Speaking at a panel discussion on Naxalism. Dr Abhay Bang, who has been working in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district for the past 25 years in public health, said the genesis of Naxalism is the Mantralay in Mumbai. Excerpts from his interview to Hindustan Times.
You spoke of disconnect between tribal areas such as Gadchiroli and metros such as Mumbai. How do we bridge the gap?
If urban citizens have to survive, they have to understand that they are organically linked to and dependent on tribal and rural areas - be it for food, oxygen or manpower. The markets are exploring rural areas as a consumer base but if environment is destroyed, urban life won't survive.
How does one look at growing aspiration from tribal population to urbanise? How do you perceive increasing Naxalism?
There is nothing wrong with tribals aspiring for a good life. But the gap is too wide and the frustration manifests itself, like in the case of Sikhs in the 1980s or Tamils in Sri Lanka. If a youth sees that somebody else is enjoying fruits of development, he picks up a gun in frustration. It precipitates the problem.
What are the possible solutions?
Political dialogue. One has to implement green economy based on community principles of tribal life. When tribals were given rights for bamboo cultivation in a village called Mendha Leka, they created a revenue of Rs1 crore. Nearly 1,000 villages in Gadchiroli have been deprived of this possibility for the past 50-60 years. The losses are comparable to the 2G scam.