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Development from the Left

Development from the Left: Telangana and Naxalbari  

The point of this week’s lecture and readings is to investigate examples of a model of development action that is not based in the US-led modernization ideology that privileges markets, electoral democracy and turning citizens into consumers. Instead, this week focuses on the armed resistance of the poor and a systematic rejection of their poverty through a critique of private property. The pesky peasant of prior weeks returns, with a vengeance.


1. The Telangana People’s Struggle


Andhra Maha Sabha and anti-Nizam and anti-caste struggles—links with Communist Party when this was banned in colonial India (politics of princely states)

1946—call for armed resistance to the Nizam’s government; largely over land disputes, taxes (formal and informal)—the Nizam’s government bans the CP and leaders go underground.

In 1947 the Nizam refuses to recognize independence; the newly independent Indian government sent the army into the state; the Nizam’s army gives up after a few hours; the Indian army turns its might against the communists. The communists turn their attentions toward large landowners.

By 1948 and particularly 1950, decisions were taken among communists to continue armed struggle; called off in 1951.


2. Naxalbari and Naxalites

An event: a tribal/peasant being attacked in the West Bengal village of Naxalbari by landlord-affiliated ‘goondas’ over a dispute having to do with land (May 1967), followed by an escalation of violence.

A context: West Bengal CPI(M) having just been elected to power in the state, was criticized for being inadequately revolutionary (betraying the revolution), The CPI(M) broke off from the CPI in 1964 (over the question of the Indo-China war); CPI(M) then decides to enter electoral politics.

This event in Naxalbari this context sparked a mass (Maoist) movement led by Charu Majumdar. Majumdar and others were unhappy with how the CPI (M) leading the state

In 1969, Majumdar and others broke away from the CPI (M) and formed the CPI (ML). This followed

Particularly by 1970, Naxalites were well represented among Calcutta’s student community. The movement spread this way from rural areas and into the cities. Class warfare against all members of the bourgeois establishment.

This led to a counter movement by the state government that basically quashed it. Majumdar died in police custody in 1972.

By the 1980s there were about 30 groups active in armed resistance struggles, and today there are about 15 (mainly in forest areas)


3. Questions--

Does this constitute an alternative to postenlightenment modernity or another version of it?


Tying up the loose ends: colonialism, nationalism, development