Maoist Victory in Nepal — A Good Thing?

Journalist Siddharth Varadarajan was in Nepal for the past couple of weeks, covering the recent Constituent Assembly elections there first-hand, and he’s written some marvelously informative articles about where the country seems to be going at this decisive moment of reformulation.

In a piece published in The Hindu on April 16, Varadarajan argued that the recent Maoist victory in Nepal might end up as a good thing for both Nepal and India:

By the time of the Jan Andolan of 2006, it was the Maoist demand for an end to the monarchy and the election of a Constituent Assembly which had captured the imagination of the people, even if the Maoists were not at the head of the mass movement in Kathmandu.

Over the past two years, the Maoists succeeded in pushing the envelope further, winning popular acceptance for their slogans of an inclusive, federal republic as well as for a more equitable voting system. Nepal’s political elite and sections of the Indian establishment who feared losing control of the entire process sought to derail the momentum the former rebels had built up. The proposal for a fully proportional election system was blocked and the Madhesi agitation encouraged as a means of weakening the Maoists. None of these efforts succeeded. The Maoists contested the CA election as the creators of the new mainstream. And it is hardly surprising that the people of Nepal should have chosen them to lead the process of writing the country’s constitution. (link)

This goes against the conventional thinking on Maoists, who in other parts of Asia have tended to be more comfortable as guerilla fighters/terrorists than as fair leaders in democratic republics. From the rest of the article, I gather that Varadarajan trusts them because 1) the other political parties in Nepal have thoroughly discredited themselves over the years (read the article for more), and 2) since coming above-ground, the Maoist leadership (Prachanda) has behaved in ways that suggest it really is committed to the democratic process, including cooperation with other parties. I must confess that despite Varadarajan’s work I remain uneasy about this — Maoists just do not have a good track record in terms of human rights, anywhere in the world. (I first wrote about the Maoist ceasefire in December 2006.)

I would also recommend an earlier article by Varadarajan from just before the elections (April 6), where he explains the ethnic/communal tensions that are part of this story. (The Maoists have traditionally supported the Madhesis, who are ethnically ‘Indian,’ but who have in the past been the victims of discrimination by the Nepalese majority. Recently, however, there have been conflicts between the Maoists and armed/militant Madhesi groups.)

38 thoughts on “Maoist Victory in Nepal — A Good Thing?

  1. What would you expect from a person like SV who works himself up into a frenzy of adulation over marxists/maoists/stalinists of every stripe? SV in the N.ram tradition of Tibetan excursions, sees nothing and says nothing. When Prachanda and Bhattarai had issued unambiguous threats to the administration, electorate, and anybody in general that if they did not win the elections, they would seize the state, where is the question of a free and fair election. Not only the Madhesis, but also the Gorkhas are opposed to the Maoists. For now the Prachanda and Bhattarai duo may yet pull off a constitutioon to their liking. But the future lies uneasy. The Maoist duo take their orders from China like India’s Commies, and can be expected to ruthlessly crush any popular movement opposing them, using Chinese style measures and even troops. India has just lost another buffer between itself and China as it lost Tibet over 50 years ago. With all the experience of mistakes, India watched this crumbling unfold under its gaze over the last four years.

    The Maoist/Marxist/Communist principle governing electoral democracy is as follows: One man, One vote, One time.

  2. What is the role of China, in funding the Maoists?? Why do we assume that somehow overtly Communist party will not want to go to their stated goal of a communist regime (Maoist leader admitted this final goal on NPR a few days back). Soon Nepal would be completely under China’s influence if not an outright takeover like Tibet.

  3. 2 · RC said

    What is the role of China, in funding the Maoists?? Why do we assume that somehow overtly Communist party will not want to go to their stated goal…outright takeover like Tibet.

    Because some of us harbour illusions, others look forward to a commie takeover.

  4. It’s difficult to argue with a straight face that a Maoist victory in Nepal is a good thing for India. Buttressing that argument with claims that South Block was duped by the U.S. into thinking that Maoists would only get 8-10% of the vote, is laughable. Since when has India’s Foreign Ministry been convinced by the U.S. on anything? Vardarajan writes:

    Bogus surveys commissioned by the U.S. embassy in Kathmandu in which the Maoists were shown as winning only 8 to 10 per cent of the popular vote started circulating within the corridors of power in New Delhi. Accordingly, the foreign office’s contingency planning revolved around coping with the fallout of a poor showing by the former rebels.

    The actual task of running a government will mainstream the Maoists. Certainly that’s what Marxists like Sitaram Yechury appear to claim ( BTW, Yechury played a significant brokering role in “mediating” between Koirala and Prachanda over the past few years — since when did a Politburo member have a foreign policy role?), and if the Marxists in West Bengal are any example, there’s hope yet for slow moderation of Leftist ideology.

    I’d also guess that Nepal’s Maoists aren’t going to be content with this victory, and if Prachanda is smart, he’ll keep his followers occupied with business outside of Kathmandu, spreading the Maoist gospel. And why not milk the India-China competition for all it’s worth? Contrary to what is posted in the comments above, Bimal Gurung’s Ghorkaland movement is supported by Nepali Maoists (ethnic ties run deep), and both Sikkim and Bhutan are facing a growing Maoist influence. Visit the UN’s Bhutanese Refugee camps in Nepal and you’ll see.

    Of course, some of India’s Maoist groups have come out against Prachanda’s gang, claiming they have sold out. Guess you can’t please everyone. But I guess there’s always someone more Left than you .

  5. I am no fan of Mr. Varadarajan’s pronouncements, jyotsana has already pointed to the “Hindu-clique” aspect of his background, which helps him always overlook the thuggishness, violence and plainly anti-democratic tendencies of the indian left.

    The nepal election is important tho’, its a kind of peasant rebellion that uses the name of Mao and anger at the king to help it win. Overall, its a real powerful story but one whose trajectory is far from clear. No question that empowerment of lots of forgotten groups and people has taken place, but the economy has to be managed and I do wonder if the folks who have been voted in have any idea of how to do this. Or will they spend their time attacking business folk and landowners and generally make a mess of things? Is this going to be like Bengal of the 60s and 70s?

    Any mutineers in nepal right now? Whats going on? Is this Nepal’s last election? Will Prachanda (“the terrible one”) honor his commitment to democratic means? Or only until he is elected president?

  6. Sid Varadarajan is given to making stuff up out of thin air, in The Hindu chinese mouthpiece fashion. Isn’t it the rag’s Beijing scribe/penpusher-alias-correspondent Pallavi Iyer dubbed Dalai Lama to China’s Osama Bin Laden! Didn’t know Dalai Lama’s minions have the habit of blowing themselves up or flying planes into buildings! Sid Varadarajan here is being his usual self making up some fake State Dept survey floating around the MEA in Delhi. In fact India’s MEA had far more important stuff to do during the last 10 days, turning itself into a doormat for China and organising elaborate security for China’s Ashwamedha Yagna – ie the Olympic Torch run – and blanketed the capital with oppressive security all for the fear of a few monks. Maybe Sid Varadarajan isn’t happy enough that the Indian administration – now beholden to China’s interests in India, the Commies, and bnending and scraping before Chinese thugs in suits – is simply scraping before China, maybe he wants India to now deal with China’s client Prachanda in Nepal instead of bothering it with trifles. Sid Varadarajan lost his credibility years ago xxxxxxg for every jackbooted and bearded thug. It takes a rare form of stupidity – commie stupidity of the Varadarajan kind – to warn as he did India on the eve of the Japanese Premier’s visit some years ago to India, about Japan’s territorial ambitions! Here is India whose land is occupied by China and we have “correspondents” like Varadarajan carrying the can for China and cooking up conspiracies.

  7. What right did the Maoists have in abolishing the monarchy? It was the ancestor of the current king who made Nepal in the first place.

  8. 9 · Al beruni said

    Quick check of Nepali blogs shown a much more complex picture than Vardarajan’s socialist heaven day dreams – United We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal

    It will take a lot more to disabuse Sid V of his fantasies. This is the person who goes into raptures over a tyrant like Fidel Castro who is known to watched gleefully as his thugs tortured dissidents. OF course the reality in Nepal is a lot more complicated even if Sid V. wouldn’t let you understand that.

    Whatever happens I hope Nepal and her people who represent everything beautiful, divine, and compassionate prosper and flurish. I have spent only a week in Nepal and that too most of it in spendorous seclusion. But what little I saw of the people left me moved.

  9. With the exception of Al Beruni’s comment #5, I don’t see much intelligent commentary here so far.

    Instead of directly refuting Varadarajan on substance, people are making ad hominem attacks: calling him a “commie” or a “stupid commie” and so on is not respectful dialogue, and it doesn’t get us anywhere. Calling The Hindu, a respected newspaper, a “rag,” is equally dumb.

    Secondly, the people smirking at this article by Varadarajan have not actually given a better analysis of the fact that the Maoists won a surprising victory via a democratic election that by all account was completely fair. The questions raised by the event are important: 1) how did it happen? and 2) what can we expect going forward? On point (1), he strikes me as quite compelling regarding why the other parties lost ground. I am not sure about point (2), and said so in the post.

  10. I am quite stunned that Nepal has gone the way of the Maoists given his withering assessment of Naxalism in India: A Wounded Civilization.

  11. In terms of whether it’s good for India, it would seem a key factor is the extent of cooperation between the Maoists in Nepal and the Naxalites in India. The more there is, the worse for India. Pankaj Mishra suggests reasons to think the ties are non-negligible (Temptations of the West, pp. 285-303), but this this article from yesterday features an Indian minister saying there’s “no specific evidence” of a “nexus.” The India/Nepal border is pretty porous.

  12. 11 · Amardeep said

    Instead of directly refuting Varadarajan on substance, people are making ad hominem attacks: calling him a “commie” or a “stupid commie” and so on is not respectful dialogue, and it doesn’t get us anywhere. Calling The Hindu, a respected newspaper, a “rag,” is equally dumb. Secondly, the people smirking at this article by Varadarajan have not actually given a better analysis of the fact that the Maoists won a surprising victory via a democratic election that by all account was completely fair. The questions raised by the event are important: 1) how did it happen? and 2) what can we expect going forward? On point (1), he strikes me as quite compelling regarding why the other parties lost ground. I am not sure about point (2), and said so in the post.

    If Sid Varadarajan conjures reports with no references whatsoever using boilerplate like “in the corridors of the MEA” or some such thing, it doesn’t deserve any a refutation -just a putdown. We do not want to speculate over the absurdity of Sid V being in two places at the same time, i n Nepal, watching the elections and nosing around the “corridors” smelling out a report on that non-existent survey conducted by the State Department. This is such patent poppycock that there is no fact in it to be questioned. The Hindu is most certainly a rag and a very cheap one at that. When its editor turns himself into a mouthpiece for the greay suits of teh Chinese Communist part and uncritically reprints Xinhua press releases as reports, calling the paper rag even is generous. The Hindu has a long and shameful history of denialism with respect to commie tyrants. It is the about the only “newspaper” if you count out party mouthpieces that sings paens to Stalin, Kim Il Sung and Mao. If that’s not ragged behaviour nothing is. Who says that the Maoist victory was surprisng? Sid V? With Prachanda and Bhattarai threatening to subvert the mandate if it were not in their favour and the Youth Communist League running riot all over the land whjat sort of a farce is it?

  13. Sorry Amardeep, I don’t believe you’re being completely fair. You’re asking people to speculate, which is what I tried to do, but okay, let me add more and you can tell me if it’s “intelligent” enough for you.

    Perhaps China will increase it’s influence in Nepal now that it has an ideological partner in the government (and it appears that Nepali police are taking a hardline against Tibetan protestors, for example, which may be an indication of the Nepal-China relationship). How will India respond?

    In NE India, particularly in the narrow corridor of West Bengal that lies between Nepal and Bangladesh, there is a significant ethnic Nepali population. How will they react to the new government, which is less tied to its Hindu roots? I believe you’ll see support for the Ghorkhas and other separatist movements, though perhaps not overtly publicly. And you’ll see the Communist Party of Bhutan also get more support (its first press release was sent out using the Communist Party of Nepal’s website, for example). This has implications for India, as the NE states might be literally cut off from “mainland” India.

    Nepal and Bangladesh have also had a positive relationship based on their being smaller nations living in the shadow of a much larger India. Nepal has wanted a rail/trade link to the coast through Bangladesh, but so far the Indian govt. has always required that good be offloaded in India and reloaded before going into Bangladesh, slowing down transport tremendously.

    I mentioned a statement against Nepal’s Maoists by Indian Maoists. You can find that here.

  14. I was an international observer and have just returned from Nepal after 3 weeks. I happened to be at a diplomatic function four nights ago where a senior Nepali journalist and the ambassador of one important Asian country and one North American one were saying that only Mr Varad Rajan of the Hindu of India had predicted the possibility of Maoist victory before the elections and that the entire Nepalese media had got it wrong. Since I am unfamiliar with Indian politics and newspapers, I do not wish to wade into the ongoing polemic here. But I am amused that people here are doubting the existence of a US embassy survey. Moriarty, the previous American ambassador in Kathhmandu, had commissioned it and all embassies were sent copies at the time and an “updated” version with the same results was circulating last month. Since Indian diplomats were also saying 8 or 9 percent for the Maoists, it would not surprise me if the source of that magic number was the US embassy…

  15. The implication for India in terms of the PWG and Naxal movements are grave. The get a ready made base to launch attacks on India from Nepal. Another hostile neighbour been created for India.

  16. Another worrying matter is the collusion between the Indian Maoist thugs like Varavara Rao, who dubs civilian targets of Maoist butchery, “detail”, and the Nepal Maoists, both of whom are clearly acting at the behest of the Chinese commies. The CPI(M) and a rag like The Hindu in India are the A-Team that work thru “civil society”. The Maoist thugs are the B-TEam that work by attacking the pillars of civil society. The Maoist takeover of Nepal portends great troubles for India, only the deluded can fail to see it, only the compromised 5th columnists can deny it. This is no less terrible a turn of events than the invasion of Sind around the end of the 1st millennium by Bin Qasim. Then the numerous potentates and princes of India were busier fighting among themselves, and even busier currying favours with the foreign free-booters who had already started to venture into the subcontinent. This time the threat is from the East led by an economic colossus, China, that intends to quell its neighbourhood before taking on the rest of the world. And its cats paws in India the commies have accomplished just that. The Congress can be expected to place the interests of its family management and retainers over the country’s interests every time, as it did when it collaborated with the Naxals in AP during the 2004 Assembly elections. Even now the UPA administration fudges or belittles the threat that Maoist thugs pose to society. Now India’s Maoist thugs need not worry, they have a safe haven in Nepal that they can retreat to as and when they please. China is already an observer in SAARC, and has now completly encircled India. We may well be looking at the last days of the Indian Union. Remember you read it here first.

  17. some caution here… I think the “Maoist” label has really obscured the actual ideologies of this movement in Nepal. I’m not saying that they’re not Maoist-derived, but there is a sea of complexity that can and probably has evolved from their intial Maoist inspiration for armed peasant insurrection. To lump them in uncritically with “Maoism” as an undifferentiated ideological bloc is a major mistake.

    There’s also a lot of continued Cold-War-esque hyperventilation about the grand Maoist/Marxist/Communist/Leninist conspiracy, which is pretty inane to me. You just can’t lump in every “enemy ideology” into one monolith, especially when you don’t know much about them. It doesn’t make sense logically AND it doesn’t make sense historically. Even during the height of the Cold War, when Communist Parties all over the world actually DID often defer to Russian Communist imperialism, there existed plenty of contradictions and conflicts. I think we need to see a more detailed analysis of the Nepalese (or for that matter, Indian) Maoists before we start making broad assumptions. I, for one, was not shocked that the “Maoists” were willingly participating in the democratic process. The things I’d read indicated that they were not a carbon copy of Chinese Maoism but rather some kind of indigenous synthesis of different things including but not limited to Maoism.

  18. This article summarizes the ideology of the Communist Party in Nepal very well.

    The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), is a Maoist group heavily modelled on Peru’s Sendero Luminoso, better known as the Shining Path. The CPN’s goals are to end the Nepalese monarchy and replace it with a Maoist people’s republic, as well as an end to “Indian imperialism,” capitalist exploitation, the caste system, and ethnic, religious, and linguistic exploitation. Thomas A. Marks describes their means as consisting of five elements: mass line (an alternative socialist society), united front (uniting with other anti-government groups who do not necessarily share the same goals as the CPN), military (armed action), political warfare (nonviolent methods such as legal political activity or negotiations in lieu of military action), and international action (finding alies and support in the international community). The CPN got the inspiration for its tactics from the afore mentioned Shining Path of Peru, as well as Indian Maoists known as “Naxalites.” The common trait shared by these two groups is their penchant for brutality, taking Mao’s call for the “elimination of class enemies” to its violent extreme. The irony that the CPN faces, a similar one shared with many other leftist groups, is that their leadership, Parchanda and Bhattarai, are both well educated Brahmins. The followers of the CPN however, are largely drawn from Nepal’s lower classes. The CPN also draws heavy support from the Magartribe, as evidenced by the fact that there has Magar dominance of guerrilla units in areas where Magars are a considerable minority. The CPN generally uses a combination of mass line and united front to gain local support but will use terror in areas where support comes more slowly. Such incidents have increased as the CPN has moved out of its traditional areas of support. In some areas, especially in the Mid-West where the CPN has firm control of the area and government control is considerably limited, the CPN acts as the defacto government. The CPN was originally centered in the border area of Rolpa and Rukkum districts in the Mid-West. Since the CPN lacks the drug income that has helped to finance FARC and the Shining Path, the CPN relies on bank-robbing, kidnapping-for-ransom, and extortion to get added funds, which have in fact not been able to allow for rapid expansion of the CPN. While nonviolent means were important in base areas, terror was widely used when expanding into disputed areas, ultimately culminating with the November 2001 general offensive. Generally, the tactics used in taking over a village include incapacitating the village leader and leaving an absence of power that could only be filled by the CNP. The police, poorly armed and considerably spread-out, are generally powerless to do anything. Thomas A. Marks describes one interesting tactic used to deal with the local police force includes begining with a small attack to draw the attention of the local police forces and thus spread out their numbers. Once this has occurred, small guerrilla units attack the smaller, more isolated police forces, which in turn forces the police to consolidate their forces, ultimately leaving larger swaths of the local population at the mercy of the insurgents. Other tactics inluded cutting roads, bridges, or power to a region to isolate it and then begin the socialist process. Most of these Maoists are young people from peasant families of dalits, low-caste Hindus, and make up twenty per cent of Nepal’s population. Several leaders of these Nepalese Maoists come from lower middle class families. Many of them are educated and were influenced by leftist ideas while studying in India and other countries. Although the movement was initially inspired by the revolutionary notions of the late Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, many analysts today say the rebels are building on popular discontent in the country. The growth of the Maoist movement in Nepal should be seen as a failure of mainstream politics to meet the needs and aspirations of the country’s rural poor, including land reform. The rebels want re-distribution of land, with sixty percent of crops going to farmers and forty percent to landlords. The Maoists contend that the multi-party democracy, which was established in 1990, has failed to improve the living conditions of people in villages. They accuse corrupt politicians and rich landlords of oppressing and exploiting the low-caste poor. It is basically a revolt of people out in the countryside who are beginning to realize that in an essentially feudal way of life, change is not only overdue but inevitable. In the rural areas controlled by the Maoists, rebels are getting some support because they are helping peasants retake their land from the powerful landlords. In many cases, these landowners have forced illiterate people to sign land-transfer documents for non-payment of long-standing debts. Population pressure on natural resources is increasing. Over-population is already straining the “carrying capacity” of the middle hill areas, particularly the Kathmandu Valley, resulting in the depletion of forest cover for crops, fuel, and fodder and contributing to erosion and flooding. Discrimination against lower castes is especially common in the rural areas in the western part of the country, even though the Government has outlawed the public shunning of “untouchables,” and makes an effort to protect the rights of the disadvantaged castes. Economic, social and educational advancement tend to be a function of historical patterns, geographic location, and caste. Better education and higher levels of prosperity, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, slowly are reducing caste distinctions and increasing opportunities for lower socioeconomic groups. Better educated, urban-oriented castes (Brahmin, Chhetri, and certain elements of the Newar community traditionally dominant in the Kathmandu Valley) continue to dominate politics and senior administrative and military positions, and to control a disproportionate share of natural resources in their territories. Children and adolescents have been the most impacted. A majority of the children involved in the Maoist-run organization were forced or lured to act as soldiers. Children have been used as human shields, as porters to carry the Maoist’s dead comrades, as housekeepers and cooks, and as sex slaves. Overall, as a result of the conflict, many young children and pre-adolescents have been left alone, either abandoned by their families for their own safety or orphaned by killings. Often these children have found themselves totally isolated as community protection systems, both formal and informal, have broken down. The physical and psychosocial welfare of children in the conflict areas has declined. Nepal has an immediate need to address these issues related to children and youth as a result of the Maoist conflict.

    This article in dismal world lays out the opinion of the CPN about India.

    * The armed struggle against the Indian army. The Maoists apprehend or even foresee that when they ultimately proclaim the establishment of a People’s Republic of Nepal either in the areas presently under their control or in the whole of Nepal, if and when they capture Kathmandu, India might not be a silent spectator of their success and that its Army might intervene to crush the Maoists. They proclaim themselves as confident of being able to take on the Indian Army, with the back-up support of the Maoists of India in general and of Bihar in particular. At the same time, they have been discussing how to confront the Indian army if it intervenes to crush the Maoist revolution in Nepal. Prachanda says: * “We decided that we should initiate People’s War from different parts of the country. We should centralize in mainly three areas-East, Middle, West-and the capital. Cities should also be another point, not for armed clashes, but for propaganda and such things. And one other area where we should concentrate work is in India, because more than seven million Nepalese live in India. Therefore India should be the other point where we should make efforts to resist the ruling classes.” * “Ultimately, we will have to fight with the Indian army. That is the situation. Therefore, we have to take into account the Indian army. When the Indian army comes in with thousands and thousands of soldiers, it will be a very big thing. But we are not afraid of the Indian Army because, in one way, it will be a very good thing. They will give us lots of guns. And lots of people will fight them. This will be a national war. And it will be a very big thing. They will have many difficulties intervening. It will not be so easy for them. But if they stupidly dare…they will dare, they will be compelled. They will do that stupidity. We have to prepare for that. And for that reason we are saying we will also need a particular international situation. And for us this has to do mainly with India, Indian expansionism. When there is an unstable situation in India and a strong mass base there in support of People’s War in Nepal and there are contradictions within the Indian ruling class-at that point we can seize, we can establish and declare that we have base areas, that we have a government.”
  19. Nitti,

    That’s a lot of detail about the Nepal Maoists. I am sure Sid Varadarajan will find a way to explain it away. Right now he’s shooting off angry missives to the Indian government to help remove the terrorist tag on Prachanda’s thuggish rabble. The Nepal Maoists aren’t any different from any destructive gang. And like all of them, whther it is ULFA, the Manipur separatist thugs, or the Naga separatist thugs, the LTTE butchers, drug smuggling, sexual exploitation, are all major sources of revenue. Like all totalitarian and ideological movements (whether religious or not) the Maoists have a very questionable view of basic human freedoms – while using the mechanisms of the state to protect themselves, they willdeny that to their own victims. That is why the literary loutish thug Varavara Rao who lobbies on behalf of Indian Maoists can never be found aiding the law to prosecute Maoists, while dismissing the Maoists butchery as “details.” It is well known that that the terrorist scum in India’s North East (ULFA, Manipur, and Naga terrorists) run a commercial pornography racket, which even this blog has covered. That is in keeping with the well known prediliction of all tyrants.

  20. 21 · yeti there is a sea of complexity that can and probably has evolved from their intial Maoist inspiration . . . . To lump them in uncritically with “Maoism” as an undifferentiated ideological bloc is a major mistake.

    Yeti, Endlessly deconstructing terms like Maoist and highlighting minor ideological differences isn’t terribly productive if the groups are similar along relevant dimensions, which, for example, Nittii’s post #23 suggests to me they are. I learned that difference along irrelevant dimensions still allows for productive grouping along relevant dimensions through close ideological study of the post-Mao Chinese communist dictators, one of whom said (I am translating loosely) “black cat, white cat, it still catches mice.” ;-)

  21. India is fast becoming a 2 billion population country ,aided by the English media which turns a blind eye regarding this urgent problem. The governing coalition is a hotch-potch of various sub-castiest parties and cannot govern India in a proper way. This is a perfect recipe for eventual takeover of India by the marxists and the naxalites in another 25 years. The nation will divide again with a new homeland for the everpopulating muslims in the new subcontinent. The communists will be glad to create a new muslim homelands in UP, AP, west bengal and kerala. I never thought this way while growing in india, but seeing the way things happening now in Tibet and nepal, I see it coming and I feel sad.

  22. Endlessly deconstructing terms like Maoist and highlighting minor ideological differences isn’t terribly productive if the groups are similar along relevant dimensions, which, for example, Nittii’s post #23 suggests to me they are. I learned that difference along irrelevant dimensions still allows for productive grouping along relevant dimensions through close ideological study of the post-Mao Chinese communist dictators, one of whom said (I am translating loosely) “black cat, white cat, it still catches mice.” ;-)

    What I’m concerned about is the grand mal seizure some seem to be having about the Maoist movements in South Asia – as though by virtue of the fact that they are Maoist-derived, they are the epitome of evil. Nittii’s post, (even though the politics of its authors at globalsecurity.org are fairly obvious) actually reveals a complex picture of a movement. The fact that the Maoists are actively and happily participating in democratic politics should also be a sign that they diverge from the Chinese model. Now, if there is some kind of violent takeover of the government or genuine move towards totalitarianism, that will change things. However, that doesn’t seem to be happening. And I think that dimension is relevant enough to be considered.

    Again, it’s very easy to use terms like “Maoist” or “terrorist” far too broadly, and even if they contain some truth (for instance, the characterization of many Third World Communist movements of the 20th century), these terms still not only mask real differences that matter in praxis. The careless use of these categories also calls up a standard, hysterical stereotype about such movements that paints a picture of them as gangs of bloodthirsty, mindless monsters roaming the countryside.

    There are far too many subjective factors involved in the assessment of armed Leftist movements in South Asia to make grand pronouncements on them. There exists equally damning evidence against the Nepali and Indian police and regular armed forces, not to mention the paramilitary units such as Salwa Judum.

    It’s hard to get good information on organizations actively engaged in armed struggle. It should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog that there is not enough information out there – at least, upon first google-search – to present an educated analysis of the situation. This information vacuum is replaced by uninformed foaming-at-the-mouth. Jumping to conclusions based on the content of one or two articles written online is not smart.

  23. Again, it’s very easy to use terms like “Maoist” or “terrorist” far too broadly, and even if they contain some truth (for instance, the characterization of many Third World Communist movements of the 20th century), these terms still not only mask real differences that matter in praxis.

    I meant to say “these terms mask real differences that matter in praxis.”

  24. The nation will divide again with a new homeland for the everpopulating muslims in the new subcontinent. The communists will be glad to create a new muslim homelands in UP, AP, west bengal and kerala.

    It’s these kinds of brilliantly constructed, insightful arguments that confirm my bias against those who make them.

  25. Padmakumar,

    India’s commies are anything but “secular”. EMS Namboodiripad in his first stint as CM of Kerala pushed through the carving out a Muslim majority district. Earlier during the movement for independence the Indian commies – several of whom were little better than paid informers of the British – actively supported the Muslim League’s proposal for creating several Muslim enclaves. A couple of years back the CPI(M) passed a resolution demanding the release of Kerala’s chief jihadi troublemaker Abdul Naseer Maudani from prison. The CPI(M)’s capitulation before jihadi rabble in Calcutta that preecipitated the expulsion of Taslima Nasrin from India is well known. The CPI(M) consists of very low life characters. When Musharraff visited India and hosted the terrorist thugs of Kashmir – Hurriyat, Shabbir Shah, Yasin Malik and others – the CPI(M) gleefully attended the reception at the Pakistan Assembly. But when Bush visited India the same Commie thugs in cahoots with jihadi elements wouldn’t let Bush address the Indian Parliament, and organised violent demonstrations in many parts of India. The current virulent anti-US line taken by the CPI(M) is aimed at consolidating the regreessive Islamicist votebanks in Kerala and West Bengal in its favour.

  26. There are far too many subjective factors involved in the assessment of armed Leftist movements in South Asia to make grand pronouncements on them. There exists equally damning evidence against the Nepali and Indian police and regular armed forces, not to mention the paramilitary units such as Salwa Judum.

    Yeti, I agree with you on that–the Naxalite situation is extremely nasty on both sides, in terms of the fighting.

  27. Yeti, The careless use of these categories also calls up a standard, hysterical stereotype about such movements that paints a picture of them as gangs of bloodthirsty, mindless monsters roaming the countryside.

    Ecepting that these are truly bloodthirsty gangs roaming around the countryside. It takes a special kind of coldbloodedness to blow up – 40 children at a school (ULFA) – 25 village folk returning from a Salwa Judum rally in a truck – carve out mens tongues and faces – Kashmiri terrorst scum – re-educate people a la PolPotists and Cultural Revolution. So the stereotype is well sketched and apt. Terrorists are just that and nothing else. And Salwa Judum should be supported. An armed citizenry is the best way to put down terrorism. It has worked in Punjab, in Kashmirm and will work in the red corridor. Whenver you find terrorist sympathisers like Varavara Rao complain about “human rights” etc., you know that the anti-terrorist actions are working. India cannot lay claims to being an emerging power unless it puts down all terrorist thugs ruthlessly. Dr.Manmohan Singh has already identified the Maoist terrorist groups as India’s most serious internal security problem. It should be tackeld without any quarter given.

  28. Jyotsana:

    Are you serious when you say that armed citizenry was responsible for putting down terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir?

  29. Rather than listen to Jyotsana’s ranting, the book Red Sun – Travels in Naxalite Country by Sudeep Chakravarti paints a more balanced picture of Salwa Judum and Naxalites in India. Recommended.

  30. 26 · padmakumar said

    India is fast becoming a 2 billion population country ,aided by the English media which turns a blind eye regarding this urgent problem. The governing coalition is a hotch-potch of various sub-castiest parties and cannot govern India in a proper way. This is a perfect recipe for eventual takeover of India by the marxists and the naxalites in another 25 years. The nation will divide again with a new homeland for the everpopulating muslims in the new subcontinent. The communists will be glad to create a new muslim homelands in UP, AP, west bengal and kerala. I never thought this way while growing in india, but seeing the way things happening now in Tibet and nepal, I see it coming and I feel sad.

    Yes you will surely feel like this if your were a Kashmiri HIndu and forced to leave Kashmir, and I know many of them. The Indians do not seem to know of how Hindus were expelled from their homeland and how the Muslims supported the insurgents. Ask any Kashmiri Pandit and you will understand how they feel betrayed by India. The HIndus in INdia have lost Kashmir to Pakistan. No use fighting over it. Most Indians do not even seem to realize that Kashmir is a lost cause and that the insurgents supported by Pakistan have won. Perhaps if you are a Kashmiri Pandit you will come to the conclusion that it is not possible to live with Muslims. Sad truth but no amount of political correctness will change this fact. DO not delete this post because I am speaking the truth and not ranting. 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits would not have left their homes to become refugees in Delhi if it were possible to live with Muslims and Indians keep harping on the massacre in Gujrat as if its the only page in Indian history. When will Indian liberals wake up? Fact is, INdians are incapable of understanding the Kashmir situation and how it is a lost cause just as they underestimated the Maoists in Nepal. I also believe that with immigration from Bangladesh, Nepal will become majority Muslim soon or majority Madhesi from immigration from Bihar. The reason people do not like the Madhesi people is that they live in the Terai–which was mostly jungle 50 years ago. This means that the Madhesis are not native–just a small portion are perhaps native–they do not get along with the mountain people in Nepal as they are very recent immigrants to Nepal. Case closed. So if the Nepalese who have been living there for generations do not like them what is new? Just stating the facts. The Madhesis are claiming discrimination and want a separate State–they have just been in Nepal for 50 years! They were not admitted into army because it was thought that they do not have much courage and loyalty to it. They claim discrimination for it. God knows what this population will demand if they are there longer if after 50 years they are demanding a separate State already! Come in, do not assimilate and demand a separate State! Most are Biharis seeking a better life and are pitiful. Just stating the facts. No need to delete this post because it speaks the truth and is not politically correct. India is crippled because it has a coalition government that needs Leftist support and can never pass anything in Parliament…Sonia Gandhi never even gave a hearing to the Communist leaders when they were in Delhi–so if they veer towards China and if India loses an ally what is surprising in that? Who knows, if the Maoists can keep the Madheisis in control, they might do some good for Nepal because Nepal is hundreds of times smaller than India and still manageable. I never recalled beggars in Nepal even in the eights. These were things you associated with India. Considering the crimes Biharis commit in Nepal it is natural the local population views them as a burden–the border is porous they they can just come in, squat for a few years and demand rights, that is how politics works in Nepal. The government has sold out the country: give it fifty years it will be a part of Bihar.

  31. God help the Maoists to help the people of Nepal. Nepal needs good governance–not a flood of Biharis across the border demanding a separate State in the Terai when they have been in Nepal less than 50 years. Anyone that is able go provide a good life for the native people of Nepal is a boon. If India does not help Nepal, then the Maoists should forge alliances with China.

  32. 29 · yeti said

    The nation will divide again with a new homeland for the everpopulating muslims in the new subcontinent. The communists will be glad to create a new muslim homelands in UP, AP, west bengal and kerala.
    It’s these kinds of brilliantly constructed, insightful arguments that confirm my bias against those who make them.

    How is this argument wrong when Muslims having kicked out the HIndus already have a Muslim homeland in Kashmir? The rest of Indians are sleeping and think Kashmir is still a part of India. They go to Jammu and visit some shrines there and think all is well in Kashmir when there are no HIndus left there and they have become refugees in their own country. You people need to wake up and get you act together! I always admired India–but when I see that an Italian housewife runs the country and the country is set to have a Columbian housewife become a political star after the future leadership of Rahul Gandhi for the Congress party, it is a scary thought. Even Nepal woke up. Let’s hope the best for it even if the government is lead by Maoists- if they can run the country properly anything is better than what Nepal had before.