Naxalism & Education
Is it about Syntax & Semantics?
Aparna Addanki, Ashwin Belagodu, Deepika Aradhya,
Suresh Nellikayii, Vijay Dwivedi
Main Stream Media Scream in bold headlines online on 20/03/2012
[As Odisha struggles with the Italian hostage crisis, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has come out with a bizarre statement. The Spiritual leader said that government schools were a breeding ground for Naxals. “It’s often seen that boys from Government schools are into Naxalism and violence. Those from the private education system are not into these things. They move ahead with an ideal (adarsh) and teachers are responsible for it,” he said. “Government should not run any school, it should be given to some other system (samstha),” he added. His statements come amidst the ongoing Odisha hostage crisi][i]
What actually was left unreported was the preliminary part which is explained later in this blog. For the records, here was the clarification too.
[I specifically referred to sick government schools in Naxal affected areas. Many who have turned to Naxalism have come from these schools. I did not say all Govt schools (where lakhs study) breed Naxalism. Great talents have emerged from these schools & I would never generalize.” I said, so I could encourage these private institutions to open up in more places. I just wanted to give some incentive to them to start up more educational institutions. I’m not that foolish that I would say that all government schools would breed Naxalites. I try not to make such generalizations. Whatever I say, I say in an informed manner.” – NDTV and @SriSriSpeaks on Twitter] [ii]
Firstly, not sure what is the link between the Odisha Hostage Crisis and Sri Sri, assuming for a moment that He did say what is being claimed. Secondly it baffled us no ends that the blasphemous media raked up a partial video from His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar about that statement he made in a Government-Forsaken Government School and generalizing it with sole purpose of some eyeball count and sensationalizing. Not surprising behavior from our Main Stream Media anyway. Their complete blackout of Sri Sri visit to Pakistan, reeked of conspiracy. Here was a Hindu Spiritual Leader embarking on a Peace mission to an extremely orthodox environment with no help whatsoever from the establishment which is News worth its weight in Gold but unsurprisingly unreported due to reasons which is anyone’s guess. For that matter, none in the Government including the Ministers cannot walk into this cauldron, win hearts of people and get back SAFELY smiling.
Media behavior abhorrent that always is, why did a Honorable (for now we retain this address) Minister launch on a tirade and use language unbecoming of the position held. But then did that surprise me? Not a bit! This Minister is known to have the most uncouth language – a turncoat who sloganeered against the very family he eagerly drools to receive crumbs from. It is more a question of proving that he being more loyal than the king. This one-upmanship for proving loyalty to their first family makes all these spokesperson and silent person makes them create, kill and nurture non-issues at will. He is this minister who defended the indefensible – the most costly scam ever witnessed by the country (probably the world) yet derived an amazing Mathematical formula to declare Zero Loss. Here was the same Minister who routinely bad mouths Hindu Spiritual Leaders who use his own Government’s statistics to bring out flaws in the society, but honors the separatists who commit acts of sedition. The thoughts penned here is not about the statements issued by this Honorable Minister but the underlying reality and why such a rabid response came about. Readers can take a call whether Minister is Honorable or not, in light of this!
So what was the trigger and why now? Read the situation in light of the results of the recently concluded Elections to various states where a future Prince was projected without a clear social agenda. The election meetings did not draw any crowd that was expected (same Mathematical formula did not neither translate to crowds on the ground nor as votes in the election, as it were). Contrast this with the crowds this down to earth Hindu Spiritual Leader elicited. The picture below explains it all. No wonder they took offence to Sri Sri and waited for an opportunity to attempt a strike back. Greater wonder, Government had prevented Sri Sri Ravishankar from visiting Amethi and Rai Bairelly
And what really pressed the panic button is “probably” this, when Yadavs called on Sri Sri Ravishankar and pledged their support to eradicate Corruption. This was the last straw. Here was an ally who was prevented from attending swearing in ceremony of the new CM and she gets her nominee who presented a budget she was not happy about and soon after she makes her displeasure felt, Yadavs also pledged support for “Good Governance” (whatever this means anyway). Remember Baba Ramdev, another popular Hindu Spiritual leader already had blessed the new CM and this appeared to the powers that be to be an ominous development which in their books had to be countered at any cost. Who better to target than Hindu Religious leaders who happen to be the whipping boys of the Sickular community.
Lest we forget the context and intent of drawing the attention of the world to the importance of Schooling which was the intent of Sri Sri Ravishankar in this case. If you watch the whole talk, it is pretty obvious that Media was favoring the Government machinery by telecasting only the partial video (abruptly starting with the statement reproduced above). Government today is trying its best to prevent attention being drawn to the core issue by focusing on Syntax and Semantics of the statement.
Remember that Sri Sri particularly drew attention speaking in an abandoned/dysfunctional Government School (referred to as sick school in HIS statement). When a Government has forsaken its own School, where is the hope for the vulnerable children? More statistics on what these Schooling assets are used later in this blog. It is in this context, Sri Sri said that Government should not be in the business of education which it has failed for the past 65 years of independence. Government’s business is governance except which everything is being focused on – running hotels, factories, sports bodies, temples or airlines. Results of this incompetence are very obvious going by a plethora of examples around us. Private Education system has performed admirably well – please note here that private schools doesn’t not necessarily mean the Corporate Public Schools. There are Ramakrishna Mission Schools, Art of Living Tribal and Rural Schools and many more of such initiatives. They offer free/affordable education and instill uncompromising National and Societal values which Government influenced by the Leftist ideology has failed miserably. Visit statistics of regions where such schools in operation – West Bengal, Tripura, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and other places. If you find lack of progress in this country in 200 districts from about 612 districts, it is because the Ramakrishna Missions/AOL has not reached there. Coupled with extreme social deprivation, poverty lack of proper schooling lends itself as fertile ground for spurt, growth and fostering Naxalism or other violent activities
Why and what of Naxalism is not the focus of this blog. It is to highlight that Schools and students are vulnerable targets and the hotbed of recruitment which sustains and grows the movement.
Growth of Naxalism is directly linked to the lack of proper educational infrastructure – made obvious by the fact the first target of attack for destruction of any Naxalite is a School or other centres of education. It suits their agenda to have the populace illiterate and uninformed.
[A UNESCO global report has equated the CPI (Maoist)’s attacks on schools in Naxalite-dominated states with the systematic targeting of educational institutions by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The report says attacks on schools and teachers are “well publicized and the perpetrators” have “made public their intention to attack schools via published threats and orders”. The report says 300 schools were blown up by extremists between 2006 and 2009. There was also an “increase” in the recruitment of children by Maoists between 2005 and 2007. 14 and 15-year-olds were recruited into armed squads in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Naxals forcibly recruit and train children for combat. At least 300 children were trained in the dense forests of Dhanbad and Giridih in Jharkhand under a crash course in the use of small arms.
Similar reports also come from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh . Some years ago, the security forces rescued a group of girls from a camp of the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre.
Amnesty International noted that the erstwhile PWG had recruited children between the ages of eight and 15 “believing that they could train children more effectively than women to resist police interrogation”.
Both boys and girls operate in rebel ranks. They have been utilized to gather intelligence, carry food and weapons, and to serve extortion notes. The children, being in an impressionable age, are susceptible to indoctrination.
Nevertheless, to prevent children from associating with left-wing extremists, security officials periodically visit hostels and counsel the students about the difficulties they could face if they join Naxalite groups][iii]
Now what is a dysfunctional (referred to as sick school) in the clarification? Remember Schools not only serve as a centre of education in backward area but also a place where poor children get their food through the mid-day meal scheme. Imagine the impact due to lack of quality teachers or re-deploying the asset for other use has. When you drive students out of the School buildings to house security personnel, remember you drive them right into the hands of Naxalites. Read this for clarity
12,000 children driven out of school to make way for police camps
[Ranchi, April 18 (IANS) With security worries uppermost on mind, the Jharkhand government has converted 25 schools in the state into police camps.
Many schools have been closed in the last five years as the buildings are used as police camps. Estimates put the number of affected students at 12,000.
When anti-Maoist operations are launched, the security personnel are shifted into school buildings. In some schools, the personnel live in the building while teaching takes place under the open sky.
As a result, a primary school in Ghure village of Latehar district is closed since 1990 and Maoist guerrillas have attacked the building thrice.
Education in the Chatrapur Middle school of Daltanganj has also been affected since 1990 for similar reason.
“For many years now, classes are taking place outdoors as the school building has been given to security personnel. Studies are badly affected by the movement of the security personnel but we cannot do anything about it,” complained a teacher in Jhumra Hill of Bokaro district.
Another teacher of a school in Kurkura, Gumla district, said: “Student lives are endangered by the presence of police here. The police use these children as shields knowing well that the Maoists won’t attack them. “ However, police officials pledge helplessness
“We need places to house the security forces. The government has asked us to convert schools into camps. What can we do? We are just doing our job,” said a police official.
Maoists are active in 16 of the 22 districts of the state. At least 600 people, including 290 security personnel, have been killed in Maoist related violence in the last six years][iv]
Another report that brings out the hard facts. Surprising element in the case mentioned above and this – All are Government Schools that are affected one and not AOL/RK Mission run schools which are operational in these places. You can click the reference link for complete reading. Denial of a meal, shelter and basic education occupation of schools for other purposes not only alienates the students and abets taking arms against the establishment, and apart from this also makes the school extremely soft target of attack.
[(Ranchi) – The ongoing conflict between Maoist insurgents and government forces is disrupting the education of tens of thousands of India’s most marginalized children, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
The 103-page report, “Sabotaged Schooling: Naxalite Attacks and Police Occupation of Schools in India’s Bihar and Jharkhand States,” details how the Maoists – known as Naxalites – a longstanding, pan-Indian armed militant movement, are targeting and blowing up state-run schools. At the same time, police and paramilitary forces are disrupting education for long periods by occupying schools as part of anti-Naxalite operations. The report is based on visits to 22 schools in Bihar and Jharkhand, and interviews with over 130 people, including 48 children, as well as with parents, educators, police, and local officials.][v]
It is pertinent to note here that Art of Living Schools have been established with local tribal supports in the worst affected areas and brought about transformation in many activists who have since got transformed! Many of the naxalites have joined the main stream and also brought about tremendous transformation in their sphere of influence. Every time during elections, there used to be a lot of problems in Jharkhand. Many would lose their lives during election and in the recent ones many good people took part in the elections and naxalites, in thousands, started joining the main stream.
Elections in Jharkhand has had a volatile history. Violence was wide spread & many lives were lost. But there has been an unmistakable change in recent past. Education has ensured Naxalites not only joined main stream but also voted & many took apart in elections.
In Jharkhand, there was a time when you asked a Kid, what they wanted to become; the kid would reply “A Naxal”. So, AOL opened an Ashram in an affected area. A reformed (and transformed) naxalite who subsequently became an active volunteer teacher took AOL courses in one of such naxal affected areas A naxalite who was transformed, went on to take courses for another 11000 people and brought a lot of transformation in the entire belt going on to prove that Government establishment simply is unable to manage this monster of a problem. Root cause is blatant corruption in appointment of undeserving teacher. Hard statistics from the planning commission’s report and action plans, corroborating whatever was mentioned by Sri Sri. This concept of Ekalavya schools is what AOL/RK Mission have set up on their own initiative. Drawing attention to Page 72 and claused referred below to understand the enormity of the tasks bridged in the absence of governmental infrastructure and support.
[The Planning Commission set up an Expert Group on “Development Issues to deal with the causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism” in May, 2006. It had 16 Members. The Terms of Reference included, inter alia, identification of processes and causes contributing to continued tensions and alienation in the areas of unrest and discontent, such aswide-spread displacement, forest issues, insecured tenancies and other forms of exploitation like usury, land alienation, etc. It also included special measures to be taken for strengthening the implementation of Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Area Act (PESA)
The elementary education infrastructure would need strengthening, by providing fully qualified and trained teachers in every school per suitable norms of pupil-teacher ratio; providing quality technical/vocational training facilities for a cluster of 10 secondary schools offering training in a wide variety of local/specific needs; providing at least one residential high school each for boys and girls in these districts under the pattern of Navodaya Schools, together with Bridge school facilities for slow learners and out of school children. Existing ‘ashram’ schools should be upgraded to standards.
‘Eklavya’ schools should be established in each block in these districts. Thus a structure of the fol low kind would emerge:‘ashram’ and vocational schools in a cluster; ‘Eklavya’ schools in a block, and navodaya schools in a district]
1.17.12 This should be corrected by reviewing the programmes being adopted to implement these laws, ensuring that the law a b o l i s h i n g s c a v e n g i n g l a w is applied automatically all over the country, providing effective livelihood, housing and emotional support to the victims and ensuring their effective rehabilitation, providing protective gear to those handling filth, garbage, solid waste, medical waste, dead animals, and those cleaning dry latrines, open drains, septic tanks etc., along with social security insurance, bringing Safai karmacharies within the ambit of Minimum Wages Act, establishing residential schools for children of Safai karmacharies, Devdasis, and sex-worker
3.6.4. The pressure exerted by the Naxalite movement has had some effect in ensuring proper attendance of teachers, doctors etc., in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, but it is also true that such employees have made the presence of the Naxalites an excuse for not attending to their duties properly in the interior areas. In the matter of physical infrastructure like roads, school buildings, etc., the Naxalite movement has on certain occasions exerted pressure for its improvement, but in many places they have themselves obstructed the laying of roads for the reason that it would increase police and paramilitary raids] [vi]
And finally what the Honorable Minister, if we may still refer to him as such would like to read this document linked here[vii] and then comment on whether the statement (not the partial video made available widely) but the actual statement is in line with this requirement and need. Would he also care to answer how much of funds actually devolved to the beneficiary and how it has been deployed under the scheme. To the limited knowledge we possess, both RK Mission Schools and Art of Living Schools haven’t received a paise under this scheme and no Government schools are not functional in these areas.
Is the furore thus justified? Are we more concerned about political grammar or moral and societal correctness? We have attempted to place on records all fact for the readers to come to an informed conclusion & in their wisdom will take a call. Having said that we would still like to maintain just as His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar said, Naxalites are indeed incubated in dysfunctional Government Schools. Not to mean all Government School Students end up as a Naxalite which would be as wrong as stating the entire Islamic community comprises of Terrorists though apprehended terrorist have Islamic sounding names. The primary focus and efforts should be to alleviate abject poverty and extricate potential victims from highly discriminatory social conditions (We call them victims, victims of official and social apathy). Targeted subsidies and funds never reach beneficiaries thereby widening the gap from the mainstream. Spiritualize, de-stress and educate is the mantra.
PS: The Hon’ble Minister should remain a paragon of virtue in choice of words. Remember he articulates and the marginalized one retaliates. Power is not a license to speak or do anything. Responses can be civil or atleast consistent irrespective of whether the leader belongs to Majority community or not. Secularism is in act not on the lips.
Added on March 23, 2012 @ 0030 hrs (via Kalyani)
Naxal Pathshala’ in Jharkhand government schools [vii]
[Chakradharpur (Jharkhand): In a shocking incident, naxal groups are using government schools in their stronghold as the nursery of Naxal philosophy. The security forces in the state have learnt that the naxal groups are taking classes in the schools in the heartland and are giving anti-establishment lessons to the schools children.
Security forces during ‘Operation Anaconda’ in the Saranda forests learnt about the new method of dissemination of naxalism among the schools children. After terrorising the teachers of dozens of school like Thalkobad, Tirilposhi, Ratamati among others in the region, the naxals are trying to brainwash small and innocent minds against the government machinery.
According to psychologists, such awful activities will spread animosity in the innocent minds. And hence, the move would prove disastrous for the future of the nation. Moreover, the atrocious disclosure has also raised questions against the education system and the functioning of the state government.]
(Cache link below in case you are not able to reach the above document)
Photo courtesy: @shivbharat, @aolswamiji, @agenthunt