Hardly ever having stepped out of the comfort of my NCR home and office, except to vacation in cool, verdant, and peaceful climes in India and abroad, I am not really acquainted with the troubles of our adivasi brethren in Central India (or elsewhere). The little I know I have gleaned from newspapers, blogs, books, and TV programs. No account is complete, of course, nor is any account completely balanced. It cannot be, I suppose, given the nature of the complex dynamics at work, the high stakes for all the parties involved, the difficult and remote nature of the terrain etc. Nevertheless, even one accustomed to middle class living in an economy which is hurtling pell mell into liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation and all the other isms of modern economists and our American friends/patrons, cannot help but realise that the adivasis are fighting an unequal battle for resources, livelihood, cultural non contamination, possibly their lives. They are caught in the crossfire of Naxalites/Maoists and the State agencies, the latter determined to wipe out the Naxalites as well as any resistance to the exploitation of the vast natural resources that the adivasi dominant regions of our country abound in. The determination and resolve of our State apparatus is strong indeed, much stronger than its resolve to empower the poor, eradicate hunger and illiteracy, provide access to clean drinking water and sanitation. However, whether the the State is displaying any sensitivity towards the hapless, impoverished adivasis appears a little doubtful, even from media accounts.
Lets take a recent example ----- newspapers reported recently that 2 CISF personnel stationed at Mumbai airport were among the 5 persons arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence for their alleged involvement in a gold smuggling racket. Over 10 kg of gold worth Rs 3 crore was seized from the 5 men. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) Hqrs was said to have taken very stern measures after the incident came to light, having placed under suspension two Sub-Inspectors (who were arrested by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence) and six other junior rank personnel. They were also reported to have ordered immediate transfer of a senior Commandant from the "highly sensitive" Mumbai airport to a "hard area" posting in Chhattisgarh's Naxal hotbed of Dantewada.
Much as one would like to believe, no posting in the government is classified 'highly sensitive" because it calls for exceptional knowledge or skills or dedication; the criteria are public interface, discretionary powers and the potential to earn illegal remuneration. In other words, the more likely it is that the authority and functions attached to a post will be abused to enable the incumbent to earn illegal pecuniary and other benefits, the greater the chance of such a post being labelled "sensitive" or "highly sensitive".
A "hardship" posting, to the contrary, affords no such benefits; also, it is more likely (almost always, in fact) to be in a place which is remote, with inhospitable terrain, little by way of educational, medical and recreational facilities etc. In this particular case, there is obviously a far greater risk to life and limb as well.
So what does the government do with an official who's suspected to be involved in an economic crime at a "sensitive posting" ? It transfers him to a "hardship posting", without a thought to the possibility that such an official may vent his frustration on helpless adivasis, one, because he is frustrated, and two, because it is much harder to have Naxalites/Maoists bear the brunt of his anger and frustration. Will such an official be motivated to perform his duty with sincerity, devotion, and scrupulousness? Will he be a good leader, inspire his team by the example he sets? Does he even possess the technical and human relations skills that he would need, looking at the nature of his job in Dantewada? If the answer to all these questions is 'No", then how just is it that passengers at Mumbai Airport are saved harassment by an official suspected to be corrupt, the revenue leakage on account of smuggling is plugged, and the image of the security agency is sought to be restored by transferring the official to a place where the suffering of the ordinary citizen, powerless, poor, and disenfranchised as he is, is likely to increase manifold by such a posting?