Anti-Maoism, McCarthyism, and the Indian State

Being the only “policeman” who “has ever risen to so much influence in India,” Indian National Security Adviser MK Narayanan seldom minces words in revealing the designs of the Indian State for “national security.”  He recently pronounced the focus of the state’s strategy against leftist militancy in the country.  In an interview with the Straits Times,1 he clearly emphasized that it is the intellectual appeal of the Maoists that is letting down the Indian state in its fight against the Maoists: “. . . we haven’t been able to break their intellectual appeal that they seem to still have.”

Narayanan further adds that “large numbers of the intellectual elite and civil liberties bodies provide a backup to the movement in terms of agitprop and other activities.”  The fact that the Maoists “are still able to get support of intellectual classes is disturbing.  Unless we can divorce the two . . . [defeating the Maoists] is not that easy.”

When asked if the Maoists are getting outside support, he said, “we have not seen any kind of infusion of arms or ammunition.”  However it is the “educated elite . . . that gives them a connection to the outside world.”  Evidently, it is that “connection” which needs to be broken.

In order to sever this “connection,” the Indian state must find intellectual scapegoats (like the McCarthyite era in the US had the Rosenbergs and others) to terrorize the “educated elite.”  Hence, we have Binayak Sen, Ajay TG. . . .  And the list is daily growing.

What is McCarthyism anyway?  Truman, not a leftist by any means, defined it as “the corruption of truth, the abandonment of the due process of law.  It is the use of the big lie and the unfounded accusation against any citizen in the name of Americanism or security.  It is the rise to power of the demagogue who lives on untruth; it is the spreading of fear and the destruction of faith in every level of society.”

So with the ideologies of Indianism/Hinduism and security defining every move of the Indian state, aren’t we in the same situation?

Should we be surprised by the National Human Rights Commission’s submission to the Supreme Court regarding Salwa Judum’s atrocities leaked to the Economic Times?  The official human rights body “found that many of the allegations [against Salwa Judum] were based on rumours and hearsay, and devoid of facts.  Again, many of the villagers whose names figured in the column comprising victims of Salwa Judum or the security forces were actually found to have been killed by Naxalites.  FIRs had been registered in most of these cases and the state government had also doled out compensation to relatives of those killed.  NHRC teams also discovered many of the villagers whose names figured in the list were actually Naxalites who had been killed in encounters with the security forces.  A few other villagers were found to have died of natural causes, while yet another group of villagers whose names figured in the list of dead were actually found to be alive.”2  NHRC’s arguments here are quite clear and very logical: if Salwa Judum or the security forces killed somebody, (s)he must be a naxalite; if (s)he is not a naxalite, then it’s obvious that (s)he was killed by the naxalites.

Isn’t this their “truth” or Truman’s “corruption of truth”?


1  Ravi Velloor, An Interview with MK Narayanan, Straits Times, 11 August 2008.

2  “NHRC Gives Thumbs-up to Salwa Judum Movement,” Economic Times, 26 August 2008.

Pratyush Chandra keeps a blog titled India, South Asia, and the World at

| Print