Home Contact Us  

Naxalite Violence - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5005, 22 March 2016
LWE and the Role of Economic Development and Key Industries
Jed Lea-Henry
Assistant Professor, Vignan University

The mere presence of poverty, economic stagnation, and relative underdevelopment within a community or a section of society itself dramatically increases the likelihood of them suffering from or resorting to violent uprisings or civil war. Conversely, notable increases in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), economic growth, societal employment and rates of pay, all help immunise societies against such violence. This is the ‘grievance narrative’ of conflict forecasting. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan once said, “Every step taken towards reducing poverty and achieving broad-based economic growth is a step toward conflict prevention.” So, it is understandable that this tends to be the means by which the rise, and longevity of left-wing extremism (LWE) in India has been explained.

Following the 1991 economic reforms, India’s industrial sector lurched into overdrive. Neglected primary resources such as natural gas, oil, coal, forestry, and minerals were suddenly being pursued to support and extend the agricultural sector (the second-largest in the world in terms of output, and which employs half of India’s total workforce), the manufacturing industry (comprising 25 per cent of India’s GDP and nearly the same percentage of the total workforce in areas such as chemical, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and mineral refinement), and the service industry that has been the engine of the Indian economy for the past few decades.

Today, India is the world’s fastest growing major economy, and according to predictions by the World Bank, will remain that way throughout 2016. Yet, as the country continues to grow into an economic super-power, and as core-industries begin to drive that growth more than ever before, people are increasingly paying more attention to those who are seemingly left behind; and particularly when their grievances seem to fuel support for Maoism (or Naxalism) as the vanguard of LWE in India. With UN data showing that statistically, the living standards of the bottom 300 million Indians (in terms of purchasing power parity) have not improved since 1991, the Indian government has whole-heartedly bought into this understanding of Maoist violence. A link famously outlined in detail in a 2008 Planning Commission Report, and accepted by several influential politicians was that the Naxal problem is not a mere law and order problem.

With an eye on addressing imbalances between regional Maoist strong-holds and the major growth centres of the country, development policies have become increasingly ‘securitised’, with vast swathes of targeted initiatives being launched, which include: the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA, now renamed as MGNREGA), the Backward Districts Initiative, and the Backward Regions Grant Fund. Additionally, other existing central government policies have been expanded, and large sums of state funding have been allocated to addressing the problem.

However, although some of these targeted development programs have shown some degrees of success, it has been wildly inconsistent, with increases in development not neatly correlating to declines in violence in the same way as it seemed to do in the inverse. Rather, the opposite has tended to happen: the presence of increased industrial development has coincided with further grievances and greater insurgency. Again, this has been primarily expressed via LWE.

Given the huge scope for industrial investment, and with an estimated $1 trillion worth of unexplored mineable resources, the development of India’s ‘Red Corridor’ appears to stand in the country’s national interest (independent of targeted efforts at left-wing de-radicalisation). And in many cases, it has been pursued without consideration for the plight of the local, often Adivasi, population. In order to make themselves appear as attractive investment opportunities, local and state governments have often been happy to skirt laws, regulations and the rights of local peoples - an issue most commonly reported in the Maoist strongholds of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand). This has tended to take the form of forced displacement (an estimated 150, 000 people since 2004) and/or environmental degradation.

Related, yet more surreptitious grievances have involved the redistricting of land in order to avoid paying compensation; allowing industries (under the Joint Forestry Management programme) to operate as third parties in the privatisation of forests (such as with the behaviour of the Indian Tobacco Company in Andhra Pradesh); by over-incentivising ‘upstream’ development projects (such as dams and non-labour intensive factories, including extraction industries such as mining and timber) that benefit the broader economy yet provide little long-term benefit to the local region; the development of rural transport infrastructure (under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana ‘PMGSY’) and telecommunication infrastructure (under the Universal Service Obligation Fund) as a means to monitor and launch military offensives against the Maoists, rather than as a means to win hearts and minds; a stripping back of the Forest Conservation Act in order to allow greater, unchecked development; and the release of misleading forecasts concerning the impact and compensation related to projects such as with the South Korean Pohang Iron and Steel Company’s (POSCO) $12 billion investment in Odisha.

However, this also represents a selective and favourable understanding of LWE support, often relying upon anecdotal evidence, weak correlative data, a glossing over of ‘push’ vs. ‘pull’ factors, and by simply overlooking a number of statistically integral dynamics as merely peripheral. The rise of, and support for, LWE violence in India is also well correlated to high levels of corruption, low literacy rates, and the presence of easily stolen resources (such as explosives on mine sites); and has considerably stronger statistical correlations (above and beyond issues of development) to the rise of societal fear from conflict in neighbouring districts, with hard to access terrain (heavily forested areas), and with high population densities of lower or oppressed castes.

Supporting these alternative explanations, movements toward greater self-determination, such as with the creation of Jharkhand in 2000, have tended to produce upsurges in Maoist support rather than expected declines. If anything, this speaks to an unscrupulous LWE movement that seeks opportunities and various aggrieving factors to further their ideology rather than as a movement rising and falling based on the level and nature of societal development.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.