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Prelims Capsule

Defence & Security

Root causes of Naxalism in India

Root causes of Naxalism in India


  • GS 3 || Security || Internal Security Threats || Left Wing Extremism

What is Naxalism?

  • The term Naxalism derives the name of the Naxalbari village in West Bengal where a peasant revolt took place against local landlords who had beaten up a peasant over a land dispute in 1967.
  • The Naxalites are considered to be the far-left communists who support Mao Zedong’s political ideology.

How did it spread?

  • Initially, the Naxalite movement originated in West Bengal and had later moved to the less developed rural areas in Southern and Eastern India, including in the states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • Some Naxalite groups have legal organizations as representatives in the parliament like the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Janashakti.

Phases of Naxalism

Current trend

  • As per MHA- The number of Naxal-affected districts, which stood at 96 in 2010, have come down to 41 in 2021. The incidents of LWE violence have reduced by 70 percent to 509 in 2021 from over 2018 and 2019. As a result, the number of deaths have drastically reduced to 147 in 2021 compared with 1,005 in 2010.

Reasons behind the Naxalite movement

  • Land and Forest mismanagement was one of the main causes of the spread of Naxalism. It originated during the time of the British administration when new laws were passed to ensure the monopolization of forest resources. Following globalization in the 1990s, the situation worsened when the government increased the exploitation of forest resources. This led the traditional forest dwellers to fight for their aspirations against the government through violence.
  • 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 the abolition of bonded labor,
  • Tribal discontent: The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 deprives tribals, who depend on forest produce for their living, from even cutting a bark.Massive displacement of tribal population in the Naxalism-affected states due to development projects, mining operations, and other reasons.
  • Gaps in the socio-economic system of the country: Government measuring its success on the basis of the number of violent attacks rather than the development done in the Naxal-affected areas.
  • Absence of strong technical intelligence: There is poor technical intelligence when it comes to tackling Naxalism. Infrastructural problems, for instance, some villages are not yet connected properly with any communication network are there which hinders action against Naxalites.
  • Confusion over tackling Naxalism as a social issue or as a security threat: State governments consider Naxalism as the central government’s issue and thus are not taking any initiatives to fight it.
  • 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.
  • No Follow-Up from the administration:It is seen that even after police take hold of a region, the administration fails to provide essential services to the people of that region.

Steps taken to tackle the Naxalism in India

  • Green HuntGreen Hunt was launched in 2010 with a significant deployment of security troops in Naxal-affected areas. In the nine years since 2010, the number of districts plagued by Naxalism has decreased from 223 to 90.
  • Aspirational Districts Program- The government’s approach is to deal with Left Wing Extremism holistically, in terms of security, development, safeguarding local populations’ rights and entitlements, improving governance, and managing public perception.
  • ‘SAMADHAN -The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has launched Operation ‘SAMADHAN‘ to combat the Naxal menace.
    • Smart leadership, aggressive strategy, motivation and training, actionable intelligence, dashboard-based KPIs and KRAs (key result areas), harnessing technology, action plan for each theatre, and no access to financing are all acronyms for SAMADHAN.
  • Use of technology advances- The MHA has proposed the use of trackers for firearms and biometrics in smart guns as technological initiatives. Gelatine sticks and explosives have a unique identification number (UID). Each of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) battalions stationed in the Maoist hotbed has at least one UAV or Mini UAV.
  • Joint Task Forces will be established for operations along inter-state borders. Improved intelligence sharing and inter-state collaboration.
  • A ‘National Policy and Action Plan to Address Left-Wing Extremism’ is in place, with the goal of removing the threat in the shortest period possible.
  • Proper Police’ and ‘Public Order’ – Because ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order are state topics, state governments are primarily responsible for maintaining law and order. For this reason, the government has taken the following steps
    • Filling significant infrastructure gaps in states affected by left-wing extremism under the Scheme for Special Infrastructure.
    • Through the Ministry of Defence, assistance in state police training is provided.
    • Community policing and civic action programmes are aided.

Why Naxalism still persists in India?

Working tactics

  • The CPI-Maoists and its armed wing, the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) are now the biggest insurgent group in India. These along with other smaller Naxal factions, root their rowdiness around Guerrilla Warfare along with other well-sought military and political tactics.
  • Their political strategy involves exploiting class inequalities in the Indian countryside to their advantage. Unequal income distribution, socio-demographic disparity, poverty, and deprivation are issues that plague the underdeveloped areas of the country. Hence, the Maoists draw on these to mobilize socially and economically marginalized populations, such as the Adivasis.
  • Their military strategy also revolves around the civilian masses. The Maoists use dense forests and hilly territories, where the State cannot reach (and thus can’t apply its rule of law) and utilize the terrain in their favor. They work in small, decentralized units to avoid any full-blown, conventional warfare and to distract the state’s forces from their bigger plans.
  • They are powerful and effective in some areas in India because of the unresolved contradictions and issues in our society. They have proved effective more often than not because of their ideology that inspires youth apart from having an organizational structure and armed group.

Funding and Associations

  • These organizations are mainly funded by membership fees and contributions. A large part of their funds also come from extortion and confiscation of wealth and income of those who don’t support them in the name of ‘revolutionary taxes’. In some areas, Naxalites have developed their extensive tax-systems in exchange for ‘protection’.
  • Recently they have also turned towards organized crime to fill their coffers and have stepped in sales of heroin, opium, and cannabis. Recently –much to the chagrin of the Indian state – these Naxal groups have formed associations with organizations like Pakistan’s ISI and LeT, Nepal’s Maoists, and Sri Lanka’s LTTE.
  • India has made some success in containing naxalism but the root causes have not been addressed yet. The central and the state governments should continue to follow the two pronged strategy i.e. ensuring safety of the people in the naxal-affected regions as well as taking initiatives for the development of such regions.

Way forward

  • Good governance-The presence of Naxals in the country indicates flaws in the government’s law and order system, which has failed to contain the threat. To defeat Naxalism, the central government must undertake a well-coordinated national strategy.
  • Dialogue-Conversations between Naxal leaders and government officials can help to find a solution.The government should engage in a genuine discourse with the Naxals.
  • Employment: It is critical to create more jobs and raise pay. People in the area had no choice but to join the Naxals due to insecure livelihood and unemployment.
  • Rehabilitation and resettlement-The construction of mining grounds, irrigation areas, industries, and other structures in the area without any preparation for the displaced people’s resettlement has only added to the poor’s woes. More focus should be placed on the rehabilitation of those who have been afflicted.
  • Disparity must be eliminated-One of the key issues that has contributed to the emergence of Naxalism is economic imbalance and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. To put an end to Naxalism, this gap must be bridged as quickly as possible. It’s critical to keep these individuals from falling into the Naxal trap.
  • LWE Mobile Tower Project: To improve mobile connectivity in the LWE areas, the Government in 2014  approved the installation of mobile towers in LWE affected States
  • Modernize law enforcement forces-The federal government must make inroads into these troubled areas with agencies that are well-equipped with modern artillery and support the state’s agencies, which are often under-equipped.


  • The LWE problem can be successfully addressed by using a holistic approach that focuses on the development and security-related measures. The Maoists should be pressured by civil society and the media to abandon violence, join the mainstream, and recognize that the socio-economic and political dynamics and goals of 21st-century India are vastly different from the Maoist worldview.

Mains model questions

  • In India, the economic disparity between the Rich club and poor club s skyrocketing. Critically discuss the causes and consequences of this trend.