Winning: We Have Met The Enemy And It Is Us

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August 18, 2014:   India has been fighting leftist (Maoist) rebels since the 1970s. The government has been winning battles but losing the war because of the corruption within the government and the impact this bad behavior has on government services. The two biggest failures are education and health. In both cases corruption by local and state officials results in programs that look great on paper but are largely failures in practice.

Elementary education throughout India is crippled by corruption largely because teaching jobs are often considered as a source of income by corrupt local politicians (who send their kids to private schools). Teaching jobs are often handed out to people who are technically qualified but who instead work elsewhere. These absent teachers collect their pay and split it with the politician who got them appointed. School administrators are paid off to go along and create false or misleading reports that all is well. School supplies are similarly diverted and suitable administrative excuses made. Medical care, especially in rural areas, is supposed to be taken care of by rural health centers. Local politicians tend to treat these centers like the schools; as a source of additional income. Doctors are supposed to be, by law, supplied by government programs that mandate recent medical school graduates serve one year in health centers. But the majority of the doctors called on to do this service bribe their way out of it. In eastern India the most common excuse given is fear of Maoist violence. While the Maoists do destroy a few rural health centers that are under construction, the generally leave the rural health centers alone once they are operational. While greatly understaffed and underequipped these centers are often the only modern health care available in many rural areas and the locals depend on the centers. The Maoists will often extort medical supplies or care from the centers but because these centers are so popular they will rarely attack an operational one. Doctors are never attacked on purpose, but few medical school graduates want to spend a year supervising care in several rural health centers and prefer to bribe or connive their way out of that duty. Because of these persistent forms of corruption the Maoists still get the attention, and sometimes support, of many rural Indians.

In the states free of Maoist activity the government has addressed the social issues more effectively and offered amnesty to Maoists in the area. Many are just uneducated kids, lured into the life of Maoist terrorism by fairy tales of triumphant communism and the need for a job. And that's what Maoist terrorism is all about, getting guns, fantasy, bad government, and real grievances mixed up all together. This is a deadly mixture and should be avoided.

The anti-Maoist offensive combined more armed police with more attention to the social and political problems in the rural areas where the Maoists had so much support. There is still a lot to complain about in these areas but less reason and opportunity to support armed Maoists. Since 2008 the Maoists have become more of a problem than Islamic terrorism in Kashmir. As a result the government has moved many of the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force, a paramilitary organization that deals with terrorism) battalions from Kashmir to areas in eastern India where the Maoists operate. But the longer the police operate there the more the police commanders report to their superiors that the underlying problems are social and economic and dealing with that is a more effective way to deal with the Maoist violence.

 

 


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