NAXALISM IN INDIA: Background The terms Naxalites or Maoists are used to refer to militant far-left radical Communist groups operating in India. Inspired by the doctrines of Mao Zedong, Naxalites work to overthrow the government and upper classes by violence. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) describes the objectives of Naxalites as destroying “state legitimacy…with the ultimate object of attaining political power by violent means”. They are considered as a terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of India (1967). The movement started in West Bengal in the early seventies but has since spread to the rural areas in central and eastern India. The MHA notes that Naxalites attach themselves to civil society and front organisations on issues such as displacement, land reforms and acquisition where they can increase their mass support.

Naxalites have been attacking police establishments and infrastructures such as public transportation, causing insecurity and instability to the area. From the period 2006-2010 alone, there were nearly 9,000 incidents with Naxalites with over 3,000 civilians killed. The Naxalites are active in approximately 40 percent of India’s geographical area. They control large portions of remote and densely forested areas and are concentrated in an area called “Red Corridor”. This area is also the tribal belt where the tension between economic development and aboriginal land rights is most apparent. The India Home Minister P Chidambaram has declared that the security forces need to be more assertive against the Maoists. However, this is only one part of the solution. An examination of the reasons behind the Naxalite movement indicate that military force on its own will not be enough to counter India’s biggest security threat.
Causes of the Threat 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 acquisition of their land for developmental projects. Arundhati Roy, a

These indigenous people have the lowest literacy rates in the country and highest rates of infant mortality. The Director-General equated India being busy with internal security problems to having two extra Divisions in the Pakistan Army for free. threats such as the Naxalite movement can no longer be viewed as simply internal as it also affects external security. A nation cannot effectively withstand threats coming from outside its country if there is instability inside it. India has been one of the victims of international and state sponsored terrorism fuelled by fundamentalist ideologies. 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. Second. communal and regional dimension. Furthermore. the terrain is suitable for guerrilla tactics. They live in remote areas where government administration is weak and there is a lack of government services. As part of globalisation. The battle can also be described between India’s most neglected people and the nation’s most powerful industrial businesses. 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. Naxalite movement as the biggest threat The Naxalite threat is the biggest security problem for India’s future as its effects are multi-layered. and why the adivasis view the guerrillas as their “saviours”. globalisation has encouraged the emergence of non-state terrorist actors as well as international interference in each other’s affairs. Dr. the alienation that is being exploited by the Maoists has a social. and there is no existence of a proper and effective local administration mechanism. Even if Naxalites are simply exploiting the adivasis’ situation for their own ends. which makes India also vulnerable to external threats. Given this socio-economic alienation. the conditions are conducive to warfare and extremist ideologies. The Pakistani support for terrorist acts within India and the Jammu and Kashmir proxy war is an example of when it is critical that national security forces focus solely on eliminating external threats.Naxalite sympathiser said that the tribal forestlands should be called a “MoUist Corridor” instead of the “Maoist Corridor” as the people of these tribal forest ands have been wrestling with “Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) of the mining companies. 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. their popularity indicates the power of the root causes to create such an environment for insecurity and violence. The Maoist movement highlights India’s interior weaknesses. Subramanian. In these areas. 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 adivasis make up about 8. The spread of Naxalism reflects the widespread alienation and discontentment felt by large parts of the country who are systematically marginalised. . it is easy to see how the Naxalite’s ideology is popular among the rural poor and indigenous tribes. and therefore the alternative of subversive. Prashant Bhushan.4 percent of the population and live in severe poverty. illegal groups seem attractive. The adivasis do not feel like they have any political power to voice their grievances legitimately.

derived from or based upon his work.84% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on the social sector.Marxism has had an unprecedented impact on modern life. India has also been involved in territorial disputes with China such as over Aksai Chin. For example. extended . Navlakha gives the example in Bihar where Naxalite groups are band under the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act. the term `Marxism' refers to the system of thought created by Karl Marx (1818-83) which provides the main theoretical basis for modern socialism and communism. For India to continue being able to withstand outside security threats. Internal order and stability are necessary for a nation’s economic development. This means having military deployed along the border. This is apparent in several ways. it “allows the rich and poor divide to impose itself on a formal democratic structure”. In the past. yet a majority of the massacre were committed by landlord armies which were not considered an act of terror under the law. it must build up its infrastructure. the term refers to the ideas of Marx's subsequent followers. India has a long way to go. Such treatment for the upper class only serves to threaten the rule of law. Engels. state legitimacy and democracy as the political norm. In terms of lifting its citizens out of poverty. in 2004. Too impatient and desperate to wait for government intervention. By extension. The Naxalite movement is also the biggest threat to India. For example.India’s regional neighbours are also external threats. civilians such as landlords are taking matters into their own hands. Another reason why the Naxalites are the biggest threat to security is because of the way the issue affects India’s economic development. the more economic development (which is imperative to improving those regions’ conditions) will be hampered. MARXISM: Definitions of Marxism In its most fundamental sense. but addressing the problem through violence risks polarising people further and driving them to subservience. the Naxalite rebels are no longer just focussing on remote jungles but on urban centres. Furthermore. Maoist leader Kishenji even declared that the group aims to establish an armed movement in Calcutta by 2011. F. The guerrilla warfare is a threat not only to citizens’ lives but their properties. by portraying the Maoists as a ‘menace’ and separating the movement from socio-economic causes. For example in 2006. in terms of the effects on its citizens and what it means for democracy and rule of law. its defence and its people. the MHA was wary of the “symbiotic relationship” between the Communist Party of Nepal and Naxal groups in India. Not only has there been a great loss of life since the conflict between the guerrillas and the military. The term is often also taken to include the work of Marx's lifelong collaborator and friend. The Naxalite activities are using up scarce resources on defence and internal security when it should be spent on areas such as social development. the more the Maoists concentrate on the poor and marginalised regions of India. It has developed into a movement of world-historical proportions. It has been taken up by innumerable followers. compared with a mere 1. As writer Navlakha noted. 22% of the total government expenditure is on the military. and continued economic growth is integral to India’s development as a strong global player.It has been adapted to new conditions.

however. 5 Aug 1890). for example. Marxism may be defined in terms of an essential core of social and economic theory.China. . Thus. Marxism is divided into different. Marxism remains a living body of thought. There are distinctive traditions of Marxism in the Soviet Union. In the process a profusion of different forms of Marxism have emerged. 1). Marx and Engels Marx's first works had a primarily philosophical and political character. Indeed. However. `We do not regard Marx's theory as something complete and inviolable.' wrote Lenin. . structuralist. etc. Historical Development The term `Marxism' was first employed by Marx's opponents in the socialist movement during the 1870s and 1880s (Manale 1974). Otherwise the problem remains. `on the contrary. Others maintain that Marxism should be seen as a concrete and complex historical tradition which contains within it many different schools and theories. there have been numerous attempts to combine Marxism with other major schools of thought.none of which can unproblematically claim to be the sole `true' heirs of Marx. in his early years he developed a concern with economic questions. and new forms continue to emerge. giving rise to neoKantian. problems arise when the attempt is made to be more specific. What did Marx really say? Who are his genuine followers? A number of different ways of answering these questions have been suggested.Engels reports that Marx responded to its use by Lafargue by saying `all I know is that I am not a Marxist' (Engels to C. often conflicting.' (Lenin1899. interpretations of Marxism.psychoanalytic. France. but none is without problems. Schmidt.However. each containing a diversity of schools. Moreover. and developedin a variety of intellectual contexts.tendencies and theories.into new areas of enquiry. political commitment of Marxism to the cause of the working class and to socialism as its defining feature. tendencies and groups. However. Towards the end of Engels' life. such views do not ultimately escape the problems of distinguishing between Marxism (or Marxisms) and non-Marxism. it resists such systematisation. Neither Marx nor Engels used it. the term began to be used by the followers as well as opponents of Marx. existentialist. Others havelooked upon the active.socialists must develop it in all directions if they wish to keep pace with life. `orthodox Marxism is not the `belief' in this or that thesis . orthodoxy refers exclusively to method' (Lukács 1923. 21112)Hence arises the attempt to specify Marxism in terms of its dialectical and materialist method. (Marx 1844) After settling in exile in . If anyone who callshimself or is called a `Marxist' is regarded as ipso facto a Marxist. Some writers argue that there is no longer a single theory of Marxism and that we must talk instead of `Marxisms' in the plural. while a dictionary definition is relatively uncontroversial. we are convinced that . then the identity of Marxism becomes entirely arbitrary and subjective. and this usage rapidly gained acceptance. According to Lukács. However. Germany and elsewhere. . .

Bernstein's `revisionism' gave expression to current of thought which has had a continuing influence. He also criticised Marx's philosophy on the basis of Kantian and neo-Kantian ideas. the great changes which have been occurring recently in the world of `actually existing' socialism present perhaps the greatest challenge. Though not a profound theorist. Marx 1905-10).1. 10) On the basis of the labour theory of value. Plekhanov. This enabled him to give a coherent account of the mechanism of economic exploitation under capitalism. capitalist] society. Among these may be mentioned the evolving character of capitalism Ä its economic trajectory and class structure. Luxemburg (1899) and Lenin (1908). the intensification of the class struggle and the inevitability of revolutions in capitalist societies.e. which previous economists had been unable to do. furthermore. particularly among non-Marxist socialists. Bernstein (1899) argued that historical and economic developments had invalidated important aspects of Marx's theory. In these works he aims `to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern [i. and Marxism is a living response to it. In the third world. which increasingly need to be seen in international terms. BIBLIOGRAPHY . Marx developed the theory of surplus value. Prospects The social world is historical and changing.London in 1849. `Revisionism' provoked critical responses from Kautsky (1899). Marx devoted most of his time to economic studies. Hilferding (1910). culminating in the volumes and manuscripts of Capital (Marx 1867-94. which will oblige not only Marxists. serious doctrinal disputes arose for the first time within Marxism. including the theory of value. However. Adler. Early Followers The process of systematising Marx's thought and extending it to new areas was continued by the first generation of Marx's followers: Kautsky. During this period. Neo-Kantian and positivist ideas were also a powerful influence upon the `Austro-Marxist' school: notably M. and Renner (Bottomore and Goode 1978). but all socialists. It is constantly being faced with new and unsolved problems.' (Marx 1867-94 Vol. Labriola. to rethink the very meaning of socialism. Mehring. movements which combine goals of national liberation and revolutionary socialism are a phenomenon which remains problematic for Marxism.