Naxalite Movement in Tribal Areas of India: Causes and Suggestions

Lalit Latta Joshua


Prime Reasons behind the Spread of Naxalite Movement Suggestions for curbing the Naxalite Movement
Negligence in Implementation of Development Plans Requirement of Good Governance
Absence of a Good Governance  Need for a Change in the Working process of Police Administration
Lack of Social Responsibility among the ones benefited Need for Infrastructure for getting Employment
Lack of Employment Invoking the Sense of Social Responsibility among People
  Need for Encouragement of the Persons employed in the Naxal-dominated Areas

    India’s population has a diverse religion, culture, and creed. Among them, the tribal people have a separate place of identity that is recognized due to their unique culture. As per Census, 2001, around 8 crore 43 lakh tribals live in India, which is 8.2 per cent of India’s total population. Among them, most of the tribals are living in remote rural areas ( hills / forests ) 91.7 per cent and remaining 8.3 per cent lives in urban areas. Out of the total tribal population of India, around 68 per cent live mainly in the seven states, viz.; 14.5 per cent in Madhya Pradesh, 10.2 per cent in Maharashtra, 9.7 per cent in Orissa, 8.9 per cent in Gujarat, 8.4 per cent in Rajasthan and Jharkhand, and 7.8 per cent in Chhattisgarh. The social and economic conditions of the tribals have always been pathetic due to their living mainly in remote rural areas and even after 63 years of India’s independence, the Indian tribal people are still deprived of the basic necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, irrigation, education, employment etc.

     Further one also finds that tribals living in different parts of the country are often subjected to exploitation and humiliation in the name of religion, region, and race. As a result of this, since independence, the discontent among the tribals have been increasing slowly and gradually, and by the end of the 2010 this has taken the shape of a severe trouble called “Naxalism” that poses a big threat to the country’s development initiatives. No wonder, Naxalite movement is significantly active in the 72 districts of nine different states i.e. 3 districts in Madhya Pradesh, 4 in Maharashtra, 16 in Andhra Pradesh, 3 in West Bengal, 13 in Jharkhand, 9 in Orissa, 8 in Chhattisgarh, 13 in Bihar, and 3 districts in Uttar Pradesh. This problem, therefore, asks for urgent solution failing which the possibility of occurrence of instability in the country is not ruled out besides the country witnessing loss of lives and property. 

Prime Reasons behind the Spread of Naxalite Movement

    Time to time many academics, social scientists, administrators and politicians have pointed towards the following social, economic and political factors as responsible for the naxal uprising.

1. Negligence in Implementation of Development Plans

    Generally, most of the tribal people live in remote areas, hills and forests; and because of the remoteness and difficulties in reaching these areas, development of the people living here has been near nothing. Various programmes, such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes (MNREGA), National Rural Health Mission, Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Public Distribution System (PDS) etc. formulated by the Government, are being implemented for the upliftment of the underprivileged people of the country. But unfortunately, even after 63 years of India’s independence, the tribal population of India has still not been benefited much from these development programmes. Also, in order to spread education among the tribals, the Government of India has implemented various programmes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Mid-day Meal etc., but according to the Selected Educational Statistics, 2006-07, the drop-out rate among the tribal students is 33.09 per cent at primary education level and it becomes 78.07 per cent at the stage of Class X. The percentages of Class X drop-outs among the tribal students in tribal populated states are: 98.99 per cent in Bihar (including Jharkhand, 84.04 per cent in West Bengal, 85.04 per cent in Madhya Pradesh, 84.52 per cent in Orissa, 81.92 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, 77.71 per cent in Rajasthan, 75.28 per cent in Maharashtra, 72.68 per cent in Gujarat. These statistics show a very slow rate of the development process. In the background of the statement made in the Upper House of the Parliament by Shri Gulam Navi Ajad, the Central Minister for Health and Welfare, that in India more than 60 crore people defecate in open places and the Census, 2001 revealing that 58 per cent people in India do not have electricity one can only expect still worse situation in remote rural areas and tribal populated areas. It clearly points towards the sheer negligence at the level of implementation of various development plans of the Government of India for the improvement of these areas. Naturally, therefore, the common tribal people still struggle hard to fulfill their basic necessities, and consequently, they are left with no other option than to support the Naxalite movement. 

2. Absence of a Good Governance 

    The main reason behind the growing spread of naxalism in the country is the increasing awareness among the tribals about their social and economic deprivations. They have understood that, in the absence of good governance, no development is taking place for that segment of the society, which is socio-economically underdeveloped though crores of rupees are being spent every year for implementing the schemes and programmes meant for the development of these people. Instead the poor are becoming poorer and rich richer. It has also been noticed that the poor innocent tribals have been tortured and many a times killed on the basis of false allegations on them that they are involved in Naxalite Movement. The women living in these areas are also subjected to torture and exploitation and in some places cases of rape and physical assaults against women have also been recorded. Thus, the poor people living in these areas have been overtly deprived of their constitutional rights of a decent living. The report The Drivers and Dynamics of Illicit Financial Flow: India, 1948-2008, submitted by the ‘Global Financiers’ Integrity’, a group of experts on economic affairs of Washington, reveals that since independence India has lost around Rs. 20 lac-crore on account of corruption, crime and tax evasion which is a matter of shame for the country. Need less to say, due to such mind boggling corruption, abject deprivation and torture and exploitation, the poor tribal people having lost all faith in the present Administrative and Political system of the country, have come closer to the Naxalites..

3. Lack of Social Responsibility among the ones benefited

    For the development of a society or a country, a strong sense of social responsibility along with education plays a very important and significant role without which growth and development of any society or country is not possible. Generally, the educated tribal youths, Officers, Political Leaders who have become rich by reaping the benefits of the various developmental schemes and programmes, hold responsible posts in government or private sector or are mass representatives, come and settle in towns and cities, and remain confined within their familial and social comfort instead of showing the development path to their fellow tribal brethren. Thus, they fail to contribute to the development of their society of origin. On the other hand the non-tribal personnel consider it a punishment if they are transferred to tribal-populated remote areas. Due to fear of Naxals they do not show any interest in discharging their responsibilities and somehow pass their posting period in the naxal-influenced areas. Thus there is a dearth of responsible people who can bring the tribal youths to the right path of development through which a remarkable change may be brought in the society 

4. Lack of Employment

    Most tribals live in remote rural areas, hills and forest areas. Earlier, they used to depend on forest produces and products for their livelihood. But after the accession of forests by the Indian government and due to lack of employment tribals are facing difficulties in earning their livings. As per the 11th five-year plan (phase 1), 47.30 per cent of tribals in rural areas and 33.30 per cent tribals in urban areas were living below the poverty line during the year 2004-05. Apart from this, it has also been found that 81.56 per cent among the tribals living in India are farmers or work as agricultural labourers. Various studies reveal that 76 per cent of the people in India manage their livings in less than Rs. 20 per day. Thus, different welfare schemes run by the government for ensuring employment to its people could not be effective due to (a) lack of awareness among them, (b) widespread corruption and (c) interference of middlemen. In order to get rid of the humiliation and exploitation, and due to lack of employment; a few tribal youths are joining hands with the naxals to end the misery of their daily life and ensure social justice to their fellow people. Studies reveal that the naxals include the youths in their group, give them education and help them in getting out of their humiliation and exploitation on the one hand and provide them employment and earnings. The tribal youths engaged in the naxalite movement consider this as a fight for self-respect and they feel that instead of dying of hunger and poverty, it would be far better to fight against tyranny and exploitation and bring justice for the society.

Suggestions for curbing the Naxalite Movement 

    The problem of naxalism is spread in 72 districts of nine states in the country, where majority of population are downtrodden and tribals. The internal security of the country is under threat due to naxal movement. In order to counter this problem, time-to-time many academics, social scientists, administrators and political leaders have suggested remedial measures among which the following merit mention.

1. Requirement of Good Governance

    The government of India keeps on formulating various programmes and schemes for socio-economic development of the poor, downtrodden and the people who are subjected to exploitation in the society; and gets these programmes and schemes implemented through its various concerned ministries. But several research studies reveal that these programmes and schemes are in most cases not being implemented in its right spirit. According to Shri Gadar, the revolutionary poet who supported Naxalism, “Naxalism has been born due to the failure of democracy and people have resorted to violence against the governance”. And, according to senior police official, Shri Prakash Singh, “Slowly and gradually, the power has been shifted to the hands of corrupt people, and criminals have taken an upper hand in the society, as a result of which people’s expectations with the democratic governance has been shattered.” Therefore, it is necessary that the government of India should ensure a transparent administration in which honest and sincere officials and staff are encouraged to serve the country and poor, downtrodden and exploited people of India live their life peacefully with self-respect by fulfilling their basic needs. 

2. Need for a Change in the Working process of Police Administration

    The main duty of the police is to provide security to the citizens of the country. But in the naxal-dominated areas, many security personnel are engaged in torturing the tribals accusing them they are supporters of the naxals. Not only this, complaints have also been received that in some areas women are being physically abused by the security staff. Thus, due to the ill treatment of the innocent tribals by the police and other security forces, Naxalite movement is getting strengthened and gradually spreading to more and more tribal populated areas. Therefore, security forces should behave with the people living in the naxal-influenced areas politely and sympathetically, so that they may be taken into confidence and thus the spread of the movement may be curbed slowly and gradually.

3. Need for Infrastructure for getting Employment 

    Tribals are mainly settled at remote rural areas, hills and forests where the infrastructural facilities such as electricity, roads and transport facilities, healthcare, irrigation facilities, educational institutes are not available, due to which the tribals cannot manage to get employment in these areas. Also, it has been observed that the poor tribal people cannot afford to go to urban areas for seeking employment and they do not find employment at remote rural areas. The government of India has implemented NREGA for providing 100 days of work to one adult member of each household, but that is insufficient. This provision may further be extended to 365 days of work to one member of each household and industries may be set up in the tribal populated areas so that the tribals get more employment without migrating to cities and towns.

4. Invoking the Sense of Social Responsibility among People

    No society and no country can achieve socio-economic development if the sense of social responsibility is absent among its people. In India some industrialists, who have their industries in tribal areas do exhibit a sense of social responsibility by way of setting up schools, hospitals and initiating welfare schemes for the people in and around their respective industries. The persons from the poor, downtrodden and tribal community who have been benefitted from the various developmental schemes and programmes of the government and have risen to be high officials, industrialists or political leaders should contribute their mite towards the socio-economic development of the poor and exploited section of the population so that these tribal poor may be drawn to the mainstream of the development process. If each person of this country bears his/her responsibility towards the society, then automatically peace and prosperity will prevail in this country.

5. Need for Encouragement of the Persons employed in the Naxal-dominated Areas

    Generally, it has been found that the naxal-dominated and trbal populated areas lack infrastructural facilities. Further there always remains a threat towards life and property of the persons employed there. Often, it has been noticed that the officers posted in these areas face much difficulties in implementing the various development schemes because a few Naxalite groups demand money from these officials and even kill them if their demands are not fulfilled. Therefore, the persons employed there should be provided financial incentives and security cover, so that they can perform their duty fearlessly and with utmost sincerity. This is imperative for the poor, downtrodden and the tribals to reap the benefit of the different schemes and programmes run by the government. 

    Thus it is concluded that the Naxalite uprising is a battle against the corrupt officials, political leaders and middlemen while the battle is fought in an unconstitutional manner.. The advent and spread of Naxalite movement can be contained if there is good governance, improved employment opportunities and a sense of social responsibility among the beneficiaries from the various governmental development schemes and programmes.

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