Causes for the spread of Extremism

Extremsim: Use of non-democratic process to resolve social conflicts and problems. Also known as Maoism,  Naxalism.

Left wing extremism is seen as the single largest internal security challenge ever faced by India. It is in the most neglected areas of the country that left wing extremism thrives today. These are also the main recruiting grounds for naxal outfits.

Extremists operate in a vacuum created by inadequacy of administrative and political institution, espouse local demands and take advantage of the prevalent disaffection and injustice among the exploited segments of the population and seek to offer an alternative system of governance which promises emancipation of these segments from the clutches of ‘exploiter’ classes through the barrel of a gun.

Lack of development led to extremism.  The various causes that led to the spread of extremism are as follows:

  1. Land and forest related issues:
  • Tribal insurgency:
    • Is an outcome of a flawed tribal development process, which has persisted since the times of Jawaharlal Nehru.
    • With too many schemes there has been created an inferiority complex and anxiety among the tribals about their lands and forests with the influx of too many outsiders into their villages.
    • Only 12% of the tribals are in North India and the remaining are in central and South India. 85% of the ST population is in the forests of Central and South India.
    • 80% of the Naxals are landless SCs and STs. 40% of the people are involuntarily displaced by various development projects of the government.
    • Because of the illegal transfer of land from tribals to non-tribals.
  • Lack of minor forest produce:
    • Tribals lost their control of traditional livelihood resources through several state actions.
    • First is the forest reservation policy which declared forests as degraded forests, waste lands on the periphery and even partly arable lands as reserved forests where human habitation was prohibited.
    • Reassertion of traditional occupational rights led to extremism.
    • Extractive mining, forestry and allied produce which are highly exploitative led to the lack of minor forest produce.
  • Commitment to land reforms has dissipated.
    • Naxal groups have been mainly raising due to land and livelihood issues.
    • Only half of the land has been redistributed. Remaining people has fallen into the prey of extremism. 40 % of these people in these rural areas are landless
    • After liberalization, government has distributed the waste/barren land to industries, SEZs, corporate and sometimes agricultural lands are also given away.
    • Leasing of forest lands to the corporate sector for mining, processing industries, agri and forest based business, logging and timber felling or for tourism ventures. Tribals were denied access to pasture lands and forests which had been providing them with livelihood.
    • India has lost lot of common property resources – pasture lands. These are given away or distributed to SEZs, which increased the marginalized. It has worsen poverty among the SCs and STs.
    • Environmental degradation in forests, tribal areas led to resource loss and leads to health hazards.
    • Tourism has also led to commercialization of tribal habitats.
    • Victims of development – the project affected people (PAP). Among the PAPs, tribals constitute 40% of the total affected.
    • Land ceiling laws have been implemented in a tardy and improper manner in India. Land holdings after several decades of implementation of ceiling laws still remain highly skewed.
    • Because of the draconian laws regarding wild life protection and national parks and sanctuaries which forcefully excluded all habitations from vast areas notified under these ways.
    • Invasion of the corporate sector into agriculture and forestry and enhancement of ceiling limits on land in has exacerbated the incidence of landlessness.
  1. Under Development:
  • Under development contributed to the success of extremism.
    • Saranda Development program is being implemented for the developmental activity in tribal areas and Dandakaranya States.
    • Left wing extremism affected districts have high share of SC, ST population who has low literacy, low agricultural productivity, laborers etc.
    • Modernization in terms of education, healthcare, and secondary employment in blue and white collar jobs or services are virtually non-existent.
    • A 2004 report on tribals said that socio-economic infrastructure depreciation led to the success of extremism in tribal areas.
  • Malgovernance by the forest, revenue and political administration also led to the spread of extremism.
  • The coercive acquisition of land for “development” purposes has already displaced about 80 to 90 million tribals turning those homeless, landless, resource less and jobless.
  1. Social Deprivation:
  • Takes form of high level of atrocities and large scale human abuse of SCs and STs.
    • 63 types of untouchabilities are still practiced in 265 villages of 11 states.
  • Conviction rates for crimes against SCs, STs are less than 1%.
    • Because of lack of awareness. Inability of this group to go to courts of law, lack of support from government.
    • This low conviction rate encourage people to commit crimes against SCs, STs. They are not reported because of the section societies are powerful politically, economically and socially.
  • Widespread electoral malpractice such as booth capturing in dalit villages.
  • Apathy of the administration to the needs of the people on the plea of non intervention in tribal culture, customs and traditions and stasis as well as hubris of bureaucratic governance.
  • Lack of empathy of the political class which in a modern system of administration and legislative functioning tends to gravitate away from the grassroots.
  • Inadequate representation of SCs and STs in the parliament.
    • This political marginalization led to underdevelopment.
  • Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh (Bundelkhand), Orissa, West Bengal has high rates of rural poverty.
    • 70% of SC poor are in these states and 63% of ST poor are also in these states.
  • Areas of Adivasis, dalits are the areas of intense extremism in India.
  • The overall employment situation in the rural areas is bleak.

All these together created social unrest and it manifests itself in defiance of the authority from simple form of demanding right of community management of forests to militancy.


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