The Naxalite threat is the biggest security problem for India’s future as its effects are multi-layered. The Maoist movement highlights India’s inner weaknesses, which makes India also vulnerable to external threats. As a part of globalization, threats such as the Naxalite movement can no longer be viewed as basically internal as it also affects external security. This paper most vividly tries to carve out the niche and the root cause of the Naxalism in the present scenario. The Government of India had made certain provisions to stop the influx and to rehabilitate the affected population. And the problem lies in the grass-root level of its implementations. Now the problem lies in how these laws and provisions can be communicated to the isolated mass in a substantiated way. In Short, in this study, we attempt to find out the Causes and Solutions for the Naxalite Movement in India.
The word Naxalism derives its name from the village Naoxalbari in West Bengal. It is originated as a rebellion against local landlords who bashed a farmworker over a land dispute. This rebellion was under the direction of Kanu Santhial and Jagan Sanyal with an objective of rightful redistribution of the plot to working peasants which was introduced in 1967.
It is considered as the far-left radical communists, the Naxals support Maoist political sentiments and ideology. It originated in West Bengal and the movement slowly spread across Eastern India in less developed areas of the rural central and eastern parts, such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. The movement has quickly found its roots among displaced tribes and natives who are fighting against exploitation against the major Indian corporations and local officials whom they believe to be corrupt.
Factors responsible for the growth of Naxalism
- Mismanagement of Forests: It is one of the core reasons for the spread of Naxalism. It started with the British government. The monopolization of the forest started with the enactment of several forest laws. The integration with the wider world led to an influx of a new class like moneylenders. The administrative machinery became more exploitative and extortionate at the functional level.
- Tribal policies not implemented well: Even during the post-Independence era, the government was not able to stop the process of tribal alienation and their displacement caused by large projects. Even the matters of food security were not fully sorted out. Thus, Naxalism made inroads in Orissa and other states.
- The Growing inter and intraregional disparities: Naxalalism attracts people who have poor livelihoods like fishermen, farmers, daily laborers, and bamboo cutters. The government policies have failed to stem the growing inter and intraregional disparities. Poor people think that Naxalism may provide solutions to their problems.
- Absence of proper Industrialization and lack of land reforms: The half-hearted implementations of land reforms by the government have yielded negative results. The agrarian set up has not been defined in the absence of proper implementation of survey and settlement. This further damaged the agriculture production and the rural economy. The absence of proper industrialization has failed to generate employment for rural people leading to dissatisfaction with the government. It is also one of the causes of Naxalism.
- Geographical Terrain: Naxalism flourished in areas covered with forests. It helped them to fight against the police and the army by waging Guerrilla warfare.
- Middle-Class Youth: The educated youths have been the largest supporters of the Naxalist movement as the maximum of the youths involved in the movement is medical and engineering graduates. Universities have turned up to be a ground for the creation of radical ideologies.
Hence, Naxalism was the brain-child of exploitative relations of landlords and peasants, but today it became the biggest security problem for India’s future.
Position of Naxalites
Many civil society activists working in Maoist-affected areas are also finding themselves under assault from both sides. The Maoists claim to be fighting for the poor and the marginalized, demanding loyalty and shelter for villagers, while government forces seek public support in protecting those same villagers from the Maoists. But the activities of civil society activists on behalf of the impoverished and vulnerable local population put them at risk from the Maoists and government security forces alike.
The Indian prime minister has described the fight with the Maoist insurgents as India’s “biggest internal security challenge.” According to the Home Ministry, over 3,000 people have been killed in the Maoist conflict since 2008. In recent years the Maoist movement has spread to nine states in central and eastern India. The Maoists have a significant presence in the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, and West Bengal, and a marginal presence in Assam, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. The Maoists assert that they are defending the rights of marginalized: the poor, the landless, Dalits, and tribal indigenous communities. They call want a revolution, demanding a radical restructuring of the social, political, and economic order.
The Maoists believe the only way marginalized communities can win respect for their rights is to overthrow the existing structure by violent attacks on the state. Various state governments have responded to this challenge by carrying out security operations to defeat the Maoist movement, protect local residents, and restore law and order. The police in these states receive support from central government paramilitary forces. Various state and national forces often conduct joint operations, in part to deny the Maoist’s sanctuary in other states.
Because of the ineffective response by states, in 2009 the central government started to coordinate security operations. The situation in Chhattisgarh is undoubtedly deeply distressing to any reasonable person. What was doubly dismaying to us was the repeated insistence that the only option for the State was to rule with an iron fist, establish a social order in which anyone speaking for human rights of Citizens is to be deemed as suspect, and a Maoist.
Causes of Naxalite movement
The lack of human development causes anger and resentment amongst the people. They feel alienated and excluded. Also often local elites are engaged in exploiting, harassing, and even torturing the tribal population. The Naxalites receive the most support from Dalits and Adivasis. Together they amount for one-fourth of India’s population; most of them live in rural India. Their causes for supporting the violent movement are manifold. Among these groups persists low degree of employment and qualification, new forest policies with restriction for their livelihoods, cultural humiliation, weak access to health care, education and power, restricted and limited access to natural resources, multifaceted forms of exploitation, social atrocities, displacement and deficient rehabilitation programs, political marginalization, and suppression of protests.
Mehra has underlined that the most affected states have a huge number of people facing huge deprivation, especially among Dalits and Adivasis. Moreover, these respective states show a high record of crimes that are committed against the neglected groups as well as displacement due to economic and development projects. 80% of the total displaced persons within the period of 1947 – 2000 were tribal’s.
A large number of tribes were not regarded by state services as well as governmental development projects. Attempts by the states to increase its influence in the most backward areas resulted in repression of the inhabitants by state authorities such as by the forest departments and subsequently destroyed their traditional social bond. The most Naxal affected areas Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh are rich in natural resources. In this area, natural resources are not the only reason for promoting the Naxalite movement. It could be one of the reasons, but not the only reason. It is doubtful whether it could be considered even as the primary reason.
If natural resources or lack of it is a major reason for the Naxalite conflict, then why is there is a Naxalite problem in Jharkhand, but not in Himachal Pradesh? Why in Bihar, and not in eastern Uttar Pradesh? Are natural resources an accurate parameter to measure the growth of the Naxal problems in these regions? Either the state or Union government controls natural resources like mountains, forests, reservoirs, rivers, and mineral resources like coal, mica, bauxite, and cooper. The state remains the arbiter and distributor while the individuals or groups of individuals have little say in this matter. Individuals have exploited the state for their benefits, but the problem lies with the failure of governance by the state, but not with individuals.
The reason for the growth of the Naxalite problem could be enumerated. The slow implementation of land reforms is the main reason for the growth of Naxalism. Landlords frequently moved the court to delay the implementation of these reforms. They also connived with local politicians and bureaucrats, making the land reform process slow and cumbersome. Land reforms failed in the end. The social structure of society in these areas could be cited as a second reason for the emergence of the Naxalite problem. Invariably, wherever the Naxalite problem exists, there is a poor section of society, with no resources to meet their quality requirements. It is correct in not attributing the caste or tribal structure as a reason for the problem. The poor include various castes and not any particular caste or group of castes.
However, their poverty and lack of ability to improve their lot due to financial constraints by accessing education, the government machinery, or even legal remedies remain an important factor for their supporting the Naxalites. Though poverty limits their reach, there has been limited exposure to these ideas of the younger generation, making the situation dangerous. The local adage is that little knowledge is more dangerous embodies the problem in rural areas. The younger generation wants to have the facilities that are available in urban areas, which remains a distant dream given the infrastructural problems and the failure of governments to perform.
Schooling is poor it not non-existent, hence the rural youth fight a losing battle against their urban youth counterparts. This forces them to return to rural areas, still aspiring for urban facilities. The failure of the government to reach out to these areas is another major factor that aids the growth of Naxalism in these areas. The governance is poor or worse, in certain places it is nonexistent. Popular schemes take long to devise but longer to implement. Even while implementing, the benefit always reaches those who are the „naves‟ and not those who are in need.
The failure in the formulation and implementation of the right schemes at the right time, and targeting the right people is the major problem. Despite the rise of the Naxalite problem the state failed to tackle it effectively by providing the needed economic and political measures. The state failed to perform its duties; in short, governance, or the lack of it, in these areas is a primary reason for the growth of the Naxalite problem. Furthermore, political interference has also played a significant role in the implementation of governmental schemes.
Leaders have always tried to delay the projects promote by opponent parties. On the contrary, the Naxalite groups have been collecting levies from the local population. They collect funds from individuals, groups, and even government officials as commissions for letting them function in areas that are under their control. This money is used by the Naxalite groups to buy arms and recruit new members, especially from the unemployed youths in rural areas. Since the Naxalites provide a monthly salary and uniform, they have become popular amongst the unemployed youths. Thus the growth of the Naxalite movement is due to various factors, it is not merely a question of sharing natural resources.
The causes of the Maoist movement in India are structural. Economic, political, and cultural dimensions are closely linked. The first is the economic situation which is exploited by Naxalites and their extreme left ideology. It seems much like a catch-22 situation. On the one hand, India has experienced relatively fast economic growth, which has led to increased levels of national wealth. To facilitate and continue this development, businesses need more land and natural resources such as minerals. On the other hand, this economic growth has been uneven among regions and has widened the disparity between the rich and the poor.
Proponents of these businesses argue that these regions need economic development if they are to catch up with their richer counterparts. The Indian aboriginals, known as Adivasis, live these richly forested lands, which are wanted for development by businesses. The conflict between economic progress and aboriginal land rights continues to fuel the Naxalite’s activities. Their strongest bases are in the poorest areas of India. They are concentrated on the tribal belt such as West Bengal, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh where locals experience forced the acquisition of their land for developmental projects.
Arundhati Roy, a Naxalite sympathizer said that the tribal forestlands should be called a “MoUist Corridor” instead of the “Maoist Corridor” as the people of these tribal forest lands have been wrestling with “Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) of the mining companies.
Prashant Bhushan, a civil rights lawyer noted that businesses are making Adivasis go through “sham formal consultation” processes where interests of the Adivasis are not sincerely considered. Another hand, the alienation that is being exploited by the Maoists has a social, communal, and regional dimension. The battle can also be described between India’s most neglected people and the nation’s most powerful industrial businesses.
Adivasis are about 8.4 percent of the population and live in poverty. They live in remote areas where government administration weak and there is a lack of government services. These indigenous people have the lowest literacy rates in the country and the highest rates of infant mortality. Given this socio-economic alienation, it is easy to see how the Naxalite’s ideology is popular among the rural poor and indigenous tribes, and why the Adivasis view the guerrillas as their “saviors”. The Adivasis do not feel like they have any political power to voice their grievances legitimately, and therefore the alternative of subversive, illegal groups seem attractive.
Some argue that Naxalites are not concerned about the social or economic welfare of these people and are simply using them as a means to its end goal of seizing political power. The spread of Naxalism reflects the widespread alienation and discontentment felt by large parts of the country that are systematically marginalized. Dr. Subramanian, a former Director-General of the National Security Guard and Central Reserve Police Force notes that Naxalism exists in these tribal areas because of the dissatisfaction of the people against the government and big businesses, the terrain is suitable for guerrilla tactics, and there is no existence of a proper and effective local administration mechanism. In these areas, the conditions are conducive to warfare and extremist ideologies. Even if Naxalites are simply exploiting the Adivasis‟ situation for their ends, their popularity indicates the power of the root causes to create such an environment for insecurity and violence.
Naxalite movement, the biggest security threat
Naxalite movement as the biggest threat The Naxalite threat is the biggest security problem for India’s future as its effects are multi-layered. The Maoist movement highlights India’s interior weaknesses, which makes India also vulnerable to external threats. As part of globalization, threats such as the Naxalite movement can no longer be viewed as simply internal as it also affects external security. The security dangers are aptly described by a former Pakistani Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence and his description of India’s foreign affairs.
The Director-General equated India being busy with internal security problems to having two extra Divisions in the Pakistan Army for free. A nation cannot effectively withstand threats coming from outside its country if there is instability inside it. Furthermore, globalization has encouraged the emergence of non-state terrorist actors as well as international interference in each other’s affairs. India has been one of the victims of international and state-sponsored terrorism fuelled by fundamentalist ideologies. India’s regional neighbors are also external threats.
For example, in 2004, the MHA was wary of the “symbiotic relationship” between the Communist Party of Nepal and Naxal groups in India. This means having the military deployed along the border. In the past, India has also been involved in territorial disputes with China such as over Aksai Chin. Another reason why the Naxalites are the biggest threat to security is because of the way the issue affects India’s economic development. This is apparent in several ways. For example, the more the Maoists concentrate on the poor and marginalized regions of India, the more economic development (which is imperative to improving those regions‟ conditions) will be hampered. Furthermore, the Naxalite rebels are no longer just focusing on remote jungles but urban centers.
Maoist leader Kishenji even declared that the group aims to establish an armed movement in Calcutta by 2011. Internal order and stability are necessary for a nation’s economic development. For India to continue being able to withstand outside security threats, it must build up its infrastructure, its defense, and its people. In terms of lifting its citizens out of poverty, India has a long way to go, and continued economic growth is integral to India’s development as a strong global player. The Naxalite activities are using up scarce resources on defense and internal security when it should be spent on areas such as social development.
For example, in 2006, 22% of the government expenditure is on the military, compared with a mere 1.84% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on the social sector. The Naxalite movement is also the biggest threat to India, in terms of the effects on its citizens and what it means for democracy and rule of law. Not only has there been a great loss of life since the conflict between the guerrillas and the military, but addressing the problem through violence risks polarising people further and driving them to subservience. Guerrilla warfare is a threat not only to citizens‟ lives but their properties. Too impatient and desperate to wait for government intervention, civilians such as landlords are taking matters into their own hands.
As writer Navlakha noted, by portraying the Maoists as a „menace‟ and separating the movement from socio-economic causes, it “allows the rich and poor divide to impose itself on a formal democratic structure”. Navlakha gives the example in Bihar where Naxalite groups are banned under the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act, yet a majority of the massacre was committed by landlord armies which were not considered an act of terror under the law. Such treatment for the upper class only serves to threaten the rule of law, state legitimacy, and democracy as the political norm.
Therefore the state must start to fight the conflict legally, minimize collateral damage, strengthen the leadership of the security forces, and abstain from any human rights violation. The security forces should better start protecting the population living within the area of conflict instead of merely confronting the Maoists on a large scale. The Naxalite movement must be challenged politically by presenting better alternatives to the Maoist approach and offer new perspectives. In this regard, the state should start addressing the basic needs of the poor and fulfilling its main responsibilities to deliver human development to these disadvantaged areas.
Author: Nishtha .,
Trinity institute of professional studies