Freedom Day Homilies and Where to Go from Here

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The day that we call our Independence Day is over. The nation has heard the President on the eve of Independence Day and the Prime Minister as he unfurled the National Flag on August 15. We in Orissa have also heard the Chief Minister on this occasion. Each of them has stressed on a single point that the Naxalites shall be dealt with firmly as they pose the toughest challenge to their administration.

“We will deal firmly with those who resort to violence. I once again appeal to Naxalites to abjure violence, come to talks with Government and join hands with us to accelerate social and economic development,” the PM has said addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, unfurling the Tricolour at Bhubaneswar has declared that the Naxals “will not be allowed” to hinder development. So to both of these leaders, the Naxals are the only obstacle to their brand of development.

Both of these leaders delivered their speeches amid tight security.

Security was for them, not for the general public.

So they know, the development they have prioritized is so anti-people that amidst the general public they need tight security to deliver even the customary Freedom Day speech.

The Naxals, the only obstacle to the development as both of these leaders define, are, as such, admittedly against the anti-people activities of administration. Therefore, they know, despite ruthlessly repressive measures taken against the Naxals, they are enjoying public support and expanding their organization. The PM knows this. He knows that in the States where the State Governments are corrupt and exploitative and distinctly anti-people like that of Orissa, it would be impossible to defeat the Naxals. So, in his speech, he has admitted, “It would be very difficult for any State to tackle this problem without cooperation from the Centre and coordination between States.” But various States are also grabbed by equally anti-people but politically anti-Congress parties. Therefore the PM has argued, “We all need to rise above our personal and political interests to meet this challenge.”

The President has also put her emphasis on end of Naxalism. “The proponents of extreme ideologies and the followers of Left Wing Extremism must abandon their path of violence. I call on them to join national efforts for growth and development,” she has said.

The British was raising such allegations against our freedom fighters and using exactly such homilies to hide its own bloody design behind soft words. It was torturing them, questioning their patriotism, prosecuting them, killing them in false encounters, incarcerating them, deporting them out of their motherland, displacing them from their soil, confiscating their properties and always was claiming that its aim was development of India to which the freedom fighters were the hurdles. In British parlance, Indian revolutionaries were violating the rule of law.

The leaders who have no qualm in handing over India to foreign traders are now using against the Naxals the same words that the British was using against our freedom fighters. This distinguishes the Naxals from the present pack of rulers of India.

As is clear from the PM’s and Orissa CM’s speeches quoted supra, their brand of development is being opposed to by only the Naxals. On the other hand, as the President has inadvertently admitted, this brand of development has been killing India.

The President, in her speech, has rued, “Strong family bonds are weakening. Social consciousness is on the decline.”

So, the brand of development the PM and Orissa CM espouse has ruined our society so much that our family bond and social consciousness are in the process of slow death.

History has witnessed and political science admits that such degradation occurs only under the grip of pernicious capitalism. And the President who is known for her bond with her family is certainly worried over this injury to the spirit of India.

Her speech is a soft but sure disagreement with the Central Government’s brutal plan to exterminate the Naxals by use of arms and the Army. The British was executing such plans against our freedom fighters.

Therefore, our President has said, instead of oppression, solution lies in conciliation.

In her opinion, “It requires a spirit of conciliation. This is possible when dialogue is chosen as the channel for communication. By listening to each other, respecting each other’s viewpoint and understanding one another, we can address issues before us,” she has emphasized. Given the wont of the PM, this particular portion of her speech must be her own, composed on her own wisdom. It requires serious attention, in reality.

In the recent meeting with CMs of the Naxal-hit States, the PM had advanced an agenda, which the Orissa CM has also reflected in his Independence Day speech that accepts that the rural segment must be developed at par with industrial growth for progress of all, though he does not say that progress of the tiger is progress of the deer.

However, his is a veiled confession that his government has so far neglected the rural segment that has provoked Naxals emerge as the aggressive voice of the aggrieved.

And this aggressive voice of the aggrieved has become so resounding that the entire emphasis in the Freedom Day speeches of the leaders of the governments of the day was laid on instigating the countrymen only against the Naxals exactly as the British was using its entire tact against our freedom fighters till forced to succumb to their patriotism.

The right viruses (PM Man Mohan Singh had called the Communists as ‘left viruses’) should better refrain from braggadocios over development and pay attention to what the President has said despite disapproval of violence. India can be revived if they hear the President’s advice.

If instead of oppressive treatment to the Naxals, the rulers put priority on conciliation and agree that not the bullets from the sky as the union home minister has said, but “dialogue as the channel for communication” as the President has emphasized, is “chosen” as the way, then the scenario may change and take a turn towards the cherished democracy.

If they agree, they are firstly to put a shilling on accumulation of wealth in private hands as there is a shilling on lands and secondly to stop industrialists diverting the profit they fetch from India to establish their industries abroad.

If this is done, it may save our people from denudation of their assets and usher in new version of freedom that would free people from every economic menace leaving no room for Naxals to grow in the way they have grown.

The sooner it is done the better. The President has aptly said, “Today is the best opportunity when ground-breaking achievements along with a moral and ethical renaissance can take place.”

Will the servers of foreign firms’ interests that have taken over the country and their associates in Indian politics pay heed to what the President has so softly but so surely said?

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