Title : Urban Naxals – the making of ‘Buddha In A Traffic Jam’
Author : Vivek Agnihotri
Publisher : Garuda Prakashan
Year : 2018
Rating : 9/10
Naxalism, most of us believe, is something happening in far away jungles – aided by small bands of extremists. Of tribal areas under some extremist rouge elements threatening the Indian state. Every now and then, news comes in of an attack on a CRPF camp or convoy and we all shake our heads in disgust and sadness. But the malaise goes far deeper, and as this book shows, is not limited to just rural areas and far off jungles. Sure , the Urban Naxals are not gun-toting, army camouflage wearing extremists but they are instead the brains and the money bags (the two pillars on which any movement stands) of the fundamentalists in the jungles.
Some years ago, Vivek Agnihotri had released a movie called “Buddha in a traffic jam”. The book is, as the title suggests, a behind the scenes story of how the movie was made and how it finally saw the light of day. One must say, Vivek ji is not only a prolific but also a very brave director. His car gets attacked and damaged just because some students don’t want to see the movie. Last minute cancellations abound at every place. The movie itself remains canned for years because no distributor wants to touch it. Still, the author persevered and has finally given us a gem. Students wanting to do something extreme after failing in one school exam should definitely read this book. ‘Urban Naxals’ makes for an interesting read as far as the movie making is concerned, but for me it was the chapters other than the movie that really piqued my interest.
I sincerely believe that the chapters not dealing with the movie per se, should be published as a separate booklet and reach wide audiences. In these, the author lays bare the ‘pseudo-intellectuals’ who have unfortunately taken pole position when it comes to ideologies in this country. Pertinent questions about their ‘secularism’ and ‘socialism’, which we all ought to be asking, are raised. Vivek Agnihotri is also a very brave author, who minces no words in naming and shaming those threatening the very edifice on which India stands. The book calls out the hypocrisy of communism, especially in the cultural sphere. The book talks about how leftists in India provide ‘intellectual cover’ for the ones operating in the jungles. White washing their crimes by using flowery prose or trying to justify by using age old whataboutery. The book talks about how ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ is dissed by college and university professors, creating entire generations of deracinated kids. Urban Naxals talks of how college going boys and girls are being brainwashed into taking up the gun against the Indian state. And then of course, this coterie of Urban Naxals does a fine job of shutting out any voices in the mainstream from the opposite spectrum.
Urban Naxals also addresses the other pillar of the movement – money. It names NGOs and other organisations which are essentially fronts for collecting funds to be supplied to the Naxalites ; funding to the tune of hundreds of crores. Innocuous sounding organisations wedded to some or the other leftist ideology. These are the Urban Naxals with money, funding both, the Urban Naxals with brains and the ones with guns.
All in all, a must read and a truly eye opening book. One would think the ‘pseudo-intellectual’ problem in India goes only as far as whitewashing Mughals and regurgitating outmoded socialist ideas. The malaise is far far deeper, as the book depicts.
Last but not the least, a word about the quality of the book itself. Garuda Prakashan has done a fine job with the cover, printing and paper quality. The look and feel of the book is hence very professional and pleasing to the eyes.