The Maoist movement in India is unlikely to succeed, but it will continue to regurgitate and find support until the basic socio-economic problems of the ordinary people are addressed, said speakers at a panel discussion here on Thursday over the issue of the Naxals and their adherence to the Mao sentiments in India.
The genesis of the Maoist movement in India, its ramifications and what it means for the country's internal security, values of democracy and development, should it continue into the future; were part of the discussion hosted at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library . These issues have been raised in the anthology ‘More than Maoism: Politics, Policies and Insurgencies in South Asia', edited by members of the Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore, released recently.
The book is an outcome of the general curiosity about the Maoist movement in India and attempts to answer the basic questions about the movement's resurgence in the country and its continued presence, said Robin Jeffery, co-editor of the anthology and Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies and Asian Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
“After the April 2010 Maoist attack that killed 76 policemen in Chattisgarh, Chinese in Singapore wanted to know why so many years after Chairman Mao was dead, has the movement popped up in India,” he said, recounting the idea behind the anthology.
Unkempt promises to the masses, failure to secure education, health and sanitation to the rural poor and the marginalised, are perceived to be the reasons for the emergence of the movement in India, he said, but it is now important to come up with solutions to the problems and to ascertain how these promise can be kept, given the difficult situation. He said to tackle the problem; the government will have to act on all fronts, from providing good local government to conducting fair and free elections.
Former Director-General of Uttar Pradesh Police and commander of the Border Security Force Prakash Singh, who has also authored the book ‘The Naxalite Movement in India', said while he believes that the movement has no future, the “Naxalbaris” will continue.
“The question that bothers people is how the movement kept on erupting after being put down by the armed might of the Indian State. In 1967, in 1980s it was put out, and now we are in the third phase of the movement,” he said.
Referring to the reasons for its presence, he said while the government claims that they have addressed the issues of poverty, unemployment, displacement of the tribals [issues that are responsible for Naxalism], the truth is that they are being addressed only on paper. Mr. Singh said the Maoists pose an imminent threat to the security of the country because of their links with terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir, ISI and the Chinese. “They are anti- democracy and anti-development,” he pointed out.
Sharing his experiences and perspective, Suvojit Bagchi, a correspondent with the BBC World Service who has contributed to the anthology, said the Naxals have been able to integrate with the locals and unlike what the perception is they are not coerced into offering support to the movement.
“It is a human story. The integration with the local people is tremendous and it is incorrect to say that they have been controlling the people through guns,” he said. Noted journalist Sumanta Banerjee, who is the author of the widely acclaimed book ‘In the Wake of Naxalbari', said the Maoists should not be seen as some kind of a Robin Hood figure, not as philanthropists and not even a extortionists. “Maoists and Naxalites will continue in the country. I don't think they can implement Maoism in the country, but will remain catalytic agents. And until the basic socio-economic system in India changes, the movement will continue to rise like a phoenix. There will be newer flash points, like mining operations, dislocation of tribals,” he cautioned.