The Difference Between Naxalism and Maoism

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The terror which belies a plea to be heard: an introduction to Naxalism

On the 26th of January, 1950, India, one of the largest democracies of the world, held out a promise to her children: that their rights to an impartial democracy would be vested in the golden document, the Constitution. In this longest ever written charter, each and every one was promised an alluring ride to being considered an ‘œEqual.’ Sixty-five glorious years have passed since its inception and the seeming enactment of its various provisions to guard the interest of the minorities. Yet, what results and remains is a far cry from that dream. In the fringes of our nation, we have blackened an entire segment of the population of the Adivasi’s/forest dwellers and poor peasants, reducing their existence to a mere fictitious one and leaving them bereft of a life of privilege we have long been privy to. To what seems like a dangerous perception of this scenario, the Indian Naxalism movement was born years ago in the late 1960s.

How the seeds of Naxalism germinated and how it differs from Maoism

Some of the most erudite scholars trace the roots of the movement to the peasant uprising in 1967 in the Naxalbari village in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, hence the word ‘œNaxal’ etymologically is derived from this name of the village. Its genesis reflects a rebellion against the lack of development and abject poverty that plagued the locals in the rural parts of Eastern India unlike Maoism, which first originated in China as a form of communist theory developed by the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong; it was widely considered the political and military guiding ideology of the Communist Party of China until the late 1970s. While the former was an upsurge by the marginal population to be included in mainstream alleys of polity and economy, what the latter espoused was an armed revolution to shatter the shackles of class in society and overthrow it from a Capitalist society to a Socialist one. Initially the ideology of Naxalism held together constituents propounded by Marx and Lenin, one that believed in parliamentary ways as a political prelude to the establishment of Socialism. However, in time the parent party of the Naxalism movement, the CPI or the Communist Party of India, underwent a schism into mutually exclusive parties: one party that retained the original essence of Marxism and Leninism and the other party that grew a distinguished affinity to the guerrilla warfare of the Mao Zedong ideology of Maoism and was indoctrinated by its core philosophy that ‘œPower flows from the barrel of the gun.’ Hence, the cardinal disparity lies in the fact that while Naxalism may or may not conform to its armed wing and also seeks refuge in mass organizations to facilitate change, the existence of Maoists is unscrupulously corollary to the tormenting power of their armed militia. While the Naxalites participate in democratic electoral procedures with many of their parties registered with the Election Commission of India, the Maoists believe only in the voice of their weapons speaking.

In the event where the media seem unaccountable for being oblivious to the core differences, it is important for one to know that the terms Naxals and Maoists cannot be transposed as frivolously as we do. Though it takes a sharp eye to see Naxalism beyond the vivid colors of Maoism it occasionally paints, it is important to identify them as a dispensed fraction of the population of India that is still willing to engage in democratic conversations with the government to get its due. They have been left impoverished of their own forest resources, dislodged from their own inhabitancy for industrialization, and denied social acknowledgement of any sort.

Hear the Naxals and stop them from being Maoists!

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