Resolving India's Maoist Challenge: Looking Beyond Security and Development

Shashank Ranjan

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The Maoist or Naxalite insurgency began in the late 1960s as a peasant struggle. It represented the revolutionary stream of Indian Marxism which did not believe in a parliamentary democracy, and argued for armed struggle instead, to bring about systemic changes. One of the major factors that explains the footprint of this anachronistic doctrine is the near absence of state agencies and services across India’s vast tribal hinterland, and not any irresistible appeal of the ideology.

A ‘strategy’ of response to resolve the challenge would have to factor in the cumulative deficits, as also the roots of these deficits. It can not be ‘only security’ or ‘only development’ or even both blended. The narrative shall have to go beyond; into the people-centric realm. The government has delineated its strategy on these lines but more needs to be done. Without addressing the root causes, the challenge will not be solved.

The book is divided into four sections. The first section deals with the crucial tribal narrative, since the tribals are primarily the people affected by this rebellion. This insurgency is undoubtedly about them, their governance, and their empowerment. The second section deals with the facets concerning the sustenance of the rebellion in terms of the organisational set-up, war machinery and ideology. The third section delves into the perception paradigm, reflecting as to how the rebels have been able to influence the thought process of the tribal population and the associated myths about their image. The state needs to address these, based on truth, and a constructive course of action. The final fourth section deals with measures that are required to set our house in order wherein an analysis has been attempted vis-à-vis institutional weaknesses and limitations.

The main objective of this book is to explore the dynamics of the conflict, cutting across the socio- economic, institutional and human domains.

Shashank Ranjan Colonel Shashank Ranjan was commissioned to 18 MARATHA LIGHT INFANTRY in August 1990. The officer has vast experience of serving in the counter-insurgency / terrorism environment as part of his battalion, in India’s Northeast and in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). He has served with the Special Frontier Force and Assam Rifles, and has commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion in J&K.

He has served as an Instructor at several training establishments of the Indian Army as also done a tenure in a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission. In the year 2004, he participated in a joint exercise with the US Marine Corps. The exercise was themed on ‘Low Intensity Conflicts’, held in California, US.

This book is based on the research that the author carried out while being a Senior Fellow with the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi.




1. Genesis and Evolution of Left Radicalism in India

Section One – The Tribal Narrative

2. Inheritance of Discontent and Alienation: History and Anthropology
3. Governing the Tribals
4. Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA): Towards Empowering the Grassroots
5. The Sordid Saga of Displacement
6. Tribal Resurgence: Time to Reset Perspective

Section Two – Sustenance of the Rebellion

7. Maoists’ Organisational Set-up
8. Proliferation for War-Fighting: Weapons, Explosives and Finance
9. Ideological Faultlines : Why it Leads to Nowhere

Section Three – The Perception Paradigm

10. Maoists’ Claims: “Revolution by, of and for the People”
11. Managing Perceptions for the Maoists
12. Seeing Through the Maoist Myths

Section Four – Putting the House in Order: Rising up to the Challenge

13. National Security Management Concerns
14. Criminal Justice System, Undertrials and Alienation
15 Modernising and Reforming the Police
16. Civil Society, NGOs and Conflict Resolution
17. Enabling the Grassroots



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