The Na’vi, in a new Avatar | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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The Na’vi, in a new Avatar

Aerial support against naxalites? The problem is the Red tribals now have nothing to lose.

mumbai Updated: May 23, 2010 02:00 IST

Air support is being threatened in the battle against the Naxalites. Some argue there should be air strikes instead.

That sounds dire, and potentially effective.

Imagine an aerial strike in your neck of the woods. Elegant homes wiped out, schools, hospitals, roads (largely paver blocks and potholes, but still...) all gone. Malls and multiplexes destroyed. All those lively cafes, restaurants and bookstores obliterated.

All you’d be left with would be scorched earth, and rubble.

Take away the rubble. That’s modern-day Bastar. Or Dantewada.

Aerial strikes in Chhattisgarh sound like a solid plan. And surely, at this point, they’d be justified?

But they’re unlikely to send any Maoists scattering for cover.

All they stand to lose are mud homes (which can be rebuilt in a few hours by hand) and their lives.

And they’ve put their lives on the line themselves.

Therein lies the real conundrum. The question facing the Home Ministry is not ‘Can that state justify waging war against its own people?’ It’s — How do you fight an enemy with nothing to lose?

In that sense, the Maoist is like the worst kind of terrorist, the suicide bomber.

With a difference. Most suicide bombers take the battle to the people. In Maoist India, it was the other way around.

Not unlike the Na’vi in James Cameron’s Avatar, the now-Maoist tribals didn’t know —

or care about — what they were missing.

The Incredible India was in the cities and towns, which were the pulsing, vibrant hubs of a superpower-in-the-making; and they were satisfied to scratch out an existence in the darkened wings.

They’d grown accustomed to children growing up illiterate, and wives dying in childbirth because the only function the local primary health centre served was sheltering goats in a storm.

It was their karma; or the will of God.

Then, Incredible India realised it needed something the tribals didn’t want to give up. In some cases, the land these tribals now stood to lose was their God. In others, it was all they had.

Expecting little more than a few feeble protests and some muted resistance, Incredible India went ahead and divvied it up anyway.

After all, beneath the arid land lies immense wealth, and it cannot be left idle.

India’s development depends on our making the most of such resources, harnessing this natural wealth to boost GDP, create jobs and attract foreign investment.

How else will India produce enough cars, TVs, air-conditioners, fridges, cellphones... How will India Inc provide for a population of over 1 billion?

Only, it’s not the whole billion. Is it?