The other day, I heard that some 900 students at Ashoka University attended a lecture by Pratap Bhanu Mehta where they discussed Karl Marx and his book Das Kapital. What did they learn, exactly?
I do not know. I wasn’t there. But I know that all the lessons they need about Marx exist already in the world outside of the classroom. If they want to learn, they need to look outside, not inside. Yesterday, 22 jawans laid down their lives fighting Communism in Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh. Most of them would have been from families who would not be able to pay what it takes to attend a luxury university and listen to an intellectual discuss Marxism.
Why am I mixing up civil society issues with security issues? Because, in this case, the close relation between the two shapes public attitudes towards and hence the reaction from the state.
Now, if the past is anything to go by, this incident will be forgotten soon enough. We forgot Dantewada 2010 and the 76 CRPF jawans who died there. Every year, we manage to forget literally hundreds of Communist terror attacks. We already forgot the attack in Narayanpur in Chhattisgarh, in which five jawans were killed. And that was only last week. In fact, we have managed to all but forget that Communists have occupied large portions of Indian territory in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
But why? We never give such leeway to Islamic terrorists or to Pakistan. We all remember the infamous terrorist attacks: Pulwama, Uri, Pathankot, Mumbai 26/11 and so many more. Every Indian is acutely aware of how Pakistan occupied Kashmir. If Pakistani troops violated the border tomorrow and tried to seize say the city of Jaisalmer, they would have hell to pay. For most of last year, Indians closely followed what happened between Finger 4 and Finger 8 of Pangong Tso in Ladakh, determined not to cede another inch of territory to the Chinese. But, consider this.
One of these is the flag of the Communist Party of China. The other is the flag of the banned CPI(Maoist). Can you tell which is which? And more importantly, does it matter? Why do we take one threat so seriously and all but ignore the other?
The Chinese Communist Party does not need the PLA to seize Indian territory. That would mean facing the entire might of the Indian Army, which would prove very risky and very costly. Instead, they can just change one color in their flag and go on rampage across India, grabbing territory and killing our civilians and jawans. We wouldn’t even notice, let alone resist.
Because our minds have been trained by the larger society to see the Communist cause as fundamentally just. And this hold is so strong that we don’t learn from history. We do not even learn from the clear and present danger in our daily lives. And we do not learn from weekly news stories detailing the atrocities committed by Communists.
We all know the facts about the history of Communism, or at least we should. The Communist empire of the Soviets starved millions of people to death, most of them deliberately. Many of the nationalities of Eastern Europe, such as Polish and Ukrainians, were tackled with straight up “death quotas,” with hundreds of thousands picked up from their homes and shot en masse. The Communists fought on the side of Hitler for the first two years of the Second World War, until the Nazis dumped them. The Communists starved some 30 million people to death in China. Who were Pol Pot, Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Il? All Communists. No other ideology in the world has such an impressive record of turning out dictators and mass murderers.
And yet, we are somehow conditioned to believe that there must be something good about the Communists. That your average Communist is some kind of lovable nerd with an odd sense of fashion, a soul for poetry and an eye for human suffering. You are thinking about the soft exterior shell of Communism. Dig deeper and you will discover that the final solution on offer is always a death camp.
In life, you learn nothing unless you ask the right questions. A number of Indians will rationalize the violence in Chhattisgarh and the value system of the Naxalites. You must have come across at least a couple of these people yourself. They see it as a struggle by tribal people to protect their land.
Really? First of all, do you know of any other group of people that is fighting against building of schools, hospitals, roads, railways and factories? Why would you assume that tribal communities think about life so differently? Is that not kind of insulting? Second, if the violence had nothing to do with Communism, why would Naxalites raise the Communist flag at all? Because you and I are outsiders, but Karl Marx is indigenous to the land?
Just like this bogey of tribal rights, the Communists have prepared a number of smokescreens to hide their real agenda. One of these is that you can never pin down who actually represents the Communists. They have set up dozens of closely related isms such as Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, Marxism-Leninism and the like. Each one differs from the other in unintelligible ways. The idea is that when you put the spotlight on the crimes of one, the other factions distance themselves quickly.
And yet, the Chinese Communist Party and all factions of the Communist Party in India (both legal and illegal) use nearly the same flag and have an identical set of heroes. For people who claim to be totally different, they spend an awful lot of time copying each other.
Do you know the other reason the Communists are divided into so many splinter groups? Because Communists are fundamentally intolerant. Any two people in an organization will always disagree on something or the other. But for Communists, every difference of opinion is worth killing over. You will see the same pattern with Islamic terrorists. Every jihadi faction is convinced that only they have the truth and all other factions are working for the devil.
These days, we talk a lot about dangers to our democracy. The good news is that we want to be vigilant. The bad news is that we are mostly ignoring Communism, which is the biggest danger of all. In many tribal regions such as Bastar, polling has to be completed by 3 pm so that the polling officers can leave before evening sets in. Voters in these areas are often too scared to get their fingers inked after voting. If the Communists see someone with ink on their finger, they might chop off the finger … or even the neck.
Is that a big enough danger to democracy for us to take notice? Or do we spend all our time discussing the plight of those who can make more money by resigning a job (in dramatic style) instead of doing that job? If you have failed to teach young minds about the danger of Communism, you should be fired anyway. You don’t get to resign and become a hero.
We need to stop making nonsensical excuses for Naxalism and go liberate our people living under Communist occupation in the hinterland.
Oh, and I am still not telling which flag belongs to the Communist Party of China and which one belongs to the CPI(Maoist). Mostly because it does not matter.