INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

with 8 comments

UPDATE: Mr. Mani’s plagarised article at openDemocracy has been pulled by their editorial team. I sent an email complaining late last week. The editors at the publication acted in a timely and professional manner. The surprising thing to me is that Mr. Mani thought he might be able to get away with it. I mean, really? The on-line world of those interested in Naxalism is pretty small. We mostly know each other. It’s not as if the piece was about Israel-Palestine.

In either case, thanks to those who brought this to my attention.
I just stumbled upon this piece from Opinion Asia by Rakesh Mani. Mr. Mani is, according to the site, a Bombay-based Teach for India Fellow. Somewhat unsurprisingly I couldn’t agree with him more. Perhaps this has something to do with the uncanny resemblance that his article has to a piece I wrote for Pragati‘s April issue.

The similarities are truly extraordinary. For example, Mr. Mani writes:

The fatal flaw of Operation Green Hunt and of the government’s general approach to the Naxalite issue is that they are rooted in the culture of brutal repression and top-down development. What makes the Naxalites attractive is that they can conjure up an alternate vision of the future. Their future fights the entire superstructure that has historically bred poverty, alienation and displacement in the tribal belt.

Contrast this with what I wrote back in March:

This is the fatal flaw of Green Hunt. It is rooted in the two approaches that have always coloured the state’s interaction with the adivasis: repression and top-down development. The Naxalites are able to articulate an alternative vision. Theirs represents a complete rejection of a framework that has done little more than breed poverty and alienation in the tribal heartland. The only way that the government can demonstrate the poverty of the Naxalite vision is by giving the adivasis a real stake in the governance of democratic India.

When I first read Mr. Mani’s post, I must admit that I was slightly annoyed and had even thought of sending a nasty little missive to Opinion Asia. Then, after some thought, I realised that I should feel happy rather than offended. After all, it isn’t often that you stumble on a thinker whose thoughts are so similar ones own that you could have even written their article for them!

So, Mr. Mani, I look forward to any of your future contributions to the debate on Naxalism. I should have a few more articles published this summer. Feel free to take a look.


Written by Michael

May 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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8 Responses

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  1. I came on to your blog to tell you that I had just found this article on Open Democracy ( and then realised you already knew about it from a different source. I hope you don’t mind but I had already put a comment on the OD site about it. It’s testament to how plagiarised it is that I recognised your article in it, and also testament to how much I’ve ripped off your thoughts myself, although hopefully in much less obvious ways.


    May 14, 2010 at 10:52 am

    • Thanks! I guess I should do something about it. And I very much appreciate your comment on the OD site. It is a copy/paste job mostly and a blatant one at that.



      May 14, 2010 at 10:59 am

      • Sure,,,,,,,

        in fact, though I can’t claim such a wonderful similarity as yours, butr nevertheless:

        “Now, who are the protagonists in this war? Activists and sympathizers say the tribals are spearheading the movement whereas the ruling elite castigate a group of ‘hoodlums’ termed as the Maoists to be behind this mayhem. The sleeping power structures of India have been forced to wake up and take into cognizance the increasing ‘threat scenario’ lurking around the socio-political dimensions of the nation.”

        ( (27th April 2010)


        “Who are the Maoists? On the one hand, India’s Prime Minister calls them India’s biggest internal security threat and the Home Ministry tells us that they are merciless killers who want to overthrow the state. Meanwhile, left-wing intellectuals and sympathizers glamorize them and garland them as idealistic revolutionaries who are fighting to build a more just and inclusive society.”

        (Rakesh Mani on 05 May 2010)

        Uddipan Mukherjee

        May 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm

  2. the criticism seems to have worked……..
    Rakesh Mani’s article has vanished from Open Democracy

    Uddipan Mukherjee

    May 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    • Yeah. It did. I sent an email to the editorial team and they gave Mr. Mani a chance to reply to accusations. He didn’t so they pulled the piece.


      May 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm

  3. Michael, I assume you know the most famous example in the “sub-field,” to my knowledge, is in Prakash Louis’s book from Bela Bhatia’s EPW 05 article on the movement in Bihar. He DID get away with it, which might have something to do what happened to you? Just speculating since it set some sort of precedent. This is unfortunately why she no longer shares her dissertation, which is her only monograph length worke. When is her book gonna come out anyway?


    May 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    • No. I haven’t heard of Louis. He got away with it? Not cool… can you send me some links to the original?


      May 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm

  4. Bhatia’s article in pdf for can be found at:$FILE/8510%5B1%5D.pdf

    For starters, the ‘genealogical” chart of the history of Maoist/Naxalite parties up to 2005 on page 4 (1539) is repeated in Louis’s book on pages 198-199. There may be other instances, but I haven’t cross-checked with this or her other articles, and as we know, Bhatia’s thesis is only accessible at the British and SOAS libraries. Louis has at least a few articles published in EPW and has written several other books.

    It’s doubley unfortunate, I feel , because otherwise Louis’s book is one of the best on the movement since the 1980 so far. Gail Omvedt wrote the forward.


    May 19, 2010 at 7:22 pm

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