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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
10MUMBAI18
2010-01-13 08:09:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Consulate Mumbai
Cable title:  

NGOS SEE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AS SOLUTION TO CONFLICT IN

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  ASEC  PHUM  IN  EAID  EMIN  PTER  SOCI 
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VZCZCXRO6525
PP RUEHAST RUEHAT RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW RUEHSK RUEHSL
DE RUEHBI #0018/01 0130809
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 130809Z JAN 10
FM AMCONSUL MUMBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7688
INFO RUEHZJ/HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 8898
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1979
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 2192
RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 2926
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MUMBAI 000018 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ASEC PHUM IN EAID EMIN PTER SOCI
SUBJECT: NGOS SEE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AS SOLUTION TO CONFLICT IN
CHHATTISGARH

REF: 2009 MUMBAI 12

MUMBAI 00000018 001.2 OF 003


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MUMBAI 000018

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ASEC PHUM IN EAID EMIN PTER SOCI
SUBJECT: NGOS SEE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AS SOLUTION TO CONFLICT IN
CHHATTISGARH

REF: 2009 MUMBAI 12

MUMBAI 00000018 001.2 OF 003



1. (U) Summary: The tribal area of the southern part of the
state of Chhattisgarh, known as the Bastar region, is one of the
most heavily affected by the Maoist insurgency. Decades of
official neglect of social development in this region, as well
as its remoteness, has made it easy for Maoist groups to
establish a base. State and central government officials agree
that development efforts must complement anti-insurgency
efforts, now ongoing, in order to reduce the appeal of the
Maoists. However, NGOs argue that development should focus on
tribal needs, rather than economic growth-led development, and
fear that the prospect of armed conflict would exact a heavy
toll on the tribal population (septel). NGOs are working to
fill the void in basic services, helping schools perform better,
introducing improved health and hygiene practices and empowering
village councils to speak up for the communities' needs.
Observers note that slowly signs are emerging of increased faith
in government institutions. If government operations to rout
the Maoists lead to more armed conflict, however, the NGOs
providing essential services in the area may flee for safety,
compounding the toll on the tribal population. End Summary.




2. (U) Chhattisgarh's remote southern region, known as Bastar,
comprised of the Kanker, Bastar and Dantewada districts, has
suffered from decades of official neglect. Once a far-flung
district of the state of Madhya Pradesh, it is now part of the
new state of Chhattisgarh. Sparsely populated, covered in thick
forests and hills, the largely tribal population in this area
has existed on subsistence agriculture and forest products. For
state officials and police, the Bastar region was always seen as
a "punishment posting." For instance, in a recent visit to
Chhattisgarh, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) health
officials in Raipur told Congenoffs that over two thirds of the

positions for Chhattisgarh state health officials in the region
were unfilled, or whose incumbents had refused to take up the
post. The development indicators for this region are some of
India's lowest. According to United Nations Development Program
(UNDP) measurements, the literacy rates for Bastar and Dantewada
districts are 43.9 and 30.2 percent, respectively; at 104 deaths
for 1000 live births, Bastar has one of the country's highest
infant mortality rates. According to UNDP's 2001 data, Bastar
and Dantewada districts' per capita income was 170 USD, and 203
USD, respectively.




3. (U) NGOs allege that state development plans focus on
building infrastructure that serves the needs of mining and
power companies that want to exploit Chhattisgarh's mineral-rich
southern regions at the expense of investing in education,
health and good governance. Sushanta Kumar Bhuyan, Deputy
General Manager of Naandi Foundation, an NGO focusing on
girl-child education in Chhattisgarh and other states noted, "a
road is of no use to people who don't even wear shoes." At a
recent forum on the Maoist problem in Mumbai, Himanshu Kumar,
director of Vanvasi Chetena Ashram (VCA), an NGO implementing
various foreign-funded projects for social development in Bastar
- one of which is with UNICEF for primary education in
Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps -- decried the
long-standing neglect of tribal people, and argued that these
people are often left with few options. (Note: Kumar is a
vocal critic of Chhattisgarh's anti-Maoist efforts, and claims
that the state ordered part of his facility destroyed in May

2009. End Note.) Ejaz Kaiser, Hindustan Times Bureau Chief in
Raipur, who has traveled into Bastar region and met with
villagers, explains that the tribal peoples' needs are simple:
"They want to preserve their rights to agricultural land, their
right to harvest forest products, grazing rights for cattle, and
health and education for their children." However, he lamented,
the government is not listening to what the tribals want.
Instead, they have prioritized a development agenda which
focuses on roads and basic infrastructure which serve industrial
and commercial interests and facilitates collusion between
politicians, officials, contractors, and business interests, he
argued.



NGOs Provide Educational Assistance in Most-Neglected Areas


MUMBAI 00000018 002.2 OF 003


-------------- --------------




4. (U) Though the Chhattisgarh government has largely neglected
human development in the remote tribal areas, NGOs are active in
many of the Maoist-affected areas to provide basic human
development services such as education, health care and good
governance. One NGO, Naandi Foundation, works to promote
education in Chhattisgarh's remote villages, especially for
girls. Focusing on children in Kanker District, the northern
part of the Bastar region, Naandi tutors 9000 students in
government schools and helps teachers improve their
instructional capacity. Most of the students are first
generation learners with no educational support from home,
according to Bhuyan, so Naandi must also win the confidence of
the parents, convincing them of the value of education for their
children. Bhuyan reports that Maoists have threatened Naandi's
tutors, but none have been harmed or prevented from working with
the students.




5. (U) Education efforts in the Bastar region have been
challenged by the occasional use of schools as police barracks
in remote areas, which has invited Maoist attacks. State
officials acknowledge that security forces have occupied up to
12 schools, but claim that over 400 schools have been attacked
by Maoists over the past decade. Other interlocutors complained
that even where Maoists have not destroyed schools, they block
the schools from operating, threatening the teachers and
insisting on indoctrinating the youth themselves. Kaiser
reports that the state authorized the spending of USD 7.2
million this fiscal year for the construction of police barracks
in Bastar and is moving forces out of schools in the region in
response to the intervention by the National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC). (Note: Shaheen Nilofer, Chief of the Raipur
field office of UNICEF said her office continues to raise this
issue with the UN. End note.)




6. (U) Despite these challenges, Nilofer reports that
educational levels in Chhattisgarh are improving in primary
education, with girls attending school at about the same rate as
boys. She added that girl-participation drops radically in
secondary school, however. The discrepancy is caused by
societal views of the value of educating girls, family fears for
the safety of girls when they must travel further for school,
and girls' concerns about sharing toilet facilities with boys,
she said. UNICEF's research found that in tribal areas, school
attendance of adolescent girls rose appreciably when separate
bathrooms were provided for girls.



Healthcare Severely Strained in Bastar

--------------




7. (U) Nilofer explained that since the Bastar region has a
high tribal population, (more than 70 percent tribal compared to
a state-wide proportion of 32.5 percent) and suffers from one of
the country's highest infant mortality rates, the area qualifies
for specific central government funds for "backward" areas.
However, Nilofer said getting medical officers willing to serve
in strife-torn areas is difficult. She reported that UNICEF
programs have made modest progress in improving village health
conditions by introducing hygiene training and educating girls
to serve as health outreach workers to encourage those needing
advanced medical help to go to clinics where they could be
properly diagnosed and treated.



NGOs also Focus on Grass Roots Governance

--------------



MUMBAI 00000018 003.2 OF 003




8. (U) UNICEF also works in four of the 18 internally
displaced-persons (IDP) camps in the Bastar region, serving
approximately 8,000 families. (Note: IDP camps were created in
2005-06 when tribals fled Maoist violence, or were moved by the
state, allegedly for their own protection. End Note.) Working
with village councils, known as panchayats, UNICEF workers help
assess the community needs and teach leaders to advocate for
public funding. While most government funding is distributed
through state institutions, Nilofer noted that some funding is
specifically earmarked for projects identified by the
panchayats. In addition, UNICEF focuses on "convergence
planning," the coordination of government services and programs,
bringing together various departments within state and local
government. For example, where a community needs safe drinking
water, UNICEF brings together health officials, project
engineers, and those who control funding under the National
Rural Employment Guarantee Program (NREG) to design and
implement a solution using local labor and helping to funnel
wages into the community. (Note: Nilofer pointed out that
although Chhattisgarh is the third-best performing state in
terms of allocating NREG funds with the least "leakage,"
participation in the employment scheme is low due to high
illiteracy and malnutrition. End Note.) Overall, UNICEF and
other NGOs are optimistic that their efforts are leading to
greater, village-level participatory democracy, which could help
reduce the attraction of the Maoists. Nilofer noted that
citizens are increasingly demanding that local decisions be made
by the full village council in a public forum, instead of behind
closed doors.




9. (SBU) Comment: With anti-Maoist operations underway, the
state government may not be able to deliver needed development
programs in remote, tribal areas in the near term due to massive
deficits of personnel, capacity, and political will, let alone
the security concerns. As is often the case in many remote
areas of India, NGOs are taking the lead in implementing
innovative development programs - sometimes in partnership with
local government -- in southern Chhattisgarh. If the
government's anti-insurgency operations result in major armed
conflict in the region, NGOs, who provide the bulk of social
services in the region, may be forced to flee for safety,
creating a greater vacuum and compounding the difficulties for
the tribals living in the conflict zone. If past is precedent,
the state will likely move forward with major projects that
will contribute to the development of Chhattisgarh's rich
mineral deposits, considered essential for India's growth.
While the state will ultimately seek to introduce some
development in the region, tribals on lands sought by developers
or the state could be pressured or paid off to move. End
Comment.
FOLMSBEE