Maoist challenge needs political understanding, not over reliance on security

Source– The post is based on the article “Maoist challenge needs political understanding, not over reliance on security” published in “The Indian Express” on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Security

Relevance– Maoism

News– The article is a critical review of the editorial Maoist reminder in Indian Express. The article talks about the use of more security forces and development in areas impacted by Maoism to tackle Maoism.

Is the use of more force enough to tackle the challenge of Maoism?

State forces claim that Maoist presence is declining and the use of more force will finish its influence. This includes specially-trained forces such as the Greyhounds and extra-judicial experiments involving civilians such as the Salwa Judum,

The use of more force only helped the Maoists recruit from the local tribal population. The Maoist movement moved from the leadership of outsiders to that of local tribals. It often led to local support among the tribals in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

The efficacy of the movement needs to be gauged in terms of its declining social base, not based on how many violent incidents occur. The wrong assessment could also lead to lapses on the part of the security forces.

Is the narrative of development to tackle Maoism a right strategy?

Some people advocate the role of state reach, governance, welfare and development to make the Maoists irrelevant. It borrows from the dominant narrative of development.

The D Bandyopadhyay Committee, set up by the Planning Commission in 2006, stated in its report that land alienation and poverty among Scheduled Tribes and Dalits, and lack of access to basic forest resources contributed to the growth of Naxalism.

The state’s model of development has resulted in the displacement of tribals. The adverse impact of “development” also led to peaceful protests such as the Pathalgarhi movement in Jharkhand, where the tribals proclaimed sovereignty over resources.

Most governments, irrespective of the political party in power, have a similar approach of imposing a certain idea of development that may not be liked by tribals.

The problem gets further complicated because the Maoists do not have solutions to the new aspirations and generational shifts. Sections of tribals desire modern development, including access to modern infrastructure, roads, transport, schools and hospitals.

Development being seen as a zero-sum game by either side leads to a stalemate.

What should be the strategy for managing the threat of Maoism?

The social question of exclusion cannot be understood either through the securitisation paradigm or through a singular focus on violence and overthrow of state power.

There is a need to address multiple and sometimes contradictory demands of subaltern groups that cannot be brought together under a single idea of development or even welfare.

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