INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Archive for the ‘Data’ Category

Security Assessment- Chhattisgarh

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A good assessment of the current security environment in Chhattisgarh, courtesy of the South Asian Terrorism Portal. As always, a must read.

India's Red Army

Election Numbers- Did the Maoists Matter?

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Apparently not, according to preliminary polling data from Jharkhand.

Voter turnout was higher in the regions considered Maoist strongholds, whereas some places with little rebel presence recorded lower polling percentage.

Initial figures show that polling percentage in the eight Lok Sabha seats varied between 42 and 58 percent as people braved Maoist violence as well as the mercury soaring to 42-46 degree Celsius in various parts.

I haven’t found anything which supports these numbers, but it does seem that there was minimal disruption by the Naxalites. There were a few scattered attacks on Wednesday and another yesterday, but overall Phase II was more tranquil than I had expected.  The killer heatwave gripping much of the country undoubtedly did more to dampen voter enthusiasm than any other factor.

Update: According to the Hindu, overall turnout for Phase II was 55%. Higher than in 2004.

Mapping Naxalism- predictive political ‘science’

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The Only Map Around

everyone loves the only map around

I’m fortunate to have received my master’s in International Relations from the UK where positivism and empiricism doesn’t quite have the hold on the discipline as it does in the US. While using scientific tools to measure and predict social and institutional behaviour are valuable, all too often this type of work veers into the insanely hilarious realm of pseudo-science. Some of the papers I’ve had to read seem to be the cries of a discipline desperate to be taken seriously in a culture which values engineers over artists and numbers over words. Guess what, five line formulas with ‘quantified’ variables representing ephemeral concepts like ‘cultural stability’ or ‘religious conviction’ is inane, silly, and boring as hell… it’s a lot of things, but it ain’t science.

That aside, I do think that there is a paucity of good solid comparative data available on Naxalism in India. In particular, the claim is often made that one of the key key causes of Naxalism are poverty and underdevelopment. The Maoists are strong specifically in those parts of Indian which are the most backward.

Fair enough. This is intuitively plausible. But where is the data which tries to at least support this? Using, say, Maoist attacks/incidents as a proxy for Maoist strength in a cluster of districts and overlaying this with social indicators would be a valuable exercise. It would either support or weaken the counter-insurgency through development argument and would allow for at least some predictive thinking about Naxalite expansion.

This kind of exercise is, of course, flawed. Specifically, are attacks necessarily a proxy for strength? And as every first year undergrad knows, correlation does not equal causality. There could be any number of ’causes’ for Maoist activity… climate, governmental infrastructure, whether the local people like red. In either case, I do think it would useful if it is taken for what it is.

I’m going to start working on this today. It might take a while as anything below state-wide data in India is difficult, if not impossible, to find. Wish me luck! Hopefully something useful will come out of it. Everyone loves a nice map!