Swaminomics? No Thanks
Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
Swaminomics is a series i really enjoy reading in the otherwise dull advertisement journal with news (read Times of India). The ideas expressed by economist Swaminathan Aiyer are a treat to read and learn. Hence, the shocking not so pleasant surprise when he tried to put forth his “analysis” that lack of development is a cause of rising maoist menace in tribal areas.
While Swamy gleefully quoted statistics of Chhattisgarh to support his stand, he left quite a few gaping holes in the arguments he put forward. I wish to reflect a few silent zones in his articles, and am eager to hear opposing ideas from my readers –
1. Swami cites data that tribal infested areas voted en masse for the BJP in the last elections. Despite the so called lack of development. I wonder if Swami has heard of a state called West Bengal. Appalling lack of development did not stop the Left Front from coming to power for seven successive terms. And with overwhelming votes from the tribal regions, every time. Even, in Vidarbha, Congress has a good presence. Despite the abject misery of the farmers. Muslims in Gujarat vote en masse for Narendra Modi despite the haunting memories of 2002. Can election results be treated as a mandate for governance? I do not think so.
2. Swami next points out at the “folly” of critics who cite lack of economic development as a result of growth of Naxalism. He says
“Economist Shankar Acharya recently showed that Chhattisgarh is India’s no. 2 in agricultural growth. Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, its agricultural growth was a fabulous 9.4% per year, thrice the national average! Besides, fast industrialization has reduced the share of agriculture in state GDP to just 17% in Chhattisgarh (and to just 8.6% in Jharkhand).”
Let me remind Swami of a Maoist hotbed state West Bengal. In terms of GSDP, Bengal is the 6th largest contributing state in India (according to the latest economic survey of the Ministry of Finance), Chhattisgarh is 9th. Industrial growth in Bengal had been more than the national average between 2001-2006 and Bengal is deemed as the 4th most viable destination in India for industry. Do these facts take away the glaring truth that lives of citizens is hardly affected by a few numbers? Had it been the case, there would not have been the most number of farmer suicides in the most industrialised state in India – Maharashtra.
The basic amenities like water, electricity and food are unavailable to the tribals, and more often than not, they are evicted from their soil for big ticket industrialisation. Do tribals get the fruits of Industrialisation? Does Rural India get the benefits of economic growth? If they did, two India’s would not be in existence sir.
The third argument put forward by Swami was the most laughable one. He quoted that
“Literacy in Chhattisgarh is 71%, not far below the national average (74%) and well above that of Andhra Pradesh (66.8%).”
Since when did literacy rate become a signpost for progress? Knowing the alphabets and being able to write your name, makes one educated? Literacy rate in Bengal is 78% well above the national average. Does Mr Swami have any idea how many schools are there in the tribal regions? What is the teacher-student ratio? Has he any idea on the drop-out rates?
The true reason of rise of anti-state forces in Chhattisgarh or any other part of the country is the sheer indifference shown by the corridors of power and the rampant corruption in the system. Development has failed to reach the people, struggle for existence forces citizens to turn against their own government. However, as long as the battle is fought democratically, it is welcome. The recent assembly polls in West Bengal has shown, the clamour for development is growing strong. And people are willing to trust the government. Those in power should reciprocate or else face the music.
Armed struggle is no solution to the already existing mess in this great nation. Anyone waging war on the nation should be brought to book, but also, be made to taste the fruits of development and become a part of the mainstream. The initiative of the West Bengal government is a welcome gesture to this effect. Now it is for the Maoists to return the favour. Tribals are tired of violence – both by maoists and security forces – let us give peace a chance.