India has been touted as the fastest growing economy, surpassing China, one of the economic powerhouses of the world. As fancy as this decorative title sounds like, it overshadows the fact that India, even after seven decades of independence, is still considered amongst the list of developing nations. India has faced several setbacks post-independence in almost every field, be it economic, social, cultural, sports, etc.
This has occurred due to various reasons starting from pre-existing social norms and mentalities to British oppression, post 1947 wars and ineffective policies at centre as well as states. Even in the face of these issues, our country has managed to grow and become a strong economic, military as well as political influence in Asia and has made the states across the globe acknowledge its worth.
The reason why economy is considered as the most important factor in determining how developed a nation is because every other factor is dependent on the country’s economic condition. The more economically rich a nation is, the more it can finance the various sectors and contribute to a comprehensive growth. India was left in a troubled financial situation in 1947.
It was not until various economic reforms were implemented, including the famous liberalisation of the 1990’s, India saw some growth in this field. But as author John Green had once said,
‘Economic growth doesn’t mean anything unless it is inclusive growth’
The citizens of India have constantly been a victim of social stereotypes, astigmatism and discrimination; especially on the grounds of religion, region, caste and financial conditions. Although in the preamble of our constitution, we the people of India, have ‘solemnly resolved’ to be a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic, these features seem to not have made a complete transition from paper to real life.
Down the timeline of Modern India, various governments have churned out countless policies. Most of these policies would favour the urban societies a lot; a few would satisfy the rural needs while largely leaving out the backward, tribal and remote population of the country.
Adding further damage to this, many of these schemes that supposedly benefited the entire nation, was only interested to serve to the majority while actually degrading the condition of the minorities.
With the rise of oppressive governments and dissent amongst the various backward communities, which were entitled to be ‘backward’ by the governments themselves led to one of the major internal security factors to emerge in India, taking the front seat in affecting the Geo-political scenario of India- Extremism – Left Wing Extremism. Hence what India terms as ‘development’, is directly linked with the spread of extremist ideologies too.
Origin of Left Wing in India
February, 1917 saw Russia undergo a massive revolution by the working-class citizens of Russia who under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin established a communist rule in the vast nation. Although socialism had been a widely accepted political ideology, but it was not until early 1900’s when it was reinforced by Marxists and other communists, that the wave of socialism had spread from its epicentre in Russia to various other countries, especially in China under the leadership of Mao Zedong.
India was fighting the capitalist British Empire during that time, hence many Indian leaders found communism as a weapon to drive the colonial rulers out of their land. Hence under the aegis of M N Roy, India was exposed to the communist ideology by the Communist Party of India established in Tashkent in 1920.
As expected, the Colonial government faced a number of setbacks due to the rising popularity of communism in India and got involved in multiple crackdowns on communism. Some of the most famous cases include the Peshawar Conspiracy Case (1922), the Kanpur Conspiracy Case (1924) and Meerut Conspiracy Case (1929).
Rise of Left Wing Extremism in India
While left wing ideology had been creeping into the Indian society nearly twenty seven years prior to independence, the first signs of extremist left wing activities began right after independence. Peasants had been facing brutal oppression in the hands of Jagirdars and Biswedars. The CPI sweeped into action, especially in the princely states of Hyderabad and Patiala, and came to the rescue of these workers.
Even after these states accessed to the Dominion of India, the communists stuck to their decision to fight the Indian Government, which they claimed was raised by bourgeois class.
Predicting armed pursuit by the Indian security forces, these extremist groups organised themselves into small militias across the various territories on which they held influence. But the relentless security forces eradicated and crushed this militant movement. This forced the CPI to join the democratic politics and work in the framework of the country to achieve their goals.
This further created problems during 1962 Indo-China war, where the communist leaders supported the Chinese as they saw this as a battle between a capitalist India against a socialist China. Many members of the CPI were jailed as a result and the party split into two, with the original CPI being more involved in democratic ideology while the newly formed branch CPI(M), supporting hardcore Marxism which involved armed rebellions to overthrow state.
Following this split, in 1965, Charu Mazumdar during a Kisan Sabha organised by CPI(M) in Siliguri, West Bengal, introduced the idea of ‘snatching back’ their land from the oppressors. This led to the Naxalbari violence in which around a hundred peasants killed a zamindar and vurnt his house, followed by which, they distributed his lands amongst themselves.
The left wing extremists started to be identified as Naxalites or ‘Naxals’. Mazumdar was expelled from the party and he formed CPI-ML where ‘M’ stood for Maoism and ‘L’ meant Leninism. Hence another term- ‘Maoist’ was also introduced to address the left wing extremists.
The movement spread to various other states including the undivided Andhra Pradesh, where revolutionaries mobilised the tribal into armed militia in Srikakulam. They targeted the government bureaucrats and oppressive individuals like money lenders, landlords, etc.
They killed dozens of people, similar to the Naxalbari incident. By the 1970’s, two radical left-wing organisations by the names Maoist Communist Center (formerly CPI-ML) and People’s War Group emerged and had started working on revitalising the left extremist ideology.
By 2004, these radical powerhouses merged and had influence in various areas of about 17 Indian states including Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal to name a few.
Areas of Development that Spread Extremism
By now, it is very clear that the government failed on three inter-related fronts which led to a rise in extremism. Firstly, they ignored the discontent rising in the backward classes and oppressed tribal. This anti-governmental sentiment was further instigated by the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who officiated the various administrative and political offices. Secondly,
Lack of proper governance alienated the people from the government and gave the extremists an opening to mobilise the crowd against the government and grabbing political influence over many important territories.
Finally, they did not focus on the socio-economic condition of the minorities which was the final nail in the coffin for the governments. The following are the various aspects that led to a rise in extremism, even though government focused on development-
Calamities like earthquakes, draughts, floods, wars, etc. had struck India all across its length and breadth, taking millions of lives in the process. During all this, the government’s focus mainly being the urban areas along with the exploitive and suppressive regime of theirs, gave birth to annoyance and frustration in the minds of the backward classes in which extremism bloomed.
Land acquisitions are another reason which is bothering the people. In the name of development, creating special economic zones (SEZs) to promote nation’s economy, the governments are creating havoc by seizing the lands of tribal and remote settlers. Furthermore, those affected are not even being provided compensation. Such negligence has led to many working class people to look towards extremism as a tool to avenge the injustice against them.
Labour, unemployment and wages remain a long-standing issue for peasants and labourers. Low wages, job insecurity and lack of basic workplace requirements have angered the workers which causes dissent amongst them, against the government.
On top of that, favouritism still persists in many government and administrative offices which lessens the probability of a backward class individual from getting a job. Such issues are viewed as intentional malpractice against the oppressed and communist extremism remains the most convenient way for them to get a job.
Policing and process of getting justice is a problem that has largely affected the social psychology of the poorer classes. The police are often reported to misbehave with their communities, beating them up and locking them without formal procedures. Such bullying is a misuse of uniform, and is a punishable offence.
But still, such prejudices end up in birth of extremist mentality between the harassed weaker sections. Additionally, with a lack of money to afford a good lawyer, these weaker sections are often under-represented in courts and their cases are either ruled against them or put on hold for so long that justice seems to get denied for them.
How to Improve the Current Situation?
There are many methods at both personal and governmental areas which can be utilised to control and overcome extremism in India. First of all, inculcating the spirit of inclusive growth, everyone in the country irrespective of caste, religion or social status gets to live a life with same benefits and rights as that of every other person around him.
Next, we should focus on the land grab policy. The government should provide a well-planned house or a township for those who are displaced and a proper compensation to them.
Basic infrastructure and technology should be provide along with free education as it helps empower the weaker sections of our society and enlighten them practical knowledge. Finally, the lands if required can be protected and vigilant rules should be applied on them.
This helps the country to preserve natural beauty and health of eco-system. This model will help us prevent deforestation and save the forests and their tribes at the same time, make the youth of such sections knowledgeable, increase wealth and improves lifestyle.
Many of the remote regions and villages have been destroyed in war. The government should help the financially weak citizens here by providing rehabilitation. This can be done utilising the NDRF, armed forces and other organisations that are related to the above mentioned. More and more peace talks should be promoted to prevent preventable martyrdom of many brave paramilitary and military forces.
The left wing extremists have gripped India in a choke hold which is gradually eating off its strength. This is because of the widespread discontent among the backward and weaker communities with the government’s schemes and policies. Constantly being denied and oppressed by the people in power, these people were easy targets for Maoists to brainwash and implant the false information on India.
Left wing extremism is a radical outlet of communism which finds its roots in Russia. It cannot be curbed by simply talking about it, but step by step, dismantling their trade and putting together a much more responsible version of governance. Focus should be upon people to access basic necessities of life like food, water, electricity and medicine.
Education should be the next aspect, which will pull people out of ignorance and finally, employment can help this class of citizens to develop. It is only through this kind of development, that we can successfully say that India has actually developed.