India’s Response to Maoist Extremism: Force, Development or Both?

India’s Response to Maoist Extremism - Bibhu Prasad Routray

Executive Summary

India is currently grappling with an effective response to left-wing extremism. Even though in the last two years, extremist violence as well as areas under extremist influence has somewhat diminished, the problem remains serious. While India’s military approach has failed to make much headway owing to a range of weaknesses among the forces, the development approach too has been critiqued for being too romanticised and unreal for implementation. There is an obvious need for a policy rethink and clarity of approach if the challenge is to be met. It is essential that the policy to deal with the problem needs to consider the following recommendations.

  • The country has to arrive at a consensus on the kind of approach it wishes to pursue against the extremists.
  • A permanent institutional mechanism in the form of a coordination centre can be established to thrash out emerging differences between the Centre and the States.
  •  Augmenting the capacities of the police as the primary force against Maoist violence will be key to neutralizing the firepower of the extremists.
  • While development is a useful tool against Maoist extremism, it is imperative that a semblance of order precede injection of resources into the extremistaffected areas.
  •  Development must operate in tandem with the security forces. Resumption of administrative activity should immediately follow the clearing of an area by the forces.
  •  It is essential that the official approach be based on an effective policy of communication that not just brandishes the extremists as essentially bad, but is  also honest about its own honourable intentions.
  •  Holding elections for institutions of local selfgovernment in the affected areas followed by the strengthening of these institutions with additional financial and decision-making powers is a necessity.
  •  Success of security force operations need to be based on the concept of just war that strives to do the maximum to avoid collateral damage.
  •  Government needs to stay away from propagandist claims about winning the war in quick time.

[box type=”info” ] Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray was a Visiting Fellow with the South Asia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) from October 2010 to March 2011 and from September 2011 to March 2012. Prior to that he served as Deputy Director at the National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi, India. He can be contacted at bibhuroutray{at}gmail{dot}com [/box]

* The Policy paper is sent to KanglaOnline by Bibhu Prasad Routray


Full RSIS Policy Paper

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