Friday, October 30, 2009

How India Inc. Can Decimate the Maoists

Images play a powerful role in creating and nurturing perceptions. This is what I thought while watching television footage of the ‘hijacking’ of the Rajdhani Express by Maoists barely 150 kilometers away from the crumbling Red Citadel called Kolkata. And I couldn’t help ask myself a simple question: Are the Maoists also winning the Propaganda War? You need only common sense to know that terrorists and Maoists try to gain strategic advantage in two ways: one is through bullets, bombs, beheadings and bestiality; the other is through images, words and rhetoric that justify cold blooded violence as an “insurrection against injustice”. On both fronts, the Maoists seem to be doing rather better than the State. When you put an articulate person like Arundhati Roy, who is armed with a clever choice of words and a visceral hatred for India, you will get propaganda of the type that any red blooded Maoist would die for.

This is clearly not good news for India and Indians. And anything that spells trouble for India and Indians will spell trouble for India Inc. It is time business leaders, entrepreneurs, CEOs and market mavens started thinking of the number of consumers and the extent of possible business and profits that they will lose if one-third of India is gripped by an unending night of Red Terror. It is time for India Inc. too to pitch in with its bit of help in what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rightly describes as the most serious threat to India’s internal security. Sure India Inc. cannot fight one part of the war that deals with bullets and bombs; that is for the State to do. But it can do something really concrete and dramatic. And India Inc. has a huge advantage over diatribe a day do gooders like Arundhati Roy who only have hatred, rhetoric and angry words to throw. India Inc. can – if it really wants to – walk the talk with money and also unleash a powerful propaganda war that can unhinge the very foundations of Maoists.

The market capitalisation of the Indian stock markets is now about $2 trillion. It could be much more if you add personal, private and private equity wealth. Why can’t industry leaders decide that 1% of this market cap be used to create a corpus to provide education and employment opportunities to poor people living in the 200 districts of India infected by the malignant virus of Naxalite violence? We are talking about a corpus of $20 billion (and it will be a unique public-private partnership since many public sector companies in which the State has a majority stake are listed!). Create a trust and have people like Nandan Nilekani be the trustees. The Trust can comfortably generate $2 billion a year in profits. That works out to about Rs.10,000 crores. When distributed with the right checks and balances, it means Rs.50 crores for education and employment opportunities for youth in each of the 200 Naxalite infested districts. And imagine the positive signals this will send when India Inc. unleashes a ‘propaganda’ war to highlight the positive power of this corpus to transform lives.

Utopian? Surely less Utopian than the ideas of grasshoppers like Arundhati Roy who jump from cause to cause? And who knows? Maybe she will be inspired to contribute a small fraction of the millions she has made by peddling poverty, injustice, state terror, exploitation and corporate greed!



  1. an out-of-box idea that is eminently implementable;but unfortunately,markets and their priests can't see beyond their nose...

  2. Sir,

    I gave a thought to the problem.
    I think like love war is also a requirement of Human, call it bestial instinct.

    Educated people fight over problems like business, GF's etc.

    Some times there is brutal domestic violence.
    So naxalism is nothing but a social collective violence undertaken by those who have lost to the system.

    Looks like violence can never end. Like there is jealousy even in intimate relationships liek Siblings and spouses.

    Say What,