It’s a hub and spokes war | india | Hindustan Times
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It’s a hub and spokes war

Who is responsible for tackling Maoism in India? This question, obvious as it may seem, requires a clear answer especially as one has to deal with the menace in a federally structured Indian State. HT writes.

india Updated: Sep 14, 2011 21:39 IST

Who is responsible for tackling Maoism in India? This question, obvious as it may seem, requires a clear answer especially as one has to deal with the menace in a federally structured Indian State.

Home minister P Chidambaram has not only echoed the prime minister’s earlier observation about tackling Maoist violence being a bigger challenge than terrorism but he has also sought much-needed clarity in the way this war is being fought by the authorities.

In a federal structure, both the Centre and the affected states need to shoulder this duty. But reflecting the nature of this asymmetrical war, Mr Chidambaram rightly points to the need of state governments having to bear a much larger responsibility as they — and not New Delhi — are the ones who can make certain that the ‘last-mile connectivity’ between the Indian State and the people remains unbroken.

Only this can ensure that the people affected by Maoist violence in 60 districts stay under the rubric of the Indian State and are not forced under the sway of Maoist guerrillas. That remains a key element in India’s war against Maoist insurgents.

As Mr Chidambaram pointed out on Tuesday, governance cannot be a casualty in this war as the Centre does not have enough human resource and can only provide assistance.

Many of the Maoist-affected states have been unable — or unwilling — to bear their part of the responsibility. In Chhattisgarh, for instance, the government has not kept the faith reposed in it by the people.

In fact, by setting up counter-active measures such as forming the vigilante group, Salwa Judum, by allowing officers to intimidate tribals, by using extra-judicial, extra-constitutional methods, and by stopping entitlements at the slightest hint of suspected Naxal activity in villages, the Chhattisgarh government has worked in cross-purposes with the Centre’s anti-Maoist policy.

Other Naxal-affected states, too, have seen the same pattern. Since many states invest very little in capacity building of their officers — either by design or by intent — corruption remains unchecked and the money spent by the Centre (and this is, by all accounts, not a pittance) seeps out thanks to the proverbial holes in a rusty pipeline.

In such a scenario, it becomes all the more imperative that the central government keeps a tab on the money spent and the quality of governance that is being handed out at the ground level. There has to be a constant evaluation process at the central level on a regular basis, the same way private companies evaluate their quarterly results.

If the results do not match certain parameters, then the funding must be recalibrated.

In all this, of course, lies the impediment of politics. For a war affecting the nation, petty inter-party rivalries in the form of states complaining about not getting enough support from the Centre provides the very opportunity in which anti-State players such as Maoists can operate and indeed thrive.

By underlining the fact that state governments have to behave and act more responsibly, the Centre also provides itself an opportunity to sharpen its own responsibility matrix. Maoism is a pan-India problem, that needs an inter-state solution with the Centre as the nodal agency. One can think of the model sought to solve riparian quarrels as a model.

And for this to take root, governments in the states and at the Centre must strip away the politicisation of this serious issue that indeed threatens the unity of the nation of which states are parts.