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I am author of the books Political Internet(Routledge, 2017), Intimate Speakers ( Fingerprint! 2017), has finished the typescript of three books—first, on Internet and sexuality; second, on the negative impacts of social media; and third, a novel—and is presently working on a narrative non-fiction with the working title Lovescape: Why India is afraid of love.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Naxalite Movement in India, Lecture Notes

Naxalite movement has it's origins a place called Naxalbari in West Bengal. On May 25th  1967 a section of  Communist Party (Marxist)(CPM) cadres rose in revolt against the oppression of peasants in Naxalbari. They were led by CPM leaders Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal. CPM which advocated parliamentary politics did not support the rebellion. Rebels who were then known as Naxalites broke away form CPM and formed Naxalites movement. Naxalite movement based itself on the principles of Mao (Late leader of Chinese communist Party) and Che Guevara. Many University graduates in India joined the rebels and the rebellion spread to rest of West Bengal and Kerala. Rebellion also benefited from the ongoing drought in India which affected peasants. According to various sources, it is believed that more than 6,000 people have been killed in the Naxal violence in the last twenty years. That's the reason why the govt has finally woken up to the Naxal threat and has described it as the greatest threat to India's internal security
However Indian ruling class reacted to the rebellion with heavy armed tactics. Government of India led by the prime minister Indira Gandhi employed the security forces in large numbers and by 1971 the rebellion was largely crushed. Indira Gandhi also carried out populist nationalist measures to win the support of general public. She also went to war with Pakistan , broke up Pakistan and managed to wipe up nationalist fervor.  Naxalite support base which was petty bourgeoisie and peasants easily succumbed to nationalist fervor. By 1972 the movement was literally dead . Leadership was arrested and killed in fake encounters with security forces. Naxalite movement also broke up into several groups. Survivors went into jungles and start working amongst the adivasis (tribals) and so called lower castes. These two sections of the community are the most oppressed communities in India. Now Naxalites are active in 40% of India's land area. They are active in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal states. Out of these states they control more than 40% of the land area in Chhattisgarh and  Jharkhand states.
Today Naxalites have approximately 20000 well armed cadres. In addition they have more than 30000 cadres committed to the movement active in the states mentioned above. They have also have sophisticated weapons including mortars. Success of Communist Party (Maoist) in Nepal has encouraged Naxalites. Although Naxalite armed wing known as People liberation army is no match to Indian army in a conventional war , it is equally matched in guerrilla and asymmetrical warfare. With people's support it can survive and grow as the economic crisis hits the middle classes and urban areas. Naxalites are building networks in the urban areas such as New Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay. They also have support among the urban progressive intelligentsia.Data shows that India’s child malnutrition rate is 47 percent (as compared to 30 percent in sub-Saharan Africa). India also ranks 66th among the 88 countries in the 2008 Global Hunger Index.India has a very large middle class based on service sector. This middle class is slowly affected by the global recession as the demand for Indian software engineers and call centers are being squeezed. At the same time this year due to the delay in monsoon , drought is feared in many states. Only 40% of agricultural land is irrigated. Over the last two decades successive Indian governments focused on service sector to the detriment of agriculture. Already Indian government has banned wheat exports.Drought coupled with global recession will be a disaster to Indian economy. These conditions will only strengthen naxalite movement. It is a matter of time before naxalite movement emerges as major challenge to Indian state.

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