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Anachronistic Naxalism: Need For Reinvention – Analysis


By Saumitra Mohan

The recent spate of Naxal activities including the abduction of the Collector of Malkangiri, an MLA or two Italian tourists in Orissa, the continued mindless killings of security personnel as seen in the Garhchiroli district of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand clearly shows that Naxals have far from given up their anachronistic fight against the Indian state. This is notwithstanding the reverses suffered by them including death of hundreds of their cadres in encounters with the security personnel including that of Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji.

The Naxals just refuse to see the writings on the wall. They refuse to accept the antediluvianism of their horse and buggy methods that they have embraced since the heady days of sanguinary 1960s when thousands of Indians lost their lives in the prime of their youth in pursuance of a chimera. These youths were imbued with the ideals of a Marxist discourse and were ready to go to any extent to realize the same including resort to violence as is synonymous with Naxalism today.


Many of the critics at the dawn of our independence felt that India was too colossal an entity in terms of pluralities and diversities to survive the vicissitudes of time But even the strongest critics of the Indian state including the likes of Selig Harrison, who once, like Cassandra, predicted our downfall and balkanization, would agree that the Indian state has managed its contradictions much better than any other state of comparable size. The alleged frailties of the Indian polity as experienced in the immediate aftermath of its independence were actually the frailties of a nascent nation, trying hard to discover itself in its nation-building exercise.

Those who criticize and attack Indian state fail to see through the difficulties involved in managing the operation of a hugely complex society like India. The Indian political system, as obtaining now, has survived and proved its efficacy by tiding over sundry trials and tribulations of time. Any other political system would have been a sure recipe for disaster. That is why the Naxals who are still imbued with the Marxist notions of a violent overthrow of the Indian state had better realize the follies and flaws in their (mis)conceptions. They need to revise and remodel their vision for the complex Indian society and put forward the same to the Indian public for appreciation. After all, the society and the people for which they have been fighting a bloody war know nothing of their ideas, ideology or vision they have for this country.

And before they do so, they should not forget that extremism of any ideology is bad as has been amply proved by history. The collapse of communism in the 1990s did that loud and clear. After all, the reigning laissez faire model led by liberal capitalism cannot be said to have succeeded given the raging recession across the globe and near collapse of many countries including Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. The call for rolling back the state has itself been rolled back now.

The famed Social Contract through which the state is said to have come into existence dictate that the state do take care of its citizens otherwise the citizens could easily overthrow the state as seen in the rise and assertion of the civil society in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere during the recent Jasmine or Spring revolutions. It is for no reason that communists or Marxists all over the world have transformed themselves to suit the times as was also seen in the iconic Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or in our neighbouring Nepal.

The lone surviving China has also changed beyond recognition. Only the veneer of Marxism-Leninism survive in that Occidental country with intense debate raging for bringing their political system in sync with the economic model they have been following since the 1980s. The extremist Marxists masquerading as Naxal ideologues and activists in our society should also understand the realities and realpolitik well enough to jettison a moth-eaten ideology to creatively and constructively bring the same in sync with the times and needs of our society.

It would be well within the interest of the thousands of Indians engaged in a war against their country through a violent movement to reject violence and come forward to participate in the parliamentary democratic system which give them ample opportunity to influence the Indian state in a more meaningful way than they have done so far. If they don’t, then they would only be showing contempt to the people for which they have said to be taken cudgels.

In fact, it would be advisable if the various rehabilitation policies for extremists are synchronized and made into a more comprehensive and holistic package as part of a national policy. The Naxals would be well advised to take advantage of the same and join the national mainstream to be better able to contribute to the development of our country. If they do not have a relook at their ideology and methodologies, they would continue to be dubbed as nothing but ‘a bunch of extortionists’.

Saumitra Mohan
District Magistrate and Collector, West Bengal
email: [email protected]

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IPCS (Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies) conducts independent research on conventional and non-conventional security issues in the region and shares its findings with policy makers and the public. It provides a forum for discussion with the strategic community on strategic issues and strives to explore alternatives. Moreover, it works towards building capacity among young scholars for greater refinement of their analyses of South Asian security.

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