Does non-violence have a future in India? Event today at ACJ

August 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

This blogpost comprises the ad circulated for an event taking place in ACJ today. At the bottom of the blogpost is a link to a relevant discussion of Gandhi and non-violence, in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (1971, Vintage Books edition).

Does Non-violence Have a Future in India? Conversations with Sudeep Chakravarti Author of “Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country” & “Highway 39: Journeys through a Fractured Land” (Travels through Nagaland and Manipur)

WHEN: 13 August, 2012. 5.30 p.m.

WHERE: Asian College of Journalism 4th Cross St, Tharamani  Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India Near MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (Opp. Indira Nagar MRTS)

Background: The Government of India has negotiated or is negotiating peace accords with several dozen armed insurgent groups just in the Northeast. In what is called the “Red Corridor,” State and Central governments continues their racist policies towards indigenous peoples in their efforts to free up access to natural resources for corporate grab. Here too, a violent conflict continues well into its fifth decade, with periodic agreements of ceasefire and deals between the maoists and the government.

Simultaneously, though, non-violent struggles such as the decade-long hunger strike by Irom Sharmila, the 28-year old struggle by Bhopal survivors and the 2-year dharna by Haryanavi farmers against the Gorakhpur nuclear plant are first visited upon by violence, then  humiliated, and finally ignored. In Koodankulam, cases of sedition and waging war against the state have been made out against more than 8000 people. In all, nearly 70,000 people (mostly unnamed) are charged with various crimes ranging from protesting without authorisation, to rioting and waging war against the Government of India.

Considering the markedly different response of the Government to non-violent and violent struggles, is it safe to say that non-violent struggles have no future?

About Sudeep Chakravarti

Sudeep is the author of several works, including two works of narrative non-fiction and three novels. In 2008, Penguin/Viking published his Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country, a best-selling critically acclaimed work about India’s ongoing Maoist rebellion. His latest work, Highway 39: Journeys through a Fractured Land has just been released by 4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins. Set primarily in Nagaland and Manipur, the non-fiction narrative is gathering critical appreciation. As a journalist, Sudeep has worked with Asian Wall Street Journal, Anand Bazaar Patrika’s Sunday magazine, as executive editor of India Today, and as consultant editor for the Hindustan Times.

For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman 9444082401

About his works

In Highway 39: Journeys through a Fractured Land, Sudeep Chakravarti attempts to unravel the brutal history of Nagaland  and Manipur, their violent and restive present, and their uncertain and  yet desperately hopeful future, as he travels along Dimapur, Kohima,  Senapati, Imphal, Thoubal, and their hinterlands—all touch points of  brutalized aspiration, identity, conflict and tragedy. These are the  lands that nurture deadly acronyms—like AFSPA, an act of Parliament that with impunity hurts and kills citizens. Lands where militants not only  battle the Indian government but also each other in a frenzy of ego,  politics and survival, and enforce ‘parallel’ administrations. Sudeep  Chakravarti’s journey introduces the reader to stories that chill, anger and offer uneasy reflection. A fourteen-year-old Naga girl who dies  resisting a soldier’s attempt to rape her—and is now an icon. An  eleven-year-old girl abducted by police in Manipur because they want to  trap her parents. A faked encounter in Imphal that kills a former rebel, and also an innocent lady and her unborn child. A family in Kohima  still trying to come to terms with the death of their youngest child in a mortar attack. Chakravarti also interacts with security and military  officials, senior bureaucrats, top rebel leaders, and human rights and  social activists, to paint a terrifying picture of a society and a  people brought repeatedly to breakdown through years of political  conceit and deceit, and stress and conflict.

In prose suffused with a rare understanding of the region and its people,  and with remarkable insight into its convoluted politics, Highway 39 brings into focus a region long neglected and often forgotten by  Mainland India, a region surrounded by nations historically inimical to  India—and yet, which offer a dream gateway to the markets of East Asia. A region India can continue to ignore only at the peril of the very idea  of India.

Red Sun: Travels through Naxalite Country. “In 1967, Naxalbari, a  village in West Bengal, became the centre of a Mao inspired militant  peasant uprising guided by firebrand intellectuals. Today, Naxalism is  no longer the Che Guevara-style revolution that it was. Spread across 15 of India’s 28 states, it is one of the world’s biggest, most  sophisticated extreme-Left movements, and feeds off the misery and anger of the dispossessed. Since the late 1990s, hardly a week has passed  without people dying in strikes and counter-strikes by the Maoists – interchangeably known as the Naxalites – and police and paramilitary  forces.” In this disturbing examination of the ‘Other India’, Sudeep  Chakravarti combines political history extensive interviews and  individual case histories as he travels to the heart of Maoist zones in  the country: Chhattisgarh (home to the controversial state-sponsored  Salwa Judum programme to contain Naxalism), Jharkhand, West Bengal,  Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (where a serving chief minister was nearly  killed in a landmine explosion triggered by the Naxalites). He meets  Maoist leaders and sympathizers, policemen, bureaucrats, politicians,  security analysts, development workers, farmers and tribals – people,  big and small, who comprise the actors and the audience in this war  being fought in jungles and impoverished villages across India. What  emerges is a sobering picture of a deeply divided society, and the  dangers that lie ahead for India.

Saul Alinsky on Gandhi


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