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Genesis And Causes Of Naxalism History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016


The origin of the Naxalite movement can be located in the contemporary global context of the 1960s. The Naxalite movement was a part of the contemporary, worldwide impulse among radicals to return to the roots of revolutionary idealism. The Naxal leaders drew inspiration from the Indian peasant uprisings of the18th and 19th centuries and the more modern organized armed peasants’ struggles led by Communists in Telengana in south India in the late 1940s.

Naxalism is essentially an outcome of socio-economic problems,

mal-administration, un-accountability, perceived injustice and is an end product of agrarian tensions. The contention of Naxalites is that the existing system is corrupt, rotten and can be destroyed by violence alone. Naxals feel that it is the landlords and the state administrators who keep violence on their agenda. Naxals feel justified to counter it by violence so as to achieve radical reforms. [1] The genesis of this movement is based on peasants’ movement and agrarian discontent. [2] The primary aim of the movement was to liberate the poor through land and social

reforms. Although, the aim was a noble one, the method chosen to achieve it was completely misguided and unlawful. The Naxalite movement quickly veered away from its professed agenda of social justice and, today, various Naxalite factions are nothing more than tools at the disposal of external forces that want to create internal turmoil in India. [3] 

3. Naxalism grew from a tiny movement of Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal of village Naxalbari in the foothills of the Himalayas in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, carved out by him in 1967 after a split, from the ultra left sections of CPI (Marxists). Mazumdar greatly admired Mao Zedong and advocated that Indian peasants and lower classes must follow in his footsteps and overthrow the government and upper classes whom he held responsible for their plight. The movement, basically anti-landlord, acquired the nomenclature of

CPI (Marxist- Leninist) in Nov 1967. A similar group, calling itself Marxist Communist Centre (MCC) was operating in the South. CPI (M) and MCC merged in 2004 and became CPI (Maoist), accepting Maoist doctrine of revolutionary agrarian war of seeking power through armed violence and surrounding the urban centres from the countryside. Their activities soon accounted for approximately 90% of revolutionary armed action in India. This brand of revolutionary activities came to be described broadly as Naxalism in recognition of the village Naxalbari from where the bugle of armed revolutionary agrarian revolt was first sounded. [4]  

4. Naxalism and its threat to the state have been growing steadily in the past forty years. Their ideology appeals to the deprived and downtrodden. They have a coherent organisation whose members are ready for sacrifice. They have visionary plans of seizing political power through armed violence. They display a robust will and determination of purpose.  

Naxal Ideology

5. Naxalism is the ideology followed by Naxalites in India. It is based on the principles of Marxism, Leninism and Maoism.

6. The Marxist Communist Centre (MCC) is distinguished by its commitment to an earlier version of the Charu Mazumdar, which envisions ‘protracted armed struggle’. The MCC’s philosophy revolves around two grounds. The first is that, within the country, a revolutionary mass struggle existed and the people were fully conscious and even prepared to take part in revolution immediately. The second was that militant struggles must be carried on, not for land, crops, or other immediate goals, but for the seizure of power. These assumptions are reflected in all their views, whether on organization, on strategy or on tactics. As a result, all efforts and attention is firmly focused on revolutionary activities to undermine the state and seize power.

Though the People’s War Group (PWG) also held a similar view till the early 1980s, it has since shifted focus and established several political front organisations. The PWG gradually discarded its initial assessment of the people’s level of preparedness for an armed struggle, and consequently revised its strategy of immediate seizure of power. Though the armed struggle is not discarded, considerable differences emerged on the issue of the appropriate methodology. There is now increasing emphasis on the process of party building and the encouragement of mass political organizations. Their perspectives on strategy and tactics are also somewhat more nuanced, and there is an acknowledgement that the issues on which the struggle should be conducted necessarily depend on the level of people’s consciousness and the nature of problems faced by them. [5] .

The PWG has remained unwavering in its ideological commitment to ‘class annihilation’, to capturing power through revolutionary warfare on the Maoist pattern, and in its rejection of Parliamentary democracy. This strategy entails building up of bases in rural and remote areas and transforming them, first, into ‘guerrilla zones’, and then into ‘liberated zones’, even as an area-wise seizure is consolidated, and cities are ‘encircled’. Within the theoretical constructs of its ‘people’s war’ strategy, as well as the PWG’s past practices, moreover, negotiations have been used as a tactic and opportunity for recovery, consolidation and expansion. [6] 

Causes for Growth of Naxalism

9. The region, over which the Naxalites have established their presence, is marked by widespread poverty, corruption, unemployment, lack of development, poor governance and an under-equipped police force. In many of these areas, the state machinery either does not exist or has a very limited existence. Naxalites fill the vacuum and exploit the poor performance of the institutions of governance on issues such as land rights, minimum wages, education and anti-corruption. In some areas they have assumed many of the tasks of the state and run a parallel administration. [7] The major causes for growth of naxalism are as follows:-

Social Inequalities. Atrocities, subjugation, discriminatory treatment of dalits and lower caste peasants by the upper caste landlords continue to be very common in naxalite affected parts of the country.

Economic Deprivation. There is extreme poverty and utter lack of economic development in many parts of the country. The landlords do not follow the stipulated minimum wage rule as laid down by the government.

Infrastructure Inadequacies. The areas affected by the naxal movement are one of the richest in terms of natural resources. Even then, these areas have not seen any infrastructure development and continue to remain neglected by the authorities.

Tribal and Forest Policies. The primitive methods of cultivation have left the tribal people economically fear behind in comparison with other peasants. The tribals have been denied their traditional means of livelihood and hence, their only means of survival has been taken away from them in the name of our forest policies.

Inadequate Governance. It is a known fact that in many of these areas, there is no governance at all and the state and civil administrative infrastructure is virtually non-existent.


10. The Naxals follow the strategy of armed uprising and the theory of revolutionary base. From such revolutionary bases they would strategically be in a position to launch a frontal attack on the enemies of the peasantries and the backward classes. Having complete possession of the revolutionary bases, Naxalites would be launching attacks on large villages, and eventually, guerrilla attack upon cities. The aim of the above naxalite strategy was the annihilation of the landlords, moneylenders, police and its informers and those who would prevent them from establishing a strong hold over the villages.

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