1.The President of India, New Delhi.
2.The Prime Minister of India, New Delhi.
3.The Union Minister of Tribal Welfare, New Delhi
4.The Governor of Chhattisgarh, Raipur
5.The Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh, Raipur.
We, the members of the Peace Initiative Team of Social Scientists and Independent Citizens visited Bastar area and moved around 1100 sq. kms talking and interacting with tribals, Salva Judum supporters and CPI (Maoist) supporters in villages and haats to find the reasons, dimension and levels of violence in the area as well as to find out the possibility of peace for a creative and imaginative socio-cultural and economic development of the tribals and the area. We have come to the conclusion that a prolonged period of peace, it is absolutely necessary for the development of the tribals of Bastar as well as the entire area affected by violence.
As social scientists we are aware that no government, especially one which adheres to a constitutional democratic polity will accept surrendering to an alternative ideology which shows open hostilities and repugnance towards a constitutional-democratic polity and structures even though it may allow to adhere to such beliefs free debating space. We are, therefore, making an appeal to CPI (Maoist) leaders to give peace a chance.
However, after stating the above, we must point out that the alternative ideologies of CPI (Maoist) could grow, capture the imagination of many as well as got entrenched due to government’s own inept handling of various development problems in tribal areas. Some of the steps, which the government will have to take once the peace if realised, are suggested as under:
a)The government must realize that it cannot step up the pace of development in tribal areas, especially areas that are inhabited by primitive tribals. It must realise that if the politics of development in tribal area is undertaken without understanding the ‘felt’ needs of the tribals, more often than not, the development becomes ‘Derivative Development’, ‘Discriminatory Development’, or ‘Differential Development’. Only ‘felt need’ development model can lead to an acceptable and sustainable development in tribal areas.
b)In this context it would be important to emphasise the need of recruiting anthropologists and sociologists for not only evaluating the development programmes but also to act as an interface between the tribals and the policy makers.
c)Before planning any development interventions, it is important that the suspicions of the tribals are allayed. The tribal has a litany of real or presumed grievances against the more advanced cultures, which it has been carrying for ages. He has to be convinced that the members belonging to the advanced cultures and their institutions have concern and respect for them their culture, their ethos and their institutions. Attempts should be made to encourage their plays, games and sports, etc. can be organized on all India level. Similarly, as the tribal education has generally been non-formal in its dimensions, this will have to be synergised with the formal brand of education in a graded and gradual manner.
d)Development would have to be prioritised. For the tribal need of nutritious food is more important than road and electricity. Because of small land holdings, irrigation facilities become more important than credit facilities. The need of modern medical facilities including that of nutrition supplements cannot be underestimated in tribal areas. Similarly, the importance of good and clean potable water cannot be underestimated. Most of the diseases, which afflict the tribals of Bastar, can be traced to their drinking contaminated water.
e)The policy makers should also understand that there is really no contradiction between economic growth of the nation with the growth and development of a geographical area inhabiting primitive tribals. If India as a nation needs iron-ores and coal for its steel plants for its economic and industrial growth and most of the iron-ores and coal mines are situated in tribal areas, one has to find ways and means to exploit these minerals without reducing the tribal to a state of penury by dispossessing him of his land and offering him compensations which are inadequate in the long run. The way out should be creating a permanent stake of the tribal in the mining and industrial projects. One of the suggested ways is to make the tribal a shareholder in the mining or industrial projects apart from the one-time compensation for his land. Alternatively, a programme will have to be formulated for general growth of the area.
f)It is also important that a consultative body of traditional tribal chiefs, anthropologists and policy makers is constituted at the district levels in the erstwhile district of Bastar (which has now been divided in 2-3 revenue districts) for deciding on the felt-needs of tribals as also as a body to educate, persuade and convince the tribals of a policy the introduction of which is felt necessary but is being resisted by the tribals.
The government must also realize that development cannot take place unless there is an atmosphere of peace. It must seriously consider a genuine proposal for peace offered by the naxalites in a compassionate manner.
Thanking you and hoping that the government would initiate steps leading to an atmosphere of peace in Bastar area so that all-round development of the area without unnecessary stimulating the fears and concerns of tribals living in that area is made possible. Thanking you again with a hope that you would give serious thought to our study and suggestion.
1.Prof. S. Narayan(Anthropologist and Sociologist, Patna, Bihar)
2.Dr. Raji Ahmad (Gandhian Social Activist, writer and leader, Patna, Bihar)
3.Dr. Ajay Kumar Singh (Patna, Bihar)
4.Mr. Dheerendra Singh (Patna, Bihar)
5.Prof. Mitashree Mitra (Raipur, Chhattisgarh)
6.Prof. O.P. Verma (Raipur, Chhattisgarh)
7.Prof. Dinesh Kumar Verma (Jagdalpur, Bastar, Chhattisgarh)
8.Dr. Rajendra Singh (Jagdalpur, Bastar, Chhattisgarh)
9.Mrs. Shoba Narayan (Patna, Bihar)
10.Mr. Farjand Ahmad (Media person, Lucknow, UP)
11.Mr. Ajay Sharma (ANI/Media, Jagdalpur, Bastar, Chhattisgarh)
12.Mr. Mithelesh (Media person, Patna, Bihar)