General Studies Paper 3 (Security Issues): Left Wing Extremism

Naxal Influence Shrinks

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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 3 (Security Issues)

 

Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is showing a downward trend but still affects many parts of the country. Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE. (250 words)

 

Introduction:

Left Wing Extremism (LWE)  is the term officially used to describe Maoist insurgency in selected states of Central and Eastern India. Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is widely recognised as one of the most serious security threats in post-independence India. Apart from that, it is also a politico-socio-economic challenge.  It began in 1960, LWE was limited to the three police station areas namely Naxalbari, Khoribari and Phansidewa of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. However, in recent years, the movement has assumed alarming proportions, threatening peace and security over a vast stretch of land spreading across 10 states, described as the ‘Red Corridor’. Left Wing extremism (LWE) had been a chronic issue for the internal security of India. But the efforts made by the government have helped in shrinking the influence of Naxalism across the country. According to some figures released by Ministry of Home Affairs the number of districts affected with Naxal violence has come down from 106 to 90, across 11 states.

 

Government of India‘s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE

The Government of India has adopted a holistic approach to address the LWE insurgency. This approach is built around simultaneous implementation of a security agenda, developmental activities and promotion of good governance. 

 

Empowering Security Forces

  • Government changed the strategy. Instead of offering ceasefire or conducting area domination exercises, it focused on (surgical) strikes based on hard intelligence.
  • As a result, many of the key leaders have been arrested or eliminated, and the armed insurgent camps have been decimated.
  • Government’s surrender schemes for Maoists is also dwindling their manpower.
  • Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) to construct fortified police stations.
  • 2016’s demonetization drive also affected the LWE-funding.
  • In 2017, May Home Ministry launched ‘SAMADHAN’ doctrine. It involves:
    • Controlling arms supply to Maoist using GPS trackers and Unique Identification number (UID) for Gelatin sticks and explosives manufacturers.
    • Each CRPF battalion deployed in the Maoist hotbed is given atleast one UAV.
    • More helicopter support for operations, including private helicopter services.
    • Joint Task Forces along inter-State boundaries, better inter-state coordination and intelligence sharing.
    • Stricter implementation of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to choke funding to LWE groups.

 

Socio-Economic Development

Governance deficit and lack of employment opportunity pushes the youngsters to join LWE movement. Previously, the schemes meant for LWE regions were either fragmented or lacked involvement of the local gram sabha or did not allow for customization at grassroots level. However, in recent years, there has been change in the approach:

  • In 2014, Ministry of Tribal Affairs launched Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana for holistic development of the tribal people by targeting their education, employment, healthcare, infrastructure and connectivity.
  • In 2015, Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act was amended to setup District Mineral Foundation (DMF). Through this fund, all mining districts receive portion of the mining royalties. The money is spend on the development activities decided by the local people
  • Civic Action Plan: Each CRPF company given Rs.3 lakh for holding medical camps, sanitation drives, sports meets, distribution of study material to children, minor repairs of school building, road, bridges to build confidence among the locals.
  • Media Action Plan: Each district given Rs.7 lakh to advertise Government schemes.
  • Union Government organizing extensive training and capacity building programs for of the state service officials for implementation of Forest Rights act and PESA Act.
  • Additional Central Assistance (ACA) for LWE affected districts for creating public infrastructures and services such as school, hospital, road and rail connectivity, mobile connectivity, and electricity network.
  • Schemes employment, skill development, ITI construction etc. have special funds earmarked for LWE with Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
  • Union Government implemented the 14th Finance Commission report. Although it removed the special category status (enjoyed by certain LWE-affected states) but, it also increased the revenue distribution to states. As a result, LWE State Governments have more funds at their disposal to carry out tailor-made developmental schemes as per their requirements.

 

Conclusion:

As a result of the aforementioned initiatives on the security and development fronts, the number of violent incidents from LWE insurgency has declined in the present decade. LWE is not an outcome of any one single cause but an outcome of multiple factor. Hence by following a multidimensional approach the government is taking the steps in the right direction. Though some gaps do exist in the implementation of the policies to tackle the LWE. But significant developments are taking place to plug these gaps. It is possible that India can rid itself completely from the menace of LWE.

 

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