Saturday, 23 March 2013

Understanding Naxalism: Uprising, Causes & Recommendations

Time and again, we have heard about rising issue of Naxalism and armed rebels. As a person who have always lived a comfortable life, is well educated and has a decent lifestyle, I honestly have no idea about what ground reality is. Still, this article is an attempt to understand its social, economic and judicial causes as well as some recommendations made in this regard.

I hope this will help urban youth, like me, to get a fair idea of the root of the issue. Of course, I do not support armed rebellion or the war waged by armed cadre of Naxalite movement in any way, under any condition.

Brief History:
In the backdrop of such organizational upheavals within the Indian Communist movement, an incident in a remote area transformed the history of left-wing extremism in India. In a remote village called Naxalbari in West Bengal, a tribal youth named Bimal Kissan, after obtaining a judicial order, went to plough his land on 2 March 1967. The local landlords attacked him with the help of their goons. Tribal people of the area retaliated and started forcefully recapturing their lands. What followed was a rebel, which left one police sub inspector and nine tribals dead. Within a short span of about two months, this incident acquired great visibility and tremendous support from cross sections of Communist revolutionaries belonging to the state units of the CPI (M) in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu,Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
India is today proudly proclaiming an above 9 per cent growth rate and striving to achieve double digit growth. But it is a matter of common observation that the inequalities between classes, between town and country, and between the upper castes and the underprivileged communities are increasing. That this has potential for tremendous unrest is recognized by all.

Let’s have a look at the Causes of people’s discontent and support for extremists: (I hope most of these are self explanatory and though available, I am skipping the statistical data to keep it simple and short)

1.    High poverty
2.    Low education
3.    Limited employment opportunities
4.    Political marginalization on caste and creed basis
5.    Social discrimination & atrocities against the Dalits
6.    Human rights violations
7.    Land ownership related factors
8.    Displacement and forced evictions of tribes
9.    Ineffective and biased governance
10. Ineffective public distribution system
11. Biased Policing and dispute redressal
12. Uncertain future and a feeling of hopelessness 

Now let’s have a look at the Recommendation / possible solutions and some measures that government makes claim to have implemented, for an effective resolution to this serious issue: 

1.    Effective implementation of protective legislation
effective implementation of the existing constitutional provisions, protection of civil rights and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act laws and programmes in place for this purpose.

2.    Land Related Measures
a serious effort must be made to continuously implement the land ceiling laws, so that the ceiling surplus land thereby obtained is made available for distribution amongst the most vulnerable sections of the landless poor.

3.    Rehabilitation & Resettlement
Acquisition of land has emerged as the single largest cause of involuntary displacement of tribals and turning them landless. Indiscriminate land acquisition should be stopped and land acquisition for public purpose should be confined to public welfare activities and matters of national security.

4.    Livelihood Security
need to ensure that the norms for manual work for different items are worked out to ensure that the workers, especially women are entitled to the minimum wage for seven hours of reasonable effort. NREG (National Rural Employment Guarantee) should be implemented in a “mission mode”

5.    Universalize basic social services to standards
The failure to provide infrastructure and services as per national norms is one of the many discriminatory manifestations of Governance here. These disparities therefore result in non-available/poorly provided services. Education and Literacy must be given top priority.

6.    PESA
The Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) was enacted in 1996. Its basic function is to facilitate structural transformation in higher-level Panchayats, once the foundation has been laid at the village level.

7.    Addressing governance issues and restoring faith in constitution
Government is concentrated on curbing violence and maintaining public order to achieve normalcy. While area development is also being speeded up. A change in policy perspective and strategy to deal with the movement is essential to create a positive image of the Government in the local people, remove their sense of alienation and wean them away from its influence. The government should take cognizance of human rights violation reports and enquiries into these episodes should be constituted so as to inspire confidence in victims and faith of the public in the rule of law.

It is true that today the revolution, which once caught the fancy of our best minds, has degenerated into a Social Terrorism (Social in words, Terrorist in deeds). As rightly noted by Ashim Chatterjee, a former Maoist himself, "Without taking up the responsibility of building a class struggle, if you launch an armed struggle, it will inevitably become terrorism".

·         1.Development Challenges in Extremist Affected Areas: Report to planning commission (2008)
·         2.Various Reports and assessment of Home Ministry
·         3.Asian Centre for Human Rights (
·         4.Naxal Movement in India: A Profile by Rajat Kujur (Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, 2008)

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