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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 19, May 1, 2010

An Examination of Conflict: Costs, Benefits and More

Saturday 1 May 2010, by S G Vombatkere

The death of 76 CRPF police personnel on April 6, 2010 in a Maoist ambush in the Dantewada forest of Chhattisgarh is deeply disturbing not only because it is a loss to the families and the nation, but also because it inevi-tably means upscaling police action, creating more problems for the adivasi people of Chhattisgarh and neighbouring States, already caught in the cross-fire between Maoists and the police.

This is a perspective of conflict situations with particular reference to Maoist militancy in Central India, but it also has a wider context and applicability. At a time when the mainstream print and electronic media are reporting demands for all-out armed offensive action to wipe out the Maoists, it examines the costs and benefits of conflict to see to whom these accrue and how, and critiques the economics that spawns extremism and militancy.

Costs of Conflict

Armed conflict (including war) costs huge amounts of money to both parties to the conflict. In the context of internal conflict—insurgency in India’s North-East and north west, and Maoist militancy in Central India—the Indian state budgets expenditures for its police and military. It is essentially money down the drain unless it is in the public interest in providing better governance or more security for the people. But these are neither the only nor the least costs; there are huge, mostly intangible, social and environmental costs invisible in a budget.

War, a declared position of armed hostility between nation-states, does not benefit soldiers on both sides of the conflict, who exchange bullets, grenades, rockets, shells and bombs to inflict maximum damage, on the orders of their Generals and heads of state. The families on both sides lose heavily when a soldier is blown to pieces or shot dead or returns minus body parts and psychological scars. The citizens of both sides, who only want to live peacefully, also lose due to shattered lives, social tensions, loss of civil liberties, fear of attack, increased taxes and prices etc., and also directly due to attacks from the opposite side.

In India we, especially those without dear ones who are soldiers, are becoming insensitive to armed conflict, with the Army deployed for ongoing counter-insurgency (CI) operations commenced decades ago in our North-Eastern States and J&K, or protecting the territorial integrity of the state as in Siachen Glacier and our LAC with Pakistan, and borders with China and Bangladesh, or repulsing attacks by Pakistan (1948, 1965, 1971, 1999) or China (1962). Soldiers and young officers are killed or suffer disabling wounds, and all carry psychological scars. But armed conflict is not handled by the Army alone.

In 225 districts of 23 Indian States, State and Central Police Organisations are deployed against militants or insurgents. And police personnel also suffer casualties. Armed conflict does not benefit policemen nor their junior commanders who pay with their lives or limbs. They are becoming increasingly brutish in dealing with citizens while maintaining security or collecting intelligence, due to the psychological wounds sustained in the course of their duties. This has alienated civilian populations who are trapped between the state forces and the insurgents or militants in all the affected States. Thus a heavy price continues to be paid with no end in sight. Attack from either side is responded to with more violence, armed conflict escalates, and civilians suffer unending agonies and live in constant fear. And the social, environmental, economic, political and financial costs keep mounting.

It is clear that all citizens pay for the conflict in some manner. There is immense, irreparable, nationwide harm both at individual and social levels. Therefore, it is necessary to ask who gains what and how from the conflict, and whether the conflict may be started, instigated or intensified for purposes that are not obvious. No nation likes its soldiers or policemen to be killed or wounded in external or internal conflict. And yet, particu-larly internally, State and Central governments shy away from political and economic solutions to problems of political or economic causes, and readily deploy police and military to stifle protest and dissent. It is well to examine who gains by deployment of the police or military. On the other side, militants pay with their lives and limbs, and also during interrogation and torture when captured, and by death in staged ‘encounters’. But there is also the cost of leaving their families, homes and communities to hide in the forest, constantly on the move, hunted by the state forces. Their families pay by their absence and by being treated as militants or collaborators by the police or military, subjected to harassment, threats, interrogation, torture or rape. Here the questions are: why did they become militants in the first place? Why are they willing to pay such a heavy price? And what do they expect to gain from it?

Before trying to address these questions, it is necessary to examine some economic aspects of militancy especially in Central India.

The Economics that cause Militancy

India is in thrall of economic growth, which is measured by increase of the GDP. The money spent on weapons and ammunition for the police and military gets added to the GDP. Thus, beyond the ever-present problem of budgeting for government expenditure, the Finance Ministry has no problem with expenditure per se, whether on welfare or combating armed militants or some other account. Likewise, the money spent by anybody else adds to the GDP.

The investment to establish an industry means increase in the GDP—big spenders contribute more to the GDP. But the adivasi people live very simply—they produce little that is sold in markets, and purchase little from markets; that is, they contribute little to the GDP. Unpaid services of house-keeping and child-rearing, as our mothers have done, do not appear in the GDP calculation, and low-paid services like domestic work and manual labour make minuscule contribution. (The respect given and the social value ascribed to the housewife, domestic worker or manual labourer are subtly connected with their low-GDP activities.) Therefore, so far as economists are concerned, establishing industry on adivasi land—replacing a low-GDP activity with a high-GDP one—is good for economic growth. The problems of displaced adivasis becomes the responsibility of some other Ministry; displacement is externalised. When the adivasi people resist the take-over of their land, police are deployed and lo! the GDP rises. When some adivasis take up arms and organise themselves like Birsa Munda did in the late 19th century, police operations are upscaled and again it becomes merely a problem of budgeting and fund allocation.

Adivasis have historically been exploited by zamindars, landlords and moneylenders, and after independence, additionally by forest, revenue and police officials. More recently, exploitation has assumed corporate dimensions. Many prime deposits of key minerals needed by industrialised countries are in the forest lands of Central India where adivasis live. The multinational corporations (MNCs) demand huge tracts of land for mines and mega-industries, which will boost India’s economic growth. Governments vie with one another to attract the MNCs and sign memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with them. The Orissa Government has signed at least 52 MoUs for steel industries and mining, and Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh governments are known to have secretly signed hundreds. These inevitably mean vacating dozens of adivasi villages and huge tracts of forest.

But how can adivasi land be acquired when the law mandates that advasi land cannot be purchased by non-adivasi persons? The law has been and is being circumvented through benami deals and by de-notifying the entire adivasi tribe living on the land, and the Panchayat (Extension) to Schedule Areas (PESA) Act and the Forest Rights Act are being violated by governments to provide the MNCs with the adivasis’ village and forest lands.

Notwithstanding the government’s promises, most adivasis do not want to leave their villages and way of life because they are aware of the experience of the adivasis who were induced or forced to vacate. [Note 1] Their protests inevitably lead to resistance and physical violence which escalate as the government uses the police force to acquire their land for establishing industry that will boost the economy. Whether the protesters or the police start the physical violence, the first cause is economic violence initiated by the government.

Governments are committed to honour the the MoUs and provide land. Thus the adivasis who refuse to vacate their villages and lands become an obstacle not only to fulfilment of the terms of the MoUs but also to national economic growth and development. Governments thus manufacture justification to use the armed might of the state to evict the adivasis who stand in the way of India’s rise to becoming a global economic power. Positions harden on both sides, and some adivasis form or join already formed resistance groups. This is the seed of armed militancy.

Land is a primary economic asset for the MNCs. Unfortunately the same land is also a primary economic asset for adivasis for their physical, social and cultural survival. This is the primary conflict of interests. Armed militant power, ambushing and attacking state power with firearms, is the secondary aspect. No doubt Maoists are bad news concerning everyone, but neglecting first causes and attempting to tackle the symptoms by upscaling police action (like Operation Green Hunt) only enlarges the circle of people who pay with their lives and livelihoods; the nation as a whole loses. However, for some, escalating armed conflict spells gain and profits.

A high-power committee, set up in 2006 by the Planning Commission of India, ascribed growing militancy to people’s discontent and failure of governance, and showed a direct relationship between extremism (militancy) and poverty. It is pertinent that Maoist militancy in India is only found among poor people, that almost all adivasi people are poor and have suffered displacement or exploitation over many decades and this, combined with neglect and more recently oppression from governments, has brewed trouble for all.

The Maoist ‘Problem’

Governments are established for no purpose other than the public interest. One of the eight definitions of ‘public purpose’ in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, modified in 1985, reads: “(vii) the provision of land for any other scheme of development sponsored by Government or with the prior approval of the appropriate Government, by a local authority”. Provision of land to a corporate company under this Act is legal. Any persons who are on the land so chosen are bound to vacate the land for the public purpose of establishing the industry. If they refuse, the government can forcibly evict them. This power of the government, formulated by the British, has been used thousands of times since independence for projects executed, sponsored or approved by governments.

But the Land Acquisition Act also provides ‘public purpose’ with the meaning: “(v) the provision of land for residential purposes to the poor or landless or to persons residing in areas affected by natural calamities, or to persons displaced or affected by reason of the implementation of any scheme undertaken by Government, any local authority or a corporation owned or controlled by the State”. Thus, provision of land to the people displaced for a public purpose also constitutes a public purpose, but this has rarely, if ever, been implemented. The Supreme Court’s ‘land-for-land’ ruling in the Narmada valley displacements was implemented for about 11,000 families forcibly displaced for the Sardar Sarovar Project. This figure pales in comparison with the 60 million displaced without rehabilitation since 1947, 40 per cent of them adivasis.[Note 2] But these are mere numbers and percentages. The effect of suffering of a single individual and his/her antipathy towards unjust, predatory gover-nments, and the cumulative antipathy of the people forcibly displaced, spells militancy, verbal at first, then physical, organised and armed even later.

In present-day India, displaced or displace-ment-threatened people are aware of their fundamental rights, and refuse to vacate. People not directly affected by displacement also join hands because they are potentially affected through loss of health or livelihood by the effects of mining or industrial activity, and if they do not protest, they will be easy prey for land acquisition for industrial expansion. Unfortu-nately, all over India and especially in the adivasi areas, the government’s response to peaceful protests has been intimidation, repression and criminalisation by filing false cases.

Corporate companies influence key officials in governments by corruption, threats or blackmail to violate laws or look the other way when violated, and circumvent rules to obtain land. These acquisitions reek of injustice and violation of fundamental rights of the people who pay heavily with their way of life and livelihoods, while corporate companies and others who suffer no loss, reap the benefits. These accumulated injustices and historical exploitation and neglect are the causes for serious discontent among adivasis who long ago have ceased to trust the state and its agencies. Growing Maoist power is not the ‘problem’. It is a terrible symptom of historical neglect, non-governance and mal-governance.

Adivasis and the State

Adivasis may be today considered as divided into three categories. One: Those whose ideology is rejection of the Indian state and armed struggle, called Maoists. Two: Those who have not accepted the Maoist ideology, expect only more injustice from the government, and reckon that only the Maoists will help them survive the onslaught of corporate power. Three: Those who are struggling to live their daily lives. They do not subscribe to the Maoist ideology, are frightened and confused and suspected both by the Maoists and the police. Many families are split because their members are in different categories; the adivasi society has been split by the ongoing violence. Many adivasi people have vanished after being picked up by the police on suspicion. [Note 3]

The state holds that Maoists (or anybody) denying access to the state administration to enter any area within the Union of India to carry out the functions of the government cannot be tolerated, and uses force to enter and punish the guilty. But police forces are brutal and non-Maoist adivasis bear the brunt. They see the government’s forest and revenue agencies as exploitative, and the government as colluding with the MNCs.

The Benefits of Conflicts

Protecting territorial integrity and sovereignty, maintaining internal security for its people and resources, or protecting national strategic interests are generally claimed as benefits of the use of force by governments. Some governments use armed force to change the government or leader of another nation (regime change or leadership decapitation as practised by the USA), but that again is usually to gain control over resources or protect strategic-economic interests. When these interests converge with economic growth of the GDP-blinkered economists, influential MNCs may urge governments to use military force to threaten or attack. It is necessary here to consider the influence of and benefits to large corporations both in war between nations and in conflicts internal to a nation.

Benefits from wars between nations: Starting 1898, the USA carried out a series of occupations, police actions, and interventions in Central America and the Caribbean. These were called the Banana Wars because their goal was to protect American commercial interests, particularly of the United Fruit Company, which had significant financial stakes in the production of bananas, tobacco, sugarcane, and other products throughout the Caribbean, Central America and the northern portions of South America. The USA was also advancing its political interests by maintaining its influence in the region including control of the Panama Canal. [Ref 1]

In the context of the hidden hands behind war, Major General Smedley Butler of the United States Marines Corps [Note 4] defined a racket as “...something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.” As a war hero who won bravery awards in battles fought for the US Government, Butler describes war as a racket, “...possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious”, and “the only one international in scope” and “in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives”. He concludes: “Out of war, a few people make huge fortunes.”

Condemning the profit motive behind warfare, in a magazine Common Sense, General Butler wrote (1935):

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

General Butler also showed how large business corporations made huge profits out of the fighting in World War I from supplying weapons, ammu-nition, tanks, guns, ships, aircraft and soldiers’ clothing and equipment. Some of the big names are du Pont, General Motors, Bethlehem Steel, Anaconda Copper, Utah Copper and American Smelting, that made upto 900 per cent over their pre-war profits. Whatever the motivation for General Butler’s revelations, it carries the burden of being subjective besides being at the turn of the last century. Therefore, it is necessary to demonstrate corporate benefit more objectively, and in contemporary times.

In the post-9/11 US invasion of Iraq, the US military outsourced installation and field security, logistics and intelligence functions to business corporations, which profit from continuing military operations. The biggest military corporation in Iraq is Kellogg, Brown and Root, which is a subsidiary of Halliburton. That Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton before he was the US Vice-President indicates the reach and influence of military corporations. Military corporations have a vested interest in armed conflicts, just as armaments manufac-turers do, and conflicts around the globe are not unconnected with the expanding market oppor-tunities of armed conflict. Military corporations spend little on training because they have a ready resource of ex-servicemen trained at public cost in their own countries, while weapons and equipment are cheap in the open market—hence the profits are huge. [Ref 2]

Unless the influence of the USA’s MNCs over the decades is taken into account, it is difficult to understand why the US Department of Defence of successive democratically elected US Administrations has indulged in unprovoked, offensive wars on all continents. [Ref 3]

Benefits from internal conflicts: Liberalisation of the Indian economy has seen large scale investment by the MNCs. India’s fifty dollar-billionaires along with foreign MNCs are in need of land to establish extractive and productive industries in the Central Indian States, major repositories of bauxite, iron, coal, copper, uranium —Orissa (having 22 per cent adivasi population and 70 per cent of bauxite, 90 per cent of chrome ore and 26 per cent of coal in India), Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Starting 1993, the Utkal Alumina International in Kashipur and Vedanta Resources in Lanjhigarh and Niyamgiri made their initial investments in Orissa especially for bauxite mining. (Bauxite is the source mineral for aluminium used in the aircraft and automobile industries, and for making throw-away casseroles for food on airlines and railways, and disposable aluminium foil for gourmet baking.) The Government of Orissa (GOO) was forcibly evicting adivasis from land protected under the Fifth Schedule of the Consti-tution. This met with popular resistance and police killed three adivasi in firing on December 16, 2000, in Kashipur. Protestors travelled to distant New Delhi and staged demonstrations on March 5, 2005, petitioning the President of India to halt police repression in the adivasi belt of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Chhhattisgarh, but to no avail. The protests continue to this day as the government continues to forcibly acquire land.

There was wide protest and resistance, particularly in the western Orissa districts of Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Sundergarh, against acquisition of land for about 50 sponge iron projects, and drawing irrigation water from the Hirakud Dam for industrial use. Unfazed, the GOO signed many more MoUs—with Arcelor-Mittal (Rs 40,000 crores investment for 12 million tonnes annual iron production), Reliance (Rs 60,000 crores for a coal-fired mega thermal power plant) and Pohang Steel Company or POSCO of South Korea (Rs 51,000 crores for a separate captive port in Jagatsinghpur district next to the existing Paradeep port; steel, automobile and ship-building plants; a power generating plant; and huge quantities of water from Mahanadi river barrages). All government actions in fulfilment of the MoUs were met with popular resistance. But Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told an Oriya TV news channel on December 4, 2004: “No one, I repeat no one, will be allowed to stand in the way of Orissa’s industrialisation and the people’s progress.” Patnaik thus revealed his ideology of development benefiting industry at the cost of the adivasi people. Adivasis had demonstrated against the acquisition of their lands for Tata Iron and Steel Company in Kalinganagar, Orissa. Police firing on peaceful protestors in the presence of district officials, on January 2, 2006, killed 20 adivasis, 12 on the spot. The Kalinganagar Visthapan Birodhi Janmanch has adopted a position of no compensation, no rehabilitation, no forced displacement.

MNCs and governments became more circumspect, signing MoUs secretly. Police in neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand actively discouraged, even harassed and targeted visitors, social and human rights activists and independent journalists, with the excuse of security. This writer experienced such treatment personally in Dantewada during January 3-6, 2010, as part of a 30-member National Peace Mission. [Note 3] That mainstream electronic and print media are silent or muted on the happenings in Chhattisgarh testifies to the governments’ pressure on them, or their being themselves large corporate bodies in sync with the MNCs. As with General Butler’s revelations regarding war, the foregoing partly carries the burden of subjectivity. Therefore, it is necessary to demonstrate corporate benefit more objectively.

Governments keep MoUs secret with good reason. One example of the concessions and huge benefits given to industries is demonstrated from the GOO’s 2005 MoU with POSCO. These are: (1) POSCO will mine 20 million tonnes of iron ore per year for 30 years (600 million tonnes) and pay Rs 54 crores/year royalty to the GOO at Rs 27/tonne, when the market price is Rs 4000/tonne. Thus the GOO loses Rs 7946 crores per year. (2) Over 30 years, the GOO receives only Rs 1620 crores against rights granted for Rs 240,000 crores ($ 60 billion) worth iron ore, neglecting the expected increase of 20-50 per cent in market price. (http://metalsplace. com/news/?a=16372) Thus the MoU benefits POSCO by at least $ 60 billion. (3) POSCO can ship out iron ore worth Rs 72,000 crores ($ 18 billion) to its other plants through its own port, saving duties that it would pay in the government port. (4) When POSCO imports plant machinery and equipment, it will be tax-free since POSCO has obtained SEZ status from the Government of India. [Ref 4] It is difficult to believe that such highly MNC-beneficial MoUs would be signed without corporate-government collusion. Even the Supreme Court of India has acceded to the Government of India’s forest diversion proposal of 3000 acres for POSCO use. (http://www.rediff.com/money/2008/nov/04posco.htm)

Vedanta Resources is a UK-based mining and metals MNC group with biggest stake in the acquisition of India’s adivasi territory. Sterlite Industries is its principal subsidiary with worldwide operations. Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO), a leading public sector producer of aluminium founded in 1956, disinvested with controlling shares to Sterlite in 2001, was involved in evasion of central excise and customs duty and after inquiry in 2003, was ordered to pay Rs 249 crores but, represented by P. Chidambaram as its counsel (he was also Member on the Board of Vedanta Resources), through a writ petition in the Bombay High Court, obtained a stay of recovery. P. Chidambaram resigned from the Vedanta Board in May 2004 to assume charge as the Finance Minister in the UPA Government. But on becoming the Finance Minister, he failed to initiate any significant move to recover the dues from Sterlite. While still the Finance Minister, Chidambaram addressed a US business audience in 2007, and said that India was facing the challenge of

leveraging huge natural and human resources to ensure rapid economic growth. But attempts to make quick and efficient use of resources such as coal, iron ore, bauxite, titanium ore, diamonds, natural gas and petroleum are thwarted by the State governments and interest groups.

Now P. Chidambaram is the Union Home Minister, the architect of Green Hunt to eliminate Maoists and drive out the adivasis from Central India. His motives are suspect because Vedanta in particular benefits as do MNCs in general. [Ref 5] Significantly, a book titled Vedanta’s Billion$ by Rohit Poddar, published in California in 2006 and bringing out many similar facts, was banned for distribution in India.

Conclusion

Conflicts of interests in every social situation are inevitable. The resolution, or at least the management, of conflicts is the charter of politicians. In the context of Dr Manmohan Singh’s reiterations that “extremism is the gravest threat to internal security”, attempting to manage India’s mounting internal conflict of interests, that centre on corporate land-for-gain versus adivasi land-for-survival, by the simple-minded expedient of hitting harder is leading to more polarisation and stratification of society and polity. Intensifi-cation of attacks on militants as a policy is certainly short-sighted and possibly profit-moti-vated. India needs leadership of statesmanship with vision. India can do without the leadership of unaccountable, insensitive and arrogant politicians and bureaucrats who send soldiers, policemen and militants to their deaths, their families into despair, and poor people into destitution by their GDP-blinkered economic policies and harsh reactions to dissent and protest, while sitting physically secure in comfortable offices.

References

1. Wikipedia on Major General Smedley Butler.

2. S.G.Vombatkere, “Corporatising armed conflict”, The Hindu, June 29, 2004, <http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/op...>

3. S.G.Vombatkere, “The US War Machine: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, Mainstream, New Delhi, Vol XLVIII, No 17, April17, 2010, pp. 25-30.

4. Sandip K. Dasverma, “The World’s Resources are Limited”, December 7, 2007, <http://mathtalentsearch.>

5. Sam Rajappa, “Chidambaram must quit—It is a question of conflict of interest”, The Statesman, April 18, 2010.

6. Sudhir Vombatkere, “The Third Position—Non-alignment with Violence”, Mainstream, New Delhi, Vol XLVIII, No 13, March 20, 2010, pp. 29-31.

7. Savvy Soumya Misra, “Stop calling activists Maoists: SC”, Down to Earth, New Delhi, March 16-31, 2010, p. 20.

Notes

Note 1. The government’s 60-year track record of providing compensation, re-location, resettlement and rehabilitation is known to be dismal. There are no official figures; Dr Walter Fernandes indicates that between 1947 and 2004, about 60 million people were forcibly displaced in the name of development, 40 per cent of them from Scheduled Tribes. Quoted in D.Bandyopadhyay, “Sour men of the Central Wooded Uplands”, Mainstream, New Delhi, Vol XLVIII, No 10, February 27, 2010, pp. 19-21.

Note 2. The total of 11,000 families (about 50,000 people) given justice pales in comparison with the 33 million people estimated to have been displaced by large dams in India in the period 1949-1999 by Roy, based on a study of 54 dam projects. [Roy, A, “The Cost of Living”, Frontline, 15(3), February 5-08, 2000] And most of them were not resettled. This does not account for displacement due to other types of projects. Also, Walter Fernandes of the Indian Social Institute indicates that in 57 years between 1947 and 2004, about 60 million people were forcibly displaced in the name of development, 40 per cent of them from Scheduled Tribes. [D. Bandyopadhyay; “Sour men of the Central Wooded Uplands”, Mainstream, New Delhi, Vol XLVIII, No 10, February 27, 2010; pp.19-21]

Note 3. This writer visited Dantewada as a member of a National Peace Mission team in early January 2010, and used the opportunity to meet senior revenue and police officials and some adivasi people in their village, to get a sense of the prevailing atmosphere. The police consider those who condemn violence as sympathetic to Maoists, even as collaborators, due to if-you-are-not-with-us-you-are-against-us thinking. [Ref 6] The Supreme Court of India has pulled up the Chhattisgarh Government for dubbing human rights activists as Maoist sympathisers. [Ref 7]

Note 4. Maj Gen Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940) served for over 33 years in the elite United States Marine Corps, and was awarded the US Congressional Medal for bravery in battle, once in 1914 and again in 1917 and three other gallantry medals. As a battle-experienced hero, he wrote a book titled War is a Racket, about World War I (1914-1918) which was fought in Europe, and the USA’s armed incursions on countries in Central and South America, the Philippines and China in the early 1900s. The book is not only critical of armed conflict in the way that only a soldier knows it, but also goes into its causes, motivations, costs and benefits. <http://warisaracket.org/> , http://www.ratical.com/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html

Major General S.G.Vombatkere retired as the Additional Director General Discipline and Vigilance in the Army HQ, New Delhi, in 1996 after 35 years in the Indian Army with combat, staff and technical experience. He holds a Ph.D degree in Structural Dynamics from IIT, Madras, and the President of India awarded him Visishta Seva Medal in 1993 for distinguished service rendered in Ladakh. Since retirement, he is engaged in voluntary work with the Mysore Grahakara Parishat, and is a member of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). He coordinates and lectures a Course on Science, Technology and Sustainable Development for undergraduate students of the University of Iowa, USA, and two universities of Canada, who spend a semester at Mysore as part of their Studies Abroad in South India. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor of the University of Iowa, USA.

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