Did you know that India, hub of the global information economy and destination of untold numbers of outsourced U.S. jobs, is in the grips of a Maoist insurgency?
A recent Reuters article referred (a bit casually) to:
the Maoist insurgency that has spread to about half of India’s 29 states and has been described by Prime Minister Singh as the country’s biggest internal security challenge since independence in 1947.
Whoa! And what’s the root cause? It turns out that the government is evicting smallholder farmers en masse from their land — in many cases prime farmland — and handing it over to car manufacturers and chemical factories.
Less than thrilled to be thus liberated and shunted into the industrial workforce, the farmers are in open revolt.
In the state of Ranchi last week, Reuters reports, tens of thousands of farmers protested a government plan to plunk down “special economic zones” on land now devoted to small-scale farming.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vowed to move ahead with plans to evict the farmers in Ranchi, but other states have had to shelve similar plans in the face of widespread revolt.
In the neighboring state of West Bengal last week, the Communist-led government there agreed under heavy pressure to withdraw its plan for erecting a similar “special economic zone” — this one for a car factory — but not before its police force killed at least 14 protesters.
It’s hard to figure out what’s going on halfway around the world from a few wire reports. But it seems utterly insane to forcibly convert farmland to heavy industrial uses in an era of rapid climate change and uncertain energy supplies.
Then there’s the issue of self-determination. Under what authority is the Indian government snatching the land? Even the World Bank is getting sweaty palms about the situation.