Development Challenges in Extremist Affected Areas
REPORT OF AN EXPERT GROUP
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
1.18.1 The development paradigm pursued since independence has aggravated the prevailing discontent among marginalised sections of society. This is because the development paradigm as conceived by the policy makers has always been imposed on these communities, and therefore it has remained insensitive to their needs and concerns, causing irreparable damage to these sections. The benefits of this paradigm of development have been disproportionately cornered by the dominant sections at the expense of the poor, who have borne most of the costs. Development which is insensitive to the needs of these communities has invariably caused displacement and reduced them to a sub-human existence. In the case of tribes in particular it has ended up in destroying their social organisation, cultural identity, and resource base and generated multiple conflicts, undermining their communal solidarity, which cumulatively makes them increasingly vulnerable to exploitation.
1.18.2 In the case of SCs and also tribes, protection against social discrimination is the essential condition for the enjoyment of any development benefits that remain unrealised. The pattern of development and its implementation has increased corrupt practices of a rent seeking bureaucracy and rapacious exploitation by the contractors, middlemen, traders and the greedy sections of the larger society intent on grabbing their resources and violating their dignity. It has invariably happened that in situations where the interests of the larger community have clashed with the interests of the tribal communities, the former have prevailed to the detriment of the latter. The participation of these communities in the articulation of this paradigm of development is at best symbolic and at worst non-existent.
1.18.3 This concludes our brief review of various disturbing aspects of the socio-economic context that prevails in large parts of India today, and that may (and can) contribute to politics such as that of the Naxalite movement or erupt as other forms of violence. It should be recognized that there are different kinds of movements, and that calling and treating them generally as unrest, a disruption of law and order, is little more than a rationale for suppressing them by force. It is necessary to contextualize the tensions in terms of social, economic and political background and bring back on the agenda the issues of the people –the right to livelihood, the right to life and a dignified and honourable existence. The State itself should feel committed to the democratic and human rights and humane objectives that are inscribed in the Preamble, the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of the Constitution. The State has to adhere strictly to the Rule of Law. Indeed, the State has no other authority to rule.
1.18.4 It is critical for the Government to recognize that dissent or expression of dissatisfaction is a positive feature of democracy, that unrest is often the only thing that actually puts pressure on the government to make things work and for the government to live up to its own promises. However the right to protest, even peacefully, is often not recognized by the authorities and even non-violent agitations are met with severe repression. Greater scope and space for democratic activity will bring down the scale of unrest, as it would create confidence in governance and open channels for expression of popular discontent. What is surprising is not the fact of unrest, but the failure of the State to draw right conclusions from it. While the official policy documents recognize that there is a direct correlation between what is termed as extremism and poverty, or take note of the fact that the implementation of all development schemes is ineffective, or point to the deep relationship between tribals and forests, or that the tribals suffer unduly from displacement, the governments have in practice treated unrest merely as a law and order problem. It is necessary to change this mindset and bring about congruence between policy and implementation. There will be peace, harmony and social progress only if there is equity, justice and dignity for every one.
95 Page report is available at