Author: Nabila Islam

Abstract: Despite the recent characterizations of the Naxalite movement as India’s “bloody class war” in the New York Times or as the country’s “greatest internal security threat,” the history of the struggle defies simple categorization. Although the movement began as a peasants’ rebellion in Naxalbari in 1967 and was supported by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), its social origins cannot be reduced to class conflict alone. This difficulty is due to the complexity and variability of its social bases over the last four decades, as well as the changing nature of the state. This paper calls for a new interpretation of the movement and its relationship to the state: situating the struggle within the context of the development of Indian state from “a reluctant pro-capitalist state that flirted with socialism” after 1947 to “an enthusiastic pro-capitalist state with a neo-liberal ideology” in the 1980s. Through interviews, archival research and secondary sources, this paper hopes to demonstrate that while national and state-level policies of security and development have structured strategies of resistance taken up by the Naxals, these strategies have in turn shaped the Indian state from below. This paper uses a synthetic mode of analysis, paying special attention to gender, caste and religion as well as the mediating influences of postcoloniality and neoliberal globalization.

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Citation: Islam, Nabila (2015). “The Naxalite Movement and the Indian State, 1967-1969”. In South Asia Research Group (ed.), 2014 Critical South Asian Studies Workshop, Asia Colloquia Papers 5(3). Toronto: York Centre for Asian Research.