Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The Dynastic Dilemma

Writing about a dear friend and a fellow-alumni in his Memoirs, America’s celebrated diplomat, Henry Kissinger, remarked that Nelson Rockefeller was the best President America never had. The way Mr. Kissinger saw it, Vice President Rockefeller simply didn’t have the single-mindedness to run for the highest office of his country; or as Mr. Kissinger puts it, he ‘uncharacteristically hesitated’.

He had the pedigree- after all, his grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, was, and continues to remain, arguably the richest man ever in human history- and also the political clout to do so, and yet, paradoxically enough, it was precisely this pedigree and clout that kept him from becoming America’s President. Mr. Kissinger believed that at the back of his mind, Mr. Rockefeller, Jr., felt that if he got elected, people would see it simply as a natural outcome- a logical progression- of his legacy, one that put him at an unfair advantage over his less pedigreed, less influential adversaries; and in the event that he didn’t get elected- if he lost- he would be ridiculed as one who had squandered his enormous legacy, all for the selfish purpose of personal gain and glory. The way Mr. Rockefeller, Jr., saw it, either way he had nothing to gain and much to lose. As will be observed later, Mr. Kissinger, however, thought otherwise.

This, I believe, is a dilemma common to scions of powerful families- people ‘born into greatness’- everywhere, and not just America. In so many ways, Rahul Gandhi- great grandson, grandson and son of three of India’s most illustrious Prime Ministers- too suffers from this peculiar hesitation. Admittedly, Mr. Gandhi is not quite as hesitant as he first was when he stepped into politics almost five years ago, as an MP from his late father’s constituency, Amethi.

His hesitation has worn off bit by bit in what can be described as three distinct stages: first, as MP when he confined himself to matters limited to his constituency [2004-07]; secondly, as General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) when he limited himself to overseeing the working of his party’s student and youth organizations while also quietly working on the party’s revival in his home state, Uttar Pradesh (UP) [2007-09]; and thirdly, as leader of the Congress party’s campaign in the 2009 General Election, when he, along with his mother, spearheaded the party’s historic comeback to government [2009-]. And yet, the reluctance continues: every time a demand is made from Congresspersons- not only the youth but also from the Prime Minister himself- for him to become part of that government he steered back to power, he is the first to nip it in the bud.

I see no reason whatsoever for his ‘uncharacteristic hesitation’ in leading the nation: we’re in fact in total agreement with Mr. Kissinger’s observation that

“In high political office, a man will be measured by the challenges he met and the accomplishments he wrought, not by his money or the motives of those who helped him get there. History will judge not the head start but the achievement.” (The White House Years, Vol. 1)
This same observation applies, wholly and in full measure, to yet another Harvard man: Mr. Gandhi. It would merely be a re-statement of the overwhelming opinion prevalent among India’s youth that the time for Mr. Gandhi to lead us has finally come: it is here and now. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he become Prime Minister right away. But it is not in doubt that if the youth of India is to truly find a say in the decision-making process at the highest levels of government of this country, there can be no better voice than his.


Now, it is not very common for anyone to argue with their overall in-charge- their boss, so to speak- at least not in print. The fact that we can do so, with a certain sense of impunity even, speaks a lot about both the organization and its in-charge. To our credit, we can brandish ourselves as bold, even brazenly so, but that is only half the picture: we cannot for one moment forget the reason for our bravado. That reason is, as it happens, Mr. Gandhi himself. Or to be more precise, his almost obsessive devotion to democracy, which, to paraphrase the philosophy of the great French political thinker, Voltaire, can best be espoused in the following words:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (quote attributed to Beatrice Hall, Friends of Voltaire, 1906)

In a nation where the average age of leadership remains stuck at sixty-plus, Mr. Gandhi has already given us- the youth- the courage to be ourselves: to fearlessly speak our minds. It is also thanks to him entirely that the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) today has more number of MPs than at any other time in history.

Asked about his greatest achievement in the immediate aftermath of Mandate 2009, he unexpectedly replied: “the organizational elections of the Youth Congress in the Punjab and Gujarat.” Considering that he has been universally acknowledged as the principal architect of his party’s historic comeback in that election- after all, it was for the first time in almost a quarter of a century that the number of Congress MPs had breezed past the two century mark, leaving in their wake, the Opposition in near-total disarray- this reply was at best, modest, self-effacing and altogether unexpected.

Needless to say, the Media were both puzzled and disappointed: most of them hadn’t even heard of the Youth Congress, let alone of its intra-organizational elections in the two states; on the other hand, the entire world- CNN, BBC, The Economist- was talking about the Congress’ landslide victory in the just-declared general election result. And yet, Mr. Gandhi’s comment that these two organizational elections not many knew of were his ‘greatest achievement’ offers an invaluable insight into the meaning of who he is- and more significantly, about where he is headed.

The Meaning of RG

In 1937, his great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, quietly penned an article, “The Rashtrapati”, under a pseudonym, Chanakya. In it, he warned against what he thought was his own dictatorial streak, arguing, among other things, that

“(Nehru’s) overmastering desire to get things done, to sweep away what he dislikes and build anew will hardly brook for long the slow processes of democracy…is it not possible that Jawaharlal might fancy himself as a Caesar.” (Modern Review, 1937)

Like his famous ancestor, Mr. Gandhi- or RG, as those in the Congress now call him- too is fanatical about democracy, even to the point of visible self-criticism: he clearly believes that the success of the two youth organizations he looks after, the IYC and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), depends, above all else, on ensuring that members have their say in choosing their leaders; and not in his deciding beforehand who should lead them. This has meant doing away with the age-old practice of appointing office-bearers based on recommendations of geriatric leaders, many of who have, to put it kindly, long since lost touch with the pulse of the youth.

Although elections have been on the pages of the constitutions of these two bodies since they were first constituted, no one has really bothered with the cumbersome task of holding them. RG has changed that. Well, not yet entirely. As of date, intra-organizational elections have been held in only three states: IYC elections in Punjab and Gujarat, and NSUI elections in the hilly state of Uttarakhand. (The process of IYC-electioneering has also commenced in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.) Even though an independent Election Commission is now well in place, there has been no official announcement about whether- and when- they would be conducted in other states. It is not that he isn’t satisfied with elections as such, especially in light of his abovementioned pronouncement. The question, therefore, is this: why not have nationwide organizational elections, all at once?

The answer to this, I suppose, lies in RG’s working style. He is, by most accounts, meticulously methodical: it’s not enough for a thing to be done; it’s equally important that it is done properly. Punjab and Gujarat weren’t exactly ‘smooth operations’: there were problems, but they were overcome. And in the process, valuable lessons have been learnt. Lessons that would, no doubt, be applied elsewhere in due course. It has been the same with Uttar Pradesh. Following the Congress’ poor showing in the last assembly election, political pundits were quick to put the blame on Mr. Gandhi. The media, despite intense coverage of his campaign, pronounced him a novice, who had much to learn.

And learn he did: by the time General elections were held two years later, he had quietly built, almost from scratch, a formidable organizational machinery at the grassroots level capable of single-handedly taking-on the collective might of all the three other major political parties- BSP, SP and BJP- put together. (Now: this is something chronic RG-baiters, whose diatribes have reached a crescendo after the Congress' drubbing in the recent Bihar assembly election, would do well to remember.) But that wasn’t all. For more than two decades, UP, India’s largest and most politically charged state, had been plagued by a divisive kind of politics, which was centered around building various combinations of communal and caste-based ‘vote banks’: BSP was the party of Dalits; SP represented the OBCs and Muslims; and the BJP pandered to Hindu chauvinism.

Idea of India

To adapt a phrase from the Princeton scholar, Sunil Khilnani, the very ‘idea of India’- that a nation of a billion people, all coming from vastly different backgrounds could stay united- was under threat.

It is clear from Mr. Gandhi’s oft-quoted statement that “the Indian Flag is my religion”, made during his first major political speech to AICC delegates at Hyderabad, that he had realized early on that a national party like the Congress, which by its very nature couldn’t possibly represent any one caste, community or region, simply didn’t stand a chance- not if the existing rules weren’t changed totally. True, he displayed a remarkable understanding of realpolitik when he decided, against all advice, to abandon altogether the requisites of coalitional politics and go it alone in UP sans the SP. (Most at the time thought this ‘overconfidence’ was nothing short of committing political hara-kiri.) But that wasn’t all.

In many ways, he did what Mr. Nehru had done- and what the forces of casteism, communalism and regionalism had been seeking to undo ever since: Mr. Gandhi created, almost all by himself, a new Indian National Identity that once again welded people from various backgrounds and regions into one common composite whole of Indian-ness. He did so by putting the long-forgotten Common Man at the center-stage of Indian politics.

This common man, by his very definition, does not belong to any one gender, community, caste or region. In this sense, he is truly ‘common’: his problems could be anyone’s problems; his aspirations and hopes are shared by all. Thus it was that in UP- and indeed, the rest of the nation- people didn’t vote on the lines of their identities (caste, religion or region); their vote was based on one criterion, the only one that actually matters: who, or which political party, could best address the problems, the hopes and aspirations, of this Common Man? Seen from this perspective, it is not difficult to understand why the People of India voted the way they did.

A Very Uncommon Common Man

Putting the Common Man center-stage is all very well, but the question that begs to be asked is this: how common exactly is RG? There is no doubt that Mr. Gandhi’s life has been anything but ordinary.

Given that his grandmother and father were both assassinated in the line of duty, security has always been a concern. Consequently, as a schoolboy, he- along with his sister, Priyanka- was tutored mostly at home. (She also became his ‘best friend’.) Even when they went out as a family- to an impromptu quiet little dinner, even- the people they would meet were carefully screened beforehand as yet another necessary security measure. The only time, it could be argued, that he found life ordinary was when he went to live abroad, first as a student in America registered under a pseudonym and then as a consultant working with a corporation in London. It was here, some say, that he finally found love.

Strictly speaking, the only ‘common people’ he came in contact with in India were those who worked in a domestic capacity at the prime ministerial residence, or at his mother’s home at 10 Janpath: cooks, gardeners, chauffeurs, attendants and the like. In many ways, they served as his link to the world that lay beyond its high-security fences, its constantly ready-to-shoot machine guns. Almost instinctively, Mr. Gandhi developed a peculiar fascination- one verging on outright admiration even- for these simple people. When asked by a magazine about the person he was inspired by most, he replied:
“Shyam Lal, who started as a junior guy and later managed my grandmother’s kitchen all by himself. Be it handling elaborate dinners for delegations and ambassadors, he could do everything single-handedly.” (Hi! Blitz, 2004)
To most, this reply would seem a bit strange, even other-worldly. This, after all, is not the kind of answer that would get one top-marks in say, the UPSE interview. Putting oneself in RG’s place, one might’ve probably found one of those lofty ambassadors, what with their interesting insights and funny anecdotes, far more inspiring than a lowly chef who nobody would’ve noticed, let alone admired. Still, this does tell us a lot about the kind of person RG is; in particular, the relationship he has with common people like you and me.

The Humanist

This relationship, as it turns out, is at the centre of his political thinking (it’s still too early to call this thinking ‘ideology’): replying last year to the Motion on the Civil Nuclear Energy Agreement with the U.S., Mr. Gandhi, MP, defended the government’s stance by telling the story of Kalavati, a widowed-mother he had met in famine-stricken Vidharba. To him, the single most valid justification for the Agreement wasn’t India’s rapidly increasing energy deficit (which, given his penchant for facts, he seemed to have on the tip of his fingers) but much more significantly, the promise it holds for improving Ms. Kalavati’s life.

If asked to describe RG’s politics in just one word, I would choose: Humanistic.

Clearly, he admires certain qualities about the common man, which he finds absent in others not-so-common. And what is more, this relationship is reciprocal: the common man, as it were, finds much to admire about RG.

And it’s not because of what he says- his declamations, admittedly, don’t quite have the eloquence of a Barrack Obama- but simply because of who he is- or more precisely, how he comes across. The common man has long since given up on believing the uttered word- after all, he has sat through countless speeches, each one more verbose than the other, and seen no good come out of them- but he hasn’t given up on seeing, on sensing; on feeling. And this is what he feels, senses, sees: that here’s someone who, at the very least, has his heart in the right place; someone who, like them, doesn’t quite trust words, but instead believes in the moral force of right actions.

And for him, that is enough.
Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Under Threat: Our Right to Dissent

इतना दम बाजु-ए-रमन में नहीं है कि नेहरु-गाँधी के 
खून के बलिदान को भुलवा सके-

जो ये इतिहास मिटाएगा
वो खुद इतिहास बन जायेगा.

The Right to Dissent, to voice disagreement, is central not only to the notion of modern Democracy but, as pointed out by the Nobel laureate, Dr. Amartya Sen, to India’s glorious if somewhat overlooked tradition of Heterodoxy. It is a fact those in government often tend to ignore: when all else fails, dissent is met with deterrence in the form of punishments; in many cases, these punishments do not have the sanction of Law.

Dr. Raman Singh’s government in Chhattisgarh is increasingly enforcing such unlawful punishments as a deterrent against lawful dissent: the object is to frighten would-be dissenters from taking up causes against it.

Very recently, the Chhattisgarh State Textbook Corporation was instructed by the state government to stop issuing framed pictures of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi- all former Prime Ministers- and Sardar Vallabhai Patel to state-run schools and colleges, and instead to replace them with those of Pandits Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay. The reason for this decision is of course political; it has nothing to do with the merits of their contribution to the nation-building process. Nehru ji, Sardar Patel, Shashtri ji, Indira ji and Rajiv ji were all Congresspersons; Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Upadhyay belonged to the erstwhile Jan Sangh (the precursor of BJP). What Dr. Raman Singh is trying to do, therefore, is nothing short of what VS Naipaul, another Nobel laureate, has termed as “the erasure of history” (albeit in an entirely different context).

This issue has been jointly taken up by the two youth frontal organizations of the party, NSUI and the Youth Congress. This afternoon, they staged a peaceful protest outside the Textbook Corporation’s head office at Raipur. They did not- nor did they have the intention to- hurt anyone. Even so, the district administration mercilessly lathi-charged the protestors, including the state presidents of both these organizations, Uttam Vasudeo and Sanjeev Shukla, and shut them behind bars. They were booked under section 151 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which is a bailable offense. But the SDM was specifically instructed by the DM (Collector) and SP to make himself scarce so that the protestors would not have an opportunity to furnish their bail bonds. The purpose of this is clear: to send them to jail, where they would be kept in barracks like common criminals. “If I had my way,” the SP told someone, “I would keep them locked up till after Deepawali.”

They did the same thing two days ago, when NSUI President Sanjeev Shukla and his associates staged a fast-unto-death outside Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla University at Raipur to urge the Vice Chancellor to issue degrees to more than 53000 students: they have been waiting for more than 3 years to get them. It is, to say the least, a most reasonable demand: without their degrees, they cannot even apply for jobs. The modus operandi of their protest was also not unreasonable: if anybody was being hurt, it was the students themselves. And yet, the police once again beat them up, and put them behind bars. Once again, the SDM made himself scarce, and once again, the students were forced to spend more than 2 days and 2 nights locked up in barracks like common criminals. For most if not all of them, this was their first time in jail. Naturally, they were terrified to be living alongside convicted criminals and the like, but it also gave them an insight into the inhuman conditions inmates are kept in inside our extremely corrupt jails. When they came out finally, they told the Press exactly what they saw and lived through.

For some reason- I can’t tell what- the state leadership of the Congress party organization has decided not to react to all this, let alone express support for the two youth organizations. It is most disappointing. After all, the removal of our Leaders’ pictures from schools and colleges is not simply a student- or even a youth- issue; it strikes at the very soul of our democratic culture. If we do not speak up now, there is no telling what they will do: at stake, is our Right to Think and Speak Freely. It is clear to me, now more than ever before, that when Dr. Raman Singh fails to buy our Silence (something I’m told he has become rather good at), he will stop at nothing to punish- and terrify- us into Silence.

The Gentleman Doctor’s Mask is slipping away; behold, a Tyrant emerges! Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Star is Born: Anuj Sharma

(This article is the property of The Sunday Indian and part of their publication "Ratn-36".)

In 2000, my mother took me to watch Mor Chhaiyyan Bhuiyyan; most of the film’s cast and crew were present. Afterwards, we invited them home for tea. But the person I most wanted to meet was absent. I didn’t know his name back then. So, when I met the producers, I asked them “where is the guy, the naughty younger brother Kartik, who lit up the screen every time he was on it; the one who had the audience going gaga…” Before I could finish describing him, they proclaimed his name: Anuj.

A lot has happened during the last decade. Chhollywood, Chhattisgarh’s still-nascent film industry, has gone through a definitive cycle of Rise, Fall and Rebirth. There has however remained one constant: the ever-increasing endearment of Anuj Sharma to the people that speak and sing in his dialect, share his on-screen life, and hope someday to emulate his off-screen Rags to Riches story. I have personally borne witness to this phenomenon on countless occasions, not just when he is performing on-stage but also when we are doing simple everyday things like going for a drive, or having an ice cream or watching a movie. People, especially those one doesn’t generally take note of- the doorman, the auto-rickshaw driver, the maid, the quintessential ‘have-not’- seem to materialize out of nowhere just to shake hands with him, to touch him. And boy, does he touch them- not just physically (something his numerous heroines, no doubt, would vouch for!) but also, much more significantly, at a deeper emotional, ethereal level. This fact didn’t escape The Sunday Times of India when it recently did a one-page cover story on Anuj.

I am not a film critic. But Anuj comes across as something of a Chhattisgarhi Brando: even at his quietest moments, he simmers and sizzles; he is both Chocolaty Romantic Hero and Angry Young Man, all rolled into one. Trade-wise, he remains Chhattisgarh’s most bankable star: 9 out of the state’s 10 biggest-grossing films have Anuj as their lead and not one film has celebrated its Silver Jubilee which didn’t have him in it. To say the least, his producers are never disappointed. His foray into television led to the most-watched show ever in Chhattisgarh’s history, Folk Jhama-jham, on ETV-Chhattisgarh. I’ve seen posters of Anuj’s films not just plastered all over Chhattisgarh- more than any neta, in fact- but also in far-off corners of Bhagalpur (Bihar), where he is a household name. Professionally, he helped re-launch his bosom-friend, Prakash’s fledgling film career, when they made Maya (2010), the highest-grossing film in Chhattisgarh’s history. And once every year, he gives a free performance at his native town, Bhatapara, personally bearing all costs.

But the reason I’ve been asked to write this is not to narrate what everybody already knows about Anuj; it’s to tell what you don’t. For instance, he’s completely and totally devoted to his Amma, who raised him singlehandedly after his father passed away. (Amma is, by the way, the best Chhattisgarhi cook I know, and her jimikanda cooked in curd are to die for!) He loves his wife (whom he married out of love) and his newly arrived daughter, Anumita, who has brought him not only joy but also an unending string of hits! He is remarkably down-to-earth, and can keep smiling- not just with his lips, but with his eyes- for a longer time than anyone I know: at his wedding reception, his all-winning smile didn’t leave his face for 7 hours as he personally attended to several thousand guests!
I also know for a fact that he can sing better than he can act: every time Anuj sings, I can almost feel the divine. Also- and this is his big secret- he has ghostwritten tantalizing lyrics for some very titillating albeit hugely popular songs! (Bhoran debe ka, being one such number.) He also has his likes and dislikes, and in particular, one dislike: the shameless exploitation of Chhattisgarh’s immense cinematic talent by a clique of mindless cultural illiterates. (You can also listen to my podcast of Anuj's interview to know more about his views on the subject.) That is perhaps why he was unanimously elected as President of our state’s Film Artistes’ Association: to protect, and if necessary, fight for their often-trampled Rights. Not surprisingly, UNICEF has chosen him as their Goodwill Ambassador for Chhattisgarh.

From there, it’s just a hop-skip-and-jump to Politics. Realizing his immense potential in public life, I’ve often tried to shamelessly lure him into this world, but Anuj hasn’t yielded. No yet, anyway!
Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Friday, October 01, 2010

विश्वास की लड़ाई: छत्तीसगढ़ में युवा कांग्रेस चुनाव

Read this post in English here.

छत्तीसगढ़ में युवा कांग्रेस चुनाव की आठ-महीने लम्बी प्रक्रिया समाप्त हो गई है: प्रदेश भर से लगभग 400,000 नौजवानों ने अपने मताधिकार का प्रयोग करके 7500 पंचायत, 1000 वार्ड, 90 नगर पंचायत, 89 विधान सभा, 11 लोक सभा और प्रदेश समितियों का चयन कर लिया है. निःसंदेह ये हमारे प्रदेश के इतिहास में किसी भी राजनैतिक दल द्वारा चलाया गया सबसे वृहद् लोकतांत्रिक अभियान है. यही नहीं, छत्तीसगढ़ देश का पहला ऐसा राज्य है जहाँ दोनों एन.एस.यू.आई. और युवा कांग्रेस के पदाधिकारी पूर्णतः निर्वाचित हैं. इस मायने में, राहुल जी की देशव्यापी क्रांति सबसे पहले हमारे प्रदेश में सफलतापूर्वक पूर्ण हुई है. यह हमारे लिए गौरव की बात है.

मैंने भी इस अभियान में अपनी छोटी सी भूमिका निभाई है: मुझे प्रदेश का दौरा करने के साथ साथ उसकी युवा पीढ़ी से मिलने का अवसर भी मिला.

इस चुनाव के 5 प्रमुख बिंदु निम्नानुसार हैं:
  • पहला, प्रदेश युवा कांग्रेस का नवनिर्वाचित अध्यक्ष उत्तम वासुदेव एक गरीबी रेखा कार्ड रखने वाला किसान का लड़का है. उसका गाँव, झाबर, मरवाही विधान सभा क्षेत्र में है. उसके चुनाव ने विरोधियों के आरोप कि इन चुनावों में धन-बल और बाहु-बल का खुला दुरूपयोग हुआ है, की धज्जियां उड़ा दी है.
  • दूसरा, प्रदेश के चारों संभागों को प्रदेश समिति में प्रतिनिधित्व का मौका मिला है: सरगुजा से दानिश रफीक, बस्तर से साकेत शुक्ला, बिलासपुर से उत्तम वासुदेव, सुश्री सुखबाई खूटे (अ.जा.) और पप्पू बघेल (अ.जा), और रायपुर से दीपक मिश्रा, आसिफ मेमन, संदीप साहू और अभिषेक मोदी.
  • तीसरा, चुनाव में केवल एक लोक सभा अध्यक्ष का पद आरक्षित रखा गया. इसके बावजूद 3 लोक सभा अध्यक्ष आदिवासी बने (बस्तर- कवासी हरीश, सरगुजा- बबला तिर्की, कोरबा- सुश्री बून्दकुन्वर मास्को); 2 अनुसूचित जाति के है (बिलासपुर- गोविन्द सेठी, जांजगीर- अशोक सोनवानी); और 3 मुसलमान (कांकेर- अमीन मेमन, दुर्ग- अयूब खान, राजनंदगांव- नवाज़ खान). इस प्रकार 11 में से 8 लोक सभा अध्यक्ष आरक्षित वर्ग के हैं.
  • चौथा, ८९ में से ८४ विधान सभा अध्यक्ष स्थापित स्थानीय पार्टी नेतृत्व की सक्रिय खिलाफत के बावजूद चुनाव जीते हैं; न की उनके समर्थन से. कई जगह वे स्थापित नेताओं की संतानों को हराकर जीते हैं. बस्तर लोक सभा में हरीश कवासी, जो की सुकमा का जनपद अध्यक्ष है, महेंद्र कर्मा के बेटे बंटी कर्मा को पराजित करके अध्यक्ष बना है. सन्देश स्पष्ट है: युवा पीढ़ी की पलटन चल पड़ी है; वह अब रुकने वाली नहीं है.
  • पांचवा, पिछले १ साल में राहुल गाँधी के नेतृत्व में छत्तीसगढ़ में 100,000 छात्र एन.एस.यु.आई से, और लगभग 400,000 नौजवान युवा कांग्रेस से जुड़े हैं. इस प्रकार कांग्रेस पार्टी के दोनों युवा संगठनों की सदस्यता प्रदेश कांग्रेस से कम से कम 3 गुना अधिक हो गई है. समय आ गया है कि युवा कांग्रेस के साथ साथ अब हम कांग्रेस को युवा करने की ओर काम करें.

प्रदेश युवा कांग्रेस की पहली बैठक उत्तम के गाँव, झाबर, में २ अक्टूबर गाँधी जयंती को रखी गई है. भविष्य में युवा कांग्रेस शहरों से नहीं, गाँवों से चलेगी. ये मुनासिब भी है क्योंकि प्रदेश में युवा कांग्रेस के 75% सदस्य पंचायतों में रहते हैं.

युवा कांग्रेस के अपने साथियों को मैं दो सुझाव दूंगा: पहला, किसी प्रदेश-स्तरीय कार्यक्रम के बजाय वे ऐसे स्थानीय मुद्दों की पहचान करें, जिससे उनके क्षेत्र की जनता, विशेषकर युवाओं, का सीधा वास्ता है, और फिर इन मुद्दों को हल करने के लिए अपने नौजवान साथियों की टीम के साथ अभियान चलाये. दूसरा, ऐसा करने का 'पदयात्रा' से बेहतर तरीका नहीं है. लोगों को समझने के लिए, उनका विश्वास जीतने के लिए, उनके बीच में जाकर उनके साथ रहने से अच्छा रास्ता कोई नहीं है. साथ में, जिन पंचायतों में सदस्यता नहीं हुई है, वहां सदस्य बनाने का काम पूरा करें.

इस चुनाव ने हमें एक सीख दी है. हमारे साथ सदस्य, संसाधन और रणनीति भले ही हो, जब तक लोगों का विश्वास नहीं रहेगा, उस विश्वास को हासिल करने के लिए टीम नहीं रहेगी, किसी का भी नेता बनना संभव नहीं है. जब कोई भी सदस्य मतदान करने जाता है, वो बूथ के अन्दर अकेले रहता है, उसे कोई देखता नहीं रहता है. ऐसे में उसके मन में केवल एक प्रश्न उठता है: "मैं किस पर भरोसा करता हूँ?" मुझे बेहद संतोष है कि जो 90 साथी मेरे साथ नक्सली इलाकों में बस्तर सत्याग्रह के दौरान चले थे, उनमें से 52 विधान सभा अध्यक्ष, 11 लोक सभा अध्यक्ष, और 7 प्रदेश समिति के सदस्य निर्वाचित हुए हैं.

इसलिए मैं अपने युवा कांग्रेस के साथियों से निवेदन करता हूँ कि वे लोगों का विश्वास जीतने का हरसंभव प्रयास करें. यही राहुल जी की क्रांति का सार है: नेता बनने के लिए बड़े नेताओं के आगे-पीछे घूमना बंद करो; जनता के बीच में रहकर, कार्यकर्ताओं का विश्वास जीतो. पदयात्रा करो, अपनी टीम बनाओ.

Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

On the Youth Congress Election in Chhattisgarh: Fight for Faith

इस लेख को हिंदी में यहाँ पढ़ें.

The eight-month long election process to constitute the Pradesh Youth Congress (PYC) committee has come to an end in Chhattisgarh: almost 400,000 members from across the state exercised their franchise to elect Youth Congress (YC) committees in more than 7500 panchayats, 1000 urban wards, 89 assembly segments and 11 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state. This was, beyond doubt, the largest democratic enterprise undertaken by any political organization in our state’s history. Not only this, Chhattisgarh has now become the first state where both NSUI and YC office-bearers are all elected. In this respect, we are the first state of the nation where Rahul ji's Revolution is complete. I was fortunate to have played a small part in this mammoth effort: more than anything else, it gave me an opportunity to tour the state, and interact with its youth.

Five aspects need to be noted about the PYC elections:
• First, the election of Uttam Vasudeo as state President puts paid to allegations of rampant misuse of money and muscle power in YC elections: he is, after all, a BPL-card (Below Poverty Line) carrying OBC farmer’s son from a village called Jhabar in Marwahi, my father’s home constituency.

• Secondly, each of the 4 divisions of Chhattisgarh has found representation in the state committee vis-à-vis Bastar (Saket Shukla), Sarguja (Danish Rafique), Bilaspur (Uttam Vasudeo, Sandeep Sahu, Sukhbai Khute and Pappu Baghel) and Raipur (Deepak Mishra, Asif Memon and Abhishek Modi).

• Thirdly, even though only 1 Lok Sabha (LS) President’s post was reserved, 8 of the 11 LS Presidents come from the "reserved categories":
o STs were elected Presidents in no less than 3 Lok Sabhas vis-à-vis Bastar (Harish Kawasi), Sarguja (Babla Tirki) and Korba (Ms. Boondhkunwar Masko). Also, in Korba LS, the president-elect also happens to be a woman;
o SCs became Presidents in 2 Lok Sabhas vis-à-vis Bilaspur (Govind Sethi) and Janjgir (Ashok Sonwani);
o 3 other LS Presidents are Muslims vis-à-vis Kanker (Ameen Meman), Rajnandgaon (Nawaz Khan) and Durg (Ayub Khan).

• Fourthly, 84 of 89 Vidhan Sabha Presidents contested- and won- against rather than with the support of established local political leaderships. In this respect at least, the mandate ushers in a new wave of anti-establishmentarianism. The youth of the party, it appears, are not on the same frequencies as their leaders, and vice-versa. In many cases, progenies of political stalwarts were ousted by relative newcomers. Most notably, in Bastar LS, Harish Kawasi, the young Janpad President of Sukma (Dantewada), dealt a crushing blow to Bunty Karma, the so-called Bastar Tiger, Mahendra Karma’s son. The way I see it: the Youth cannot, and will not, be stopped.

• Last but not the least, 100,000 students have joined the NSUI and almost 400,000 youth have enrolled in the YC in Chhattisgarh during the past year under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. This means that the membership of the party’s 2 youth organizations is at least 4 times bigger than that of the parent body’s. It is time, therefore, to stop thinking merely in terms of ‘Youth Congress’ but instead start to work towards making the entire Congress young.

The first Meeting of the new PYC, I’m informed, is to take place on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2, 2010) in Uttam’s Jhabar. It marks a radical new beginning: henceforth, the Youth Congress in Chhattisgarh will be run from villages, not cities. This is only fitting as 75% of its members live in panchayats.

To my friends in the Youth Congress, I offer two suggestions:
  • First, rather than have a statewide program, I believe it is much more important for elected office bearers (EOBs) of the YC to identify local issues that directly concern the people, particularly the youth, and formulate strategies to solve them.
  • Secondly, the best way to go about doing this is for each of them to undertake Padyatras (foot march) of their respective areas: there’s no better way to understand the people, and win their trust, than by actually living with them. During membership drive, some villages were left out. Padyatras would be a good way to encourage youth of those villages to join YC.

What this election has taught us all is this: one may have members, resources and strategy, but unless and until one has the Trust of the youth, and a Team to capitalize on that Trust, it's simply not possible to become a leader. This is something most commentators seem to miss out on. When a member casts his vote, he’s alone and there’s no one watching him, he’s free to do as he pleases, and at this point, the only question that arises in his mind is: whom do I trust? In this context, it gives me a certain degree of satisfaction to note that of the 90 persons who marched with me through the heart of Naxalite territory during the Bastar Satyagraha, 52 are now Assembly Presidents, 11 are LS Presidents, and 7 are in the state committee.
I, therefore, urge my friends in the YC and the NSUI to do everything possible to win the trust of the people. That is the essence of Rahul ji’s Revolution: to become a leader, you no longer need the blessings of the top leadership; all you need to do is win the trust of the people. And the best way to go about doing it is by hitting the road, and building your team.
Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Friday, July 02, 2010


Note: Please click here to see the press coverage of the Satyagraha, compiled by Girish Verma. Also, many thanks to Anwar Qureshi and Raju for the video footage and photographs (and to Sachin Awasthi for uploading them). You can view more photos on Facebook by clicking on the day-wise titles.

Day One: Dantewada to Nakulnar, 19th June 2010

1.1 Rain
It is drizzling. We wait for it to stop. It doesn’t. Thanks to Vinod Tiwari, who had the foresight to arrange raincoats from Raipur, the rain does little to dampen our bodies- and more importantly, our spirits.

To me, the rain is symbolic: it marks both an end and a beginning.

1.2 Maha Bhumkal
In an age when it has become fashionable to celebrate Centenaries of all sorts, it is indeed sad that nobody seems to have noticed that it is now exactly 100 years since the Maha Bhumkal. Those of us who know something about ‘the Great Rebellion of 1910’ view it primarily as a tribal uprising against the Raj. It is a view enforced by Maoists.

In my opinion, such a viewpoint isn’t entirely accurate.

The leadership of Maha Bhumkal wasn’t restricted to tribals. At its core, lay an alliance between Lal Kalindra Singh, an uncle of Bastar’s King Rudrapratap Deo, and Gunda Dhur, a Dhruwa chieftain from Netanar whose name, even now, is the stuff of legend among Bastarias. Other leaders included Bachchuprasad Pandit (one journalist at Jagdalpur objected to the inclusion of this name, saying that there was no such person, until I showed him Standen’s Report on the Revolt), Mukundadeo Machmara and Murat Singh Bakshi- again, all non-tribals.

Kalars, Rauts, Maharas- communities living in forests alongside tribals, but for some idiotic reason have been classified as ‘OBCs’- also took part.

The rebels occupied Jagdalpur for 7 days. The British sent in forces from Raipur, Nagpur and Madras (Chennai) to brutally crush the Uprising. Thousands were killed, shot at point-blank range by maxim guns; tens of thousands were whipped; entire villages were burnt; the more notable leaders were all summarily tried and sent off to perish at the Central Jail at Raipur. It is a plight still lamented in the Bhumkal Geet, sung in Gondi.

When I said that 100 years later, there is a need for another Maha Bhumkal, I didn’t mean that the people of Bastar should all take up arms and rise against the state. What I was saying was simply this. The Maha Bhumkal of 1910 is unique in that it showed a remarkable unity of purpose at two distinct levels: one, between tribal and non-tribal residents of Bastar; and two, between the various tribes- Dhruwa, Maria, Halba, Abujhmaria and Muria, to name the more prominent ones- occupying different regions of Bastar. It is this Unity that needs to be revived.

In the debate on how the problems of Bastar should be tackled (Left Wing Extremism (LWE), included) we don’t seem to be listening to those who really matter: the Bastarias. What do they want?

As far as weapons are concerned, well, I believe we do need them- but not of the kind that are currently being deployed. Books and medicines, and footballs, are far more effective as arsenals than bullets and bombs- if our battle is for the Heart & Soul of Bastar, and not simply for its territory and resources. This, I believe, we have amply proven through our seven day padyatra through the violence-prone regions of South Bastar.

1.3 Bastar Satyagraha
I’ve said from the start that Bastar Satyagraha is non-political. That is essential for our survival. There are people belonging to different political parties- Congress, BJP, CPI and the militant CP (Maoist). All of them are equally concerned about what’s happening to Bastar. All of them want to do what’s best for Bastar. None should be excluded. That is precisely why our Movement must remain non-political.

Anyone can join us- as long as they believe in two things. First, that all People, irrespective of background or persuasion, are good. Secondly, that nobody will oppose any effort, howsoever small, to do good.

The first phase of Bastar Satyagraha- in which we walked on foot through the violence-prone areas for a week, carrying not guns but books, medicines and footballs- was an attempt to test this hypothesis. If we were wrong, then the possibility of our returning unhurt would be remote. That, however, was a risk we had to take.

People have asked me about the timing of Bastar Satyagraha: why now? To that I’ve only one answer: why not sooner?

The fact is we were wrong, terribly wrong. It’s no use pointing fingers at anyone. That would make things worse. Our Satyagraha, therefore, begins by accepting that we, all of us, were wrong. There is no doubt in my mind: if the situation in Bastar is to be salvaged, we must begin anew.

We must search for those issues where there is overall agreement; we must, at this stage anyway, avoid all such issues where there is dispute. That is absolutely essential if the Unity of Maha Bhumkal is to be revived.

1.4 Ma Danteswari Temple
The goddess Danteswari- in all probability, a tribal deity absorbed as early as 11th century A.D. into Hindu cosmogony as a divinity sprouting from the place where the teeth of the slain goddess Kali fell (the cult of shaktipeeth)- is the supreme deity of all Bastarias. Traditionally, the King’s legitimacy- and power- was derived from the fact that he was the chief pujari (priest) of the goddess, interceding on behalf of the people before her.

As late as the 1970s, hundreds of people would fling themselves before her annual procession from Dantewada to Jagdalpur (Bastar) during the Dusshera festival, to be crushed under her chariot’s wheels. (I’m told that it still takes great efforts on the part of the administration to prevent some of them from doing this.)

Modern clothes- pants & shirts- are not permitted before her. You have to be clad in nothing but a simple loincloth (dhoti) in order to come into her presence. Only a precious few are granted the privilege of seeing her feet- and they must, in any event, be prostrating at the time so as not to offend her.

We paid our respects to the goddess, and began our padyatra with a secular hymn: Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Ishwar Allah Tero Naam, Sabko Sanmati Do Bhagwan. (Raghupati Raghav, Raja Ram, Ishwar and Allah are all Your Names, Give Good Sense to All)

It was, I thought, most apt.

1.5 A Bit of Civil Disobedience
A day before we began our padyatra, I wrote a letter to the District Collector, Dantewada, informing her about our route. She wrote back saying that we were free to go provided we followed certain conditions: one, we could walk only on the Dantewada-Sukma highway and nowhere else; two, there was to be no loud music of any kind; three, we could walk only between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. everyday.

Naturally, we didn’t intend to subscribe to any of them. It was, after all, not our intention to examine the condition of the highway, to count the number of potholes in it. We wanted to go to places most plagued by violence- and listen to what the people there had to say.

In any case, 25 policemen- all of them young men like us- were deployed to accompany us. An ambulance followed. I don’t think there was anyone in it (besides the driver, of course).

1.6 Kumhar Ras: A Study in Development

This is a small village, hardly 5 kms from Dantewada town. It is a few hundred meters away from the highway. The local janpad (BDC) member had arranged for me to have lunch at Shivcharan’s house: it consisted of fried fish and parboiled rice; it was most delicious.

At his house, I was told about the Indira Awas Yojana intended to provide housing to below poverty line (BPL) families. More than 175 such families were selected; 35 were paid the first installment, of Rs 15000. They began construction. Then, the money stopped. They were told that the Yojana had been cancelled; its funds had been diverted to “Salwa Judum”.

Kumhar Ras is a strange sight to behold: a village full of roofless houses.

Later, the villagers took us to see their lone source of drinking water. It is a 55 mm cemented hole, about 5 feet deep, dug into a field. It’s less than half full. They have to ration this water: every family is permitted only 1 matka (pot) a day. To bathe, they have to go to the other side of the highway, to the river Shankani.

They also took me to see the village pond, built at a cost of Rs 10,00,000. It is little more than a mud pit, with no water in it.

The road back to the highway- on paper, it is made of cement by the NMDC- is muddy.

1.7 Masenar: So close, and yet so far
At Masenar, we work out our modus operandi. We divide ourselves into three teams: one, to do the Survey (form enclosed); another, to distribute school kits (each comprising a notebook, pencil, sharpener, eraser and a ballpoint pen); and last but not the least, a team of doctors and medical students. Each team has a satyagrahi, who can speak one of the 9 different local languages spoken here (the lingua franca being Gondi and Halbi). This way, everyone knows what he is supposed to do the moment we reach a village.

The main village is barely a few hundred meters off the highway. Yet, villagers have to walk more than 10 kms to get to it. That is because a river, Shankani, runs in between. Long ago, in 2002-03, a bridge had been sanctioned. Nothing has been built. In the morning, we’re informed, it was possible for villagers to wade through the river, as the water was only neck-deep. Now, it’s way too deep, and the only way to get across is to swim. We were, I’m afraid, too tired for that.

Consequently, we find ourselves screaming across the river, to have a conversation with the hundreds who could not come.

1.8 Mangoes of Ganjenar
On the way, an incident takes place. We spot a tree loaded with ripe, juicy mangoes. It is on the front-yard of somebody’s house. We’re tired and famished. I suggest we ask the occupant of the house- an old lady- if it’s alright to pluck a few mangoes. We offer to pay. She begins to shout at the interpreter. I ask him why. He tells me that a contingent of policemen, who were walking ahead of us, had already taken the mangoes without asking her permission. She thought we were one of them.

It is dark by the time we get to Ganjenar. We stop by to have tea and biscuits at the lady sarpanch’s house. She offers me a mango- the biggest, juiciest one from her tree.

1.9 Nakulnar

We reach Nakulnar by 11. In all, we’ve walked 27 kms. Our feet are tired; some of us have blisters; all our shoes are soaking wet from the rain. Villagers are waiting for us inside the school building, where we’re to spend the night. They sing “Jai Jogi, Jai Sitaram” to welcome me. I am asked to distribute school-kits to the children, which I do under considerable pain. Immediately afterwards, I pass out on the mattress.

Day Two: Nakulnar to Mokpal, 20th June 2010

2.1 Change of Plan
In the morning, we have a meeting of satyagrahis at Awadhesh Gautam’s house. Despite his young age (he’s 40), he is the backbone of the Congress in this region. Everybody agrees that the itinerary needs to be revised. There are two reasons for it: one, it’s easier to plan an itinerary when one is sitting in one’s office- and not walking. Two, we didn’t come here to run a marathon (which is mostly what we were doing on Day One) but to listen to people, to experience their lives. Accordingly, we decide to reduce our daily walking distance to less than 20 kms a day. Tonight, we decide to halt midway at Mokpal.

The policemen aren’t too happy with our decision. Mokpal, they tell us, is ‘very affected’. People have been- are being- killed. ‘They’ (the Maoists) control the region. I convey this to my fellow satyagrahis: it’s either staying the night in Maoist-Mokpal, or walking an extra 15 kms to get to Bhusaras (where they’ve a police camp).

Call us lazy, but all of us unanimously chose the former- more courageous, less tiring- option!

2.2 A Classroom at Mailawara
At Hitawar, we came across Lakmaram, a 40-year old man caught in an epileptic fit, lying on the roadside. Our medical team was quick to act.

At Mailawara, each of the 3 teams gets busy with their work. I decide to hang out with the students. We go to a classroom, where we distribute the school-kits.

I ask them if they know who the Father of the Nation is. A 12th class girl, who goes to school at Nakulnar, gives the correct answer (Mahatma Gandhi). I turn around, and ask them to identify Nandalal Bose’s sketch of the Mahatma printed on the back of our t-shirts. They all know the answer.

I ask them how many can speak Halbi: 60 hands shoot up; for Hindi, it’s 38 hands (only 22 say they can write it), and none for English.

Next, I give them a test. They are asked to take out their notebooks, sharpen their pencils, and write their names and class on the front page. I write 6 questions on the black board:
(a) Who is the Prime Minister of India?
(b) What is the capital of Chhattisgarh?
(c) What is India’s national language?
(d) Who is the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh?
(e) Who is the chief goddess of Dantewada/Bastar?
f) What do you want to be when you grow up?
Only one boy answers all the questions correctly. He gets a prize of Rs 200. I ask him what he would do with the money. He says that he will buy books with it.

As far as the 6th question is concerned, 3 (2 girls and a boy) wanted to become doctors; 1 wanted to become an engineer; 48 wanted to be teachers; and when I asked them if anyone wanted to be a policeman, not one hand went up.

Before we leave Mailawara, the medical team informs me that they are out of medicines. Apparently, they had grossly underestimated the amount of medicines they would be requiring during the course of our 7-day padyatra.

They also tell us about malarial deaths in the village, something that the administration has been denying strongly. Piluram is the panchayat secretary, an employee of the government. His brother, Shriram, died just two days ago because of malaria. His nephew (Shriram’s son) also showed symptoms of advanced malaria as did his own two sons. They were all administered ‘radical treatment’ by our doctor satyagrahis.

2.3 Football at Mokpal
The moment we enter Mokpal, I decide to go with the Survey team to a hut. Three women are talking among themselves. Even before we can ask them anything, the eldest begins to say something. She looks very nervous. I ask the translator to tell me what she is saying. He tells me that she denies ever going to ‘a meeting’; that she doesn’t know anyone.

Our very sight- or at least the sight of policemen accompanying us- has automatically triggered off her defense mechanism. We’re, I realize, now really in the ‘affected zone’.

There is still sometime left before sunset. We decide to use the remaining sunlight to play football. Since we haven’t walked that much today, we’re not too tired. In any case, it’s World Cup time- and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t soak up some of the excitement.

Prize money of Rs 2000 is fixed for the winning team. Sameer Ahmad Babla (Bilaspur) captains the satyagrahis’ team; Ajay is captain of the Mokpal-11. The play is aggressive. At least one referee, Pankaj Singh, is shooed off the field. Most of the play is restricted to the left side of the field, where the ground is muddy. It’s on this side that the local team has a distinct advantage over the mostly city-bred satyagrahis- and it’s from this side that most goals are scored.

Everyone has turned up to watch- but mostly, to cheer the home team. They win 2-1. Joga got the Man of the Match prize from Jogi! To compensate Pankaj, Ajay invites him to a local engagement ceremony.

Day Three: Mokpal to Chingawaram, 21st June 2010

3.1 The Doctors’ Diagnosis
The medical team, led by Vivek Sharma, has arrived at a diagnosis. They say that most of the patients they’ve treated exhibit symptoms of water poisoning. Whatever it is they are drinking is making them prone to diseases like diarrhea and anemia. Also, many of them develop serious skin problems when they bathe. They have observed the same symptoms- diseases- everywhere we’ve gone. Would it be possible, they ask, to collect water samples and have them tested?

It is not possible for us to send the water samples for a detailed chemical analysis- to Raipur, Nagpur or Hyderabad, the three cities nearest to where we are where such tests are done. That would have to wait. Instead, we send them to the medical college at Jagdalpur, in the hope that the medical students there would be able to do a quick, preliminary analysis. The Report arrives the next afternoon.

The doctors are right. The iron levels in the water samples are 50 to 100 times higher than the level acceptable for human consumption. What could be causing this? The answer is shocking.

Bailadila has one of the richest reserves of iron ore in the country. It is less than 25 kms from where we are walking. The ore is mined and then it is washed. The water used to wash the ore is released into the two rivers, Shankani and Dankani that run almost parallel to each other, north and south of the Dantewada-Sukma highway. Their water is not blue, or even muddy; it is a very deep, dirty red; it recharges the (underground) water table through aquifers. People drink this water, from rivulets and holes dug in fields like the one we saw at Kumhar Ras.

There are no deep wells in the villages, where the water would have- at least in theory- less iron content. There are no check dams and no water treatment plants at Bailadila. I’m told that there is an outdated purification plant; it works, like everything else here, on paper. During the rains, water is released directly into the rivers.

It’s one thing to turn a blind eye to the health problems of Bastarias; it’s another thing altogether to poison them intentionally. That is definitely criminal.

3.2 Lal Salam at Bhusaras
We’re entering Communist territory. Although I’ve kept saying that the Satyagraha is non-political, the fact is that so far most persons involved in its organization were Congressmen: it is they who kept the people of Koakunda Block informed of our arrival, and of our intentions. But now, we’re deep in Katekalyan, a Communist stronghold. The walls are painted red with “JOIN AISF”. There is no sign of any other party. I am apprehensive about whether we would get to meet any people at all.

It turns out that my apprehensions are unjustified: Chaman Kunjam has come to welcome me at Bhusaras along with hundreds of villagers. He is the local Communist party chief; he has also been recently elected Katekalyan BDC (Block Development Council) president. Like most educated tribals here, he schooled at the Mission School at Gangaloor, some 100 kms away. Every Monday, he would get up at 4 am, walk to Dantewada, get there by 9 and catch the 10 ’o clock bus to Gangaloor.

It is no longer possible for people- even tribals- to do so now. There is a ghat on the way, a steep climb down if you’re coming from Dantewada (thankfully). This is where the Maoist-guerillas have occupied all the strategic, hilltop positions; ready to take potshots at anyone they wish. When we were climbing down this ghat, policemen were lined up on either side. We were, however, more interested in the trees, which act like little dhabas along our journey: when we are tired, we stop at a tree, throw a branch at it, and- voila!- down come pouring the juiciest jamuns, kosums, chhinds (a variety of date) and mangoes we’ve ever tasted.

The three teams get busy with their work. Scabies are prevalent. But the children appear far more educated here. (Maybe, it’s the Communist influence!) Chaman asks me to address the crowd. I agree on the condition that he translates. I ask them what would they rather do with Rs 200,000: buy an AK-47 or dig 10 wells? They choose wells. How about Rs 75,00,000: would they rather get themselves a fancy anti-landmine vehicle or build 5 decent health care centers? They choose health care. From here on, all the way up to Sukma, I ask the same questions again and again- and I keep getting the same answers.

3.3 Schools for CRPF
At Chintagufa, we are told by Mahadev Markam, a tribal leader, that the girl’s school has been occupied by CRPF. It is the same story in Gendpalli, near Gadiras, where the school was closed to make way to house the CRPF. The Maoists, when they learnt of the plan, blew up the school building. When I ventured to ask what the students of these schools were doing, nobody seemed to know. It was as if they had quite simply disappeared.

Gendpalli- and several other villages like it- have neither students nor soldiers.

3.4 Chingawaram: Gathering the bits and pieces
Chaman is worried: he doesn’t think it is safe for us to spend the night at Chingawaram. Less than a month ago, Maoists had blown a bus here: 24 policemen sitting on the bus’ roof and 7 civilian passengers, most of them belonging to neighboring villages, were killed. Many others, including women and children, were injured. To add to our woes, Chingawaram had remained without electricity for the past 29 days: our arrival would mark the monthly anniversary of the blackout. But once again, the quest for comfort paves the way for courage!

The rain has stopped. It had been quite humid all day today, and our shirts are drenched in sweat. But now a cool wind is blowing. We can see the silvery moon. All of us decide to sleep outside in the school courtyard, and wake up at the break of dawn, thoroughly refreshed.

Day Four: Chingawaram to Korra, 22nd June 2010

4.1 Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan
Early morning, we visit the site of the Blast. It is less than 400 meters away from Chingawaram, just beyond the place where a bridge ends. The Maoists dug up the highway and concealed a mine underneath. (They do so everywhere, to mark the ‘Jan-Pituri’ week.) Then, they waited patiently by the village pond, less than 30 meters away, and when the bus came at 5 am someone pressed the trigger. The bus flew 10 meters up in the air, and came tumbling down.

All its contents- shredded clothes, blanket, utensils, mobile phone cover, audiocassette, broken bangles, crashed headlights- were thrown out on either side of the highway. One month later, they still lay there, unattended, gathering rust. It was almost as if the Blast had taken place yesterday.

We gathered these items, wrapped them inside a blanket, sang “Raghupati Raghav”, observed a two-minute silence and immersed the bundle in the adjoining stream. There was some debate about how best to dispose these remains, and the local villagers- Sarpanch Hungaram included- felt that the proper way was immersion.

4.2 Edpal: Meeting with Rahul

To put it mildly, the police aren’t happy about our choice of Gurli. In any event, they cannot let us go to Gurli on the route the villagers propose to take us by. It is, no doubt, a shortcut: a dirt track through the forests. But it is also extremely risky. Just last night, the ASP tells me, Ganesh Uike, the top Maoist leader in Chhattisgarh, and Vinod, their local head, have been spotted in the vicinity. They are moving around with a 2000-strong armed contingent of the military dalam. He says that there simply isn’t enough ‘force’ to provide us security in that area.

I tell him that if that were the case, then it would be best if we went with the villagers, and without any ‘force’. It was, I felt, time to put our hypothesis to the test: can books and medicines- and good intentions- really be a better defense against brute violence than bombs and bullets? Accordingly, we decide not to put the jawans’- and our- lives at risk: of 25, only 4 would accompany us. The two senior officers, on from the district force and the other from the CRPF, would also come along, but in civilian clothes. The rest would travel in the ambulance and meet us directly at Dodpal. Sameer & Monty would march in the front; Vinod & Vibhash would take the back, to ensure that no one got left behind.

And so, with this novel arrangement in place- policemen acting the part of satyagrahis and satyagrahis doing a little policing- we left for Gurli, happily interspersing Raghupati Raghav…with slogans in Halbi and Gondi: “Bhiru var atra, var atra/ school taga pade vaaynaad var atra” (come one, come all, come to school to study) and “Er Gufa Bhoom, Id Gule Miyad” (water, forest and land, all belong to you).

Just before reaching Edpal, we decided to rest under the cool shade of a gigantic tamarind tree. Two boys came bicycling along. We stop them for a little chat. One of them answers me in English. When we discover his name, we applaud: suddenly our spirits are lifted. He is called Rahul. Like Chaman, he too goes to the Mission school at Gangaloor.

We also meet an old man. He is carrying something wrapped in a leaf. He shows it to us: they are gonghi (snails), his lunch. I ask him, through the translator, whether he would be willing to barter two of his gonghi for two of our toffees. After some thought, he agrees. While the exchange is going on, the cameras flash. I can see that it scares him.

On the way, Anand Pawar points out to the novel drainage system in use in the fields. Logs of teak have been hollowed from inside, to be used as drain pipes. Teak is also used as fencing in many of the homes. Anand says he would very happily exchange the pipes and the fences with proper cemented ones! Apparently, snails are not the only things that can be bartered!

As we approach Edpal, we see a school building. The ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ logo is painted on its wall in bright yellow: two girls riding a pencil. For a moment, we feel Hope. Then, when we get closer, we smell dung and urine. The school’s verandah is being used as a cattle shed. Its two unlocked classrooms are full of cobwebs.

Outside on a pavement, a few children, all under 3 years, are sitting having their mid-day meal. It consists only of parboiled, broken rice- no dal (lentils), no sabji (vegetable). We finally begin to understand why Kwashiorkor, a form of what doctors call PEM or Protein Energy Malnutrition, is so prevalent among the children here. They simply don’t get any protein in their diet. When we approach the children, they begin to cry- one after the other. I think it best to leave them at peace.

We also see smoke rising from a hut. Inside, they are making landha (a popular local beverage).

4.3 Gurli
The entire village has turned up to greet us. There is no dance troupe; they are all dancing and singing. We too join in. We are taken in procession to the Devgudi, to seek the blessings of the village deity. Outside, they’ve tied a goat. A wood fire is burning nearby. Preparations are on to prepare our lunch. Although we’re getting late, it would be considered very rude if we left without eating anything.

So, we decide to pass time and play football with the Gurli-11. Hitendra, a young man who attends second-year college at Sukma, some 21 kms away, is the captain. He is possibly the best footballer I’ve seen in Chhattisgarh. Sandeep Sahu says its Raipur’s turn to captain the team. He has the ball, but Hitendra dribbles it away from him, and comes out from between his legs to score the first goal. Not to be undone, Sandeep jumps, and hurts his leg. We suspect a fracture. He is sent off injured to Sukma.

At the hospital in Sukma, it takes two hours to find the technician, and after four rather prolonged exposures, an X-ray is finally obtained. (Sandeep is more worried about the radiation than his legs.) When they show it to the Block Medical Officer (BMO), he looks quizzically at Sandeep: he is an Ayurvedic doctor, like the Hon’ble Chief Minister, and doesn’t have a clue what the X-ray shows.

Meanwhile, at Gurli, the satyagrahis have lost. It has been a crushing defeat: 3-0. They are in agreement that this is the last match they’re going to be playing.

By the time we return, the medical team looks horrified. Malnutrition is rampant, especially among women and children. All the infants are under the 2 kg weight. Most of them die anyway during birth. From what they’ve been told, infant mortality rates are extremely high. But that’s not it. While they were seeing patients, one of them said: “I am from the Movement” in English. They didn’t have to ask which Movement. Like so many others, he too had some kind of skin disease.

The villagers had all gathered. The elders told me that they wanted to listen to me. Harish Lakma, the young BDC president of Sukma, translated for me. I asked the same questions- and got the same replies.

After a sumptuous- if somewhat unconventional- lunch comprising of burnt rather than skinned goat cooked in its own fat, we decided to move on to Dodpal, our next stop. Once again, the entire village joined hands in a farewell dance to see us off.

4.4 Wedding at Tongras
Girish, our local guide for this part of the padyatra, hails from Dodpal. He told us that it is “just 3 kms away from Gurli”. What he didn’t tell us was that 3 kms, in his language, translates into 10 kms in ours! Midway, we came to Tongras. Everybody, especially the ladies, were all decked up in their finest clothes and ornaments. The entire village had been invited to a ‘Kharcha’.

It’s quite a novel concept- and would greatly please feminists (if not the men). When a boy marries a girl, it’s not the girl’s family who pays the dowry. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The boy has to pay the girl’s family, and the entire money is spent partying. We too were invited to attend. A pot of landha was placed before us, and some of the more adventurous satyagrahis had a sip or two; a fattened pig was also slaughtered. But this time around, we didn’t stay for dinner.

4.5 Dodpal
The only road to Dodpal to Gurli exists on paper. The first and the last 2½ kms have been built under PMGSY, while the in-between 3 kms was built under NREGA. It has been, for lack of a better explanation, stolen. We simply had no option but to follow Girish across the fields and through the forest. Then, after some 6 kms, the land ended. There was a river, and we had to swim across it. And so, we emerged on the other side.

It was late. Most of the villagers in Dodpal belong to the Mahara community. For some reason, they have not been incorporated in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST) even though they live in the forests, and depend on it for their livelihood. The same grievance prevails among the Kalars and Rauts. Their children cannot go and study in tribal hostels; they get no benefit of reservation, and have to compete with children from cities on equal footing. Consequently, they aren’t selected for government jobs, which go to outsiders, who never come & join. Everywhere, they told us that they want to be included in the ST list.

We also met Malti Bai. She and her 2 small boys were on the bus when it blew up at Chingawaram. Her face is slightly battered, and she has plaster on her hand. She says that she was taken to the hospital at Jagdalpur, and left there for days. The villagers had to pool in money to go and bring her home. She- and many others like her- are yet to receive any compensation. They’ve been, for all practical purposes, forgotten.

4.6 Korra
We arrive at Korra. Again, the villagers have put an entire goat on a pit, where it is being grilled. They ask me to pose for a photograph with them; some of my fellow satyagrahis object to this. Satyagraha after all, they say, is against violence of any kind, including against animals. They are also worried about offending the popular sensibilities.

I disagree with them. Eating what the villagers have to offer us, out of love and affection, cannot be wrong. They do not force us to eat anything: whether one eats it or not, I believe, should be a matter of personal choice. I chose to eat with them; there were several others, like Monty, who didn’t. To me, it doesn’t matter one way or the other. What is wrong, however, is trying to impose our choices- and value judgments- on others.

Here, the attitude of the policemen underwent a noticeable change. Up until now, they didn’t sleep a wink: they would stand alert atop rooftops and on the boundary walls, with weapons ready to fire at anything that stirred. But after our safe return from Gurli, they were the first to hit the mattresses- and the last ones to get up!

At some unconscious level, both- satyagrahis and policemen- realized that our roles had been reversed: the satyagrahis were now protecting the policemen.

Day Five: Korra to Sona Kukanar, 23rd June 2010

5.1 An Amputation
In the morning, Vivek brings a boy. His right arm is a strange shade of yellow. He had a minor cut some months ago, working in his field; in the absence of timely medical care, it has become malignant. The only solution, the doctors tell me, is amputation of his entire arm. Otherwise, they say, the malignancy will spread across his entire body. We give his brother some money, to take him to Jagdalpur, along with a referral letter.

5.2 The Thakurs of Gadiras (& Nakulnar)
Gadiras and Nakulnar are the two main villages on the Dantewada-Sukma highway. Both have government-run high schools, teaching up to 12th class. They also have RSS-run Saraswati Shishu Mandirs, where better-placed people send their children to study. Neither village has a college. Depending of where your village is, you would send your children either to Gadiras or Nakulnar for their higher secondary schooling, and then onto either Sukma or Dantewada for college.

In any case, your child will have to travel tens of kilometers everyday to gain access to higher education. If he is a tribal, he has a chance of getting accommodation at the government-run hostel. If you have a daughter, then she would probably have to journey to and fro everyday to go to college at Sukma- where there is no hostel for girls. If you are a tribal, the government would give your daughter a bicycle once she passes her 9th standard exam- but as we discovered in our interaction with the Anganwari workers of Gadiras, this gift would be made only on paper.

Another point that needs to be noted about these two villages is the role played by Thakurs. The Thakurs of Nakulnar are mostly from Uttar Pradesh whereas the Gadiras Thakurs hail from Madhya Pradesh. They are influential, both politically and economically. It is precisely because of their influence that these two villages have developed as the twin-islands of relative prosperity. It would be difficult for officials and contractors to get away with their peculiar kind of ‘Paper Governance’ here. They give voice to those who cannot speak. And for this reason, everyone respects them.

But even the influence of the Thakurs doesn’t ensure them a proper, MBBS doctor. For that, people have to travel to Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh. And only very few here can afford to do that.

5.3 A Bullock Trader from Nagaras
Nagaras is the home of the local MLA, Kawasi Lakma. He used to be a bullock-trader, who would walk 250 kms from Bijapur to Rajamundhry selling bulls. This way, he came to know everybody and everybody came to know him. He speaks no less than 9 different languages, including Telugu, Telgi, Dhruwa, Halbi, Gondi and Hindi- but he cannot read or write.

During my last visit to this constituency- in 2002- he handed me some applications to give to my father. When I showed one such application to him, and asked what was written in it, he knew exactly what it was. To humor him a little, I told him that that application isn’t what he said it was. He took it from me, gave it one hard look, and reiterated emphatically that the application said exactly what he said it to say. Of course, he was right. I asked him how he could be so sure. He simply smiled. Even now, he has his PA read to him all the newspapers, and he can then recite what is printed backwards, all from memory. In many ways, he reminds me of Akbar the Great, another brilliant administrator who couldn’t read or write.

Not surprisingly then, he is now the longest-serving MLA of the entire Bastar Division; and the only one to have won from Congress.

5.4 Raut Dancers of Kalarpara
The road has once again disappeared as we approach Kalarpara. It is a small basti, comprising about 30 houses. Here, we’re welcomed with a refreshing selection of wild fruits- kosum, dried tendu (which tastes like fig, only less sweet), mangoes and jamuns. Afterwards, we (satyagrahis) are invited to join hands to form an outer circle enclosing a circle of Raut women-dancers: we follow their steps as their circle contracts and expands to the rhythms of the music. It is, to say the least, exhilarating.

5.5 Gotul at Sona Kukanar
The name Sona Kukanar is not without significance: Sona is the name of the local deity; Kumars (Ku) and Kalars (Ka) are the two main communities living in this village (Nar). The nearby hills, I’m told, are rich in corundum and also, gold. It is late by the time we reach here, but the villagers are waiting for us. I make a small speech, ask the same questions- and get the same answers.

Afterwards, when I am shaking hands with the youngsters, who have been listening to me standing at the back, a young man, about 18 years old, slips a piece of paper into my hands. I want to read it, but he tells me to do so later. It is a moving letter: it urges me to do something for his village- boring a well, it says, would help immensely in getting them water; telling the teachers not to take money from poor students for admitting them into the hostel at Gadiras would be another step in making life easier for them. It ends with an apology- because he suspects that these demands might be too extravagant.

The medical team works late into the night. Then, when they’re done, the villagers come to take us to ‘Gotul’, organized especially to celebrate our coming. I dance a little and then retire; some of my fellow-satyagrahis, blessed with more stamina than me, continue to dance with them well into the early hours of the morning. I later learn that it rained that night. But that didn’t stop the singing & dancing.

Day Six: Sona Kukanar to Murtonda, 24th June 2010

6.1 Farming at Kamtiguda
Monsoons have broken, and Bastarias all over are busy leveling their fields, preparing them for sowing. Once ready, they will sow rice seeds (as opposed to transplanting saplings, which requires a constant source of standing water). Their tools are primitive, much as our ancestors would have used in Neolithic times. Everybody in the village helps each other out with this task; there is no concept of hiring agricultural labor to do the work. We decide to help.

Today, the villagers of Kamtiguda are going to prepare Maniram’s field. It is a fairly small patch. Besides leveling and tilling, its boundaries (med) also require mending. It is essential if the water is to remain standing, to allow the seeds to sprout. We divide ourselves- and Maniram’s field- into 4 parts, with each team in-charge of leveling, tilling and mending one such part. Maniram instructs us about what is to be done, and how. Afterwards, he will decide which team has done the best work.

For two hours, the satyagrahis toil. We take out earth from the raised portions of the field. It is carried in cane-baskets to mend the boundaries. Then, the Nagars (wooden plough) are brought. The bullocks, for the present, are indisposed. Till they come, it is left to some of our more able-bodied satyagrahis to play the role of bullocks. Tilling doesn’t take long once we get the knack of it. The ‘bulls’ at the head of the Nagar run the length of the field while the ‘tiller’ presses the plow at the back tightly into the ground, opening the moist earth. All the villagers have come to watch us work. Most of them seem very amused.

As far as the Prize for Best Work is concerned, well, Maniram has turned out to be quite the diplomat. He says all the 4 teams have done equally good work!

6.2 A School & a Hospital
After washing our hands & feet off the mud, the villagers of Kamtiguda take us to see their school. It is a hut, made of chhind leaves and bamboo. A rusty Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan board mocks at us. Behind it, they say, is the school building. I can’t see it straight away: a thicket of bushes conceals it. It comprises of un-plastered brick walls- that’s it. It has no roof, no doors and no windows. The building, they tell me, was ‘completed’ in 2007.

I am not surprised. At our last stop, at Atkariras, we had gone to see the hospital. Like the school at Kamtiguda, the hospital at Atkariras is a structure of un-plastered brick walls, with no roof, no doors, no windows, no medicines and no health care workers or doctors. On Paper, it too was ‘completed’ in 2007; and on Paper, ‘medicines’ are being given out from this ‘hospital’ by a team of ‘healthcare workers’ everyday. They’ve documentary records to show for it- and documents, as we all know, don’t lie.

6.3 Meeting at Murtonda
From Kamtiguda, we’re supposed to go to Nilavaram. Bhima, the local chief, had come all the way to Sona Kukanar last night to invite us. Certain constructions- an ashram and a bridge- had been done here during my father’s tenure as chief minister; and he was quite keen that I come and inaugurate them on Papa’s behalf. I had agreed. But I get word now that the villagers wouldn’t like it if I came with the policemen, more so if they spend the night with us. I politely tell them that I can’t possibly tell the policemen what to do- and what not to. It would mean getting into controversy- the one thing I am very keen our Satyagraha should avoid at this very early stage. Finally, it is decided that we would all go to Nilavaram by car the following evening, after concluding our Padyatra at Sukma. (It is a promise we keep.)

And so, we’ve come to the end of the first phase of our padyatra. From Murtonda, it is less than 4 kms to Sukma, our last stop. Although all of us have walked, eaten, slept and lived together like a family for the past 6 days & nights, Babla points out that we haven’t been formally introduced to each other. I, therefore, request everyone to tell their name, address and phone number one by one, and then answer any other question others might have from them. Vivek, from the medical team, is grilled the most followed by Sandeep Sahu.

Day Seven: Murtonda to Sukma, 25th June 2010

7.1 The Circle is Complete
Ayub was the first to bring this to my notice: he said that there simply weren’t any youth left in the villages. Wherever we went, we were struck by this near-total absence of youth. I asked Manish Kunjam, the tallest Communist leader of Bastar who came to meet me early in the morning at Murtonda in his jogging-shorts, why this was so. He told me that he had just returned from Hyderabad. At the zoo there, where he had taken his children, he was shocked to see that all the laborers were from Bastar.

In the absence of opportunities- for a decent education, a job- the youth have simply left Bastar. If they stay back, the police think they’re ‘Naxalite-sympathizers’ and beat and torture them, whereas the Naxalites kill them for being ‘police-informers’. And so, they have crossed the border into Andhra Pradesh to work as manual laborers (kulibuta); thousands of others have joined the Maoists. The Maoists, they say, at least give them an education and two square meals a day, which is more than what the government does. Even more importantly, they- the Maoists- give them a Purpose, something to fight for.

Before we leave Murtonda, I thank every satyagrahi. We’ve walked together for the past 7 days- and it is my earnest hope that we will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. I also request them that when they return to their homes, they must tell the people there exactly what they’ve seen, heard, done and felt. That is the message of our padyatra.

Afterwards I thank the policemen also. They tell me what a good job we’re doing; they ask me to continue doing it. They also tell me that they joined the police force, they didn’t sign up for the military.

7.2 Sukma

Thousands of Bastarias have come to greet us at the conclusion of our padyatra. There are dancers from all tribes, even one from Andhra Pradesh!

Before we enter Sukma, we stop by a widow’s house just outside the township. She lives with her three children, two boys and a girl. Last year, the police took her husband in for questioning; in the evening, while she was preparing dinner, somebody dumped his body at the door. The police, she says, told her to keep quiet. They promised her compensation- due to a victim of Naxalite violence. But she didn’t. To date, she hasn’t got one paisa.

In my speech, translated into Gondi by Bichem Podhi, a brilliant young advocate, I narrate to them what I’ve seen- and felt.

I tell them that the people of Bastar are afraid- and if this fear is to be conquered, then we must win their faith. And bombs and bullets are not the best way to win people’s faith. Neither is uprooting them forcefully from their villages and herding them like cattle into makeshift roadside camps, where we have time and again failed to protect their lives. Once again, I ask the same questions- and get the same answers.

I tell them that we must begin- by doing small, concrete things that everybody agrees should be done- and which no one opposes. I identify three such things:
(a) Putting a roof on every school building and healthcare center
(b) Posting teachers and healthcare workers in every such building (and getting the armed forces out of them)
(c) Stop poisoning their water supply at Bailadila

The way things are, I believe that we have no moral basis whatsoever for continuing our government in the aforementioned regions of Bastar: not only do we poison them, we fail to provide them with even the most basic opportunities for decent education and health. Their young have nowhere to go- but to die here quietly. That is a fate they are not willing to accept. Militancy is merely a symptom of their rising disquiet. To contain violence- of every kind- we must attack not its symptoms, but cure its causes. Give the Bastarias what they want- which, in any case, is not much- and all the other problems will go away.

Brute force- bombs & bullets- can be an option only if our fight is for the territories and resources of Bastar- not the hearts and souls of Bastarias. Then, we would be no different from the imperialists our founding fathers gave their lives to overthrow- not by the force of arms, but through the Force of Truth that showed them the error of their unjust ways.

We’ve to pause for a while to decide what it is we’re fighting for. And we’ve to stop deciding what is good- or bad- for Bastar. That task must be left to the People of Bastar. And that, is the whole point of our Bastar Satyagraha.

What the Bastarias want is the preservation of their Right to Life, guaranteed to every citizen of India under Article 21 of our Constitution. The Supreme Court has understood that Right to incorporate the Right to Education, Clean Air and Water, Equal Opportunity and Dignity of Life, among other things. For now, Bastarias will settle if their Right to Life simply meant their Right Not To Get Killed- not only by bombs and bullets, but by a near-total absence of health services and poisonous water, which is the far greater, if somewhat silent, Killer.
It gives me great pleasure to announce the DISTRICT-WISE NAMES OF SATYAGRAHIS who participated in the first phase of our BASTAR SATYAGRAHA. The names in Bold indicates those who took part throughout the 7-day, 106 kms Padyatra from Dantewada to Sukma. Others (not in Bold) were absent for less than 2 days. Remaining names have been omitted.

1. Vinod Tiwari (9406300000)
2. Abhishek Modi (9827446117)
3. Sandeep Sahu (94242100000)
4. Ashok Sonwani (9826647780)
5. Deepak Jayswal (9993006143)
6. Sachin Awasthi (9300030903)
7. Amar Mishra (9754260011)
8. Yomesh Sahu (9229568315)
9. Nemichandra Patel (9669463118, 9926838778)
10. Sanjeev Shukla (9753554500)
11. Pradeep Sahu (9301285445)
12. Mahesh Yadav (08871291234)
13. Shahbaz Hussain (07869236742)
14. Gulzeb Ahmad (9300266663)
15. Subodh Haritwal (9827937900)
16. Dr. Vivek Sharma (9977122883)
17. Ishwar Dongare (9406402468)
18. Lalu Manikpuri (9302430339)
19. Dr. Suraj Rathore (9907998446)
20. Dr. Devprakash Dewangan (9926127049)
21. Anand Pawar (9425214965)
22. Anurag Lal (9907990444)
23. Tamradhwaj Baghel (9753119299)
24. Ayub Khan (9406137786)
25. Durgesh Tamrkar (9827187008)
26. Vishal Tripathi (9301283000)
27. Teksingh Chandel (9589235777)
28. Gurdeep Bhatia (9907412397)
29. Santosh Singh (9329870048)
30. Mehul Maru (9993337777)
31. Nawaz Khan (9406092886)
32. Ramu Chandravamshi (9179995163)
33. Pankaj Chandravamshi (9977982829)
34. Pappu Dhruve (9165243546)
35. Baldev Yadav (9977425827)
36. Amit Aishwarya Jogi (9424202648)
37. Avinash Sethi (9827494610)
38. Sameer Ahmad Babla (9981232786)
39. Satish Gupta (9300543765)
40. Ashok Rajbhar (9406305000)
41. Pappu Baghel (9303181256)
42. Abhishek Swarnkar (9770114419)
43. Dr. Dhananjay Kanwar (9009955454)
44. Vibhash Singh Thakur (9425251800)
45. Aseem Pandey (9755123555)
46. Santosh Gond (9329597373)
47. Ashish Jaiswal (9300003245)
48. Nitin Yadav (9669688888)
49. Ashish Gupta (9098888861)
50. Anoj Gupta (9425252942)
51. Surendra Choudhary (9425257039)
52. Imam Hussain (9926168300, 08109868300)
53. Karamchand Singh (9753319580)
54. Shivram Maharana (9406133668)
55. Er. Neeraj Pandey (9098132401)
56. Poornachand Padhi (9425593201)
57. Deepak Gajendra (9584370709)
58. Vishnu Netam (9479024750)
59. Hemu Upadhyay (9425258302)
60. Anwar Khan (9425202516)
61. Saket Shukla (9425261625)
62. Vikram Singh Sardar (9425261197)
63. Harish Lakma (9406281777)
64. Durgesh (c/o Harish Lakma)
65. Girish Kashyap (9407717097)
66. Suresh Kumar (9406105525)
67. Naveen Korsa (9424279479)
68. Pankaj Yadav (9424286770)
69. Manish Rathore (9424287369)

70. Sanjeev Agrawal (9425204900)
71. Rajesh Agrawal (9425513875)
72. Yogeshwar Rao Gawte (9827189296)
73. Mohammed Ahmad (9691693594)
74. Abid (9300272561)






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Amit Aishwarya Jogi
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Chhattisgarh, INDIA
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