INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Economics of War

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A confession. I’m allergic to simplistic, mono-causal analyses of complex, multi-dimensional ‘problems’ like the Naxal insurgency. This sometimes leads me to commit the opposite sin of trying to find complexity where it may not exist. It’s good to take a step back and say, “Keep it simple stupid!”

If there’s one key, operative variable for the intensification and sustainability of the Naxalite insurgency in India’s eastern states, it is the presence of a wealth of exploitable natural resources. I have no intention of making a silly, reductionist claim (No blood for oil!), rather I believe that its both defensible and compelling to state that the presence of natural resources is the main reason that Naxalism has torn apart places like Chhattisgargh and Jharkhand rather than West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

I am fortunate to have had a chance to take a course at the LSE under David Keen. Keen’s work on the political economy of conflict is compelling and also deceptively simple. In short, Keen argues that areas with significant tradeable resources are more likely to experience war and once a war does occur, it is likely to be prolonged as a conflict economy develops which acts as a deterrent for peacemaking among the participants. I’m not doing his nuanced argument justice (and am making it sound a bit teleological), but it’s good enough for a blog post.

The war in Chhattisgargh and Jharkhand was not caused by the presence of a large amounts of natural resources. The two state’s developmental, social and political failures created a space for the promulgation of a revolutionary and violent ideology. However, once the guerrillas did establish themselves, the presence of raw materials enabled the emergence of numerous, illicit networks through which the Maoists are able to gain money, power and arms.

Both the government forces and the Naxalites collaborate with businessman, politicians and, in some cases, each other.The war has created a new political economy in which the winners are everyone except for the ordinary people who live there.

(Image: CSE India)


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