilities against the state forces to facilitate a ceasefire.”

The third demand is: “There should be no attacks on civilians and their lives must be secure.”

Does the Citizens Initiative for Peace make a distinction between civilians and combatants in this “war”? Are those adivasis who have some arms to protect themselves from Salwa Judum or the COBRA to be counted and equated with State forces and denied the protection to be given to civilians?

My first question is: who is to cease their offensive first and why? Even those people who have fundamental political differences with the Maoists have warned that if the Maoists lay down arms it will only allow the State not only to crush the Maoist organisation but also the tens of thousands of adivasis—the poorest citizens of our country. Many adivasis have armed themselves to protect themselves from the brutal repression let loose by the security forces which include cutting off breasts, shooting women in the legs and torture.

It is true that the brutal tactics used by the Maoists have repulsed many people. The beheading of an intelligence officer and the threat to carry out the same is reminiscent of the Taliban type justice. But violence or brutal tactics has to be distinguished from disciplined armed resistance.

My second question is: with whom are we having a debate on violence?

The Home Minister states that the Government would be willing to have talks if the Maoists abjure violence. He obviously does not acknowledge the institutionalised violence against the adivasis which has resulted in their starvation deaths, their deaths from curable diseases and the alienation of their land and means of livelihood.

And what does the Resolution of the Citizens Initiative for Peace mean that the Naxalites “should cease hostilities”?

Does the Citizens Initiative for Peace want the Maoists to lay down arms and disown armed resistance or do they want them not to use violence on individual State officials?

If the Citizens Initiative for Peace really wants “peace” they must demand that the Government of India must first address the very real grievances of the adivasis in the region when the Maoists and Government enter into a dialogue. Those issues which have been raised by the Maoists have also been raised by other organisations and parties working in the region (the so-called Red corridor). Above all, those are the issues around which there has been a sustained adivasi movement since Indian independence.

The political and economic issues in question are broadly related to:

1. hunger, malnutrition and starvation deaths of adivasis largely due to massive land alienation and the dispossession of adivasis due to development projects;

2. the secret dealing with the Transnational Corporations by which hundreds of MoUs have been signed which will allow the TNCs to exploit the rich mineral resources of the region without benefit to either the local people or the nation as a whole;this is an issue related to corporate governance;

3. denial of basic rights to health, water, housing, education and above all food.

The Citizens Initiative for Peace must make a list of specific demands for each of the affected States: Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal. And then demand that the State governments and Government of India announce the measures they will take in a time-bound fashion on each of these issues. This will bring back focus on the real urgent issues.

The Resolution of the Citizens Initiative for Peace includes the demand: “People’s basic livelihood rights and democratic control over their natural resources must be urgently ensured. We resolve to work for this.” But it does not state what those demands are and how the people have systematically been deprived of their means of livelihood. More importantly, how the Citizens Initiative for Peace intends to work on these issues—something which would be of great interest to those who read their Resolution.

After all, the systematic denial of citizens of food, medicines and homes is institutionalised violence which cannot be equated with the beheading of a state official. Apart from the violence on the entire adivasi population of this region (not to speak of other parts of the country) the security forces have been committing human rights violations of individual adivasi activists, and anyone else they decide to dub as Maoist. The law does not allow the torture of even the members of a banned organisation.

If the Resolution is genuinely meant for the people at large then it must spell out the political issues; otherwise the language of the Citizens Initiative is indistinguishable from that of the language of the State.

¨

Does that mean I am condoning the violence (as opposed to armed resistance) used by the Maoists? Not at all. It is not a question whether one condones or supports a particular act. The basic political question is related to the efficacy of armed resistance and the relationship between armed resistance and democratic means of struggle. Lenin in Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder had warned that the communist resistance should not result in increasing the resistance of the opposition.

From the time I began working in the human rights movement I have seen how the Maoists always increase the resistance of the class enemy by their tactics and then claim there is no democratic space in the system. The human rights groups have exposed the State’s role in repression and how it always intervenes in favour of the rich but they have no understanding of how democratic space within this system works and how it can be enlarged.

By way of example, a certain revolutionary group in Central America had abducted a government official and in exchange for the person they demanded masses of food for the entire slum population. Instead, the whole drama of exchange of prisoners took away the focus on the real issues and wasted the valuable time they had on national television to mobilise public opinion.

There is a need to evolve tactics to effectively intervene within the system and radically engage with the democratic institutions such as the courts, media, legislative assemblies and Parliament etc. This entire area of work has been appropriated by the NGOs who have depoliticised the democratic space.

Thus there is an urgent need to have a dialogue, debate and discussion among Marxists, Communists and others who support the Maoists. But that debate is not a debate that can be mixed with the debate between citizens and the State.

The fourth demand of the Citizens Initiative for Peace is: “Unconditional dialogue must begin between Government and CPI (Maoist).”

I am not at all sure what the word “uncon-ditional” means. It could refer to the Home Minister’s pre-condition for talks must be cessation of violence by Maoists. So, the Citizens Initiative’s call for unconditional talks would mean that they think the Government should not put this pre-condition. Perhaps it needs to be spelt out.

Here I have several questions. The premise of this demand seems to be that the Citizens Initiative for Peace has implicit faith in the honesty of the Government of India or the Indian State to have a genuine dialogue. The history of independent India clearly shows that the Indian State does not represent the interests of the poor. My experience in the North-East shows that the State uses the peace initiatives as part of its counter-insurgency strategies to weaken and penetrate the organisation. Peace processes are never used to raise awareness of the basic political issues such as the nature of Indian federalism and the inability of the Indian State to respond to the democratic aspirations of the peoples of the North-East.

Does that mean dialogue or peace processes should be shunned? No. However, the militant or revolutionary organisation involved in political negotiations has to have a clear idea of strategies and tactics and use them to reach out to the people and explain the political issues and mobilise them around those. However, neither the militants nor the civil society have shown any ability of effective lobbying, advocacy or other democratic means to pressurise the State. The Indian State will not change its basic policies, but we must know what can change if we are able to have a sustained campaign.

Sustained campaign of course means the need for time and funds. The professionalised activist has little time, quite a lot of money and very little political understanding. Campaigns degenerate into shoddily written resolutions, glossy posters and occasionally in-house meetings with songs and candles.

There is no systematic documentation exposing the State with facts and statistics, effort to reach out to the general public and raise political awareness of the political issues and follow up on each issue.

There is one other matter. Does the Citizens Initiative for Peace recognise the Maoist party as the only representative of the people? The dialogue between the Maoists and the Government would include specific demands of the Maoist organisation such as lifting of the ban on the party, release of political prisoners etc. But there is a need to have a time-bound process by which the Government is made to take specific steps to alleviate the suffering of the adivasi people living in the region.

The fifth demand of the Citizens Initiative for Peace is: “Free Access to the affected areas should be provided to the independent civil organisations and media.” There is nothing wrong with the demand but why is the Committee fighting on behalf of the media which is in any case reducing the whole issue to violence versus non-violence. They have done nothing to focus on the basic issues of the Indian citizens who have been victims of institutionalised violence, bad governance, and now brute repression.

The Citizens Initiative for Peace needs to engage with the media on a sustained basis. Take the example of Vir Sanghvi’s editorial entitled “Let’s Listen to Common sense” where he attacks the activists and intellectuals who are arguing that ”we care about the poor” only if we “support murderers who behead policemen”. He argues that “peace first and everything else second”. The resolution of the Citizens Initiative for Peace sounds almost like Vir Sanghvi’s editorial because it has not once talked about the institutionalised violence of the state and society.

In fact one of the demands should be addressed to the media to report on the basic issues and not make it a debate on violence versus non-violence. There is a need to have a media watchdog which continuously exposes the lies and distortions of the media. There was a magazine in the USA called Lies of our Time dedicated to exposing the lies in the New York Times. We need something like that to expose the electronic channels.

The greatest danger of the Resolution of the Citizens Initiative for Peace is that the focus on peace, ceasefire and dialogue will take away public focus from the real, urgent political, economic and cultural problems faced by lakhs of people living in abject poverty while surrounded by natural resources which are going to make the transnational corporations richer.

This is a historic opportunity for Indian citizens to intervene and stop natural resources from being handed over to the transnational corporations. It is an opportunity to demand that the Indian State make public the MoUs signed with these transnational companies. This is the time that we should demand a moratorium on all land transfers and mining leases or licenses till there is an informed public debate on the economic policy for this region.

It is the duty of every citizen to stop the State from destroying the means of livelihood of Indian citizens, from wiping out their culture and crushing their resistance—all in the name of national security and dealing with Maoists.

¨

In the light of the above discussion the Citizens Initiative for Peace, if it wants to make a meaningful intervention, must set itself the following tasks:

1. Make a list of concrete demands of the adivasis in each State and make concrete suggestions how the Government can ameliorate the situation. An example is of how Shankar Guha Neogi challenged the Government policy of mechanisation of iron ore mines by providing a detailed study to show that semi-mechanised mines would be economically be more viable.

The making of this list involves talking across to many more people including those who have expertise and those who have experience.

2. Widely publicise these demands through whatever ways that can be found. This is essential in order to keep the focus on the real political issues and not allow the State to hijack the whole momentum and reduce it to an issue between violence and non-violence. People need to be constantly reminded that what is being described as a war against the Maoists is in fact a war against the citizens of India who are economically the poorest and politically the most disempowered.

3. If there is to be a real dialogue then there must be a transparent framework for the dialogue process that needs to be put in place. This means it must be a dialogue between responsible members of the Maoists and political representatives of the State. So far all the talks between the Indian State and militant groups have been handled primarily by the intelligence agencies. The role of intelligence agencies has not even begun to be questioned by the human rights groups.

In fact the whole process of dialogue between militant groups and the State has raised the question of the role of intelligence agencies and democratic polity.

Of course the Maoists too have little under-standing how to effectively use the dialogue to increase the democratic space. And it is also not clear whether they have worked out concrete proposals for a talk and whether they have any strategies or tactics other than using the process to gain time.

4. A careful monitoring of the media and exposing how it is manufacturing consent for the ultimate State repression on the adivasis and the victims of development who are the main targets of this offensive and not the Maoists.

Ever since the public attention has been focused on the Maoists the intelligence agencies have been working overtime, creating a lot of confusion in the minds of the civil society, trying to create divisions and take away the focus on the critical issues and concrete situation in the region.

There is an attempt to undermine their credibility in the eyes of the public and create an atmosphere where the violence of the State against its own citizens would be justified. The Maoists and their sympathisers have done little to counter this trend by their narrow sectarian approach and lack of commitment to norms of political democracy. There is an urgent need for a debate with the Maoists on democratic norms and democratic politics. Their recent announcement that henceforth they would treat their prisoners as Prisoners of War and their decision to release the policeman is an indication that the Maoists may have learnt something from the public reaction to their brutal tactics designed to shock rather than educate.

Lastly, the name of the Initiative is rather unfortunate. It seems to suggest that if the Maoists and Government of India start negotiations we would have peace. It smacks of the non-violent conflict resolution promoted by foreign funded NGOs who are responsible for the depoliticisation of all issues. Should it not have been Citizens Initiative for Justice?

The author is a human rights lawyer and a writer

November 17, 2009

Sex, Sexuality and man-women intimate relationship by Mike Ely

Filed under: gender — movementofthought @ 1:04 pm

[Sexuality, man – women intimate relationship etc. are often discussed in very traditional and formal way in marxist discourse. Lately in American communist party a debate on this subject is going on in a very new way. In this article Mike Ely explores some basic aspect of sexuality.-Editor]

A valuable thread has unfolded on the communist approach to sexuality.

In that thread, Ulises says:

“If I had to make a basic division in sexual matters, one that I think can be the basis for a more liberating sexuality, it would be between human kindness, love and intimacy, and a sexuality of domination, humiliation and cruelty.”

RedFlags writes:

“As a good friend of mine said, paraphrasing Wilhelm Reich, “if you can tell people how to fuck, you can make them do anything.” I think that pretty much sums up the RCP’s line on sex. It is something uncontrollable, and in the erotic is human force that can’t help breaking laws.”

Whether fairly or not, I have always seen these two views as different — and somewhat profoundly opposed — on matters of sexuality and intimacy. And by generalizing here, I hope I am not putting words into the mouths of either Ulises or RedFlags.  And if so, we can correct that through commentary below.

* * * * *

One view (expressed by Ulises) sees that different forms and manifestations of intimacy are different in their social content and nature.

Now in reality, in the real spectrum of human relations, these differences don’t sort out neatly where “Some forms of sexuality are simply more progressive and the rest are simply reactionary.” In all intimate human relations there is struggle — and those of us who are revolutionary have (or should have) a sense of how complex it is to develop intimate relations that truly and consistently correspond to our larger social goals and values.

One way of looking at this is to say: our intimate relations need to be evaluated socially — and especially in terms of the emancipation of women.

This is a view that says: when we engage in intimacy (whether short term or long term) we are creating and reproducing social relations. And those social relations are not just something “for us,” — something to be simply measured by how they “work” for us (as individuals or even as a couple, or a cultural community)… but they have an objective relationship with a larger and sweeping attempt to overcome and overthrow all oppression.

And if you look at certain notorious forms of “intimacy” and sexual intercourse (arranged marriage, child abuse, male possessiveness backed by jealous violence, date rape, commodification of intimacy rooted in economic poverty and dependence) you can see more clearly that some relations reinforce oppression. and should be viewed in that right.

Now, just to be clear, it needs to be said that intimate and sexual relations are a particular KIND of social relations — in which the social is particular entwined with the intensely private. there are reasons why details of specific human intimacy are generally not “everyone’s business” — and why the state is a particularly ill-suited instrument for adjudicating and revolutionizing those relations (however revolutionary that state might be).

There are forms of intimate interaction (child abuse, rape, etc.) that should be criminalized… but saying that intimate relations are social relations does not mean that law and state intervention are necessary or tolerable as the main means of carrying through criticisms, affirmations and transformations.

* * * * * *

Another view (historically and in this thread) sees sexuality as something that oppressive societies inherently need to control, and liberating societies should mainly seek to unleash. It views the very idea of “criticizing” specific forms of intimacy as a form of “telling people how to fuck” — as something inherently oppressive (no matter who does the “telling” and no matter what social goals are supposedly being served by that “telling.”)

What was wrong with the RCP’s view of homosexuality (in this view) was not that gay people were falsely accused of being inherently reactionary — but that the very fact that sexual expressions were subjected to social scrutiny and judgment.

In some incarnations (like those associated with wilhelm Reich or Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization) the issue around sexuality is seen as sexual satisfaction (including the quality of orgasm), and the indictment of capitalism is its suppression (and sublimation) of our ability to have pleasure.

this is often (though perhaps not inherently) connected with a tendency to see intimacy mainly in terms of personal happiness and pleasure (Is this relationship, or this moment, working for me?), and in a more enlightened form, in terms of happiness and pleasure for “me and my partners.”

the old bob seger song “Night Moves” says: “I used her, she used me, and neither one cared, we were getting our share.”

There is a severing of sexual matters (and our political evaluation of sexual politics) from the issues specifically surrounding the larger emancipation of women (on a worldwide basis), and a focus on the smaller dynamics of pleasure and mutual satisfaction.

* * * * *

Perhaps it is obvious, from the way i have posed these differrences, that I agree with Ulises (and have difficulty seeing this as Red Flags does).

To put it in an admitedly crude way: One view sees the main problem around sexuality as the reproduction of patriarchy and oppression, the other sees the main problem as puritanical attempts to tame the wild erotic.

I think we need to advocate, create and support intimate relations based on progressive and revolutionary values — on love, equality, mutual respect, and a common commitment to honest struggle. And i tend to think that sexual relations based on indifference to one’s partner(s), anonymity, objectification of humans, economic dependence and inqueality, commodification of human sexuality, and a fetishized fascination with humiliation and play-acted rape — such things (I believe) tend to reproduce and reinforce oppressive ideas and relations.

Reality is (once again) not as simple as the statement above. I am aware that some “role playing” around power in sexuality has an ironic and “subversive” content (and i am aware how little I know and understand about such things.)

But I do believe, on a larger scale, that we should not simply proclaim every person’s personal right to “fuck anyway we want” (any more than we proclaim a shopkeeper’s “right” to refuse service to anyone they want). We should seek to develop a socially nuanced sense of sexual intimacies and relations that undermine the dominant patriarchy, and those that reinforce it.

When the early communist movement in the U.S. made an issue of arguing with men about the importance of foreplay and female satisfaction in sexual relations, was that a case of unfairly and oppressively “telling people how to fuck”?

when our communist movement asserts that husbands don’t simply “have a right to sex” from their wives…. is that a case of oppressively “telling people how to fuck”?

When a connection is made between “wham bam thank you mam” sexuality and the larger social inequality between men and women — and when criticisms are made of sexuality that manifests the idea that women are there as objects of male satisfaction — is that a case of oppressively “telling people how to fuck”?

I think our approach to different forms of sexuality CAN’T simply be liberal tolerance and laissez-faire. Relations of intimacy (including not only the creation of marriage relations and families — but the physical acts of sex interaction themselves) are social relations — they have social content and implications. They take forms that oppress women and children, or that contribute to the climate that encourages liberation (and, of course, in many cases, create a huge gray zone of contradiction and struggle).

War of Terror in Pakistan: Interview with Saadia Toor

Filed under: Politics — movementofthought @ 12:52 pm

[We have much  information about America than our neighbouring countries. A war is going on in Pakistan against its own people in the name of Taliban. Nearly three lack people have been displaced so far in south Waziristan. In this interview Saadia Toor explains very explicitly about the complexity of the situation, about dirty role of America and a nexus between Pakistani elite and American Imperialism…….Editor]

A War of Terror in Pakistan: Interview with Saadia Toor

by Ashley Smith [originally published on http://socialistworker.org%5D

Saadia Toor is an assistant professor at Staten Island College, author of a forthcoming book on Pakistan from Pluto Press, and part of the group Action for a Progressive Pakistan.

The Pakistani Army has launched a major offensive against Taliban forces in the province of Waziristan. What is behind this assault, and what impact will it have on the people there?

The Army had been warning ever since it attacked in Swat earlier this year that its next move would be in South Waziristan. This area is incredibly undeveloped and has become a stronghold of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (or TTP), which had been led by Baitullah Mehsud until he was killed in drone attack conducted by the U.S. earlier this year

In the run-up to this assault, there was a series of attacks and suicide attacks on state facilities across Pakistan as a warning to the Army to back off from the incursion. The TTP took responsibility for most of these.

However, under a lot of pressure from the U.S., and with full U.S. military support, the Pakistani Army has unleashed its terror in South Waziristan.

Just as we witnessed in Swat, the Army is causing another humanitarian catastrophe. It has already driven 150,000 people from the area, and experts estimate that at least 250,000 people — over half the population — will be forced to flee from the fighting. The government has stated that it is not going to make any arrangements to accommodate the refugees, because they supposedly all have families they can stay with!

In addition, the Army is going after the entire Mehsud tribe, the principal tribe in South Waziristan, in a reprise of the horrible tradition established by the British of treating tribes as monolithic entities. Although the prime minister recently made a statement saying that they are not targeting the entire tribe, I have heard that the military had been rounding up Mehsuds all over the country in a lead-up to this operation.

What happened after the Army’s incursion into Swat?

The Pakistani government and media presented a fanciful picture. They made a grand announcement that Swatis could now return to their valley, newly “cleansed” of the Taliban. We did see some Swatis returning, but by no means all of them. The numbers are hard to determine. Those who have returned have done so to a devastated area, and the state has made no mention of compensation for homes or crops destroyed during the operation.

The bigger story is that the Taliban are not, in fact, gone from Swat, so even the stated goal of the mission has actually not been accomplished. The Pakistani Army’s new counter-insurgency strategy is to arm local militias to fight the Taliban, which means that the Army is circulating even more weaponry in the area, leading to its further destabilization.

Also, there is a reign of terror being unleashed in these “war zones,” and its author is the Pakistani military, rather than the Taliban. Dead bodies have been dumped in the middle of towns, and experts agree that the marks on these bodies are consistent with the Pakistani military’s torture techniques. Cell-phone videos circulating on the Web show military personnel breaking into homes, and dragging away and torturing people.

It seems like the Pakistani state, under pressure from the U.S., is willing to cause tremendous suffering while it attacks the Taliban. But it doesn’t seem to be serious about really uprooting the Taliban. What’s the actual relationship between Pakistan and the Taliban?

It’s a pragmatic one — it has always been a pragmatic one.

The Pakistani Intelligence, with the full knowledge of the U.S., helped create and sustain the Taliban for years. Only after al-Qaeda’s attack on September 11 did the U.S. begin to oppose the Taliban, and once it did, this upset the longstanding relationship between the Pakistani state and the Taliban.

On the one hand, as a client state, Pakistan is beholden to its American masters, but on the other hand, the Pakistani military and intelligence services have their own agenda. They have always cultivated the Taliban as part of their framework of “strategic depth” against India, which backed the Afghan warlords in the Northern Alliance, so they see no reason to stop now, especially since India is making its presence felt in Afghanistan.

Torn between these conflicting interests, the Pakistani military has been reluctant to go after either the Afghan or Pakistani Taliban in any meaningful way.

This relationship has also changed as a result of the American occupation of Afghanistan. Under attack from the U.S., the Taliban retreated across the Durand line into Pakistani territory. The Pakistani military started to see some groups of Taliban as a liability because they opposed the Pakistani state for collaborating with the U.S.

And so you saw the emergence of the “good Taliban-bad Taliban” binary — which is the lens through with the Pakistani military sees these various militant factions in the border areas. It has nothing to do with ideology or interests; it’s a very pragmatic distinction. The “bad Taliban” are the ones that attack the Pakistani state, while the “good Taliban” are the ones that don’t.

In practice, this binary is unstable and the boundary between these factions is porous — the good Taliban may switch over to the bad and the bad Taliban can be won over by concessions and negotiations to the “good” side.

The only faction of the Taliban that the Pakistani military has been unable to win over in any way is that represented by the TTP in South Waziristan, and that’s why we are seeing this military offensive against South Waziristan.

One thing is absolutely clear. Pakistan’s military is reluctant to go after the Taliban until it absolutely has to. In Swat, it essentially gave us an air-and-light show to demonstrate its commitment to eradicating the Taliban. But as Swati refugees have attested, the Army did very little to root out the Taliban in Swat. What it did do was kill civilians — men, women and children — and destroy homes and fields and livelihoods.

What has been the public reaction in Pakistan to the Army’s assaults in Swat and now South Waziristan? Just a few months ago, President Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistani Army were in great disrepute. Have they been able to use the attacks to win back support?

On a mass level, Zardari has been unable to galvanize support for his government. His excesses and corruption are too well known. However, the liberal and left intelligentsia has rallied around Zardari.

On the other hand, the Army has definitely galvanized public opinion behind it with its invasion of Swat. Of course, there are voices of dissent and reason, but by and large, nobody is questioning the Army any more.

There is less of an outrage about the U.S. drone attacks, which violate Pakistani sovereignty, than there had been before. Pakistani liberals supported the CIA drone attack on the Baitullah Mehsud. These drone attacks are no way to solve the problem of the Taliban. More often than not, the attacks merely kill civilians.

Why have Pakistani liberals tolerated the continuation of drone attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Waziristan?

For the Pakistani liberal elite, based in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, these areas have always been “the Frontier,” both geographically and within the imagination — somehow not really a part of Pakistan. There has always been ethnocentric (bordering on racist) attitude towards the Pushtuns and Baluchis, and this prejudice is more apparent than ever in the discourse of liberal Pakistanis.

Liberal intellectuals such as Pervey Hoodbhoy– who, by the way, have become the voice of the Pakistani liberal-left for the U.S., thanks to the privileged access they have been given by alternative media channels such as ZNet — regularly talk about Pushtuns as backward, “tribal” and thereby uniquely misogynist.

We also regularly hear the claim now that the Taliban are Pushtun nationalists, as if there was somehow some essential connection between Pushtun culture and fundamentalist Islam. Of course, making this claim requires erasing the long history of left politics in the Frontier. In fact, if anything, the Taliban are an anomaly as far Pushtun political history is concerned — Pushtun nationalism in Pakistan, at least, was always intensely secular.

However, facts like these cause the liberals in the U.S. and Pakistan too much cognitive dissonance, because squaring the rise of the Taliban and increasing militancy in this region with its past history of secularism requires understanding the fallout of the U.S. government’s Cold War machinations in Afghanistan — in particular, the proxy war with the Soviet Union, which the Pakistani army engineered for its masters.

From the very beginning, the Pakistani state, which was increasingly under the control of the military from the 1950s onwards, treated minority nationalities with contempt and even brutality. We saw this in the way in which the ruling West Pakistani elite treated East Pakistan for 25 years, and which culminated in the horrifying army action against Bengalis in 1971, in which they raped and killed their own citizens indiscriminately.

It is the same kind of prejudice and discrimination that has defined the state’s attitude towards Baluchistan, in particular, but also FATA. These longstanding prejudices are now on full display, and being used to justify state violence in the Pushtun areas, and in Baluchistan today.

It is important to note, though, that even though the prejudice and discrimination against Baluchis and Pushtuns has always been there, there has been a tremendous change in the level and intensity since the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan began, and Pakistan was pulled into the “war on terror.”

What we are seeing now is not simply an extension of an already fraught relationship between minority nationalities and the state — since 2001, the terror that the Pakistani military has unleashed in Baluchistan, in particular, has been unprecedented. The Pakistani military occupies Baluchistan at the moment — Baluchis are essentially living under siege, in constant fear for their lives. And to top it all off, there have been horrifying accounts of the rapes of local women by members of the Pakistani armed forces in Baluchistan.

It is this army that Pakistani liberals are cheering on, because they want to see it as a force that is protecting them from crazy militant fundamentalist tribals, who would otherwise somehow take over and destroy “their way of life.” If you notice, the discourse is very similar to liberal discourse around “radical Islam” in the U.S. For both sets of liberals, the use of military might in Afghanistan, FATA, Baluchistan, etcetera, is justified in the name of protecting “their way of life,” and for both sets of liberals, those who die are not human beings (or, in the case of Pakistan, even fellow citizens), but rather militants and fundamentalists (real or potential).

It’s important to note, though, that Pakistanis in general do not support military action against militants unreservedly, even if they support the army. Poll after poll shows that the majority still thinks that dialogue is the best way.

The liberal (and to some extent left) intelligentsia, however, have projected their opposition to the rising conservatism in Pakistani society — which itself needs to be understood historically — onto the Taliban. Add a healthy dose of racism, and you have a very heady brew.

You talked about Baluchistan, which is a province in southwestern Pakistan, and more generally, the home to a people whose population runs across the border into southern Afghanistan and southern Iran. What’s at stake here?

Pakistan, India, the U.S., China, Russia, and Iran are all jockeying for control of the region’s natural gas reserves, pipeline routes for those reserves, and the port in the city of Gwadur. In the process, Pakistan and the CIA are engaged in brutal repression of the Baluchis.

Throughout its history, Pakistan has maintained colonial dominance over Baluchistan. In the 1970s, the Pakistani state went in and crushed a national liberation struggle and has continued its repression ever since.

The Pakistani elite looks upon this as a sparsely populated frontier with strategic energy reserves and a port that it wants to control. So the Pakistani state has literally plundered the province. Until recently, Baluchistan did not even have access to its own natural gas. That’s the reason why the guerilla movements have risen up against the Pakistani state. In response, the Army has imposed a stranglehold on Baluchistan and have regularly killed anyone who exerts any form of resistance.

In response to this oppression, Baluchis have a long history of resistance to the Pakistani state, just as all the country’s minority nationalities have since East Pakistan fought for independence to become Bangladesh. It is clear that there is a new nationalist movement developing in Baluchistan today.

The biggest issue in Baluchistan has been the port, which the state has been developing in conjunction with the Chinese as means to export natural gas. The resistance has attacked the Chinese engineers, who they see rightly as part of the long-term plan to divest them of even more resources. It was very clear when the port was set up that the Pakistani state didn’t envision that Baluchistan would benefit in any way. It was set up as a national port and a national port city. They even brought in workers for construction and labor.

The CIA and the Pakistani state are training their own counter-insurgency forces to repress the Baluchi resistance. They are trying to blur the Baluchi resistance with the Taliban and make it seem as if it’s all part of the “war on terror” against Islamic fundamentalism.

The U.S. has multiple interests in Baluchistan. First, it wants to ensure its role in the pipelines that will transmit natural gas to the port. Second, the U.S. is using Baluchistan as a base to train Baluchi operatives that are engaged in a struggle against Iran. One such outfit, the Jundallah, just staged a series of attacks in Iran against the Revolutionary Guard.

So the Pakistani Army and the CIA are both repressing some Baluchis and training others to destabilize Iran. For all these reasons, Baluchi anger against the Pakistani state is at an all-time high. In response, the Pakistani Army is using its usual tactics of repression, disappearances, and now drone attacks. From Swat to South Waziristan and Baluchistan, the U.S. and the Pakistani state are causing nothing but chaos and destruction.

The Obama administration is clearly facing a major policy crisis in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Could you talk about this?

It’s clear that the U.S. is scrambling to figure out how to justify staying in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is a deeply unpopular war, both in the U.S. and in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the region, the drone attacks, widespread civilian deaths, and the occupation itself have undermined popular support for the U.S.

The U.S. has also lost domestic support for the war. And so they have to re-legitimize their efforts under new circumstances. From the very first, they collapsed the distinction between al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and they seem to be returning to that discourse. We now hear that the reason the U.S. is in Afghanistan and increasingly Pakistan is to battle “radical Islam” — and in the process, all militant groups in the region become “radical Islamists.”

Obama has said that the U.S. is going to stay in Afghanistan and Pakistan until there are no longer any people who want to attack America. That is a recipe for endless war and occupation, since the longer the U.S. stays, the more it produces legitimate anger and resentment.

What do you make of the new debate in the Obama administration between the so-called counter-terrorism strategy in Afghanistan and the prospects of a shift to what the military calls a counter-insurgency strategy?

Clearly, they had to switch tactics and rhetoric since the counter-terrorism strategy wasn’t working. Even a section of establishment in the U.S. turned against it. They were killing more civilians than militants, and this fact alone turned popular opinion against the U.S.

That’s why we’re seeing a shift to a counter-insurgency strategy that would deploy tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan to supposedly protect the population, in addition to black operations to kill the leading Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. McChrystal oversaw just this kind of operation in Iraq. In contrast to the puff pieces about him in the media, he represents the truly dark side of American imperialism.

It’s all well and good to say that what’s needed is a surge, like in Iraq. But it became clear that a surge is not going to work in Afghanistan. Even from a military strategy point of view, Afghanistan and Iraq are two completely different countries. Afghanistan is becoming a black hole in which you can keep pushing more and more troops, and you’re not going to get any kind of results that you got with the surge in Iraq. And let me say that it’s not as if things are great in Iraq now.

It’s clear that the U.S. is training people to engage in black ops — the recent exposé of the involvement of DynCorp in a training center run by an ex-Pakistani military guy in Islamabad tells us a lot. This is really scary in a place like Pakistan, because the military has virtual control over everything in the country, and they can do such things with impunity.

The U.S. and the Pakistani Army also have the advantage on this front because journalists have almost no access to the territories where they will be conducting these operations. There’s almost a complete blackout of information. So even topflight journalists often have no idea what is really going in the battleground areas like South Waziristan, Peshawar, Swat or Baluchistan, or if they do, they cannot report it.

At the same time as the Obama administration is debating its strategy, Congress just approved the Kerry-Lugar bill, a new civilian aid package for Pakistan. What’s your analysis of this aid?

This is the standard liberal part of the imperialist enterprise. The U.S. wants to appear to be caring for the Pakistani people instead of just pumping money into the military. They hope to lure people away from radical Islam in this region by providing jobs, education, and health facilities. On the surface, it sounds great. God knows that our country needs social and economic development.

The truth is it won’t work to throw money at the Pakistani state. The aid will never get to the people. We’ve had some 40 years of the development project in Pakistan, and at least 20 years of these huge international development agencies pumping money into Pakistan through nongovernmental organizations or through the government. But the country is still mired in unbelievable poverty.

It’s important to note that much of the aid promised to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar bill is unlikely to even make it to Pakistan. This is how aid works — there’s many a slip between cup and lip. What does make it will largely end up back in the U.S., via U.S. contractors, advisers, etc. This is another well-known aspect of international aid.

Secondly, corruption is rife within both the civilian and military wings of the Pakistani state. Much of the aid will be skimmed off by the state — especially now, with Zardari, Mr. Ten Percent himself, in charge — as well as the military which controls much of Pakistan’s economy.

Moreover, it’s not likely that the U.S. government is going to stop military aid. It needs the Pakistani military to do its dirty work. And so it will be willing to look the other way while the military skims off whatever it wants. For example, the U.S. gave close to $6 billion in cash to the Pakistani military over the last eight years that has simply disappeared. It was never been accounted for. In fact, recently, the military itself complained that it never saw the money it was promised!

The U.S. has attempted to address the corruption question in the new aid package. It stipulated that the U.S. retains all sorts of supervisory control over distribution of funds. The Pakistani establishment is up in arms about this supervision and is cynically complaining about U.S. violations of national sovereignty. They’re trying to whip anger against Americans so that they can pocket the cash.

The truth is also that aid has been one of the people’s biggest enemies — not just in Pakistan, but certainly there as well. As a result of IMF loans for development, Pakistan’s external debt is over $50 billion at the moment, up from $38 billion under Pervez Musharraf. Although this might not be true of the money released under Kerry-Lugar, most of the aid that developing countries like Pakistan get goes towards debt servicing. In Pakistan, the IMF and its aid racket has caused severe deprivation through years of structural adjustment, privatization, and selling off of national assets.

So if you add IMF conditions to an unresponsive and unaccountable state apparatus, the Pakistani people are truly and completely screwed. And so throwing more money at that state is simply not going to work. If one is really serious about addressing the needs of the Pakistani people, the debt needs to be forgiven. Instead, the Obama administration’s liberal aid package puts a friendly face on its imperialist ambitions in the region.

The Obama administration has significantly confused the antiwar movement by emphasizing — as Bush did — the threat of radical Islam and its oppression of women. This has led some organizations like Code Pink to retreat from a demand for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. What do you make of this new development?

I find it shocking because Code Pink has been one of our strongest allies. Medea Benjamin actually went to Pakistan during the emergency. It was shocking enough when the Feminist Majority reiterated is support for American troops in Afghanistan recently. But this was even worse.

Like Bush before, Obama has used the reality of fundamentalist attacks on women to justify continuing the war in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is a huge problem for those of us who are trying to take principled antiwar, pro-Pakistani people position. We are up against pro-war forces in the U.S. and Pakistan that trot out this “feminist” justification of the war. They see the main threat not in the military, which has misruled Pakistan for decades, but this monstrous misogynist figure of the Pushtun Taliban. This argument has a lot of credence in Pakistan, just as it does here.

The characterization of Pushtuns is completely false. Many of the militant groups in Pakistan, like Lashkar-e-Taiba are Punjabi, not Pushtun. By conflating Pushtuns with militancy, and all militancy with “Islamism,” they ignore Lashkar’s reactionary violence within Pakistan, especially against Christians.

In the run-up to the invasion of Swat, a video was released — we don’t know by whom — of the flogging of a woman by the Taliban. I’m not arguing that it was released by the military, but its end result was to mobilize liberal support in Pakistan for the military.

This was huge, because over the past few years, Pakistani liberal support for the military seemed to be waning — thanks in large part to the movement against Musharraf. However, by mobilizing fear and anger against the Taliban, the video and other media stories about the horrors of the Taliban resulted in the Pakistani liberals by and large doing an about-turn on the question of the military.

This is not to say that the Taliban are not a reactionary and extremely scary bunch of lunatics. They are. But the issue in Pakistan is not their imminent takeover of the country. The problems are much more complex.

If people are really concerned about the status of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan, then they must demand that the U.S. end its war in these countries.

In the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. presented a fanciful scene of women magically shedding their burkas, putting on lipstick, and attending beauty schools. Even if one accepts this vision of liberation, it clearly isn’t happening anymore.

Instead, violence against women has increased exponentially. It has increased as a direct result of the U.S. occupation. This isn’t unique to Afghanistan or Pakistan. It’s a fact that women in war zones, regardless of the country’s religion, are always among the most vulnerable groups.

I don’t mean to downplay the horrific features of the Taliban or other fundamentalist forces. I have been part of the women’s movement in Pakistan, and I would never condone or provide justifications for such forces.

But the most important thing is to focus on the root causes of this oppression. Poverty creates and exacerbates all kinds of violence against women. War and occupation only makes this situation worse.

In most societies — not just Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Pushtun — women are considered the repositories of their community’s honor. So in military occupations, combatants on all sides use rape as a means of humiliating and dishonoring their enemy. Whenever you conduct a war, the people who will suffer the most are going to be women.

We know the U.S. presence has exacerbated precisely those conditions that enable violence against women. We saw this happen in Iraq, and Iraq didn’t have long history Islamic fundamentalism or fundamentalist violence against women. That actually started after the war and occupation of Iraq. The starting point of the liberation of women in Afghanistan is an end to the occupation.

That’s why it’s so important for people to go and hear the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, and former Afghan member of parliament Malalai Joya, who is currently on tour in the U.S. These are Afghan women, and they are adamantly opposed to the occupation.

They can help puncture this imperialist mythology of saving and liberating women, and reaffirm what should be obvious — the U.S. war and occupation has made the position of women far worse. We need to get the U.S. out of the region.

 

November 16, 2009

दवा -हरिशंकर परसाई

Filed under: Literature — movementofthought @ 5:05 am

दवा -हरिशंकर परसाई

कवि ‘अनंग’ जी का अन्तिम क्षण आ पहुंचा था। डाॅक्टरों ने कह दिया कि यह अधिक से अधिक घंटे भर के मेहमान हैं। अनंग जी पत्नि ने कहा कि कुछ ऐसी दवा दे दें जिससे पांच छः घण्टे जीवित रह सकें ताकि शाम की गाड़ी से आने वाले बेटे से मिल लें। डाॅक्टरों ने कहा कि कोई भी दवा इन्हे घण्टे भर से अधिक जीवित नहीं रख सकती। इसी समय अनंग जी के मित्र आए। वे बोले ‘‘मैं इन्हे मजे से कई घण्टे जीवित रख सकता हूं।’’ डाॅक्टरों ने हंस कर कहा ‘‘यह असंभव है।’’ मित्र ने कहा ‘‘खैर मुझे कोशिश तो कर लेने दीजिए । आप सब लोग बाहर हो जाइये।’’ सब बाहर चले गए। मित्र अनंग जी के पास बैठे और बोले ‘‘अनंग जी, अब तो आप सदा के लिए चले। यह सुललित कण्ठ अब कहां सुनने को मिलेगा। जाते जाते कुछ सुना जाइये।’’ यह सुनते ही अनंग जी उठ कर बैठ गए और बोले, ‘‘मन तो नहीं है पर आपकी प्रार्थना टाली भी नहीं जा सकती। अच्छा अलमारी में से काॅपी निकालिये न’’। मित्र ने काॅपी उठा कर हाथ में दे दी और अनंग जी कविता पाठ करने लगे। घण्टे पर घण्टे बीतते गए। शाम को गाड़ी आ गयी और लड़का भी आ गया। उसने कमरे में घुसते ही देखा कि पिता जी कविता पढ़ रहे हैं और उनके मित्र मरे पड़े हैं।

November 5, 2009

Drought of Justice, Flood of Funds – P. Sainath

Filed under: Article — movementofthought @ 5:47 pm

[ Some times they blame it on drought, some times on flood, sometimes on hoarding and sometimes on  black-marketing. The price rise in the food items is a constant phenomena in the last few years and since 2004, it is the highest for any period in the country. This year also when overall inflation rate remains at around 1.5%, prices of food items have gone up 13.4% in the last one year. In this article, P Sainath is exploring the reason why food prices are going up while cars, air lines and other luxury items are getting cheaper!!

This article was originally published in ‘The Hindu’ newspaper on 15th August 2009.  – Editor]


By P. SAINATH
Mumbai
Sure, August is proving an unusual month. But what an extraordinary one July was. We celebrated the delivery of the cheapest car in the world and the costliest tur dal (pigeon pea) in our history within the same 31 days. And it took some work to get there. The price of tur dal was around Rs.34 a kilogram just after the 2004 elections, Rs. 54 before the 2009 polls, Rs. 62 just after and now, at over Rs. 90, bids for three-figure status. (49 rupees = $1.)
The euphoria of July also saw Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia of the Planning Commission declare that the “worst is behind us.” (Though it must be conceded he had said that even in June and possibly earlier). That’s good. I only wish they’d told us when the worst was upon us. It would have been nice to know. Otherwise, it gets hard to appreciate improvement.
As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister suggest the worst could be ahead of us. And they don’t mean the swine flu. Both appear to have written off much of the kharif (summer or monsoon) crop. They advise us to buckle up for a further rise in food prices due to the drought they now say affects 177 districts. That they’ve thrown in the towel on the kharif crop is evident in their calling for more efficient planning of the rabi (winter crop). Yet, the government had two months during which it could have opted for compensatory production of foodgrain in regions getting relatively better rainfall. But there was no effort at monsoon management.
Even today there are very useful things that could be done to counter the worst ahead. A positive step taken by the Rural Development Ministry now allows small but vital assets like farm ponds to be created on the lands of farmers through the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme NREGS . A pond on every farm should be the objective of every government. (Incidentally, this would help hugely with the rabi season. It would also ease the hostility of quite a few farmers towards the NREGS.) A massive expansion of the NREGS will also help cushion the hundreds of thousands of laborers struggling to find work and devastated by rising food costs. But it would call for throwing out the entirely destructive 100-days-per-household limit on work under the scheme. With the Prime Minister calling for anti-drought measures on “a war footing,” this should be the time to do it.
The price-rise-due-to-drought warning is a fraud. Of course, a drought and major crop failure will push up prices further. But prices were steadily rising for five years since the 2004 elections, long before a drought. Take the years between 2004 and 2008 when you had some good monsoons. And more than one year in which we claimed “record production” of foodgrain. The price of rice went up 46 per cent, that of wheat by over 62 per cent, atta (whole wheat flour) 55 per cent, salt 42 per cent and more. By March 2008, the average increase in price of such items was already well over 40 per cent. Then these rose again till a little before the 2009 polls and have risen dramatically in the past three months.
The agriculture minister appears to have figured out that the stunning rise in the price of pulses may have little to do with drought. “There is no reason,” he finds, “for prices to rise in this fashion merely on a supply-demand gap.” He then went on to find a valid reason: “blackmarketing or hoarding.” But he stayed silent on forward trading in agricultural commodities. Many senior ministers have long maintained that “there is no evidence” that speculation related to forward trading has had any impact on food prices. (The ban on trading in wheat futures was lifted even before the results of the 2009 polls were announced in May. And existing bans on other items have been challenged in interpretation.)
The price rise since 2004 could be the highest for any period in the country barring perhaps the pre-emergency period. For the media, of course, July was far more interesting for the political price in Parliament over the Gas war between the Ambani brothers. When these two barons brawl, governments can fall. Also, how could atta be more interesting than airline tickets (the prices of which fell dramatically over several years). Food prices may have gone up but airline travel costs went down and those are the prices that mattered.
So the price of aviation turbine fuel became a far more to-be-covered thing as private airlines threatened a strike demanding public money bailouts. At the time of writing, it appears the government will try and make things cheaper for them. These airline owners include some associated with the Indian Premier League cricket enterprise, which got crores of rupees worth of tax write-offs last year. Maharashtra waived entertainment tax on the IPL. And with so many games held in Mumbai that proved a bonanza for the barons paid for by the public.
There’s always money for the Big Guys. Take a look at the budget and the “Revenues foregone under the central tax system.” The estimate of revenues foregone from corporate revenues in 2008-09 $ 14.3 billion. By contrast, the NREGs covering tens of millions of impoverished human beings gets $ 8.1 billion in the 2009-10 budget.
Remember the great loan waiver of 2008, that historic write-off of the loans of indebted farmers? Recall the editorials whining about ‘fiscal imprudence?’ That was a one-time, one-off waiver covering countless millions of farmers and was claimed to touch $14.5 billion. But over $ 27 billion (in direct taxes) have been doled out in concessions in just two budgets to a tiny gaggle of merchants hogging at the public trough, without a whimper of protest in the media. Imagine what budget giveaways to corporates since 1991 would total. We’d be talking many trillions of rupees.
Imagine if we were able to calculate what the corporate mob has gained in terms of revenue foregone in indirect taxes. Those would be much higher and would mostly swell the corporate kitty for the simple reason that producers rarely pass on these gains to consumers. Let’s take only what the budget tells us (Annexure 12, Table 12, p.58). Income foregone in 2007-08 due to direct tax concessions was $ 12.9 billion. That foregone on excise duty was $ 18.20 billion. And on customs duty $ 31.9 billion. That adds up to $ 63.1 billion. Even if we drop export credit from this, it comes to well over $ 41.6 billion. For 2008-09, that figure would be over $ 62.4 billion. That’s a very conservative estimate. This is just from the union budget. It does not include all manner of subsidies and rate cuts and other freebies to the corporate sector. But it’s big enough.
Simply put, the corporate world has grabbed concessions of over $104 billion in just two years that total more than seven times the ‘fiscally imprudent’ farm loan waiver. In fact, it means that on average we’ve been feeding the corporate world close to $ 145 million a day every day in those two years. Imagine calculating what this figure would be, in total rupees, since 1991. Ask for an expansion of the NREGS, seek universal access to the PDS, plead for more spending on public health and education – and there’s no money. Yet there’s enough to give away over $ 6 million an hour to the corporate world in concessions.
If Indian corporations saw their net profits rise in April-June this year, despite gloom and doom around them, there’s a reason. All that feeding frenzy at the public trough. The same quarter saw 170,000 organized sector jobs lost in the very modest estimate of the Labour Ministry. That’s not counting the 1.5 million said to have been lost in just the export sector between September and April by the then Commerce Secretary.
And now comes the drought. A convenient villain to hang all our man-made distress on — and sure to oblige by adding greatly to that distress. A huge fall in farm incomes is in the offing. If the government wants to act on a war footing, it could start with a serious expansion of the NREGS (about the only lifejacket people in districts like Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh have at this point, for instance). It could launch, among many other things, the pond-in-every-farm program. It could restructure farm loan schedules. It could start getting the idea of monsoon management into its thinking. It could curb forward trading-linked speculation that was driving one of our worst price rises in history long before the drought was on the horizon. And it could declare universal access to the Public Distribution System. That cost could probably be easily covered by say, cancelling the dessert from the menu of the unending corporate free lunch in this country.

November 1, 2009

‘मोल’- मनाली चक्रवर्ती

Filed under: Literature — movementofthought @ 11:09 am

मनाली चक्रवर्ती का यह रिपोर्ताज विस्थापन की समस्या को बहुत ही संवेदनशीलता के साथ मानवीय और नैतिक धरातल पर उठाता है। आज जब विस्थापन और विस्थापन के खिलाफ प्रतिरोध एक तरह से शास्त्रीय वर्ग युद्ध में बदल चुका है तो मनाली की यह रचना बहुत ही प्रासंगिक हो उठती है। – सम्पादक

 

‘मोल’
मनाली चक्रवर्ती
       
जहाँ हम ठहरे थे वह कस्बा जिले से कुछ बाहर था।
साथियों ने कहा ‘गाँव है यह’ पर देखने से गाँव नहीं लगता- मतलब
जिन गावों की छवि से मैं परिचित थी वैसा नहीं था यह। मेरा परिचय
अधिकतर फिल्मों से ही हुआ है और उस में भी स्वाभाविकतः निर्देशक
पर काफी कुछ निर्भर करता है- गोविन्द निहलानी, गौतम घोष या
श्याम बेनेगल के गाँवों से सूरज बड़जात्या का ‘हम आपके हैं कौन’
का गाँव का कोई मेल नहीं। और फिर जिन गाँवों में गई हूँ वहाँ
हमेशा प्राँत विशेष ही तय करता है कि गाँव कैसा दिखता है- जैसे कि
पूर्वी गुजरात के संभ्रात गाँव, जहाँ बिजली, पानी, केबल, मोबाइल सब
उपकरण हैं, और हरे-हरे गन्ने के खेतों के बीचों-बीच पूर्वी उत्तर प्रदेश
के अति गरीब गाँव जहाँ मड़ैय्या-छप्परों के बीच एक पक्का मकान तक
नज़र नहीं आता। इसके अलावा पिताजी से सुना है, अनगिनत बार,
पूर्वी बंगाल का वह अपरिचित पर फिर भी चिरपरिचित छोटे से गाँव के
बारे में। महज सत्रह साल के थे जब देष विभाजन के कारण छोड़ आए
थे वह गाँव, जिन्दगी के बाकी के साठ साल पल-पल उसकी मिट्टी
की सुगंध में बिताया है पिताजी ने। उसके खेत खलिहान, पूजा-पार्बन,
पाठशाला, पेड़ों का झुरमुट, नारियल के बगीचे, घोष परिवार का
2
बँगला, और उसमें टंगी गाँव की एक मात्र घड़ी, अनगिनत तालाब,
कलकलाती नदी, प्रतापी पिता, स्नेहमयी माँ, और कितनी ही मासियाँ-
इनकी कहानियाँ सुनसुनकर ही हम भाई-बहन बड़े हुए। इस बिछड़ी हुए
माटी की दूर्निवार आकर्षण ही खींच ले गई पिताजी को अपने गाँव
में, ‘आज़ादी’ के पचास साल बाद। वीसा, ट्रेन, बस, नाँव, सब
सवारियों के बाद जब पहुँचे अपने गाँव में तो सब कुछ बदल गया था-
पहले गाँव से तीन मील दूर पक्की सड़क हुआ करती थी पर अब तो
उन्हें सीधे गाँव के बाहर लाकर उतारा बस ने। चैड़ी लम्बी सड़क एक
स्पीड बे्रकर भी नहीं- सुना है विश्व बैंक के पैसों से बनी है ऐसी
मखमली सड़कें। लोग बदल गए- तालाब भर गये, बाग उजड़ गये-
वह फालसा आम का पेड़ तो रहा ही नहीं, उसके पोते पर पोते भी
कहीं नज़र नहीं आए। घोष बाड़ी तो है, पर आज वह लतीफ चाचा
की है पर शायद सब से दर्दनाक बदलाव पिताजी के लिये यह था कि
उनके बाप दादाओं के घर का नामों निशान भी कहीं नहीं रहा। कोई
पक्का मकान न था, मिट्टी, खपरैल, पत्थर से ही बना था, जो हर
साल बरसात में कहीं न कहीं से धंस जाता था पर फिर भी पिताजी
की निगाह में सबसे निश्चिंत की जगह थी, जहाँ पहुँच भर जाने से
रात के अंधेरे में मरघट से पीछा करते आए तमाम प्रेतात्मा भाग जाते,
3
पड़ोसी गाँव के नाराज़ कुत्तों की आवाज़ नहीं पहुँचती, रतन दादा की
दर्दनाक खाँसी सुनाई नहीं देती, बस चिरपरिचित भात पकने की महक
और माँ के पसीना रंजीत सिंदूर की गोलाकाय बड़ी सी बिन्दी उनान
(चूल्हे) के पास दमकती नज़र आती। इसी घर में उन्होंने ‘खूब पढ़ाई’
करने के सपने देखे थे पिताजी की ‘राशभारी’ आवाज़ के भय से पैंट
गीली की थी, मेज़दा के साथ बोस बाड़ी से नारियल और कई माछ
चुराने के प्लैन बनाये थे, और भी जाने क्या-क्या। पर आज- उस सारे
सपने, आकाँक्षायें, यादें, यातनाएं उनका कोई चिह्न भी नहीं अवशेष
था। वह पूरा इलाका अब धान खेत में बदल गया था। पिताजी को
इतना बड़ा सदमा लगा कि वह फिर कभी उससे उभर न पाए। जाने
क्या-क्या सोच कर आए थे अपनी जन्मभूमी में अर्धशताब्दी बाद- सुना
है सन सैंतालिस में जब भागे थे तब किसी को भी यह अंदाज़ा नहीं
था कि अब कभी वापस आना नहीं होगा। वह लोग शायद यह सोच
नहीं पाए थे अपने सबसे खतरनाक दुःस्वप्न मंे भी। शायद यही
कारण था कि दादी मसहरी-गद्दों को करीने से सजाकर आई थी, चूल्हें
की लकड़ी गोदाम मंे भर कर आई थी और गल्ला, कपड़ों मंे नीम की
सूखी टहनियाँ परत-परत लगा कर आई थी। क्या पिताजी ने उम्मीद
की थी कि सब कुछ वैसा ही मिलेगा? चूँकि उनकी यादें 50 साल
4
पहले रूक गई थी सिर्फ इसी कारण इस छोटे से गाँव को समय की
मार छू तक नही जाएगी? मानो रूपकथा की सोती हुई राजकुमारी की
तरह, वक्त के प्रहार से अनछुई, पिताजी के स्पर्श के इंतज़ार में बनी
रहेगी, बिल्कुल पहले की तरह। पता नहीं धान खेत के मेड़ पर बैठे
हुए, इस बात से बेखबर की गीली मिट्टी उनकी धोती को सान रही
है, पिताजी शून्य की तरफ देखते हुए जाने क्या सोचते रहे- घंटो।
थोड़ी दूर पर मेरी माँ, उस 67 वर्ष के किशोर के अपार दुःख में चाह
कर भी नहीं शरीक हो पा रही थी। मौन थे दोनो- और मौन था
समय- उजड़ना, बिछड़ना, विस्थापन, शायद कभी भी एक पल नहीं
होता है, वही शेष जिन्दगी की एक मात्र सच्चाई बन जाती है और
कभी-कभी तो वह लम्हा बन जाती है पीढ़ी दर पीढ़ी की विरासत में
पाई गई कभी न मिटने वाली यादें।
यही सब सोच रही थी मैं इस छोटी सी जगह में पहुँचकर।
कुछ साथियों ने बताया था कि यहाँ 182 गाँवों का विस्थापन होने जा
रहा है क्युँ? पूराना सवाल और जवाब भी वही पुराना इस इलाके का
डेवलप्मेंट होने जा रहा है- इस इलाके में कोयला पाया गया है जमीन
के महज़ 10 फिट नीचे और अब यह देश की तरक्की का कारण बनेगा
यही इस देश के कर्णधारों की आशा है उस धरती के ऊपर बसे
5
तीन-एक लाख लोगों के कारण इतना महान कार्य रूक तो नहीं
सकता-हटना ही होगा उनको।
और दूर दिल्ली, सिंगापुर, लंदन या वाशिंगटन में बैठे चंद
ज्ञानी मानी लोगों ने इस आशय पर दस्तखत कर दिये टेबुल साइज
मानचित्र पर कुछ रेखाऐं जड़ दी ठीक् वैसे ही जैसे कि साठ साल पहले
दिल्ली लंदन में बैठे कुछ लोगों ने लकीरें खींचकर मेरे पिताजी के
अपने गाँव को, ताल, तलैया, नदी घर समेत, परदेश बना दिया था।
यही परंपरा तो चलती आई है। यह देखने मैं नहीं आई थी। मैं तो
इसलिये आई थी क्युँकि सुनने में आया है कि इस इलाके के लोग इन
रेखाओं की वैधता को मानने को तेयार नहीं थे और उसके खिलाफ
मोर्चा बनाये हुये थे। लड़ने पर आमादा थे। देश का सबसे पिछड़ा
प्राँत, उसी का यह अनजान इलाका और इतनी बड़ी ललकार? इस
अनहोनी का स्वरूप जानने पहुँची थी मैं यहाँ।
हाँ, तो जिस कस्बे मंे हम थे, उसे देखकर लगता ही नहीं
था कि छोटा नागपुर का इलाका हो- मिट्टी का रंग तो लाल था-
जैसा मैंने किताबों में पढ़ा था, पर कन्स्ट्रक्शन की धूम के कारण
शायद, ज़मीन दूर-दूर तक समतल करा दी गई थी। और कन्स्ट्रक्शन
भी ऐसे-जैसे मानो प्रदेश के बजट की सारी रकम बिल्डिंगों में झोंक दी
6
गई हो- सरकारी भी, गैर सरकारी भी। और इसी भीषण भट्टे के
चलते तमाम लोगों ने अपनी-अपनी रोटी एवं बोटी सेंक ली थी,
शायद। चारों तरफ भव्य बंगले, विशाल फार्म हाउस, बड़ी-बड़ी
सलाखेंदार बाउन्ड्री और भयानक कुत्ते, सब। पर यह सब शहर तक ही
सीमित है, जिन गावों का विस्थापन होने जा रहा था वे यहाँ से करीब
चालिस पचास किलोमीटर की दूरी पर थे। रोज़ सुबह हम यह दूरी
संगठन की जरजर जीप में तय करते- जिसकी खासियत यह थी कि
वह आम चैपहिया वाहनों से बिल्कुल अलग थी। जहाँ आम वाहन में
बैठकर रास्ते की बनावट का ठीक से पता न चल पाता- ऊँचाई-निचाई,
गढ्डे या बम्प- इस जीप में जहाँ गढ्डा न भी हो वहाँ भी गड्ढे का
एहसास होता और जहाँ सच में हो वहाँ तो पूछो ही न- सुभानअल्ला!
हर जोड़ बजता पर शुक्र है कि हार्न भी बजता, जब कि उसके प्रयोग
की ज्यादा ज़रूरत न होती- साइलेंसर न होने के कारण फर्लांग भर
तक सारे इलाके को उसके आने का पता लग जाता। सीट में कुशन
नहीं, सीट के नीचे शाॅक एब्जार्बर नहीं, वाइपर नहीं, और पेट्रोल के
मामले में महा पेटू- पर भरपेट भोजन के बाद भी (टंकी फुल होने के
बावजूद) हमारे स्वास्थ्य का ख्याल रखते हुए अक्सर धक्का लगाने पर
ही चलती। पर इन सब के बावजूद इस वाहन में एक विशेषता थी
7
जिसका महत्व हम तुरन्त नहीं ताड़ पाए। यह 20 से 30 कि.मी. प्रति
घंटे के रफ्तार से ही चल पाती। और इसी गुण के बदौलत, तमाम
दिक््कतों के बावजूद रोज़ 90-100 कि.मी. सफर करते हुए हम उस
इलाके को थोड़ा बहुत जान पाए। सरपट भागने वाला वाहन होता तो
शायद हमें यह मौका न मिलता। लम्बी सर्पीली सड़क उतार, चढ़ाव,
ढलान, चढ़ाई को तय करती हुई और दोनों तरफ घना अभेद्य जंगल
कितनी तरह की हरियाली, कितने तरह के पेड़, चिड़ियों का झुंड,
बीच-बीच में कल-कल करती बारह- मासी नदी, संकरे ब्रिज के नीचे से
बहती हुई- एकबार फिर एहसास हुआ वृक्षारोपण से आप जंगल नहीं
बसा सकते, सिर्फ करीने से पेड़ लगा सकते- उसमें जंगल की मादकता
नहीं होती। मादकता से याद आया, साथी ने परिचय कराया कि वह
चैड़े पत्ते वाले पेड़ सब महुआ के हैं- यहां महुआ का फल खाया भी
जाता है और पिया भी जाता है। बीच-बीच में कई दो पहिए, तिपहिए,
और चैपहिए वाहन पीछे से आकर हम से आगे निकल जाते। पर
इतने मनोरम दृश्य के बीच से गुजरते हुए समय का एहसास न रहता।
तीनों तरफ दूर क्षितिज में पहाड़ियाँ नज़र आ रही थी- साथियों ने
बताया कि इन पहाड़ियों में करीबन सौ छोटी-बड़ी गुफायें हैं, और यहां
के आदिवासियों को इनकी एक-एक की विशेषताएं पता हैं- सदियों से
8
जो रिश्ता है इनका पहाड़ व जंगल से। और पता है इन गुफाओं-
जंगल के बारे में एक और तबके को जो छा गए हैं, इन इलाकों में
पिछले 25-30 सालों से। नौजवान, निर्भीक, बंदूकधारी और पूरे इलाके
मंे दिन ढलने के बाद जिनकी सरकार चलती है यहां। हां कई जगहों
में तो दिन मंे भी। अजीब सा रिश्ता है इस तबके का यहां के स्थानीय
लोगों के साथ, कुछ अपनों सा और कुछ बेगानों सा, बहुत ही
पेचीदा।
बहरहाल उस एक हफ्ते में दो-एक दिन जब मीटिंग में देर
होने की वजह से हमारी जीप को जंगल के बीच से दिन ढलने के बाद
गुजरना पड़ा तब हमारी स्थानीय साथी के माथे में परेशानी के बल
नज़र आए। शहर की रोशनी जब तक नज़र नहीं आती वह सामने के
सीट में ड्राइवर के बगल में बिल्कुल चुपचाप बैठे रहते- हमारी किसी
भी हंसी-ठठ्ठा या चर्चा में भाग न लेते।
जंगल का इलाका करीबन बीस एक किलोमीटर फैला हुआ
है और उसके बाद सड़क गांव की ओर मोड़ लेती है। आस-पास का
दृश्य बदल जाता है- दोनों तरफ मीलों तक सब्ज़ खेत, धान, गन्ना,
मक्का और सब्जी- वाह आँखों में मानों किसी ने ठंडे पानी का
झपट्टा दिया हो, कितनी ठंडक, कितना शीतल है यह दृश्य। इसकी
9
हरियाली मंे और जंगल की हरियाली में बिल्कुल मेल नहीं, जंगल को
देखकर लगता है मानों प्रथम प्रेम के आवेग में कोई बंधन न मानने
वाली प्रेयसी, उसमें एक अदम्य मादकता है, आकर्षित करती है अपनी
तरफ, पर कुछ डार सा भी लगता है, एक अनजान आपे को खो देने
वाले आकर्षण का भय- जो उसे और भी लुभावना बनाता है। पर
खेतों की हरियाली, यह मानों माँ की ममता का चिरपरिचित आंचल,
कितना सुकून कितनी शांति, मन करता है गोद में सर रखकर सो
जाएं सारी थकान दूर हो जाएगी।
खेतों के बीच से सड़क गुजरती और सड़क पर से हमने
अपनी जीप में गुजरते हुये कई गाँव पार किए- छोटे हाट, छोटी-छोटी
दुकानें, सड़क में बिकती सस्ती मछली और उसकी महक, नंगे बच्चों
का झुण्ड शोर मचाते हमारा पीछा करता गाँव के छोर तक और फिर
सन्नाटा, फिर दूसरा गाँव।
पाँच दिन, पाँच मीटिंगें, ज्यादातर किसी पक्की बिल्डिंग में
होती ब्लाक आफिस, प्राइमरी स्कूल, स्थानीय मंदि या गाँव के चैपाल
मंे। मीटिंग में ज्यादा भिन्नता नहीं- कुछ अच्छे वक्ता बहुत सारे अच्छे
श्रोता और सफेदपोश अतिथियों, यानी हम लोगों से, दुनियाभर की
अपेक्षायें। चुप बैठे-बैठे, एक अच्छे वक्ता का भाषण सुनते हुये एहसास
10
हुआ कि सारे अच्छे वक्ता कुछ-कुछ एक जैसे होते हैं मानों फैक्टरी में
मशीनों द्वारा बनाया गया सामान- उनमें नियमितता तो नज़र आती है
पर सुनते-सुनते बोरियत सी होती है, ऊबन के कारण ध्यान हटने
लगता। पर खराब वक्ता- अव्वल तो उन्हें बोलने को ही नहीं कहा
जाता, पर कभी कदार जब मौका मिलता है तो उनका भाषण बिल्कुल
भिन्न नज़र आता- न कि सिर्फ अच्छे वक्ताओं से अलग पर एक दूसरे
से भी अलग। यही उनकी खासियत है। और कभी-कभी इसी कारण
से वह ज्यादा असरदार होता। हकलाते हुए, दोहराते हुए, संकोच के
कारण पसीने से लथपथ उनकी छवि से लोगों के मन में संवेदना
जागती, भीड़ को लगता है कि उनका असली प्रतिनिधि बोल रहा है,
और वह ज्यादा ध्यान से सुनती। देखा मैंने पूरी थ्योरी बना दी। कहने
का आशय यह है कि मीटिंगों से मुझे कुछ भी नहीं समझ आ रहा था
जमीनी हालात के बारे में। बस वही धिसी-पिटी बातें।
-‘हम लड़ेंगे’- ‘जान दे देंगे जमीन नहीं’, सरकार को
ललकार, पस्त बैठे लोगों को धिक्कार पैसों की माँग, संगठन के लिए
समय देने की मांग, बेहतर मुआवज़ों की मांग, आदि-आदि।
बीच-बीच में थोड़े-थोड़े तथ्यों का पता लगता – कितनी
जमीन जाएगी, कितने गाँव उजड़ेंगे, कौन सा इलाका जलमग्न होगा,
11
कितनी भरपाई मिलेगी, कितने लोगों के पास ज़मीन है, कौन सिर्फ
जुताई करता है बटाई पर, किसके पास सरकारी कागज़ हैं, किसने सिर्फ
जंगल साफ करके अपने गुजारे भर की जमीन अपनायी है, आदि,
आदि।
बात कुछ साफ न होती- किसी के दिमाग में सफाई नहीं,
जहां एक तरफ लोग जमीन के मुद्दे पर मरने को तैयार हैं वहीं उनके
परिवार के लोग जमीन बेचकर ट्रैक्टर मोल लाए। पूछने का मन हुआ
‘जमीन ही चली जाएगी तो ट्रक्टर का करोगे क्या’? गांव में कई मोटर
साइकलें नज़र आई, किसी ने बताया हाल ही में बिजली आई है और
तुरन्त ही केबल भी। अब मीटिंग भी सीरियल के समय अनुसार
रखना पड़ता है। कौन दलाल है, कौन महाजन, समझ नहीं आता।
समाज का ढांचा बदल गया, रिश्ते बदल गए, घर टूट गए, परिवार
बिखर गए और अभी तक तो विस्थापन हुआ भी नहीं था। तरह-तरह
की अफवाह, तरह-तरह की आशंका, आशा, भय, लोभ, अनिश्चयता।
मुआवज़ा कितना मिलेगा-5000 प्रति एकड़ या 5 लाख, कितना वाजिब
है, नौकरी मिलगी की नहीं, कहां जाएंगे, कहां रहेंगे, क्या खाएंगे, घर
कैसे बनेगा, और सामान, गाय, और कल्लू बकरी, आने वाली पीढ़ी?
12
इतने सवाल, इतने जवाब, सच-झूठ, गलत-सही, आधी-पूरी कुछ समझ
नहीं आता।
दिमाग उलझता ही चला जा रहा था- सामाजिक
परिस्थितियों की पेचीदियों को समझना कितना मुश्किल है- माओं से
तूंग ने चीन जैसे भीषण जटिल समाज का 8 पन्नों में विश्लेषण कर
दिया था। पहली बार पढ़ने के बाद ऐसा लगा था मानों आसपास की
तमाम उलझाने वाली तथ्यों और परिस्थितियों को समझने का अचूक
जादू की छड़ी पकड़ा दी हो किसी ने मुझे। अपनी उपलब्धि की
उत्तेजना के कारण नींद नहीं आई मुझे कई रात। 21 साल की थी मैं।
आज इतने सालों में धीरे-धीरे और बहुत कुछ समझ आया है मुझे।
उस पहली समझ की चमक और धार भी काफी कम हो गयी है। और
हाँ, इन सालों में यथार्थ से जब-जब परिचय हुआ, सामना हुआ, यह
अहसास हुआ है कि वस्तुस्थिति हमेशा ही थ्योरी से कहीं ज्यादा
घुमावदार होती है। उसे समझना आसान नहीं और वाइड स्पेक्ट्रम
एंटीबायोटिक की तरह किसी और परिपेक्ष्य की सीख सीधे-सीधे कहीं
और लागू नहीं होती। दिमाग में यही सब उधेड़-बुन चल रही थी जब
जीप एक जगह रोक दी गई। नज़र घुमाकर देखा तो पाया सामने हाट
लगा हुआ है- गाँव का छोटा सा, बड़ी मंडी की चहल पहल न थी पर
13
फिर भी सौ-दो-सौ लोग खरीद-फरोक्त में लगे हुये थे। स्थानीय साथी
ने कहा कि यहां से सब्जी खरीद ली जाएगी तो शहर से कम से कम
दो-तीन गुना कम दाम पड़ेगा- और ताजी भी होगी। साथी ने पहले
ही बताया था कि इस इलाके में करोड़ों की सब्जी उगाई जाती और दूर
महानगरों तक सप्लाई होती। बाकी साथी तो जीप में ही बैठे रहे पर
मैं सब्जी खरीदने वाले साथी के साथ हो ली। मैं शहर की इंसान-
ऐसा दृश्य मैंने पहले कभी भी नहीं देखा था पहले। जरा वर्णन कर
दूँ।
बेचने वाली ज्यादातर महिलायें- कहीं अकेली, कहीं जोड़ में
तो, कहीं तीन-चार एक साथ, पूरे हाट में छोटे-छोटे बच्चे चुलबुलाते
नजर आते- कुछ यहां से वहां दौड़ते हुए, कुछ रेंगते हुये और कुछ मां
की छाती से चिपके हुये। इस इलाके में पर्दे का प्रचलन नहीं- महिलायें
घुटनों तक की फूल-पत्तियांे की डिज़ाइनदार रंगीन साड़ी में, लाल,
नीली, पीली, हरी, गुलाबी, कत्थई, नारंगी, जामुनी- चमकीली
चटकदार रंगों की छटा चारों तरफ। सर खुला, बाहें नंगी, माथे पर
दमकदार टीका, कानों में लटकता भारी छल्ला, हाथ, पैर व गले में
चांदी के आभूषण- सब्जियों के ढेर लेकर बैठी हुई। सब्जियाँ भी बिल्कुल
बेतरतीब से रखी हुये- मतलब शहर के सब्जीवालों के मुकाबले- जहां
14
स्तूपकाएं ढेर में अक्सर अच्छी ताजी सब्जी ऊपर होती और बाकी नीचे-
छाट के लेना पड़ता रोज़ किच-किच होती। यहां सब फैलाकर रखा
हुआ था- तुड़ा-मुड़ा खीरा, लम्बी छोटी भिंडी, कद्दू, चिचिंगा, लौकी,
बरबोटी, सब। पांव पसारकर बेचने वाली और उकड़ू बैठे खरीदने वाले
किसी को कोई जल्दी नहीं। तोल-मोल के बातों के बीच में कई और
तरह की बातें भी होती- हंसी ठठ्ठा, चुहल मज़ाक, बीच-बीच में
वाद-विवाद भी। तौलने का तरीका भी बिल्कुल अलग बट्टा बिठाया-
सब्जी लगाई और बस ऐं वैं ही शून्य में पलड़े को एक बार लहरा
दिया- दो-एक कम ज्यादा की किसी को परवाह नहीं। तौलने वाली ने
तौल दिया- खरीदने वाले ने झोला फैला दिया, और फिर गिनगिनकर
अठन्नी-चवन्नी दाम अदा कर दिया। बस!
और सब्जियों के दाम बाप-रे-बाप! पहली बार तो कानों पर
विश्वास नहीं हुआ। ‘खाजा’ कहीं बिक नही रहा था तो उसका दाम
नहीं पता पर ‘‘भाजी टके सेर ही थी’’। भिंडी पचास पैसे किलों, बड़ी
सी गोल लौकी 1 रुपया, खीरा किलों प्रति 1 रुपया, बोड़ा दो रुपये,
कद्दू छोड़ो पचास पैसे ही सही- मिर्चा, साग तोरई, टिंडा, सब। साथी
दस रुपये में खब्जियों से झोला भर रहे थे- मैं घूम-घूम कर देख रहीं
थी- और देखते-देखते थोड़ी दूर निकल गई कि अचानक शोर सुनकर
15
पीछे मुड़कर देखा तो दंग रह गई। एक बिल्कुल ही अनोखा दृश्य नज़र
आया- दो लोग हाथा पाई कर रहे थे- एक पुरूष एक नारी, पुरूष पात्र
परिचित था, हमारे स्थानीय साथी, पर नारी अनजान। जल्दी-जल्दी
उनकी तरफ बढ़ते हुये मैंने गौर किया लड़ने वाली औरत पर… झुर्रियों
वाले चेहरे से उम्र का पता लगाना मुश्किल, सारे बदन में तरह-तरह
का नक्शा गोदा हुआ मेदहीन पिचके शरीर में मानों मटमैला नीला
महीन आवरण ओढ़ा हुआ- कान मंे लटकती बाली जो छेद हद तक
लम्बा हो जाने के कारण छाती तक लटकी हुई, नंगा बदन छाती के
ऊपर से साड़ी अस्त-व्यस्त हो जाने के कारण सूखी छाती नज़र आती-
और मुँह में भीषण क्रोध झलकता हुआ। भयानक उत्तेजना के चलते
वह जोर-जोर से चिल्लाकर क्या बोल रही थी कुछ समझ नहीं आ रहा
था और इतने शोर के चलते अच्छी खासी भीड़ इकट्ठा हो चली थी।
उसके पास एक बड़ी सी डलिया में बेल रखे हुये थे जिन्हें वह बेचने
की मनया से लाई थी। पास आने पर देखा साथी दो बेल लिये उकड़ू
बैठें हैं और उसे अपने अंगोछे में बांधने की कोशिश कर रहें हैं और
साथ ही साथ बेल बेचने वाली महिला के हाथ मंे धरे तीसरे बेल लेने
की भी कोशिश कर रहे थे। दूसरी तरफ महिला ने साथी के कुर्ते को
अपने एक हाथ से भींचा हुआ है और दूसरे हाथ में एक बेल को
16
मजबूती से पकड़कर अपने पाँवों को अंगोछे के ऊपर जड़ रखा है।
दोनों एक दूसरे को इस तरह जकड़े थे मानो किसी फ्रांसीसी षिल्पकार
की कोई अद्भूत कलाकृति, कुछ भी समझ नहीं आ रहा था कि
आखिर माजरा क्या है। थोड़ी देर के बाद मैंने साथी को संबोधित
करते हुए पूछा ‘‘क्या बात है भाई?’’
‘‘मैंने इनसे तीन बेल मोल लिये है?’’ संक्षिप्त उत्तर
‘‘फिर?’’ मैंने भी प्रश्न से अपनी समझने की असमर्थता
ज़ाहिर की।
‘‘पैसे दिये पर बुढ़िया मान नहीं रही।’’
‘‘लूटत रही-लूटेरा’’ महिला जोर से चिल्लाई।
‘‘अरे नहीं माई- पूरे पैसे दिये- गिन तो लो- ओर मेरा
अंगोछा छोड़ो।’’ साथी ने पुचकारते हुये कहा।
हम न दइबे तुमको बेल, हमारा जीनीस (सामान) हमको
देा और अपना पैसा लो।’’ चीखते हुये बोली महिला और रेज़गारी
पैसे फेंक दिया साथी के तरफ।
बड़े धीरज से पैसे बटोरते हुये साथी ने फिर कहा ‘‘बूढ़ा
तुम से भूल हुई- पैसे मैंने कम नहीं दिये।’’
17
धीरे-धीरे पता चली पूरी दास्तां- महिला तीन साइज के
बेल डलिया मंे लिये बैठी थी- सबसे बड़ा 2.50 रुपये का मंझले आकार
का दो रुपये और सबसे छोटा 1.50 रुपये का।
पेड़ के पके हुये, महकते मीठे बेल को देख साथी का
खरीदने का मन हो आया और मोल लिया उन्होंने तीनों साइज के
एक-एक। गिनकर छः रुपये पकड़ाकर जैसे ही अंगोछे में बांधने लगे
कि बुढ़िया चिल्ला पड़ी। पता नहीं कैसे अपने दसों उंगलियों पर कई
बार गिनने के बावजूद भी वह इस नतीजे पर पहुंची कि उसे पचास
पैसे कम दिये जा रहे थे- यानी कि लूटा जा रहा था। साथी के कई
बार कई तरह से समझाने के बाद भी असर उल्टा हुआ- बुढिया अब
बस अपने तीनों बेल वापस चाहती है। बस खींचा तानी छिड़ गई
दोनों अपनी-अपनी जगह अड़े हुये थे- न अपने तर्क से हिलते और न
ही अपनी-अपनी विचित्र मुद्रा से डुलते- साथी तीनों बेलों को बटोरने
में लगे थे और महिला उनका कुर्ता, अंगोछा, हाथ सब कुछ जकड़े हुये
थी। और उसी के साथ धीमी तेज़ आवाज में अपनी-अपनी बात
दोहराते। खैर थोड़ी देर में जाने क्या सोचकर साथी ने पचास पैसे और
लुढ़का दिये। जादू की तरह मामला सुलट गया। महिला ने अपनी
18
पकड़ ढीली कर दी, साथी ने तीनों बेल अंगोछे में समेट लिये, और
भीड़ छंटने लगी।
वापस आते हुये इस अनोखी झड़प पर काफी हंसी ठठ्ठा
हुआ हम लोगों के बीच मंे- बेल भी उछाले गये आपस में, इस पूरी
प्रक्रिया से उनकी मिठास में कितना इजाफा हुआ होगा इस पर भी
चर्चा हुई, और यूंही हमने गाँव का इलाका पार किया।
जंगल के इलाके तक पहुंचते-पहुंचते शाम ढल चुकी थी-
चारों तरफ अंधेरा धिर आया था, अंदर बैठे लोगों में बीतचीत का
सिलसिला भी तकरीबन खतम हो चला था, लोग अपने-अपने विचारों
में खो गये थे शायद। चारों तरफ सन्नाटे को भींदता हुआ कभी-कभी
सामने से आता हुआ कोई वाहन क्षण भर के लिये रोशनी फैलाकर
हम सबों को चैंधियाकर निकल जाता- और हमारी जीप अपनी धीमी
नौके वाली चाल मंे चलती रहती। मैं खिड़की से बाहर चांदनी रात की
रोशनी मंे पीछे जाते हुये जंगल, पेड़, कभी-कभी दूर शायद कोई
टिमटिमाती हुई लालटेन की लाइट को देख रही थी। रात की ठंडी
गीली हवा मेरी आंखों को, बालों, को होठों को मानों हौले से चूमती
हुई निकल रही थी- और मैं भी अपने थूथन को खिड़की पर टिकाकर
अधमुंदी सोच रही थी- कई ऊल-जलूल बातें।
19
छः रुपये गिनने में दिमाग चकरा जाता है-तो फिर जमीन
का मूल्य 60000 मिले या 6 लाख, कैसे संभालेंगे ये पैसे? पुरखों की
मेहनत की जमीन, आनेवाली पीढ़ी से उधार ली गई जमीन उसका
मोल पैसों से हो सकता है क्या? 6 रुपये गिनने में उंगलियां टेढ़ी हो
गई, दिमाग उलझ गया, और फिर भी यह तो धातु से बने ठन ठन
करते हुये सिक्के थे- जिसे वह बुढ़िया छू सकती थी, तौल सकती थी
और अनपढ़ होने के बावजूद बरसों की पहचान के कारण उसको वह
संभाल सकती थी, पल्लू में बांध सकती थी। पर ज़मीन, गुजरी और
आनेवाली पीढी़ की इस अहम् अमानत का मूल्य- एक कागज़ के टुकडे़
में किसी सख्या के पीछे 5 शून्य या 6 शून्य हो सकता है क्या? इसकी
अहमियत यह बुढ़िया कैसे समझ सकती थी? और कैसे संभालेगी इसे?-
क्या करेगी इसका जिससे उसकी रोज की रोटी, चावल, मछली का
झोल निकल आये, और फिर है पोते की पढा़ई, बिटिया की शादी,
अनवरत बरसात के दिनो मे ‘‘घान की अच्छी फसल होगी इस बार’’
इस सोच की राहत, अपने बूढे़ का क्रियाकरम, सब सब। छोटे-छोटे
टुकडे़ करेगी क्या उस ड्राफ्ट का हर दिन के हिसाब से, एक, या महीने
का एक, या साल का एक? कैसे-कैसे? या फिर एक ही झ्ाटके मे
20
भिखारी बना देगी अपने आनेवाले परपोते को-किसी शादी का खर्च,
अस्पताल का बिल, डकैती, राहजनी या।
किसी समझदार ने एक बार मुझसे कहा था कि ‘‘शेयर
मार्केट में डालना चाहिये इनको, पैसा फलता है वहाँ। दिमाग में एक
अजीबो-गरीब छवि आई – यह बेल वाली बुढ़िया इन्टरनेट के सामने
बैठी- ठैम् (बाम्बे स्टाक एक्सचेंच) या छैम् का उतार चढा़व परखती
हूई। दो सेकेंड के लिये हँसी आ गई पर फिर। और फिर हजा़रो़
दलाल, सरकारी भी गैर सरकारी भी -हर किसी कि लोभी चोंच और
टटोलते हाथों को सन्तुष्ट करके ही पैसा पहुँच पायेगा उस बुढ़िया के
हाथों में। आज अठन्नी के लिये तो चीते की तरह लड़ गई क्यूँकि
उसकी निगाह में लुटेरा सशरीर सामने खडा़ था और बेल उसकी
डलिया मे। पर यह दलालों की कतार वहाँ तक तो उसकी पहँुच ही
नही,और सरकारी कागज पर एक लाईन, एक दस्तखत, स्टेैम्प पेपर के
उपर- और उसकी जमीन एक पल में छिन जायेगी, उस क्षण के बाद
उस पूरखों की निशानी पर खड़ा होना भ्ी गैर कानूनी होगा। अंगूठे
पर वह मिटती स्याही का दाग जो नासमझी में ही कहो किसी कागज़
पर निशानी जमा देने से लगा हो, उसने स्वतः लगाया हो या फिर
किसी दबाव के चलते यह माने नहीं रखता। पर उसकी अहमियत वह
21
अँगूठा छाप समझ पाएगी क्या? कल को महानगरों की बस्तियों में
तमाम तंगी, बदहाली, गँदगी के बीच में घिरी अपने पालिथीन के
छप्पर के नीचे या किसी पाईप में सिमटें बारिश के पानी और गटर के
पानी से जूझती हूई यह बुढ़िया अपने इस भीषण सौदे के बारे में क्या
सोचेगी? उसके इस आँसुओ में डूबी हूई ‘‘नकारत्मक’’ सोच को हम
लोग ‘‘तरक्की विरोधी’’ करार देंगे क्या?
यहां की वस्तुस्थिति थोड़ी-थोड़ी समझ आ रही थी अब,
जो इन तमाम मीटिंगों की उलझाने वाले तथ्यों से अब तक नहीं आ
रही थी। मुआवज़ा क्या होना चाहिए? मिट्टी का मोल क्या है?
मुँह पर बूँदे पड़ रही थी- जंगल के पत्तों में छनती हुई
बारिश और झिँगूरों नें मिलकर एक अजीब धुन छेड़ रखी थी। मँद-मँद
हवा चेहरे को छूकर जाती- दूर बहती छोटी सी स्थानीय नदी का
छलबलाता बहाव सुनाई पड़ रही थी- एहसास हुआ अचानक कि
सन्नाटे़ में भी कितना कुछ बोलता है, सारी निर्जीव चीजों में भी मानों
जान भर जाती है- यह हजारों सालों का जंगल, नदी, इनमें बसते
जानवर पशु-पक्षी, ये किसके हैं कौन है इसका मालिक? इसके
मुआवज़ा कितना होगा? कौन भरेगा, किसे मिलेगा? इन जँगलो के
बीच आदिवासियों के पुरखों की कब्र, पत्थर पेड़ के इर्द गिर्द प्राचीन
22
आस्था के स्थल इसकी- हर चीज का मूल्य आँका जायेगा क्या? रुपये
पैसों में तरक्की का सौदा जब-जब हुआ है इतिहास में, उसका दाम तो
पाई-पाई तुरँत चुकाई गई है- ठोस दाम- लाखों का विस्थापन, करोड़ों
की अनिश्चयता, भीषण बदहाली, भुखमरी, बेरोज़गारी, पुरानी जानी
पहचानी दुनिया को उजाड़कर, सदियों की संस्कृति को नष्ट करके,
जंगल, ज़मीन, उखाड़कर, पहाड़ नदी को समतल बनाकर। पर उसका
लाभ हमेशा किश्तों में ही क्यू मिलता है? उसका स्वरूप आम आदमी
के लिये एक मरीचिका की तरह क्यूँ होता? दूर से लुभाती पर प्यास न
बुझाती, अपने पीछे दौड़ा दौड़ाकर बेहाल बना देती। और सबसे अचरज
की बात तो यह है कि जो तबका मूल्य अदा करता वह कभी लाभ
नहीं उठाता, कभी नहीं। तरक्की का यह असमान स्वरूप क्यूँ है?
धीमी, तिरछी बरसती धार जीप की हेड-लाइट मंे एक
झीनी-झीनी पर्दे की तरह लग रही थी। और उसी में मैने वह कतार
बद्ध काफिले पर गौर किया। सच तो यह है ऐसे काफिले इस रास्ते में
हमेशा नज़र आते- सुबह, शाम, रात और आधी रात गये भी। पर
इससे पहले मैंने इसका ज़िक्र इसलिये नहीं किया क्युँकि जंगल की
मोहक वर्णन करते हुये मैं पाठकों का रंगीन ज़ायका ऐसे भद्दे दृश्य के
23
वर्णन से खट्टा नहीं करना चाहती थी। माफ कीजिएगा। पर आईये
भूल सुधार लूँ।
एक साईकल पर साईकल कहीं से दिख नहीं रही है क्युंकि
उस पर सवार जो पहाड़नुमा बोझ है वह उसे चारों तरफ से ढके हुये
था- बस आप मेरी बात विश्वास कर लीजिये कि वह एक आम दुपहिया
साइकल ही थी। साईकल के ऊपर ढाई टन कोयला दो बड़े-बड़े भूंसे
लाने वाले बोरों में भरा हुआ, वह साइकल से एक टायर टूब से बांधा
हुआ। और उसे ठेलता हुआ एक पूरा परिवार सामने बिल्कुल दोहरा
झुका हुआ आदमी पीछे कंकालसार औरत और दो-एक नंगधणंग बच्चे।
न कोई बातचीत, न कहीं और ध्यान- बस एकाग्रता से ऊंची नीची
सड़क तय करती हुयी। जंगल के बीच की सड़क, काली अंधेरी भीगती
रात में सड़क या चिलचिलाती डामर चटकाती दोपहर मंे सड़क। बस
सड़क तय करती हुयी और इस असंभव बोझ को ठेलता हुआ पूरा
परिवार। और एक नहीं, दो नहीं, एक साथ पच्चीस तीस परिवारों का
काफिला, और ऐसे अनगिनत काफिले दिनभर तय करते यह सड़क।
रास्ते में भूख लगी तो वहीं साइकिल लिटा कर रोटी ठूँस ली- और
फिर चल पड़े। कहां को जा रहे हैं यह, कौन सी तीरथ की यात्रा कर
रहे हैं यह लोग? यह जुलूस गैरकानूनी खदानों से निकाले गये
24
गैरकानूनी कोयले को कानून के रखवालों तक पहुंचा रहे हैं। 25-30
कि.मी. का रास्ता तय करके, पुलिस, माफिया, गुण्डों, जंगली जानवरों
का मुकाबला कर यह कोयला पहुंचा रहे हैं सरकारी जेल मंे, डी एम के
आफिस में सेना के कैम्प में, डिस्ट्रिक्ट कोर्ट में जहां बाजार में 3 रुपये
प्रति किलों सरकार द्वारा निर्धारित रेट है, वहीं पर यह लोग 1.80
रुपये प्रति किलो के हिसाब से कोयला सरकारी आफिसों तक पहँुचाते
और उसमें भी सिर्फ 20-30 पैसे उनके हिस्से आता बाकी कड़ी के
बाकी तबकों को मिलता। इन भव्य, माननीय जगहों के फाटक के
अंदर पहुंचते ही कोयले पर तो कानूनी ठप्पा लग जाता है पर पहुंचाने
वाले लोग कानून के दायरे के लक्षमण-रेखा के बाहर ही रह जाते
हमेशा। फिर तय करते यह भीषण सफर, और फिर, और फिर। सुना है
तीन-चार हज़ार लोग अपनी आजीविका कमाते इसी तरह साल दर
साल। सरकारी आंकड़ों में कोई हिसाब नहीं इनका- न ज़मीन, न
जायदाद, न पक्का घर, न सरकारी नौकरी, न राशन कार्ड, न वोटर
कार्ड। जब तरक्की आयेगी यहाँ मर्सिडीज गाड़ी में सवार होकर- और
बुलडोजर, डिगर, ताम-झाम, सरकारी बेसरकारी आला अफसर के
काफिला को अपने साथ लिये? तब क्या मुआवज़ा मिलेगा इनको
25
तरक्की की महिमामयी वेदी पर जो असंख्य नर नारी, बच्चों की बली
होती आई है, क्या तरक्की पर उनका रत्ती भर भी अधिकार नहीं?
क्या ऐसी तरक्की मोल लेना चाहते हैं हम लोग? क्या यही
सभ्यता की परिभाषा है?
दूर झिलमिलाती लाईट नज़र आने लगी- बारिश मंे
थिरकती हुई सभ्यता की निशानी। शहर के छोर में पहुंच चुके थे हम,
शायद।

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.