The recently released “Bollywood” film Newton (a political satire) directed by Amit Masurkar was based on an election conducted in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. This state considered to be the tenth largest in the country has over the years been infested by a group following an ideology that is politically termed as “Naxalism” or “Maoism”. Now, the question to be asked is, what exactly does the ideology of Naxalism entail? To answer this very important, intriguing, and complex question here is presenting a list of key facts about Naxalism in India. These facts are as follows:
1. What is “Naxalism” and how was this term derived?
Naxalism can basically be defined as a “form of violent revolution that is based on the ideology developed by Chinese political thinker Mao Zedong”. In India, with regards to the “Naxalism” movement a violent uprising was first led by a section of the Communist Party (CPI-M) in 1967 in a village called “Naxalbari” in West Bengal for the tribal community against the tyrannical attitude of the “Zamindars” (Landlord). Now, it was in reference to this village in Bengal that the term “Naxalism” was derived as the armed revolution against the landlords gradually began taking shape in many other under developed regions in states such as Chhattishgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
2. How and when did “Naxalism in India” raise its ugly head:
Now, the politically volatile problem of “Naxalism” has its roots deeply embedded within the “fifth and sixth schedules” of the Indian Constitution. According to the constitution of India these schedules essentially “protects the rights of the tribal community over their land, promotes distribution of land to the community, and restricts the selling of land to landlords”. However, practically speaking after independence these schedules were unfortunately repeatedly abused by powerful land owners. This repeated breaching of the schedules resulted in a group belonging to the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) that included Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and Jangal Santhal intiating a start of what can be termed as the “Red Revolution” in the year 1967 in West Bengal. Furthermore, Mao Zedong, the founder of People’s Republic of China then encouraged this movement by propagating the use of violence to overthrow the landlord system. In addition, Majumdar one of the initiators of the movement through the use of the pen compelled a large number of people belonging especially to the upper class to join the movement. In fact, he wrote a dossier titled “Historic Eight Documents” which eventually became the foundation on which the Naxalite ideology was build on.
3. The “Proliferation” of “Naxalism” in India:
It is was for the need for “development” that eventually led to the proliferation of “Naxalism” in many parts of India. Now, according to statistics about 105 million belong to the “Schedule Tribe” community. Of which about 90 million live in hill and forest areas in states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chattishgarh, Jharkhand etc. It was in post independent India in the “name of development” that the tribal community belonging to the states mentioned above began to be displaced from their own land. For example, in states such as Odisha and Chattishgarh the tribal community have been evicted from their own land because the state governments sold tribal lands to mining companies, obviously to earn more pots of money. It is therefore it is not surprising that as the tribal community over the years increasingly got exploited by the greed of the state governments and powerful business barons that “Naxalism” grew in various parts in the country like wildfire.
It was in 2013 that a Government of India report suggested that about 26 districts have been severely affected by Naxalism. In addition, it also revealed that 80% of naxalite related violence for three years have been reported from these very districts. And, so with “Naxalism” having over the years grown like a “cancerous tumor” in the country, here is hoping that we do find the appropriate “chemotherapy” (solution) sooner rather than later.
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