Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism

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Relevance:GS-III:  Linkages between development and spread of extremism.


  • Everyone desires and is entitled to an improvement in their standard of living. It entails, in addition to adequate food, clothing, and housing, quality education, health, and a dignified way of life. The lack of these items incited people to revolt against the colonial authorities.
  • Although official policy around the world is to emphasize the concept of “inclusive development,” factions in every country are constantly alienated because they see their development efforts as being excluded. These beliefs combined with ineffective and corruptive governance constitute a prerequisite for extremism and militancy.
  • People are drawn to violence and extremism by their perceptions of injustice, misgovernance, and the system's inability to engage the disenfranchised.
  • In the Indian context, extremist activities are on the rise. Extremist operations are huge in scope, and as a result, their actions have a dangerous impact on the nation's social, economic, and political growth.
  • Numerous political thinkers have indicated that extremism has many components, ranging from just defending one's beliefs and principles on one end of the continuum to using violent measures for annoyance on the other. As a result, extremism is thought to be a multifaceted phenomenon.
  • Without development processes, there is no organic end to the causes of discontent, unrest and extremism. Development and security together lay the foundations for sustainable peace.
  • According to theory, experience or practice, they form a triangle with justice. The state of denials is neither socially futuristic nor has any overcoming potential.
  • The issues are meant to be acknowledged irrespective of their severity. They don’t find scope for major spread if they are timely addressed as fundamental problems.
  • All the opportunities for socio-economic corrections reside in and with time; therefore development plans, resources and efforts should travel through space and time from all directions and strive for a balance between economic growth and social protection making any extremism affected area the development convergence zone.

DefinitionLeft-wing extremism (LWE), or Naxalism (as it is known in India due to its origins in the town of Naxalbari in West Bengal), is a far-left extremist ideology. It derives its ideas from communism and emphasizes the progress of people's social and economic lives through armed revolution to create a classless society.

LWE's beginnings and development

  • The so-called agrarian revolution began in West Bengal in 1967 when an extremist breakaway faction of the CPM began the agitation.
  • The initial outburst was by groups occupying vacant lands in Naxalbari, Khoribari, and Phansidewaon, claiming that the lands were in excess of the permissible ceiling on land holdings or that they were supposed to have vested in the government, which the latter never bothered to distribute to landless and marginal farmers as provided for in the West Bengal Estate Acquisition Act of 1953 and other laws.
  • The first wave of the Naxalbari region's Left Extremist movement was efficiently suppressed without much bloodshed and in a very short period of time.
  • The All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) is formed in May 1968 to carry on the militant movement in various sections of India.
  • In April of 1969, the CPI, a new Marxist-Leninist party, is founded (ML).
  • Overt acts of violence in the name of 'class destruction' began to emerge in areas of states such as West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh, as well as Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab.
  • The CPI-ML (Peoples' War Group) of Andhra Pradesh turned out to be the most active not just in Andhra Pradesh but also in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh's tribal zone (Bastar-Dandakaranya), and Maharashtra; in Bihar, the Naxalites renamed themselves the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC).
  • In Andhra Pradesh, the PWG was successful in mobilizing a sizable section of the population, and they held ‘Praja Courts' (peoples' courts) where complaints against landowners, moneylenders, and even government officials were heard, and ‘swift justice' was meted out by PWG squads (‘dalams') in the form of forcible collection of funds from landowners and businessmen.
  • This was followed by harsh police activities, which generated a sense of insecurity among Maoist cadres, prompting them to commit gruesome killings and tortures of peasants.
  • With the creation of the CPI (Maoist) in 2004, the Naxalites largely finished their process of merger and consolidation, which was followed by increased militarization and simultaneous procurement of weaponry and ammunition. (Gave up access to the technology for making rockets and launchers.)
  • The Maoist threat has grown as their expertise in constructing and detonating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) has grown. IEDs are utilized by the Naxalites for well-planned attacks on even high-security individuals.
  • The partition of India turned the North-East region into a landlocked region and affected it economically. Due to this isolation from mainstream India, the region remained backwards in terms of developmental parameters. 
  • The isolation of the North East region, its complex social character due to different ethnic tribes & their culture, lack of development, weak communications between with the rest of India fuelled the anger and soured the relationship between the centre and this region, which led to varied demands of people inhabiting in this region.
  • Due to this delicate relationship, people aspired for their autonomy, secessionist movements & strict opposition to outsiders from entering into their region.

    (Read more on North-East insurgency- Click here)

Factors that contribute to extremism include:

  1. Discontent with the government among tribal peoples: 
    • Tribals who rely on forest products for their livelihood are barred from even harvesting a bark under the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980.
    • Massive tribal population displacement in Naxalism-affected states as a result of development projects, mining operations, and other factors.
    • Maoists take advantage of those who are without a means of income and convert them to Naxalism.
    • Maoists supply these individuals with weapons, ammo, and money.
  2. Economic factors
    • Unemployment, poverty, a lack of health care, a lack of education and awareness, a lack of access to electricity, internet connectivity, and communication, to name a few issues.
    • The wealth divide between affluent and poor is widening.
  3. Gaps in the country's population's socioeconomic status:
    • The government gauges its success by the number of violent attacks rather than the progress made in Naxal-infested areas.
    • Inability to confront Naxalites due to a lack of superior technological intelligence. Infrastructural issues, for example, several communities are still not effectively connected to any communication network.
  4. Deficiency in governance:
    • Regular administration, absence of administration in remote locations, lack of state government measures to address the problem, poor implementation, and mishandling of government schemes.
    • There's debate about whether Naxalism should be treated as a social problem or as a security danger.
  5. Rehabilitation
    • People are displaced or evicted as a result of development projects.
    • Because tribal areas, such as Orissa and Jharkhand, are rich in mineral resources, tribal people are the most vulnerable to displacement.
    • This causes people to experience multidimensional trauma, which has major repercussions.
  6. Social oppression:
    • Perhaps most major of the problems used by the Naxalite movement is the struggle against the social discrimination usually faced by the Dalits and the lower of the OBCs. 
    • Apart from the specific difficulties of social oppression by the Naxalites, the fact that the Naxalite leaders, as well as the majority of local leaders, consist of lower caste villagers, have given a lot of power to the downtrodden.
  7. Common property resources (CPR): 
    • CPR makes a significant contribution to the rural economy and sustains local communities. Community pastures, watershed drainages, and village tanks are all examples of CPR.
    • The CPRs area is dwindling as a result of industrialization, privatization, and development initiatives, and the government never looks into it.
  8. Adjudication process that is delayed
    • When problems and disputes are not resolved in a timely manner due to a formal and delayed judicial system, a great deal of frustration is generated in society, leading to an illegal extremist mindset.
  9. Tourism:
    • Furthermore, in this growing environment, the tourism business poses a significant threat to existing tribal existence, which is intertwined with ecology. The advent of foreign influence and commercialization is causing tribal society to disintegrate, resulting in extremist activity.

State's Reaction

  • The Naxalite movement is largely considered as the country's single greatest threat to its internal security. The most important aspects of government policy to address the Naxal problem, as detailed in the Ministry of Home Affairs Status Paper released in May 2006, are given below:
    • Deal harshly with the Naxalites who are committing acts of violence;
    • In a comprehensive manner, address the problem on the political, security, and development fronts at the same time;
    • Ensure inter-state cooperation in addressing the issue;
    • Prioritize speedier socio-economic development in Naxal-affected or vulnerable communities;
    • On both the security and development fronts, boost the efforts and resources of the impacted states;
    • support local anti-Naxalite resistance groups;
    • utilize the media to emphasize the futility of Naxal violence and the death and destruction it causes.

A multi-pronged approach is required to combat LWE

Implementation of protective legislation that is effective-

  • It is vital to strengthen the State's impregnable protective shield against multi-faceted exploitation of these populations.
  • This should be accomplished by the effective application of current constitutional protections, civil rights protections, and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act legislation and programmes.
  • The National Commission on SC and ST should be established operational, with investigative powers and the ability to issue orders that they can enforce.
  • This is due to the fact that the suggestions are not implemented by different authorities. As a result, the commission will carry out its mandate.

Land-related policies-

  • It is critical to effectively enforce land ceiling regulations so that the surplus land obtained from them can be distributed to the most vulnerable parts of the landless poor.
  • Various loopholes in the separate state-to-ceiling legislations have resulted in fictitious claims intended to get around the law.
  • Such loopholes should be closed, and all cultivable property should be subject to ceiling restrictions, regardless of the legal form in which it is owned.
  • The ceiling limit for lands that were formerly unirrigated but were irrigated following the passage of ceiling laws should be re-calculated to reflect their current state.
  • Simultaneously, the interests of small and marginal farmers, as well as tribal peasants, must be safeguarded against reverse tenancy.
  • All types of agricultural leases should be registered, and tenants' rights should be properly protected by enforcing a land-to-tiller policy and ensuring renters' access to non-land inputs.

Basic social services should be available to everyone

  • In central India, the area affected by the extremist movement features a high number of tribal people, a steep topography, and undulating landscape.
  • The area has a substantially lower population density than the plains. One of the numerous discriminatory forms of governance here is the failure to deliver infrastructure and services in accordance with national standards.
  • As a result of these inequities, services are unavailable or inadequately provided. To eliminate this discrepancy, universalization of basic services to standards among the people in this area should be given high priority.

Security of livelihood

  • Under the common guidelines issued by Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development for National Watershed Development Projects for Rainfed Areas, the government should saturate the entire rain-fed and dry farming area with Participatory Watershed Development Projects for soil and water conservation and development of natural resources with appropriate cropping pattern changes.
  • Establishing quality infrastructure, supportive technical services, and efficient market linkages at the village or cluster of village level to promote subsidiary and supported activities in animal husbandry, fisheries, horticulture, sericulture, and poultry.

Good governance

  • This would involve giving development work and its practical implementation on the ground a high priority, which would necessitate a clean, corruption-free, and accountable administration at all levels.

Observance of the rule of law

  • Even when dealing with severe situations created by insurgency or terrorism, government agencies must not be allowed to break the law.
  • If an unusual circumstance cannot be addressed by existing laws, new legislation may be enacted to prevent law enforcement authorities from being provoked or enticed to use extralegal or unlawful measures.
  • The police, like all other government agencies, must follow some basic rules of conduct.

Capacity building

  • The exercise should include the intelligence collection system, security agencies, civil administration, and the general public.
  • The approach should include preventive, mitigation, relief, and rehabilitative efforts, as stated in the Report on Crisis Management.
  • SAMADHAN doctrine is the one-stop solution for the LWE problem. It encompasses the entire strategy of government from short-term policy to long-term policy formulated at different levels. SAMADHAN stands for-
    • S- Smart Leadership,
    • Aggressive Strategy,
    • M- Motivation and Training,
    • Actionable Intelligence,
    • D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas),
    • H- Harnessing Technology,
    • Action plan for each Theatre,
    • N- No access to Financing.
  • National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), 2005, Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, and National Rehabilitation & Resettlement Policy, 2007 are some of the ameliorative policies that have been enacted.
  • The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act of 2013 is a big step forward in addressing widespread forceful displacement-related discontent, unrest, and conflict. It is critical to apply it fairly and compassionately for all by forcing authorities/agencies/bodies to alleviate the trauma experienced by displaced people.
  • The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is a critical component in ensuring that the poorest of the poor have access to livelihood support and protection. However, based on previous experience, implementation in backward and rural regions with deficient administrative systems has proven to be unsatisfactory. In these areas, there has been an insufficient focus on systems, mechanisms, and capacity, all of which must be strengthened if NREGA is to fulfill its promise of improving livelihood assistance.
  • Transparency in government operations is a crucial component of successful governance. The government's initiative in establishing the Right to Information Act of 2005 will go a long way toward fostering openness if the impediments that obstruct its implementation are addressed, particularly in terms of its usage by the weaker sectors.

Recommendations from the Arc for overcoming developmental issues

  • A long-term (10-year) and short-term (5-year) Programme of Action based on the “14-Point Strategy” shall be formulated by the Union Government in consultation with concerned State Governments to identify State-specific actions to be taken to implement the “Strategy,” while negotiations with extremist outfits should be a key mode of conflict resolution.
  • In terms of administrative monitoring and supervision, there is a compelling justification for going back to fundamentals. The system of formal inspections and reviews of organizational performance that occurs on a regular basis has to be reinvigorated.
  • It is necessary to improve the security forces' ability to operate effectively. Training and reorientation, including sensitization of police and paramilitary troops to the core causes of the disturbances they are attempting to prevent
  • In the extremist-affected districts, establishing and reinforcing local level police stations that are effectively staffed by local recruits should be a key component of the policing plan.
  • Multidisciplinary Oversight Committees may be formed to guarantee that the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 is implemented effectively and without causing harm to local ecosystems.
  • For limiting discontent among sections vulnerable to violent left extremism, special efforts are needed to oversee the execution of constitutional and statutory safeguards, development programmes, and land reform projects.
  • Performance of States in amending their Panchayati Raj Acts (PESA) and implementing these provisions may be monitored and incentivized by the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj to facilitate locally relevant development and adequate flexibility of implementing agencies in the affected areas as regards centrally sponsored and other schemes.
  • The State Police/State Government should establish a special anti-extortion and anti-money laundering cell. To dismantle the link between illicit mining/forestry contractors and transporters, as well as extremists who provide financial support to the extreme movement.
  • There is a need for developing region-specific action plans to prevent existing extremism and avert its spread in any form.
    • This calls for broad-based political support and local ownership, neutralizing the specific challenges and circumstances in the particular context, and following procedural and institutional principles that could guide a step-by-step process to achieve development goals doing away with any kind of one-size-fits-all model and to diminish the effects of inequality and imbalance.
  • Misleading interpretations of culture, hatred and ignorance mar the process of persuasion and cognitive change. In this situation, ‘soft power’ is a solution to deal with intractable conflicts arising out of socio-psychological barriers.

Conclusion: Development and internal security are, in many ways, two sides of the same coin. Each is completely reliant on the other. Often, a lack of progress and few chances for bettering one's lot provides fertile ground for radical views to thrive. A high majority of extremist organization recruits come from disadvantaged or marginalized backgrounds, or from locations that appear to be unaffected by the country's booming expansion.

Unevenness in our development process, as well as the numerous development divisions that are emerging in the country – the inter-regional divide, the rural-urban divide, and the inter-sectoral divide – are frequently visible. Disaffection, large-scale migration, and unrest are all consequences of these divisions and inequities. Internal security issues often occur as a result of unequal growth, and we must address this issue if we are to make long-term progress in countering extremist ideology and extremist elements.

Deliverables mirroring social empowerment by means of education, skills development, employment facilitation, human rights and the rule of law have enough in them to undo the negativity of linkages between development and the spread of extremism.

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