In the deep jungles of central India, the recent kidnapping of an official who went beyond the call of duty to bring development to the poor tribal communities who live there, could perhaps become a textbook lesson in how not to run a democracy.
Alex Paul Menon - named by his father because he admired the emperor Alexander, the Pope and a former well-known Indian minister by the name of Krishna Menon - has become a household name across India after he was recently picked up by self-styled "Maoist" insurgents, who believe their extreme left-wing ideology entitles them to dismiss their namesakes in China and Nepal as the "bourgeoisie".
Mediators from both sides - the Maoist rebels as well as the government of Chhatisgarh, the central Indian province where Mr Menon was serving when he was kidnapped - worked to secure his release, which finally came yesterday.
But even with Mr Menon now free, the question remains whether the state, as well as the insurgents, will finally wake up to the fact that between them, their ruthlessness has made the local population aliens in their own land.
The philosophy of the Maoist insurgents is fairly straightforward : The state is the enemy and if you work with it in any way, you're a collaborator. Everyone is fair game, including honest and hard-working officers like Mr Menon, who was seeking to challenge the status quo. Power flows from the barrel of the gun, even if you only have bows and arrows to defend yourself, as several tribal communities in India still do.
Certainly, it is the ruthlessness of the state that is far more dangerous, and therefore inexcusable. In 2005, instead of guaranteeing the security and safety of citizens - in India, law and order is a state subject - Chhattisgarh's chief minister Raman Singh ordered the raising of a vigilante group called the Salwa Judum to fight the Maoist rebels.
One set of citizens was armed with sophisticated weaponry and officially allowed to mow down opponents. Despite the orders of the Supreme Court to disband the vigilante army last year, the Chhattisgarh government seems to have simply renamed them and made them part of the state security apparatus. They are now called the "armed auxiliary force."
Civil rights activists have cried themselves hoarse accusing the state, on the one hand, of committing unspeakable crimes against its own people, and on the other of colluding with industrialists to move the tribes off their own lands for little or no compensation. The fight over natural resources between wealthy outsiders and poor locals is an old one, considerably exacerbated in recent years as India grows at 8 or 9 per cent annually.
India's record of rehabilitating those displaced from their lands in the name of development is an abysmal one, and so the even older question of whose development it is anyway needs to be asked with much more force these days.
India's constitution guarantees several rights as well as privileges to indigenous peoples in jobs and education, on par with backward and lowly castes. As the British prepared to leave India in the late 1940s, the founding fathers insisted that the new nation had to redeem itself for all the sins and deliberate injustices of its past, when lower castes and tribes were either looked upon as scum, or totally ignored by the so-called mainstream.
But as the forces of modernisation catch up and mineral-rich forests become new battle-grounds, the mantra of economic and political justice seems like a mirage. Large tracts of land, significant portions of India's total area, are said to be under the control of the Maoist rebels and therefore deemed ungovernable. None other than India's prime minister has declared that the "red menace" is the greatest security threat to the country.
What if the partial truth is that the Maoists were able to capture power because the state had practically relinquished it? Conditions in these parts have largely been abysmal since independence, with few or no schools, and even fewer roads and health care centres. When the tribes turned to Maoism they were crushed by the superior fire-power unleashed by the state's forces. In recent years, whole villages have been burned and forcibly emptied and villagers made to live in camps.
The tragedy is that India's tribal belt is doubly jeopardised, not only because it is caught in the Maoist-versus-state pincer, but because until recently its inhabitants lived so far from so-called civilisation that they were simply unable to throw up a decent political leadership that could take charge.
But when they do, like Jhina Hikaka, a tribal legislator from Odisha state also in central India (he was also recently abducted by Maoist insurgents), they are forced by the Maoists to stop serving the people who elected them. Mr Hikaka was released after several days in custody after he allegedly promised his captors that he would give up his political career.
People like Mr Menon and Mr Hikaka recognise that simple things, like land reforms and development works, will prevent the spread of false revolutions. But to maintain this stability they also know that governments have to start governing, not waste precious time and money on corrupt practices.
These men have gone where few have gone before, into the Maoists' own den. No wonder they are paying the price for it.
Jyoti Malhotra is a political and foreign affairs analyst based in Delhi