Maoism, Democracy and Globalisation: Cross-Currents in Indian Politics


Ajay Gudavarthy

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    Dedicated to

    Kushi, Krishna and Vijay

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    Preface and Acknowledgements

    This book is a result of my continued engagement with political and economic developments in Indian politics over the last couple of decades or so. Political scientists have engaged with democracy, globalisation, and less so with Maoist politics in India, separately, and as independent political phenomenon. Here, I however have attempted to look at the interface between these three disparate looking phenomena that coexist, and pulling the political dynamics in different directions. What then is the direction, and what then is in hold for democracy in India, in the near and not so near future? I will consider this a worthwhile academic exercise, even if we are able to throw partial light on the problem that is complex and manifold.

    In the making of this book, over the last few years I have undoubtedly benefitted from many friends, colleagues and activists. I am thankful to all my colleagues at the Centre for Political Studies for providing a very enabling atmosphere. Both positive and negative liberty have been working in organising the life in the centre, sometimes through active and rich debates and at other by letting you be.

    All the chapters have been presented at many seminars, workshops and conferences in India and abroad. The first chapter on Maoism was presented at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Observatory Research Foundation; Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia; University of Delhi (I am thankful to Rajesh Dev for extending the invitation); and Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu (I am glad that this provided me with an opportunity to know Professor Om Gurung and get to spend time with my friend Mukta Lama). The second chapter on middle classes was presented at Osmania University, Hyderabad; Gujarat Central University, Ahmedabad; GNDU, Amritsar (I am thankful to Paramjit Judge for the many academic discussions that we have been having over the years); University of Chile, Santiago; and Brown University, Providence, RI, which was made possible with the support of Jeffrey Alexander. I especially thank him for his indulgence and friendship. I have benefitted immensely from his erudite scholarship and insightful exchanges, and fondly look forward to continuing the dialogue. The survey presented in this chapter was possible with the support of a Hyderabad based research centre, People's Pulse. It was due to Ravichand's initiative that the survey was taken up, and the credit should go to him.

    The third chapter on backward classes was presented at Council for Social Development, Delhi; Ambedkar University, Lucknow; Jawaharlal Nehru University; Centre for Human Rights, Hyderabad; Anveshi Research Centre, Hyderabad; Allahabad University, Allahabad; Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi; Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Hyderabad; NMML, Delhi, for which I wish to thank Mahesh Rangarajan. His support and encouragement has been very reassuring. Finally, this chapter came out of a joint project with Tribhuvan University and Goldsmiths College, University of London. I thank my colleagues Alpa Shah and Sara Shniederman for their support in the project. I also wish to thank Sajjan for his help all through the project, and many a time going beyond the call of his duty. The fourth chapter on subaltern classes was presented at University of Calcutta; I thank Sanjeebda for it and his invite to come as a visiting faculty to the Department of Political Science. I am grateful to Srirupa Roy (Göttingen University) for the keen interest she has shown in my work on ‘political society’. I remain thankful to Trevor at CISRUL, University of Aberdeen; he has been a constant source of support and encouragement. I also benefitted from his deep insights into issues related to citizenship and civil society. I also wish to thank Partha Chatterjee for the dialogue on ‘political society’, including the rejoinder he wrote for an earlier volume I edited on that theme. This chapter is in part a response to his rejoinder. The fifth chapter on the human rights was presented at an event jointly organised by LASSNET and CPR; South Asian University, Delhi; and Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia. The sixth chapter on regionalism was presented at ISA, Florence, Italy. I thank Martin Aranguren for many riveting discussions on Latin America. I hope there is more to come. Finally, the epilogue was presented at an international seminar at the University of Goa. I thank Rahul Tripathi for the invite.

    Many friends and well-wishers have been a great source of support, academically and also on personal front. I especially thank my colleague Rajarshi Dasgupta for taking interest in my earlier writings and also for the ongoing dialogue on many of the issues that are taken up in this book for discussion. I thank Bhangya Bhukiya, whose scholarship and friendship have been enriching and I stand to benefit. I thank Ashutosh Kumar, Nissim Mannathukaren, Swagato Sarkar and Divyaraj Amiya for continuing academic interactions. Sethu, who I missed thanking in my first book, I make it up here. His rather loud and abrasive self has provided immense joy all through. I hope he is around for long to continue entertaining! I especially thank Gopal Guru for his personal warmth and silent support. I thank Zoya for many interesting discussions and her continued concern for ‘Indian politics’; I hope this book will at least partially placate her! I am especially thankful to Sudha Pai for sharing her unpublished work on the OBCs. I thank Manoranjan Mohanty; he has remained a pillar of strength to me and my family all along. I extend my thanks to Anand Teltumbde, whose critical insights and radical postures have helped not losing one's way in these disorienting times. It has always been a pleasure conversing with him and sharing many experiences. I also extend my thanks to Satish Jha, who is a mine of information and diligent analyst of Delhi's changing academic discourse; I continue to enjoy our conversations and affection. I also wish to thank Rakesh Kumar, whose honesty and indomitable reputation in Uttarakhand have been inspiring and also unusually helpful! I am immensely grateful to Mr Varavara Rao who readily agreed to share the photos of Kishenji. His support means a lot for this book.

    My family undoubtedly has been so indulgent that I cannot possibly think of throwing myself into academic work without their reassuring presence. My parents, I remain indebted, as ever. I remain grateful to family in Almora, my in-laws, Dhiraj and Kanchan. It has been a great source of joy spending time with Divya and Lakshay during sunny vacations in the abode of the Himalayas. I especially thank Sekharda for his immense positive and public spiritedness. Many a political solution lies in this gentle demeanour. I am grateful to Poonam for her quiet confidence and unquiet compassion and care. They have gone a long way in the making of this book. Finally, I thank my brother Vijay, whose spirit continues to excite and haunt! I benefitted from his rich collection of books, from where I liberally borrowed some of the stuff referred to here. I thank Krishna for her silent but assured support and the new and the most sought-after member of our family, Kushi, who has stood by her name, and hopefully this book will remain of some relevance by the time she begins to read and write! It is to the three of them that I dedicate this book.

    I am grateful to Rudra Narayan, Commissioning Editor, and Isha Sachdeva, Associate Production Editor, SAGE Publications for their enthusiasm, insight and perseverance to get this book published. I wish to acknowledge that some of the chapters in this book have been published earlier, though they have been substantially rewritten, in tune with the focus here. The chapter titled ‘Democracy against Maoism, Maoism against Itself’ was published in the Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 48, No. 7, 16 February 2013. The chapter titled ‘Backward Classes: Reservations, Recognition and the Republic’ was published earlier with the title ‘Can We De-stigmatize Reservations in India?’ in the Economic and Political Weekly, 11 February 2012. The chapter titled ‘Subaltern Classes: Governmentality, Resistance and “Political Society”’ was published earlier with the title ‘Why Interrogate Political Society?’ in the volume Reframing Democracy and Agency: Interrogating Political Society, edited by Ajay Gudavarthy (Anthem Press, London, 2012). The chapter titled ‘Politics of Global Human Rights in India’ was earlier published as ‘Human Rights’ in the volume International Relations: Perspectives for Global South, edited by B.S. Chimni and S. Mallavarpu (Pearson, Delhi, 2012). The chapter titled ‘Globalisation and Regionalisation: Mapping the New Continental Drift’ was published in the Economic and Political Weekly, 19 June 2009.

  • Epilogue: India's Violent Democracy: Past and Future

    India began with a developmental state that had a social–democratic set-up, and as primarily an agrarian economy. It was a successful democracy, in the sense of holding free and fair elections, with a welfare state and a Constitution that had radical provisions in Part IV under Directive Principles, which had an inclusive perspective of providing resources to all its citizens. However, since its economy grew at, what is popularly referred to as the Hindu rate of growth, about 3 per cent annually, it continued with weak industrial capital, and infrastructure, that eventually landed in the balance of payment crisis by the 1980s. It was at this juncture that the state policy underwent a dramatic shift in 1990s, and the economy was opened up to integrate with the global economy, ushering in free market, and privatisation, keeping in tune with the global shift in the political discourse. It is estimated that between 1979 and the end of 1999, ‘more than 130 countries divested or turned over to private management/ownership of thousands of state-owned enterprises’ (Subramanium 2013; also refer to Ruitters 2013). The claim was to achieve higher growth rates and provide better employment opportunities. From the state it moved to the centrality of market in managing the economy, and from an emphasis on democracy it moved to a policy frame that was based on global governance. In this sense, globalisation was a top-down phenomenon circumventing the imperatives of democratic participation and inclusive growth. From a weak and underdeveloped economy with a social-democratic set-up, India moved to a model of high growth but corporate-market-oriented policy frame. In effect, globalisation was juxtaposed against democracy, as growth stood to counter development, and market supplanted the state, transforming the role of all ‘basic’ (referred to as ‘basic structure’ of the constitution) political and economic structures. India is witnessing a strange paradox of a choice between a non-performing economy versus a non-inclusive economy. While the former was theorised as a ‘moribund state’, ‘soft state’, ‘weak state’ and ‘retarded capitalism’, the latter is being referred to as ‘crony capitalism’, ‘developmental terrorism’ and ‘predatory growth’ (Bhaduri 2009) or even ‘lumpen capitalism’ (Breman 2002).

    It is in this context important to realise that militant protest politics, unevenness of democracy and the processes of globalisation have been pulling India in different directions. Maoists have raised very significant structural issues regarding the model of development and limits of Indian democracy, yet remain disengaged and disconnected from available democratic processes. Democracy has shifted the political discourse from mere growth-centrism to neo-welfarism, affirmative action and mobility for certain marginalised social groups, and providing an electoral process for the subaltern to register their influence, yet it has remained formal and been increasingly hijacked by the urban middle classes, and marked by growing exceptionalism of the state. The processes of globalisation has given new status to India globally, more opportunity to influence global processes through alternative regionalism and the language of human rights, and more economic opportunities for a section of the society, yet it has remained insulated from democracy, created a new language of ‘global war on terror’ and remained well entrenched within the neoliberal discourse. These processes have cumulatively contributed to the rise of India that remains disconnected and a political process that can be best typified as a violent democracy.

    Violent Democracy and Paradoxical Convergence

    The workings of India's violent democracy has articulated itself through myriad political processes that include the following.

    First, governance through emergent forms of righteous lawlessness that includes a combination of spate of extraordinary laws; violation of legal protections for various marginalised social groups and classes, including violation of basic civil and political rights, extrajudicial killings, and custodial deaths; and attempts to change the criminal justice system itself, in the process collapsing the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary laws, and the difference between what is legal and illegal.1 These processes are in turn aided by the consent offered by the urban/professional middle classes that acts as the conduit or a hinge—social base—between lawlessness and democracy. This leads to associated processes where instead of the rule of law guiding democracy, it is the imperatives of popular/representative democracy that dictate the workings of law, which is marked by a shift from centrality of evidence to pre-eminence to intention, from investigation to creating demonstrative effects in the name of ‘collective conscience’ and maintenance of ‘law and order’. Further, the extraordinary methods have moved beyond restricted ‘disturbed areas’ to many other parts of India, and from ‘security operations’ against the Maoists and terrorists to many other kinds of conflicts, including non-violent and peaceful protest politics. These processes in turn lead to augmenting ‘frames of war’ among militant political mobilisation of the Maoists leading up to a paradoxical convergence, with both Maoists and Anna Hazare led campaign attempting to overthrow the state; rise of the role of intention in the workings of law and in Maoist politics; moralisation of violence by state/urban middle classes through the discourse of nationalism and patriotism and Maoists through the discourse of sacrifice and suffering.

    Second, spurt in intra-subaltern conflicts that grow alongside, and at times replacing the conflict with the elites. This is visible in India with the rise of sub-caste conflicts among the Dalits, where elite discourses of merit and efficiency have been reproduced; conflicts between urban women and upwardly mobile OBCs, witnessed during the debate on 33 per cent reservations for women in the parliament; conflicts between OBCs and the Dalits, witnessed in the innumerable violent clashes, some of which we alluded to in earlier chapters; conflicts between Muslims and Dalits, which include evidence of Dalits directly and indirectly participating in riots against the Muslims in Gujarat in 2002; and conflicts between Dalits and tribals, as represented by clashes between Pannnos and Kandhas in Odisha that brought to light practice of untouchability by the tribals against Dalits. This process of growing intra-subaltern conflict has been accompanied by new political discourses and paradoxical convergence of the old and new middle classes represented by the urban India's shift towards right-wing mobilisation, allowing for anti-Muslim rhetoric to frame explanations for or lack of mobility, and new articulations of ‘Dalit capitalism’, justifying certain forms of exploitation as necessary for mobility. These conflicts and new political discourses in turn make it difficult for Maoist and Dalit politics in particular, and other democratic struggles in general, to enter into any meaningful dialogue.

    Third, middle classisation of politics that is reflected in the growing influence of India's global middle classes, alongside the emergent transnational capitalist class. Urban middle classes have occupied streets and attempted to influence state policy through their cultural capital. This phenomenon has occurred alongside neoliberalisation of politics and mediatisation of politics, reflecting a symbiotic relation between the three processes. This phenomenon of middle classisation is however not limited to old urban/upper caste middle classes; alongside have grown what we referred to as the ‘new’ middle classes among the Dalits and OBCs. This has led to various political implications, including an overwhelming discourse around urbanisation and ‘right to city’2, which has added to the neglect of rural populations, issues related to agrarian crisis and land reforms; anti-caste being predominantly articulated through the discourse of reservations and a share in the resources of the state as against claims to ritual hierarchy; and as pointed earlier, newer articulation of aspirations by the ‘new’ middle class to move upwards to occupy and become part of the transnational capitalist class, through creating ‘Dalit capitalists/capitalism’. It has also resulted in new political discourses such as the ‘caste is race’ debate, making caste-based discrimination a global issue in the process undermining issues related to state sovereignty. This again has a paradoxical convergence between anti-caste movement's aspirations to go global with the emergence of a ‘new’ middle class within and the Maoist movement's mobilisation of tribals and the landless against the very neoliberal model of globalisation and development; while new middle classes undermine state power in reaching out to international organisations, the sovereignty of the state is undermined by the Maoists in using violence and declaring ‘liberated zones’ out of the reach of the Indian state's sovereign rule. This paradoxical convergence is happening just when the Maoist movement, unlike many other movements, is going in the opposite direction of recruiting not from middle classes but the tribals, and the landless themselves taking over leadership of the movement and emerging as the new ‘organic intellectuals’. Middle classisation of politics has in turn adversely impacted the agency of the subaltern, which has moved out of the streets and its traditional forms of popular mobilisation, such as peasant rebellions, trade union movement, among others. ‘National-popular’ has been replaced by national–urban imagination, reflected amply in the recent refusal of junior doctors to be posted to rural areas or the then Home Minister Mr Chidambaram's announcement that by 2050 nearly 80 per cent of India will be living in the cities. Thus, farmers, landless labourers, urban poor, migrants, among others have either become powerless and remain de-mobilised, such as migrants from Bihar in Maharashtra, or the shift from demanding land reforms to struggling to protect the existing land being grabbed through incursions of land acquisition, or have moved to militant political mobilisation represented by the Maoists. Thus, retreat of the subaltern has to be understood in this context of increasing middle classisation and its accompanying capture of democracy in alliance with the transnational capitalist classes and cannot be understood by the mere study of everyday ‘contextual negotiations’ of the subaltern or in arguing for their increasing and willing conversion into governmental subjects, or in seeing in all of this an expansion of subaltern agency, as the idea of ‘political society’ has articulated.

    Transference, Neo-Welfarism and Transnational Forms of Justice

    Are there any real-time possibilities of productively re-connecting this disparate phenomenon of Maoism, democracy and globalisation, and abate the rise and entrenchment of a violent democracy? To a large extent this depends on how we understand the structural limits of each of these processes and resignify and re-mould the practices internal to each of these three political processes. The divide is way too large and the conflict has already assumed a bloody and violent form, but that could well be the context that allows for the logic to become apparent and the need to look for alternatives more pressing. In that sense, it depends on connecting the three processes by realising their contribution as much as their limitations. As for the Maoist movement, we pointed to the various limitations it is facing due to its reduced understanding of political processes, and therefore its spread has remained sporadic and selective. It would be imperative for them to reflect on ways of engaging with available democratic forms and institutional functioning, and also positively conceptualise the nature of mobility that democracy has made it possible for various sections of the subaltern classes, as much as in seeing the kind of structural limits that have been imposed on them. For instance, the mobility made possible through affirmative action policies for the Dalits and the backward classes has led to formation of new classes within these sections; whether that can be viewed through pure structural analysis and critiqued for the formation of new ‘hegemonic’ classes, or as a long drawn historical process and therefore as a positive change in terms of ‘class formation’ among the subaltern is the moot question. It therefore needs to be asked in what productive forms this change as a historical process can be aligned to the kind of structural transformation that Maoists envisage. Similarly, can the available modes of institutions and participatory avenues such as electoral politics be simply subjected to the radical critique of formalism or would it also be useful to explore the possibilities for the subaltern and basic classes to register their influence? In that sense, the recent decisions of the Maoists to take part in elections to the local bodies in Odisha, and approach courts, and take part in ‘peace talks’ with the government have remained important signposts that this kind of churning maybe going on within the rank and file of the Maoist party.

    Alongside this, Maoists would have to realise the possibility of what we could refer to as ‘political transference’ that can occur in popular/representative democracies, where conflicts and interests can be articulated in manifold forms.3 For instance, the demand for a smaller state such as Telangana could be another way of articulating agrarian crisis, landlessness, farmers’ suicides, among others. This process though could occur the other way round too, where for instance urban middle classes could frame their anxiety to re-occupy urban spaces through protests against sexual violence and crime. In other words, protests against sexual violence are a mode of transference of class demands. The strategies of subaltern could reflect a shift from radical mobilisation and radical political demands to a new kind of political language of reversals. For instance, excluded castes are articulating policies of protective discrimination as de-reserving the privileges of the Caste Hindus. A demand for smaller states is not a fresh demand as much as it is a demand to de-merge; at a global level it is more about de-linking from global corporate economy. At another level, the transference could occur in the seamless shift from left to right. In other words, interests could be articulated through democratic demands, but they could be signified through other exclusionary modes of mobilisation as well. This shift does not adhere to the neat distinctions between left and right, or between democratic and authoritarian. For instance, Telangana was considered by many as a centre for left-wing politics since Maoists held a stronghold for a very long time; however, with the rise of the demand for a separate state and the Bharatiya Janata Party supporting the demand, there is always the possibility of communal polarisation over shadowing democratic politics. This fluidity in politics, especially representative democracies, is not an aberration but a condition of popular mobilisation, where demands are open to be signified through different and even conflicting frames. This fluidity4—transference—in a sense is in excess of the structural analysis that Maoists mostly adhere to. To understand these complexities, Maoists might have to look at alternative experiments by the Zapatistas in Latin America, as much as learn from the failures of the Maoists in Nepal, as not merely for taking part in the bourgeois electoral process but inherent complexities that remain to be addressed through policy frame in a post-revolutionary context. This complexity has to be acknowledged as part of the revolutionary process itself rather than being left for a post-revolutionary situation. As we pointed out in Chapter 1 on the Maoists that many of the challenges they would face in a post-revolutionary situation would be very similar to the ones a (liberal) democratic state is facing, against which they are waging a class struggle. This kind of engagement would not be possible with their practice of combining absolutist critique of the system with a blanket prohibition of any public criticism of their own politics. Alongside their critique of the current phase of globalisation, they would have to seriously raise the following questions: What could be the contours of an alternative model of development? Would they or would they not mine minerals in central India? Do they support large-scale or a localised model of industrialisation? How would they accommodate the conflicting interests of various classes as much as cultural diversity through a single-party rule? What forms of organisational and representative processes they would set in motion? In raising these questions they might have to align with existing forms of democracy in India, radically differently from what they have been doing so far.5

    An alternative model of development, as we argued in tracing the contours of alternative globalisation, has to be participatory, with an emphasis on absorbing and providing full employment to the skilled and semi-skilled labour force, agriculture should be given priority in policy frame and industry should avoid consuming cultivable and fertile land. Further, ‘alternative industrialisation would be characterized by labour-intensive technology, small-scale production by the masses, and maximum direct linkage between consumer and producer’ (Bhaduri 2009: 185). Amit Bhaduri argues that alternative industrialisation

    would produce a large range of goods and services for the local market, created through purchasing power generated locally in the hands of the poor. This is the route through which the poor, rejected by today's industrialization, would enter the larger economy with dignity as both producers and consumers. … [T]he domestic rather than external market must occupy the centre of economic policy, with purchasing power rising at a faster pace at the bottom than at the top of income distribution, and the market used by the poor for local exchanges to suit their needs and priorities. (Bhaduri 2009: 185–188)

    The role of democracy in bringing out this shift would be very significant. Already, there is a shift in the discourse of the political parties from the general elections in 1999 that was fought on an assumed consensus on economic reforms and higher growth rates, to 2004, where major advocates of reforms, such as Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh, were summarily rejected.6 This, in turn, has led to a change from mere emphasis on growth to growth with a new kind of neo-welfarism, leading up to a string of welfare policies such as the NREGA, Food Security Bill, Right to Education through Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan, Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill and reversal of FDI in retail, reversal of land acquired for industry in Singur in West Bengal, halting of transnational operations by POSCO in Odisha, Vedanta in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, and the nuclear energy plant in Kudankulam, to name a few. It is also important to observe the link between neo-welfarism and the steady voter turnout in state and general elections, and the change from the impact of anti-incumbency in elections to a pattern of pro-incumbency for the political party/government in power, which is evident in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. This shift is in tune with the imperatives of the development process—electorates seem to understand the gestation required for policies to fructify into effective results—and expansion of neo-welfarism.7 Further, where the parliament failed to strengthen such a process, the Supreme Court intervened, in instances such as holding Palli Sabhas in Odisha to ascertain the tribal viewpoint on opening the Vedanta Aluminium Limited in Niamgiri hills and to know if this in any way violated the religious and cultural life style of the tribal inhabiting these areas. As a result, 12 Palli (Gram) Sabhas summarily rejected the idea of mining the hills for bauxite. Thereafter, ‘the Environment Ministry has decided that the claim of even one village council for cultural or religious rights over the hills provides the legal mandate to the Central government to reject the proposal under the Supreme Court orders’ (The Hindu, 16 August 2013).

    India's violent democracy allows for mobility as much as it has increasingly grown into a ‘state of exception’. This shift has come not merely in dealing with the Maoists but various other popular forms of protest politics. These strategies of exception of the state have found a social base in the mobilisational politics of the middle classes that have developed a deep sense of discomfort with popular representational politics, even as these classes have taken to street protest politics. Democracy has become increasingly expensive and burdensome for the subaltern classes who have either turned to militant modes or to a sense of withdrawal visible in the spate of suicides, and growing urban crime, even as they continue to register their influence by taking part in the electoral process. Democratic processes in India have to find a way of moving beyond their structural dependence on coercive apparatus, and re-contextualise the debate on ‘political violence’ beyond the discourse of ‘global war on terror’. It needs to be recognised that

    far from representing a hegemonic project, the ruling bloc is faced with growing social discontent and resistance, even giving way to limited state disintegration in parts of India's East controlled by the Maoist guerilla organizations. Despite this, the neoliberal ideology has remained dominant among the elites and the politically vocal middle classes, not least due to the extraordinary economic growth. (Schmalz and Ebenau 2012: 493)

    It needs to contextualise instead of moralising political violence, disallowing the moral to supplant the political. The alternative ways of capturing the dynamics of political violence is visible in framing it as a response to ‘structural violence’, ‘routine violence’, ‘systemic violence’, necessitating ‘counter-violence’. The structural questions brought to the fore by the Maoists are part of the constitutional vision, and in that sense makes the Maoist movement a ‘constitutional struggle’, even if there needs to be more public debate on the possibilities of growing militarisation—’frames of war’—of such militant struggles.

    Further, democracy has also remained slighted by a process of globalisation that has remained insulated from the imperatives of democratic and participatory processes, through the top-down imposition of global governance models. It has also been marked by the rise of new speculative capital, middle-men type of contractor class, and mafia that engages in illegal mining, speculative land dealings and pilferages of various kinds. There needs to be a fresh consensus on moving from ‘reforms by stealth’ to ‘reforms by participation’. This could be made effective through various legal-institutional mechanisms. For instance,

    the Indian parliament should bring in a law that mandates that ‘crucial’ international economic and trade treaties are not signed and ratified without its consent, or at least put in place mechanisms to actively oversee their negotiation and conclusion. Such a law can be brought vide Entry 14 of the Union list. (Chimni 2010: 181)

    This is imperative since it has already taken shape in terms of the difference of articulation of national versus regional parties, in the recent opposition against FDI in the retail sector. Federalisation of democratic processes interrupts top-down economic reforms.

    Further, the conflict with globalisation is seen in its worst form over the issue of mining and displacement of the tribals in much of the central India. This clearly articulates as a direct conflict between the imperatives of globalisation and politics of the Maoist movement, with democracy being at best ineffective and at worst turning into exceptionalism. Growth rates in India were incumbent to a great extent on export of raw materials such as the iron ore and bauxite, which is available mostly in the tribal belts of central India, who in turn are being mobilised by the Maoists, becoming a direct site of conflict between globalisation/growth and tribals/Maoists. By August 2013, the growth rates declined from above 9 per cent to below 6 per cent, and much of the reason was sought in the refusal to permit Vedanta and POSCO in Odisha and Chhattisgarh to mine iron ore and bauxite. In 2009–2010, India exported 117.37 million tonnes of iron ore, in 2012 it was down to 87 per cent and by 2013 India was importing five million tonnes of iron ore. Similarly, India has the third largest bauxite reserves in the world; by 2013 it was likely to become an importer of bauxite.8 Much of this change was due to the unrelenting mobilisation of the tribal by the Maoists, in spite of repressive governance ‘Operation Green Hunt’, leading to a direct conflict between globalisation and representative democracy at one end and Maoists at the other end.

    However, globalisation has also brought to the fore the possibility of global integration through the language of human rights and through alternative regionalism. The question remains whether alternative regionalism can be converted into alternative globalisation. There are expressive possibilities of this demonstrated through the experiments such as the ALBA in Latin America. As we had argued in Chapter 6 on alternative regionalism that the momentum has shifted to the South–South alliances that share a common historical past of suffering from abject poverty and colonial subjugation, this provides for an opportunity to reverse the influence of ‘transnational capitalist classes’ on the new regional formations. The language of human rights and rule of law could also be imperative checks on the growing exceptionalism of the Indian state. Democracies and popular mobilisations such as the women's movement for prohibition of liquor that find resonance in the international human rights declarations such as the right to development present new avenues to link the global to the local, and realise transnational forms of justice. Post-Westphalian and transnational forms of justice might then provide new avenues and create new pressures to rearticulate the equation between Maoism, democracy and globalisation.


    1. For a more detailed analysis on this, refer to Gudavarthy 2013d.

    2. The then Home Minister P. Chidambaram had announced that by 2050, 80 per cent of the population will begin to live in the cities.

    3. I am borrowing the term from Sigmund Freud, where ‘Transference is a phenomenon characterised by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another’. I am extending it to a social and political phenomenon (refer to

    4. I distinctly remember a conversation I had more than a decade back in one of my train journeys from Hyderabad to Calcutta. I had a Bengali couple as my co-passengers and in course of our conversation asked what their next alternative to CPM is, and to my utter disbelieve, they said BJP. I realised how categories such as left and right, or democratic and authoritarian do not seem work in the mobilisations of popular democracy. The same symbols, such as the Durga Pooja and Rabindra Sangeet, could easily be resignified as right-wing religious symbols.

    5. When the Maoist party came for talks with the government of Andhra Pradesh in 2004, the party leadership faced many of these questions from the academics, social activists and journalists. Though they did not have concrete answers, they did acknowledge the importance of these questions.

    6. Turning his earlier World Bank driven agenda against subsidies and other welfare policies, for the forthcoming Assembly elections in 2014, Chandrababu Naidu announced a new bounty that included nine-hour power supply to farmers and total waiver of farm loans; free 25 kg rice to BPL families; free medical insurance; ₹1,000 a month unemployment dole; free KG to PG education for poor; free reimbursement to students, laptops for all students and cycles for girl students under the Mahalakshmi scheme, in which ₹25,000 is to be deposited for every girl child; safe drinking water to all villages; and 10 domestic cylinders a year on subsidy (Outlook, May 2013: 13).

    7. In the run-up to the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh in 2014, the Chief Minister Raman Singh stressed upon a string of welfare policies his government diligently implemented. This included offering rice at ₹1 per kg to neutralise inflation; food security supplemented by nutrition security to 42 lakh families; health security to 56 lakh families; distribution of sewing machines, cycles, a kit, among many other such schemes for specific target groups (refer to The Hindu, 24 August 2013).

    8. For more details, refer to Gupta 2013.


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    About the Author

    Ajay Gudavarthy taught earlier as Assistant Professor at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. He had been Visiting Fellow, Centre for Citizenship, Civil society and Rule of Law, University of Aberdeen in 2012. He was Visiting Faculty at Centre for Human Rights, University of Hyderabad in 2011 and Visiting Fellow, Goldsmith College, University of London in 2010. In 2008, he was Charles Wallace Visiting Fellow, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.

    His published works include Re-framing Democracy and Agency in India: Interrogating Political Society (edited, 2012) and Politics of Post-civil Society: Contemporary History of Political Movements in India (SAGE Publications, New Delhi, 2013).

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