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Mining protest in Andhra Pradesh: silence, then bursts of noise October 16, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Oskarsson, Patrik , comments closed

Patrik Oskarsson

Bauxite mines in the so called Jerrela group of hills received environmental approval by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in 2009 to provide ore for the upcoming aluminium complex of ANRAK Aluminium nearby in the foothills of Visakhapatnam District. But the opposition to mining is significant in the local area with a lot of support in larger civil society as well as from certain parts of the national government such as the Tribal Welfare Minister Kishore Chandra Deo. Despite all statutory clearances having been received, apart from a final approval to remove forest, it is this pressure which continues to prevent the mines from opening or even preparatory work from commencing. A day before our visit to the nearest town Chintapalli and Jerrela in June 2012 Maoists rebels (usually known as Naxalites) had added to the otherwise peaceful protests by beating up road workers who were in the process of widening a road to allow ore trucks to carry their heavy loads from the mines to the refinery.

Protesting CPM activists in front of the APMDC mining office in Chintapalli, Visakhapatnam

Protesting CPM activists in front of the APMDC mining office in Chintapalli, Visakhapatnam. Source: Photo published in the Andhra Pradesh newspaper Eenadu, Visakhapatnam rural edition on 1 July 2012


India’s internal security conundrum September 15, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Guest author: Ashutosh Misra

Blood has spilled on the streets again, right under the nose of India’s symbols of democracy and power – the Indian parliament, President House and the Supreme Court, all situated within few kilometres of the Delhi High Court where 11 people died and over 45 were injured in a suitcase bomb blast on 7 September. Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami (HUJI), the Bangladesh-based outfit has taken has the responsibility as a mark of protest against the impending hanging of the 2001 parliament attack accused Afzal Guru. Initial investigations have shown traces of Indian Mujahideen  (IM) involvement as well and several arrests have been made in this connection in the last couple of days. This second major incident since the 13 July serial blasts in Mumbai and 25 May blast at the same spot outside the Delhi High Court has yet again put the spotlight on India’s intelligence agencies and police force, questioning whether India possesses the wherewithal to rein in these unrelenting attacks.

As the government struggles to recover from the battering it received from the Anna Hazare-led nationwide movement against corruption, India’s internal security situation remains delicately poised. City after city continues to be targeted brazenly by terrorist groups indicating that a decade after the watershed September 11 attacks India’s situation has remained unaltered. Ironically, in contrast to India’s global prospects, domestically the situation does not appear too promising. The country’s recent experiences in dealing with domestic challenges demonstrate a stark mismatch between its global potential and internal capabilities. In particular, two key threats deserve attention here which could impede India’s global rise and economic growth: home grown terrorism (HGT) and left-wing extremism (LWE), both described by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the two most serious threats facing the country. (more…)

FEATURE ARTICLE: India’s ‘strategy’ as an emerging power September 2, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Features, Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

This paper is a short version of a paper submitted for publication.  It is not to be quoted or cited without the author’s permission.


As India rises to power, some critical questions need to be answered both by analysts of that rise and those in the Indian government determining the strategies to be adopted. The most fundamental of these questions relate to the relationship between India as a rising power, its neighbourhood (South Asia), its region (Asia) and the world. How do these different levels of security inter-relate in the context of a rising power? To what extent does a great power aspirant such as India need to ensure competitors cannot garner undue influence in its South Asian neighbourhood? What strategies might India adopt to deal with the enmeshed nature of dissonance between its domestic and neighbourhood arenas?

A measure of power that includes analysis at different levels of the global structure is somewhat different from, but not inimical to, more traditional measures. These tend to assess power in relation to population and economic strength, while often ignoring the geopolitical and regional circumstances within which a rising power is required to operate. For example, power transition theorists, and for that matter their critics, often tend to look at issues in this way. (Gideon Rose, ‘Neoclassical Realism and Theories of Foreign Policy’, World Politics, Vol. 51, No. 1, October 1998, pp. 144-72, p 146).

A number of analysts – especially of South Asia –  have, however, become interested in emerging powers in relation at least to the regional and global levels, if not the domestic, neighbourhood, regional and global levels we canvass here. This view of power acquisition from the point of view of a power’s region or neighbourhood ipso facto brings the domestic perspective on power acquisition into sharper focus, since the domestic-neighbourhood linkages are inevitably close – a phenomenon strongly evident in South Asia. It thus differs from the perspective of ‘offensive realists’, who claim that factors relating to the international order are always dominant.

India falls well short of a power that can function with ease within its South Asian neighbourhood. Indeed, policy makers in New Delhi are caught in a tightly woven, negative inter-relationship between dissonances within India and dissonances in South Asia. And events in South Asia are, in turn, heavily influenced by global developments. India appears powerless to sever these links.


When will India attend to Naxalism? July 16, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Kumar, Vikas , comments closed

Vikas Kumar, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion

This article first appeared on the East Asia Forum on June 25th, 2010.

According to the latest estimates, the Indian economy continues to grow at a rate of 8 per cent. But the question of whether this economic growth will create opportunities for all sections of society remains hotly contested.

In 2004, the National Democratic Alliance lost the parliamentary elections to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). This election was largely decided on the question of whether the fruits of economic growth were accessible to the poor, minorities, tribes, and socially underdeveloped communities. UPA subsequently won the 2009 parliamentary elections as well. Yet despite the ascendancy of the Indian centre-left, in the last five years, extreme left-wing insurgency, or Naxalism, which is opposed to the economic policies of New Delhi, has emerged as the single biggest challenge to the Indian state and economy.

This situation is historically unprecedented.

None of India’s historical insurgent movements ever encompassed more than 5 – 6 per cent of the population and area at any one time. By contrast, Naxalism currently affects 25 – 30 per cent of India. The Naxalism-affected areas include about 200 districts in more than 15 provinces. These districts account for almost the entire mineral wealth of India, and are responsible for a large share of India’s electricity generation and forest products. Naxalism has also engulfed two important ports and six major cities including Hyderabad.


India’s Maoist threat: ‘state power’ versus state malaise June 8, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

In 2005, PM Manmohan Singh claimed that the Maoist challenge was India’s “most serious security problem”.  That surprised many commentators at the time, who were fixated on violent jihadi terrorism.

Singh is an economist and would have been keenly aware that the 200-odd Maoist affected districts (out of over 600 – see map) are spread over India’s minerals and energy (coal) provinces and its timber-bearing, broadleaf forests.  In other words, they constitute a ‘dagger at the heart’ of India’s vital extractive industries.

This general co-location of Maoists (also known as ‘Naxalites’) and extractive industries is no surprise.  India’s tribal population (Adiwasis) inhabit the less urbanised and more forested regions where the minerals, coal and timber happen to be.  They have a deep, spiritual relationship with the land somewhat similar to the Australian Aboriginals.  Corruption and incompetence mean that they are often dispossessed by extractive industries with little or no compensation.  This has forced many into the arms of the Maoists.

India’s so-called ‘Red Corridor’.  Source: Wikimedia


Red Terror, sloppy state October 28, 2009

Posted by sandygordon in : India , comments closed

Guest author: Dr Nihar Nayak, Associate Fellow, IDSA, New Delhi

This article first appeared in The Pioneer on 24 October 2009.

Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram has good intentions but would do well to carry out a SWOT on the government’s position before launching his operation to end the Maoist menace.

October 2009 will be recalled for long as the ‘red’ month. Maoist insurgency has captured the collective imagination of India on an unprecedented scale. The resolve of the government, as articulated by the Home Minister, is also one of the most significant in our times because though Maoism/Naxalism has been around for a while, the ruthlessness and brutality with which these Communist terrorists operate was somehow accorded less attention than the more glamorous  jihadi variety.

Also starkly evident  is the lack of preparedness of the Indian State to meet this kind of terror. The security forces don’t seem to have learnt from past incidents involving Naxalite violence. They have repeatedly ignored, at considerable cost to themselves, the standard operational procedure circulated by the Centre to states affected by the menace. Such negligence becomes even more worrisome in the light of the resolution passed by the Communist Party of India-Maoist Politburo to prepare and mobilise the People’s Liberation Group Army (PLGA) and sympathisers to carry out tactical counter-offensives and various forms of resistance to inflict maximum losses targeting the security forces. (more…)