Rising Naxal Insurgency. Challenge for Rising India

DW’s article on India’s Naxal war for Kantipur भारतको ‘नक्सली’ युद्ध

naxal war challenge for india
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Why can’t those who can bring peace (or create war!) in other countries do the same in their own society?

By Dinesh Wagle

Do you know what the update was from India’s commercial capital a day after the ghastly Maoist attack in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh last Tuesday? “The stock market barometer Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Sensex crossed the 18,000-mark for the first time in 25 months on Wednesday,” said a report posted on the website of The Hindustan Times. “Crossing 18,000 is a healthy sign and foreign institutional investors (FIIs) support continues,” said Divyesh Shah, CEO, Indiabulls Securities.

That India is a country of contradictions is a well-known fact, but the paradox comes out glowingly when its enviable economic rise and the spreading Maoist movement are put together. Both the activities happened simultaneously in the past decade. Throwing away the Nehruvian socialistic dreams and the License Raj, the liberalised and opened-up India forcefully emerged as an economic powerhouse on the world stage. At the same time, the Maoists who thrive on poverty expanded their presence like never before. They have done in the past 10 years what they couldn’t do in the previous 33 years of their movement. The Dantewada attack that killed 76 policemen was their biggest ever assault against the Indian state that they want to overthrow.

“India is a country where millions beg,” someone was saying on TV a few weeks ago. “This is also a country where a husband gifts a jet plane to his wife on her birthday.” Billionaires and beggars jostle for the same traffic space on India’s roads.

With the economy expected to grow in double digits in the coming years, India can certainly expect more of those FIIs that the Indiabulls CEO talked about. To fuel that growth, FIIs along with their Indian counterparts who are fast becoming multinationals in their own right must go to the villages, jungles and hills of Chhattisgarh and other states that are full of natural resources. These are the very villages, jungles and hills where many poor and uneducated Indian people (no one calls them people in Delhi, they are called tribals) live. When the companies start digging into their hills to take out minerals, the villagers naturally get worried. They feel that the companies, with permission from the “legitimate and democratically elected Indian state”, are taking away their resources, their livelihood and their identity without their consent, without their participation and without sharing the profits with them. They want to stop those companies. They want to teach a lesson to the corrupt officials who work on behalf of the alien excavators. But they can’t do that on their own. So they paint slogans on their houses: “Naxali aao, hame bachao” (come Naxals, save us).

Living in Delhi or Mumbai, it feels like the whole world is limited to these glittering metropolises. India is too big (area-wise and population-wise) a country to get affected by incidents that involve a few million people or a few hundred thousand square kilometres of land. More so if these people are from far-flung areas. But as its distribution system is failing to close the gap between the prosperous citizens of New India and the tribals of remote India, the insurgency infected area is only expanding. And rapidly. That is why people like Arun Jaitley, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, are saying that the Naxal menace is “a threat to the Indian parliamentary democracy” and “we as the responsible opposition are with the government… to crush them.”

So how do we, the Nepali people, respond to what is happening in India, our indispensable neighbour many of us love to hate? This is what I tweeted when I heard about the attack: “Dantewada Maoist attack is similar to Maoist assaults in Nepal years ago when India provided shelter to Nepali Maoists. What goes around comes around.” I don’t condone Maoist violence, not just because many of us are victims of it. Living in the villages during the insurgency was like living between a rock and a hard place. The Maoists would beat and kill people in the villages who provided overnight shelter to army patrols and vice versa.

Because we have lived through difficult times, we don’t want our Indian brothers and sisters to go through the same sufferings. Warmongers in Delhi are talking about using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and air power (of the Indian Air Force) as if containing an insurgency that is deeply rooted in social inequalities and injustice was like playing a video game on iPad, the latest Apple release. I understand the argument that the Maoists don’t allow development activities in the villages because they thrive on poverty. But the great Indian state can come up with a better idea than just firing indiscriminately on its own people.

By their own high-sounding admissions, the Indians helped end violence in Nepal by prodding the Maoists into the peaceful mainstream. Why can’t those who can bring peace (or create war!) in other countries do the same in their own society? The rising Naxal movement could well be the biggest test for the rulers of rising India who celebrate the success of the Chandrayan mission and the signing of a nuclear deal with the US.

This article first appeared in today’s The Kathmandu Post (PDF).

DW’s earlier piece on India’s Maoist problem:

1. India’s Maoist War

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16 thoughts on “Rising Naxal Insurgency. Challenge for Rising India”

  1. India its our neighboring country, and the Indians are our neighbors. We Nepalese suffered from the insurgency period for nearly 10 years and now has come to a halt, those times were very painful. Still we are suffering from the pain it gave to us. Don’t even like to remember, there are so many families who have been crying for their beloved ones who were the victim of the war. We have experienced just pain, so would like India and its government to come up with a solution, that would on behalf of its nation and the people. India has supported Nepal in its peace process, being a Nepali I pray for its well being….

    Let us say “NO” to WAR!!!!

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  2. India’s double standard and policy of duality in dealing ultra leftist wing need to be abondoned for welfare of India and Nepal both.India’s role played by it in context of Nepal crteated a problem in order to take right step to bring peace and democracy in Nepal.So,India needs to realize its wrong policy it played about Nepal .Jay Nepal !

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  3. A nice read.

    This is the war between two Indias. A perfect example of class war.

    There is a strong resentment against Indian move to promote violence in Nepal by sheltering Nepali Maoists in Nepal. I can shred any argument that India ever wanted peace in Nepal.

    As you rightly said, what goes around comes around. One who lives in glass house should not throw to the neighbor’s house.

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  4. It’s time the Indian government made peace with it’s maoists as well. These people are’nt real maoists – maoism is the easiest thing to grab, but it is a failed philosophy. But it brings the poor and downtrodden together. Now if the government embraces it’s poor and downtrodden then there will be no need for maoism. If India could cut a peace deal for Nepal why not for itself?

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  5. Mr. Wagle, another journalist Vir Sanghvi calls for the crushing of the maos after they slaughtered 70+ people. He says that now the sympathy for them has changed. He also asks a pertinent question for which a reply he has never been stisfied with –
    These maos who are so called tribals complain of discrimination but if dalits who are less organised and less in number have been able to get ahead due to reservation laws then why don’t the tribals who are given the same privileges use it? Good question. So, he now says first the state cannot just sit idle like in Nepal and they have to now crush the maoist uprising and then tackle the social problems later. I think he has a point. After all Nepal is heavily influenced by maoists and any other groups are threatened with death if challenged. I don’t think India can afford that sort of a system of chaos and uncertainity – Nepal has proved the strategy wrong to compromise with the maoists – they are only obstacles to progress. I think India used Nepal as an experiment to prove their point – compromising is the wrong choice so the solution can only be military. The Sri Lankans have proved it and now the Indians will and if our own moas try to impose their ideology instead of democratising then Nepal will have to do it too.

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  6. Well Mr well

    I have also read Sangvi’s article but he did not even cared to consider the resident’s of maoist affected areas as human beings, called them ‘tribals’ and there lies the root of all trouble. India has 100 millionaires in the Lok Sabha but what about the ‘tribals’ ??? their only means of survival is the hills, jungles and rivers but they are being deprived of even that to feed the everlasting hunger of Multinational corps. (here I would like to stress I do not support the maoists though). Vir Sangvi may call collateral damages acceptable, because he is pretty damn sure he will not be among the one to die neither will his kin or clan. Isn’t that hypocricy ?? I would like to hear what he would say if his near and dear one is at the recieving end of the barrel ???
    I very much agree with dinesh in what goes around, comes around … and this was the same line used by Indian ‘intelligentia??’ when they used to describe Pak trouble with Islamic radicals, well this works for them too … m quite happy for that because India never was or tried to become a good neighbour.

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  7. It’s all well and good Mr. KUMAR, but frankly appeasing maoists hasn’t worked till now and it never will. They are called tribals because thats what they are – just like Indians are called Indians and blacks are called blacks there’s nothing to it. It’s probably your own perceived prejudices that is awkward with these terms.

    India has plenty of problems not least with resource allocation and poverty. If you think multinationals and corporations and good old business and entrepreneurship is not the best way to go about making more and more citizens of India or any other nation for that matter prosperous then please do give your ideas which will replace this tried and tested method. If you think we all should just preserve our resources instead of finding sustainable practices to better the lives of people then I understand that you are one of those lala land romantics and nothing can convince such people. But if you are a realist then either give alternatives to the so called multinationals – businesses in general – the same businesses that has given us ground breaking medicine to save lives, automobiles, planes, better homes, better methods of agriculture – yes most of these comes from private enterprise – businesses including multi nationals. Maybe it is you and Mr. Wagle who sit in the comfort of your homes in front of your computers (another leap forward thanks to private enterprise) and not tackle issues head on like these multi nationals you criticise who provide jobs to millions to enhance livelihoods and come up with more groundbreaking products to make human life easier and better and longer.
    Who is the hypocrite I wonder?

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  8. There was something that I wanted to write to you about a month back but could not.
    Before this “Dantewada” incident, maoists in Bengal had attacked EFR (Eastern Frontier Rifles) camp in Silda. It was reported that 17 personnel were killed. Among those 17, 13 were from Hills in Bengal. In simple terms, they were Gorkhalis, mostly from Darjeeling district. No ! the news doesnt end here.

    After two days Bengal Police said that the maoist in Bengal are getting technical help and training from Nepali Maoists and that some of them were involved in the attacks. Irony, isnt it?
    No, neither the central govt. nor the states’ would consider “Talks”. After watching different “Analysis” shows on Indian News Channels, and different writings (including the one by Vir Sanghvi on todays HT) it could easily be concluded that “Indians” want to fight them.

    So, next step. In most of the sensitive regions in India (NorthEast and J&K) its GR, Assam Rifles and ofcourse better trained battalions of CRPF are deployed. And guess what Gorkhalis make up most of them. This is what the state government will ask for from the central. The battle is endless and again a so called “revolution” would result in killings of “Nepali” from hills of both sides.

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  9. Sometimes I wonder who are the insurgents…as we move towards a 4th generation of unemployed young men the hope is in or on education isn’ t it?

    Apart from a certain business element, the ‘ revolutions’ become negative i.c violent and have got nothing to do any longer with the abolishment of money or Che Guevara’ s DREAMS. I see lazy people get violent and talk about only money.

    Surely hapiness is not only material?

    But religion for religions’ sake is not middle way. We should help poor schools and village people survive. We understand naxalites we are maoists but people should finish higer education that would be good…

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  10. Where is Hisila yami these days?
    After took power do I have the right friendship network?

    Nobody wants to hear that leftists use nazi methods such as….

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