Naxalism in India UPSC 2023 | Left Wing Extremism

In this article, we will decode the debate of development vs extremism in the contest of Naxalism, and together we will understand what are the reasons that make the eastern region, the center of Naxalism in India.

Every human being has some basic needs, in today’s era, aspires to live a dignified life with Adequate food, Clothing, and Housing as well as Quality Education, Skill Development, Stable Health, Rule of Law, and Human Rights. If a government is not able to fulfill these basic necessities of its people, then people become opponents of their own government, and from here a feeling of alienation arises in the minds of these disadvantaged groups.

Further, this feeling is responsible for the Separatism & Extremism in the country. For example, the Eastern States of India have been suffering from the curse of “Naxalism” for many decades.

What is Naxalism or Left Wing Extremism?

Naxalites are the Radical Communist Groups, which were born in post-colonial India to fight against the exploitation of landlords, hence it is also called Left Wing Extremism. If we want to know how some regions of India came into the pocket of Naxalism, then for that we have to understand its history.

History of Naxalism

India’s Naxalism movement is counted among the world’s most violent home-ground insurgencies. The ideology of Naxalism is considered a belief in such an extremist. According to Naxal ideology, the Indian government is a semi-colonial, feudalistic, and imperial government that needs to be overthrown. 

  • The birth of Naxalism is pinpointed to the Naxalbari uprising of the spring of 1967.
  • Tribal leaders like Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and Jangal Santhal, inspired by Mao’s Revolution, started an armed struggle to demand land redistribution.
  • In 1967, Against the Feudal Load, it took the form of a Communist Peasant Revolt and this movement sowed the seeds of Naxalite insurgency in India.
  • Initially, this revolt was against landlords and money lenders, but later it took the form of anti-government.
  • The story that started in Naxalbari spread to Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka in the coming decades.
  • Further, Naxalism-affected regions of these states came to be known as Red Corridor.
  • Everywhere it started as a local discontent of farmers and tribals, somewhere its motive was to get agrarian reforms done, and somewhere it started against Forest and Tribal laws. But increasingly it became a serious security issue.

Also Read: Administrative division of India for UPSC

Naxalism in India emerged in three phases:

  1. 1st Phase: Late 1960s-1973
  2. 2nd Phase: Late 1970s-1994
  3. 3rd Phase: 2004 -2015

First Phase (1960s-1973)

  • The Naxal movement was limited to West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh in its first phase.
  • During this, peasants used to seize the land using force and then used arms to protect themselves from the police and landlord.
  • But these activities took the form of increasing ethnic, caste, and class-based political violence in India’s Far East.
  • In 1969, Naxalites organized under the leadership of Charu Majumdar and formed CPI-Marxist-Leninist(CPI-ML).
  • CPI-ML use guerrilla warfare to seize political power. Thus, Kolkata police arrested Charu Majumdar on July 1972 and then Majumdar died in police custody.
  • Due to the military troops in Kolkata, all the Naxalite leaders were caught one after the other.
  • By 1973, all the power centers of Naxalites were eliminated.
  • During this phase, government involvement was seen in the form of severe counter-insurgency operations rather than in improving the socioeconomic conditions of these regions.

Second Phase (1970s-1994)

  • In the second phase, the Naxalite movement was divided into 40 different groups. But gradually, they started remobilizing their groups by consolidating them.
  • Further, Left Wing Extremism spread to Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, and Telangana.
  • Now Naxalite insurgents kidnap landlords and they were forced to apologize to the villagers and return the forced bribes.
  • In this phase, counter-insurgency operations became more intensive and violence increased.
  • Further, Counter insurgency operations were expanded with the use of brute force, as a result, 9000 Naxalites surrendered.
  • Due to this, some Modest Naxalite Party was also unbanned.

Third Phase (2004-2015)

  • Violence was at its peak between 2005 and 2011 which went into decline by 2014. 
  • The Communist Party of India (Maoist) was founded on 21 September 2004 through the merger of 40 insurgent groups.
  • By the second half of 2005, the intensity of Naxalite attacks increased significantly compared to other domestic terrorists and insurgent groups.
  • From 2006 to 2007, this trend grew even more rapidly and in this phase, this movement spread in such a vast geographical area that it left behind insurgencies in Jammu Kashmir and North Eastern.
  • During their peak, 200 districts were dominated by Naxalism in India.
  • Further, Naxalite was active in nine states of India by 2010 in which they have strong footholds in seven states.

So far we have seen how Naxalism in India was born and how it gradually spread in different regions of the country. Now we will discuss the factors that give rise to Naxalism in India.

Causes of Naxalism in India

  • Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980:
    • The dissatisfaction of the tribal population with the government is one major factor responsible for Naxalism in India.
    • The tribal population depends on forests for their livelihood, but rights over forest products were denied to tribals under the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980.
    • The condition was such that he could no longer get even a piece of bark from a tree.
  • Industrialization exploits resources:
    • In addition, the region’s common property resources, such as community pastures, watershed drainages, and village tanks, play an important role in the economy and livelihood of the local community.
    • But the growing industrialization in these states seems to be exploiting all these resources.
    • In all this, a poor response from the government is also seen.
    • When these problems are not resolved, it causes frustrations among the local population and this is where the violent mindset begins.
  • Government Projects led to displacement:
    • Apart from this, we know that tribal areas like Jharkhand and Odisha are full of mineral resources.
    • Due to the development projects of the government in these regions, such as mining operations, and other activities, the tribal population leaves their homes. and have to go.
    • In such a situation, they have to start their life again, and these displaced populations have to go through multidimensional trauma. They neither have any source of income nor any space to live.
    • Such displaced people are vulnerable to Naxal ideologies. Maoist supplies them with arms, weapons, and money. 
  • Lack of Infrastructure:
    • Naxal-affected areas also lack basic infrastructures such as health care, education, electricity, internet, connectivity, and communication.
    • Many researchers claim that on all these parameters the Red Corridor performs very poorly in comparison to the rest of India.
    • Further, the absence of these facilities also hinders other development projects in these regions.
  • No benefits of Schemes:
    • Welfare schemes are not implemented successfully due to poor administration in such regions.
    • Due to the absence of a monitoring mechanism, these schemes are also misused due to which these benefits do not reach the target population.

Solutions to Naxalism in India

The following are the solution to Naxalism in India:

  • Overall, to fight extremism in this region, the government will have to adopt such rigorous policy measures which can ensure equitable development in the country.
  • These measures have to promote efficiency along with equality in India’s development discord.
  • Some experts believe that the institutional mechanism created to eliminate this regional imbalance has not been completely successful.
  • The policy process also needs to be made more democratic and this demands innovation in the policy regime.
  • According to researchers, there is a need to work on pillars like knowledge, discussion, inclusion, implementation, and public awareness.
  • If work is done on these pillars, it will enable the country to boost better policy outcomes for India’s regional disparity.


At present, the Naxal movement has been restricted majority to some hilly districts of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Orissa. Due to the better performance of the state on the development and governance front, today Naxal insurgents are not able to grow at the same level as they did in the peak era.

According to the September 2021 meeting of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the geographical influence of Maoist has been reduced to only 41 districts, which was earlier spread over 96 districts. Further, the Centre has removed 20 districts and 1 Naxal-affected state from the central funding under the security-related expenditure due to reducing violence. In 2012, an aspirational districts program was launched for the development of regions.

There has been a sharp decline in Left Wing Extremism in the last decade, when 2258 incidents were recorded in 2009, since then 2021 only 349 incidents were reported. Moreover, the death count has come down from 908 to 110. Further, 8 districts have also been added to “Districts of Concern” to prevent the expansion of CPI(Maoist). 

In this discussion we come to know that internal security and development are two sides of the same coin, both depend on each other. So, this was all about Naxalism in India for UPSC.

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