Maoism and the Poverty in India

Samirnath Mallik

Maoist armed cadres extend over a broad band along the east coast covering the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and a few others. The number of districts experiencing most insurgency in these states are about 90. The people living in these districts are illiterate, living in extreme poverty. Taking the average population of a district to about 12 lakhs, the total population of the 90 districts comes to about 10 crores. Also the total number of people in India below poverty level is gain 10 crores, confirming the idea that poverty is confined mostly in this region.

The improper handling of the Maoist insurgency by the government was widely criticized by academics, social workers and lawyers. It provoked the ire of the Centre to enact the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and put many people to prison merely on the suspicion of Maoist 'link', without trial. Now even such well-known men as Dr. Salbaba and Father Stan Swamy have been arrested. The government must repeal UAPA and set them free unconditionally and turn to address the root cause.

It is a shame that India has over 10 crore people below poverty level even in this twenty first century. These people are left to die in utter poverty and illiteracy. It is said that the growth of industry would remove this poverty. Over the past decades it has proven to be too slow. The government must come forward to resolve this problem immediately.

The Centre willing, there are several ways to collect the required money. I shall discuss here one, namely the defense budget. At present it is about 5 lakh crores per year, increasing by about 5 to 7 per cent every year. If the Centre slashes a little, say one fiftieth part of it for a period of time, say five years, an amount of ten thousand crore per year will be available which may be used to set up primary schools, hospitals and other infrastructure facilities. If this is not possible, the money may simply be distributed among the 10 crore poor people in the 90 districts mentioned above. Taking 4 members to constitute a family it will provide each family Rs. 4,000 per year. Continuing this process for 5 years will go a long way to establish a local industry and eradicate the extreme poverty.

Nov 21, 2020

Samir Mallik

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