Maoism and Left Wing Extremism in India

Public lecture
Open to the Public
Oktober 6 u. 7
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 3:30pm
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 3:30pm

Maoism and Left Wing

Extremism in India

 Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 3:30 p.m.

Venue: Room 226, Oktober 6 street 7

 Speaker:  Tej Pratap Singh


Maoism, popularly known as Naxalism in India, is an ideology of the most radical groups of Indian Communists. The movement began with the peasant upsurge in West Bengal and soon spread to other Indian states. Naxalism caught the imagination of young people, who joined the movement in large numbers, before it was ruthlessly crushed by the state. Since the underlying causes of the insurgency were not addressed, it erupted again in the 1980s and since then it has spread to one third of the country, giving rise to names like the “Red Corridor” that stretches from Nepal in the north deep down to Andhra in the south, compelling the Indian Prime-Minister to describe it as the single largest internal security threat. Right now both the state and the Maoists/Naxals are engaged in a bitter battle for area domination and to win over the heart and mind of people. Both have unleashed unprecedented levels of violence and indulged in serious human rights abuses. In this war-type situation, poor Adivasis (indigenous people) have been caught between the Maoists and the security forces.

The talk will address among other things the following questions/issues:

  • Whether it is a law and order or socio-economic problem?
  • Whether Maoism is a problem or a solution?
  • What are the structural and cultural causes of the Maoist insurgency?
  • Whether the movement is greed or grievance driven?
  • Role of identity and ideology in the movement.
  • Is it a struggle for emancipation or to capture political power?
  • Will the state succeed in crushing Maoists or will Maoists humble the state?
  • The future of Maoism in India.


Tej Pratap Singh is Professor at the Department of Political Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India. His is currently Visiting Fellow at the Department of International Relations & European Studies at CEU. His area of research is political violence, left wing Extremism and Maoist insurgency in India. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Center of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge (2011), Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Waterloo, Canada (2009) and Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow (2008).