Naxalite revolt in India
July 8, 2008 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Naxalites are India's most dangerous revolutionary organization (of which there are many). They capitalize on dissent against the Indian Government where it is weakest, promising a better life to India's poor. This Maoist movement has waxed and waned since its inception in the 1960's. The Government's latest attempt to vanquish the Naxalites, called Salwa Judum, has been a failure. Though little known in the West, the Naxalite uprising has torn asunder large parts of India, devastated local economies, terrorized millions and turned brother against brother.
posted by Kattullus (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The "has been a failure" link is an op-ed, but interesting nonetheless. The comments are of standard internet-comments-to-newspaper-stories quality, but an interesting insight into Indian society for strangers such as myself. Oh, and "lakh" means "hundred thousand" making, for instance, 3.5 lakh being 350.000.
posted by Kattullus at 8:36 AM on July 8, 2008

There is a great passage in The God of Small Things where Roy talks about a Naxalite march in Kerala. (Also, some people here like posts which aren't so editorial.)
posted by chunking express at 8:43 AM on July 8, 2008

Uh... editorial? Well, I threw in one op-ed link among 4 links to long journalistic articles, one timeline and an essay by a human rights organization. The op-ed is supported by a whole bunch of links so it seemed to me to have merit. If your questioning my assertion that Salwa Judum has been a failure, that is shared by every news report and essay I've read on the matter. I suppose a more diplomatic way of phrasing it would be to say that it is widely considered a failure.

There's a great chapter in Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games about a naxalite terrorist.
posted by Kattullus at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2008

I wouldn't describe that chapter as "great", insofar as it describes a pretty horrific atrocity.

It also forms the background to one of that amazing book's peripheral characters, who in turn have a significant impact upon one of the characters.

Interesting link(s). I agree that this long-running insurrection is often overlooked by mainstream media. Perhaps the Nepalese Maoists, and the Shining Path in Chile are better known, but there are still many "bush wars" out there that don't garner the international attention they deserve (if that's the appropriate word).

posted by Mephisto at 9:27 AM on July 8, 2008

memo to self: time to change the screen name.
posted by nax at 10:25 AM on July 8, 2008

Mahasweta Devi talks about the Naxalite movement in her book Imaginary Maps translated by Giyatri Spivak. The book is poorly written, but it was the first time I ever heard of the Naxals.
posted by Falconetti at 11:04 AM on July 8, 2008

I didn't notice this behind the story article about the Christian Science Monitor piece that I linked to ("turned brother against brother"). I'll quote the whole thing:
You're Not in Afghanistan Anymore: War zones can take their toll on the outlook of civilians caught in the conflict. Staff writer Mark Sappenfield was only in Chhattisgarh, India, for 10 days, yet he struggled with the dark mental climate there. In India, fighting between Maoist insurgents and Indian security forces has gone on for three decades (see story). He found Chhattisgarh more depressing than Afghanistan.

"In Afghanistan, there remains a fierce pride and strength of will, " says Mark. "Perhaps these qualities cause their fair share of trouble, but they also produce an iron defiance in the face of the most terrible atrocities – an unyielding resolution to be unbowed."

"In the jungles of Dantewada district I saw a people utterly broken. Whereas Afghans looked you directly in the eye, chin resolute, the people at the refugee camp had all but conceded, slump-shouldered and speaking softly, staring at nothing."

Mark was told by many people there that the aboriginal people of this part of rural India, often called tribals, are "a simple people" easily led.

"That is a broad statement," he admits."But it did seem clear that these people felt forsaken by their leaders – by the Naxalites who were using them for their own ends, and by authorities who only wanted to herd them into camps. It struck me as a sad lesson on how a gentle people can be broken by those who rule over them."
This is a familiar story, a rebellion starts, is met by government-supported counter-revolutionary paramilitary forces, resulting in a destruction of a society. The best known example is Colombia with its FARC and right-wing death-squads. I hope that India avoids that trap.
posted by Kattullus at 11:53 AM on July 8, 2008

Naxalite Rage
posted by Abiezer at 6:08 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thank you, this is very interesting.
posted by Wolof at 6:22 PM on July 8, 2008

Thanks for the posts. I've known people in rural Andhra Pradesh whose lives have been turned around due to such people. It's forcing a lot of productive people to the cities where you can be kept it peace. I never knew it was the nuisance it really is. Glad the government is trying to stop it.
posted by skepticallypleased at 6:56 PM on July 8, 2008

Asian Dub Foundation's agit-prop Naxalite
posted by patricio at 2:44 AM on July 9, 2008

If you ever have the opportunity to see Asian Dub Foundation live, you should go for it, they're stellar.
posted by Kattullus at 3:42 AM on July 9, 2008

« Older Bruce Conner Moves On   |   Medinat Weimar Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments