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Naxalism in India: Origin, Ideology and Reasons of Spread

Naxalism in India UPSC

What is naxalism or who are Naxalites?

  • Naxalite, earlier known as left extremist, is a general designation given to the several Maoist-oriented and militant insurgent and separatist groups that have operated in India since the mid-1960s.
  • While the origin of Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) in the country goes back to the Telangana peasant rebellion (1946-51), the movement took the young republic by storm in 1967.


Naxalism in India: At the time of independence

  • Tebhaga Movement started in 1946 and united the peasants.
  • Telangana Movement 1946-1951 united the farmers in the area around the now state of Telangana.
  • Sino Indian War 1962 gave fuel to the Maoist movement in India after our country lost land to China.


Naxalism: The origin of the name

  • The birth of Naxalism is owed to the Naxalbari uprising of spring 1967.
  • Naxalbari, the village that gave its name to the movement, was the site of a peasant revolt, instigated by communist leaders against land owners of the State.
  • The rebellion gave birth to what would be called the Naxalite movement led by the Charu Majumdar and his close associates, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal.
  • The rebels quickly found support not only amongst the nearby villages, but also from the People’s Republic of China.
  • The Communist Party of China’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily, not only called the event “Spring Thunder”, it also devoted an entire editorial page highlighting the importance of the Naxalbari incident.
  • Majumdar and Sanyal took initial inspiration from China’s founding father, Mao Zedong, and his tactics to capture political power; the Naxalite movement eventually became radically different from what Maoism stood for.


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Phases of naxalism

Phase I

  • Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) which followed the ideologies of Marx and Lenin was established in 1969 by Charu Majumdar.
  • After the death of Charu Majumdar, the CPI (M-L) became CPI (L-M) Liberation.
  • However, the group maintained the same ideology.


Phase II

  • People’s War Group was established in 1980 in Andhra Pradesh to fight for the cause of peasants and the landless.
  • It was different from CPI (M-L).
  • The militia launched a series of attacks, assassinations and bombings targeting landlords, upper-caste leaders and politicians in Andhra Pradesh.
  • In the late 1990s, the Andhra Pradesh police forces decimated the PWG.
  • Also, the Maoist Communist Centre of India (Bihar) was established.


Phase III

  • Andhra Pradesh’s PWG and Bihar’s MCGI were merged to form CPI (Maoist) in 2004.
  • Since the formation of CPI(M), the Government of India has declared the Maoists to be one of the biggest internal security threats to the country.


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Reasons of spread of naxalism

Land Related Factors

  • Evasion of land ceiling laws.
  • Existence of special land tenures (enjoying exemptions under ceiling laws).
  • Encroachment and occupation of Government and community lands (even the water-bodies) by powerful sections of society.
  • Lack of title to public land cultivated by the landless poor.
  • Poor implementation of laws prohibiting transfer of tribal land to non-tribals in the Fifth Schedule areas.
  • Non-regularisation of traditional land rights.


Displacement and Forced Evictions

  • Eviction from lands traditionally used by tribals.
  • Displacements caused by irrigation and power projects without adequate arrangements for rehabilitation.
  • Large scale land acquisition for ‘public purposes’ without appropriate compensation or rehabilitation.


Livelihood Related causes

  • Lack of food security – corruption in the Public Distribution System.
  • Disruption of traditional occupations and lack of alternative work opportunities.
  • Deprivation of traditional rights in common property resources.


Social Exclusion

  • Denial of dignity.
  • Continued practice of untouchability in some areas.
  • Poor implementation of special laws on prevention of atrocities, protection of civil rights and abolition of bonded labour etc.


Governance Related Factors

  • Corruption and poor provision/non-provision of essential public services including primary health care and education.
  • Incompetent, ill-trained and poorly motivated public personnel who are mostly absent from their place of posting.
  • Misuse of powers by the police and violations of the norms of law.
  • Perversion of electoral politics and unsatisfactory working of local government institutions.


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