Interview with GN Saibaba (Revolutionary Democratic Front, India

This is an interview with GN Saibaba of the Revolutionary Democratic Front in India. The government has recently accused of being a top leader of the Indian Maoists who is leading the planning for the counteroffensive against the government’s counterinsurgency. I really doubt that.

First of all, the military and political wings of the organization are completely separate. The political people have nothing whatsoever to do with the military campaign, any more than Democratic Party members were responsible for the US war in Vietnam from 1960-1968.

I’m sure they probably support the Maoists, but a lot of Indians support the government too. If you support the government, should the Maoists kidnap you or kill you? Of course not. Then why arrest some civilian for “supporting the guerrillas.” So what? What kind of crime is that anyway?

I really doubt that this guy is a top Maoist leader or that he has been sheltering top Central Committee members. The leaders of the Maoists, as with all such groups, are deep underground, not walking around in plain sight. If he’s sheltering wanted men, it should be simple enough to put him under surveillance and arrest him.

The government is now accusing all sorts of folks of being members of the Maoist organization, including many students at the universities in New Delhi. That’s a little bit strange. If they really are members, the state should prove it. But I doubt if they are. The Maoists have little presence in urban India, especially in New Delhi.

I’m not ecstatic about the Maoists, but everything else has failed, so we might as well give them a shot. But they have only an outside chance of winning. The latest I saw is that the Maoists had a long-term plan to take power by the year 2050. Wow, 40 years is a long time.

Indian capitalism is crap. Here we are, 60 years on, and 50% of the population is malnourished.

Way to go, Indian capitalists, way to fuckin go.

Interview with GN Saibaba (Revolutionary Democratic Front, India)

By Wilhelm Langthaler, 21 February 2010

G.N. Saibaba is Assistant Professor of literature at Delhi University, India’s one of the most prestigious institute. He is one of the most vocal voices of the democratic opposition and plays an outstanding role in bringing together the most diverse trends against the ruling elite. He represents the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF).

Q: The “India Shining” campaign promised industrialization and increasing wealth also the poor majority. Did this come true?

The application of globalization policy in India meant benefits first of all for the ruling oligarchy. A handful of families are in full control of the levers of power. Thanks to their position they could amass huge fortunes, particularly in the last twenty years. Eventually among the list of billionaires there are a lot of Indians.

The concentration of wealth has been growing rapidly while some 80% of the population has to live on less than half a dollar a day and can hardly afford a daily meal. According to the government’s own statistics this was not the case two decades back. India pursued globalization policies in the most aggressive way, as there are vast untouched resources available on which the western powers and especially the U.S. want to get a hold. But huge poverty also evokes huge conflicts.

In the last six years we entered a new phase called “Second Generation Reforms”. What is the difference to its predecessors? The first phase was marked by the liberalization of the economy and the legal framework. It was mainly based on the IT sector. But there was little foreign investment. This has been changing.

Several hundreds of memoranda of understanding (MOU) with multinational corporations (MNC) have been signed, mostly related to the exploitation of natural resources. Mainly in central and eastern parts of India there are enormous deposits of iron ore, coal, bauxite, limestone and other minerals the western powers want to tap.

Thus incredibly huge swathes of land are being awarded to the MNCs. We are faced with an unprecedented sell-out of land, forests, minerals and water which did not even happen under British colonialism.

So the last half decade also saw growing resistance by the people against land grab, Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and industrialization projects. Given the intransigent reaction of the elites these often turn violent and armed – with or without leadership.

Q: What is the impact of the world economic crisis?

India cannot keep the crisis outside, unemployment has grown and huge job losses are continuing. Some five million workers lost their employment (as many as in the U.S.) and the textile industry virtually collapsed. Actually the middle classes are bearing the brunt of the crisis, while the upper middle classes can no more dream of a western-type comfortable life. It is the first time that the service sector’s white-collar employees are affected, such as in IT.

In Gurgaon [a suburb of Delhi were such industries are concentrated] engineers for the first time joined strikes of production workers. There are also signs that working-class and peasant struggles are coming together.

For the first time since 60 years we see a reversed pattern of migration. People are leaving the towns and returning to the countryside. But there is nothing left in rural India, though they cannot survive in the town either. Nowhere a source of livelihood remains. The agricultural sector is shrinking, despite the fact that some 60% of the population depend on it. India’s food security got lost which has been built in the last half century. The promised investments for industrialization are hardly flowing in, though agreements are being signed.

Therefore popular protests are breaking out both in rural as well as in urban areas. Clashes in the streets erupt. Fortunately there is a revolutionary movement which can help organising the spontaneous turmoil caused by the crisis. There is a great potential for the revolutionary forces to grow in the present phase, as the brutal impact of the crisis pushes people to struggle against the system.

Q: Can you draw a first balance sheet of the military campaign “Green hunt” launched by the Indian army in the last autumn against the Adivasi resistance to evict them from their ancestral lands?

The operation is entering its fifth month and it is a full scale war with some 250,000 soldiers and U.S. military logistics involved. But there are no visible signs of success. Hundreds of innocent civilians are being killed, as well as ordinary soldiers, often from outside the region, who do not understand the local language let alone the political background of the conflict. As the governmental forces do not advance, they choose soft targets and commit atrocities. They have been suffering severe blows from the Maoist movement, who could kill some high-level targets. Motivation of the troops is plummeting.

Q: What about the reaction in the cities, especially among the educated middle classes?

The middle classes are slowly acquiring consciousness. But a polarization is under way, as the picture is changing day by day. The opposition against Green Hunt is growing and a big upheaval is not far away. The government cannot go ahead with this attack on the fast track and had to slow down.

As a matter of fact, most of the big mining and industrial projects are stalled due to the popular resistance.

Q: The press happens to speak of a “terrorist threat” also in India.

The American policy is being copied in India and used against any serious opposition. The army is sent even against ordinary demonstrations. The Muslims are collectively stamped as terrorists and the same with the Adivasis (Indian native people). Also the Dalits (untouchables) .

The U.S. ideology is excessively used by the Indian elite. In 2008 they installed the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act which is almost a replication of the earlier draconian Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act. By law, Maoism is now equated with terrorism. Also targeted are all Muslims, as well as the liberation movements of Kashmir and the Northeast.

Q: You yourself are accused by the police to be a decisive aide to the Maoists.

In the last months the government tried to implicate me with banned organisations, as I participated in the campaign against the ban on the Communist Party of India (Maoist) [CPI(M)].

Actually the concrete accusations are all together laughable. How can I participate in a tactical counter-offensive or give shelter to central committee (CC) cadres? They say that I am broadening the base of what they call “outfight”, that my views are considered by the CC of the Maoists. In this way they can make me responsible for anything which is happening in India. They accuse me of my views and political stand.

This is part of a larger plan to silence the voices of democracy and the opposition to the anti-people policies of the government. They fear the growing criticism to their military campaign against the poorest of the poor, stripping them of their land and its resources. Today they want to shut my and others mouths, tomorrow all democratic voices. First they banned resistance organisations, which is wrong in itself. Now they try to burn the surroundings.

But civil society has come out and condemned the government for the vilification. A whole series of press conferences and public protests with high ranking personalities are in the making.

Q: Eventually on geopolitics: some think that India could join a future bloc together with China and Russia in favour of a multi-polar global system.

India has become the U.S.’s main ally in the region. I do not see any condition in the foreseeable future that this could change. The elites here are completely subservient to Washington and the tendency is worse and worse.

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One thought on “Interview with GN Saibaba (Revolutionary Democratic Front, India”

  1. I don’t agree that Indian capitalism is crap because you have to remember that for almost 40 years after independence the country was very hesitant in integrating itself into the world economy as it deemed capitalism as a form of slavery, a natural reaction you would guess given the East India company which came to trade ended up ruling it for over 200 years. It put up barriers for entry to outsiders and everything was heavily bureaucratised following independence in 1947. But if you look at the time since the market liberalisation programme inducted in 1991 and now, the progress has been fantastic, and judging by all predictions, the Indian economy will be as big as the US within 20 to 25 years, in nominal and significantly bigger in purpaching power parity terms.

    Yes, the country still has hundreds of millions of very poor, but something like this cannot be reversed overnight, and the Maoists insurgents that operate in some 150 of India’s over 600 districts are fighting a losing battle. The Maoists suppsoedly fight for India’s poor, but they are trying to stop the minerals and other natural resources on top of which they live, from being extracted that India needs to boost its economy and hence its poor.

    I do realise the government should not move these people forcefully as their ancestors have lived on those lands for thousands of years and they should be compensated and have homes built for if they are move, but waging a battle against the government is not the solution. Look what happened with maoism in China. It got them no where, but since abandoning Maoist principles, they have advanced greatly.

    You also have to realise the India has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty already and, if everything goes according to plan, the number of abject poor should reduce by another 20% or so by 2020.

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