Our land's wretched

C P Bhambhri, erstwhile colleague (now retired) from the JNU reviews THE ABSENT STATE: Insurgency as an Excuse for Misgovernance by Neelesh Misra, Deputy Executive Editor, the Hindustan Times, and Rahul Pandita, Senior Special Correspondent with Open magazine, in the Business Standard.

Bhambhri calls The Absent State an important study by two sensitive and socially committed authors who reveal the realities about Indian democracy “from below” on the basis of intensive and painstaking grass-roots research. They show through concrete facts rather than rhetoric the sufferings of people sandwiched between the activities of defiant social groups and the oppressive responses of the functionaries of the Indian state. A common thread that binds the narrative on Naxals and insurgents in the Kashmir Valley and North East is that all of them are operating in a territory that is under their control; like the Indian state, these groups have their own armed forces, they also implement their own laws and collect taxes or extortion money from the local population. All these three armed rebellious groups have established their “own states within the Indian state”.

"Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth have been abandoned by the Indian state in favour of Vedanta or Tata or Jindals or Essars, so popular anger has to be expressed either through democratic electoral process or through violent rebellion. The politics of the ballot-versus-bullet has taken deep roots in India and if democracy has to prevail over violence, elected representatives, civil and police officials, prosperous and upwardly mobile neo-rich middle classes and the armchair intelligentsia should pay greater attention to the facts narrated by Misra and Pandita."

In hardcover, 304 pages, Rs 495, ISBN: 9789350092156