India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world. With the pace of globalization India is facing several security threats. Naxalism is one of the biggest threats to India's national development and internal security. The states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and U.P are considered as Left wing Extremist (LWE) affected. For the last four decades Indian States are facing challenges against the Naxalite movement threats, and state approach based on force and suppression is still not been able to destroy the movement. The success of the Naxalite movement is deeply rooted in the crisis of governance at state level. “The Naxal movement has mostly been characterized by fragmented groups and innumerable splits; successive governments at the national and state levels were never able to follow a uniform approach to deal with the problem of Naxalism, thus, leading to a marked impact in the growth of the Naxal movement.” Over a period of time, the government approach has always been to solve the Kashmir conflict and resolving the issue of North-East, this needs to be supplemented by tackling Naxalite movement concerned , by looking at it through the lens of marginalized people. The crisis of governance at state level involves a different approach.
Any social or political movements do not arise in vacuum. Naxalite movements are deeply rooted in the prevailing structure of society, role of government and its policies, role of institutions and more than that notion of development. This movement is the combined effort to counter the hegemony backed by strong ideology. The Naxalite movement started in 1967 from naxalbari village in West Bengal against the landlords and spread to other parts of the country. The region where there is a greater hold of Naxalites are referred to as “Red Corridor”. People in these areas respect Naxal leaders enabling them to have a huge support in their local areas and often running a parallel government.
The governance failure is multi-dimensional. The uneven development of states is an important factor in perpetuating the Naxal movement. The expansion of naxalite movement must be seen through the lenses of poverty and huge income disparities in backward rural areas. The Centrally aided as well State-aided rural development programmes in these areas have hardly reached those in need in turn contributing to the persistence of disparities, inequality and corruptions. There is also a crisis of availability of basic services like, drinking water, road, foods, absence of primary health centers; schools etc, which further worsen the situations. The people involved in these movements mostly belong to Adivasis, Dalits and other vulnerable groups who are poor and exploited by high castes, landlords and state machineries. The social condition of Dalits and Adivasis are characterized by the agrarian and social structure. The oppressive nature of both the agrarian and social structure to these groups together forces them to follow a violent path. “The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on atrocities against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes over the years shows correspondence between high rate of targeted violence (which can be taken lack of basic facilities causes anger and frustration and feels alienated as an indicator of exploitation that goes beyond physical atrocities) and Naxalism. Most of the States affected with Naxalism have a high rate of atrocities on dalits.”
The State reaction has been to tackle this crisis mainly through deploying forces (like Operation Green Hunt) rather than acknowledging the socio-economic problem which is the root cause of violence. To tackle these/this threat(s), the government needs to come out with more holistic program and policies. At States level the institutions of governance such as the State legislatures, Judiciary, Executive and Local self governance need to be strengthened. The other way is to empower the vulnerable through political incorporations of people living in scheduled areas. “Individuals living in reserved villages are 39-44% less likely to report Maoist-related violence than those in unreserved areas. This deferential reduction in violence is driven by a change in the behavior of Maoist armed groups who seek to gain the support and resources of the newly elected ST leaders.” There is an urgent need to constitute the Tribal Advisory Council to those states which has large number of Tribal people to advise the governor on the welfare of Tribal people.
Role of civil society
Further the role of civil society also plays an important role on evidence based advocacy in curbing the violation of Human rights and other core issues which need immediate attentions. The role of civil society at grass root level needs to be further strengthened. With the change of society the mode of advocacy may have been changed, but my belief is that grassroots advocacy can make a huge difference. To make this society resilient we need a complete shift of approach to tackle this crisis of governance.
Conclusion: There is an immediate need that government at centre and State level give up rhetoric and knee-jerk response as substitute for the action. There is also need to ponder on the extent to which the State itself is responsible for this threat. There is a need of three dimensional programme and policies : Protection, development and participation of marginalized people for the overall human development and progress of the society.
Written by Ajay Kumar Ranjan