Left Wing Extremism

Left Wing Extremism

Left Wing Extremism

This article covers ‘Daily Current Affairs’ and the topic details of “Left Wing Extremism or Naxalism’’. This topic is relevant in the “Security” section of the UPSC CSE exam.

UPSC MAINS GS1 Syllabus: Role of non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

Why in the News?

At a review meeting of Chhattisgarh’s Left Wing Extremism (LWE) situation convened in Raipur on Sunday afternoon, the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, underlined the importance of liberating the affected areas of the state within the next three years. He emphasised that the problem was limited to select areas of Chhattisgarh.

Left Wing Extremism (LWE)

  • Left-wing extremism  describes the activities of numerous militant groups that adhere to leftist ideals and strive to achieve a classless society via revolutionary means. The most visible of these organisations is the Communist Party of India (Maoist), also known as Naxalites. Naxalism began in the late 1960s and has grown to be a substantial security concern for the Indian government.
  • These left-wing radicals are most active in central and eastern India, particularly in the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Maharashtra. They use concerns like land rights, tribal displacement, and economic inequities to rally supporters and recruit cadres. The insurgents frequently use guerilla warfare methods, targeting security troops, government officials, and infrastructure.
  • Naxalism’s origins can be traced back to the Naxalbari revolt in West Bengal in 1967, when dissatisfied peasants and tribal tribes rose out against oppressive landlords. The movement was inspired by Maoist doctrine, which emphasised armed struggle and the establishment of a classless society. The initial movement in Naxalbari laid the groundwork for future communist insurgencies.

What are the reasons behind the spread of Left Wing Extremism (LWE)?

  • Socio-economic Disparities:
  • The regions affected by left-wing extremism are often characterized by deep-seated socio-economic disparities, with marginalized communities, tribal populations, and peasants facing landlessness, exploitation, and lack of access to basic resources. The insurgents capitalize on these grievances to garner support and recruit cadres.
  • Tribal Displacement and Land Rights:
  • Many areas affected by left-wing extremism are home to indigenous tribal communities. The process of industrialization and infrastructure development has led to forced displacement and encroachment on tribal lands. The discontent arising from these issues becomes a fertile ground for extremist ideologies.
  • Governance Failures:
  • Weak governance, corruption, and inadequate provision of basic services in affected regions contribute to a sense of alienation and disillusionment among the local population. The inability of the government to address the root causes of discontent creates space for extremist groups to exploit the situation.
  • Ineffective Development Policies:
  • Development policies that fail to reach the grassroots level and address the specific needs of marginalized communities contribute to the appeal of leftist ideologies. In some cases, developmental projects are perceived as detrimental to the interests of the local population, further fueling resentment.
  • Lack of Inclusive Growth:
  • The uneven distribution of the benefits of economic growth exacerbates social inequalities. Left-wing extremist groups position themselves as champions of the oppressed, promising to address the economic and social disparities that persist in these regions.

Current situation of Left Wing Extremism in India

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs reports that Maoist violence in the country has decreased by 77% since 2010, with a 90% reduction in deaths (security forces and civilians) from a high of 1,005 in 2010 to 98 in 2022. The government has reduced the number of districts considered Naxal-affected from more than 200 in the early 2000s to a mere 90 now.
  • It says that the geographical extent of violence is actually limited to 45 districts. As per MHA, the arc of violence has been significantly reduced, with only 25 districts accounting for 90% of all LWE violence. The presence of Naxals is claimed to be nonexistent in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, and the state of Bihar which were once their strongholds.

Reason behind stronghold of LWE in Chhattisgarh.

  • Late involvement of State Police in anti-Maoist actions:

  1.  It is commonly believed in counter-Maoist strategy that the struggle against Left Wing Extremism can only be fought by state police rather than central forces. 
  2. This is because state police have local expertise and networks, which are critical for intelligence gathering.States like Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand were able to put a stop to their Maoist crisis thanks to the active involvement of local police.
  3. According to security sources, the procedure began late in Chhattisgarh. By this point, police in bordering states had driven Maoists from their territories to Chhattisgarh, creating a concentrated zone of Maoist dominance.
  • Dearth of  roads in the interior of Bastar. The paucity of roads in Bastar’s interior has hampered security forces’ activities. The administration’s minimal presence in the interiors of South Bastar has guaranteed that Maoists maintain their influence in the region.
  • Social Injustice and Exploitation: Social injustice, including issues related to caste discrimination, exploitation by local elites, and human rights abuses, further fuels resentment among the local population. Left-wing extremist groups exploit these grievances to build support.

Initiatives taken by Government to curb LWE

  • Operation Green Hunt: It began in 2010, when a significant deployment of security personnel was carried out in Naxal-affected areas. In the nine years since 2010, the number of districts plagued by naxalism has decreased from 223 to 90
  • The government even launched a ‘Relief and Rehabilitation Policy’ aimed at bringing Naxalites into mainstream society
  • Aspirational Districts Programme: Launched in 2018, it intends to rapidly reform the districts that have shown substantially poorer growth in key social sectors.
  • For nearly two decades, the Centre has maintained a massive CRPF presence in the afflicted states.
  • The Centre proposes installing mobile towers in interior areas to improve connectivity and create technical intelligence for locals.
  • National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007: The main objective of this Act was to limit displacement of individuals in affected areas while also providing good alternatives for dispersal. The government implemented this programme for people whose land government had taken for industrial development.
  • Chhattisgarh Special Public Securities Act, 2006 : This act defined the illicit acts that were common in these locations and labelled some organisations illegal. This act empowers the government to establish an advisory board wherever the state government deems it necessary. It also specifies the procedures for forming such a board, as well as the sanctions and punishments.

Download Yojna daily current affairs eng med 24th Jan 2024


Prelims practice questions

Q1) Consider the following statements regarding Naxalism in India

1) Maharashtra witnessed the birth of the Naxalite movement in 1967

2) Naxalites primarily follow the ideology of Capitalism

3) Naxalites generally use Guerrilla warfare in their operations.

How many of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. a) One
  2. b) Two
  3. c) Three
  4. d) None


Mains practice question

Q1) Examine the socio-economic grievances that often serve as a breeding ground for left-wing extremism in India. How do these grievances contribute to the recruitment and support for extremist groups?

Q2) Critically assess the prospects for long-term resolution of left-wing extremism in India, considering the complexities involved in addressing socio-economic disparities, governance issues, and ideological motivations.

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