What does Business have to Say about Maoism? An Analysis of the FICCI Task Force Report on National Security & Terrorism

December 13, 2010

By Rahul Varman

FICCI report [PDF, English, 2.5 MB] »

The media seems to be agog with the ‘gravest danger’ to the Indian economy and the ‘greatest threat’ to the nation. If we look at the mainstream press, it seems that business and its interests are right at the heart of this ‘problem’. While one side seems to be proclaiming that it is business which is the victim of this conflict, the other side has been suggesting that it is business which has been instrumental in perpetrating this proxy war on the tribals and common folks.

So it appeared a natural and legitimate inquiry to ask what business itself, especially big business, has to say about Maoism. But we were in for a surprise when we began looking at the archives of papers and journals – the analysis, assessment, and comments of business and the captains of industry on Maoism were very conspicuous but only by their complete absence and silence – almost no conferences, brainstorming or press communiqués on Maoism in recent years by business and their associations. Hence this report on ‘National Security and Terrorism’[2] by FICCI “the largest and the oldest apex business organisation in the country” which claims 83,000 companies as its members [3] seemed important enough for a close enquiry. It has two of its longest chapters [4] (out of eight) devoted exclusively to ‘naxalism’ which it proclaims to be “the single biggest internal security threat to India by all measures”. This gains even more in significance due to its star-studded line up of authors – the task force on ‘national security and terrorism’ consisting of the general secretary and past president of FICCI, along with retired chiefs/ highest officials from intelligence bureau, Army, Air Force, National Security Guard, and cabinet secretariat and being co-chaired by an MP and past as well as the present presidents of FICCI.

Introduction: Conception of Maoism

Let us start with the understanding of the task force about Maoism. To begin with there is little surprising here and we find some of the regular stuff. The authors accept that the primary reason for the spread of Maoism is the genuine, longstanding and unattended grievances of the tribals and landless arising from their “political, economic and social hardships” [5]. It declares that, “unemployment, poverty and unbridled exploitation of the poor are all a reality in large parts of (the) Indian rural landscape (30).” Further, such lack of development initiative is leading to “increased urban-rural divide”. The task force accepts that the issues raised by the Maoists are “people-centric and have certain legitimacy in the eyes of the common people” as states like Andhra Pradesh and Bihar have yet to implement even minimal land reforms. It goes on to say that since India lacks social security mechanisms, “the Maoists have tried to exploit such (policy) gaps to increase their influence”. Thus it rues the fact that the “Maoists have virtually unlimited supply of potential recruits given the huge numbers of Indians living in poverty and (that) most of India’s social problems (are) related to (unaddressed) caste issues (30).” But it also adds that many of the cadres are there not due to any ideology, but “to take advantage of the power that a gun can draw in a lawless land.”

There is repeated emphasis on the magnitude of the ‘Naxal problem’ and vast territory under their influence – that they enjoy wide support and have a “growing mass base in rural areas” and thus constitute the “single biggest internal security threat” to the country. It further states that the “Maoist threat appears to be overtaking all other insurgencies in the country” which is “more complex… to fight than any that (the) Indian security forces have fought until today (27).”

At several places the report also comments on the modus-operandi of the Maoists. It warns that, “there is no grievance that (Maoists) do not identify with, however unjust that may be, and there is no Indian institution that the armed movement is appreciative of (30, emphasis added).” In its assessment, they have been “building a counter state by exploiting the genuine grievances” and have worked up that anger against the state to their advantage. But the primary purpose of the Maoists is not to address the immediate grievances but to further their strategy of “isolating the enemy” by mobilising the masses. It further states that the Maoists begin with “destroying the ‘state control’ through propaganda, destruction of symbols of governance like schools, hospitals, government offices, railway lines, assassination of government officials, members of elected local bodies, caste enemies, and raids on isolated police pickets (32).” The military formations of the Maoists contain “well-coordinated, trained, ideologically brainwashed cadres and ancillary units” and induction of women soldiers and propaganda personnel add value to the movement and allows it easy access to the homes and hearts of the vulnerable people (34, emphasis added).” The task force also believes that the Maoists have the “ability to out-think and out-fight the state” and the idea of a liberated zone (it takes Lalgarh as an example of a liberated zone in 2008 [6]) is a sample of the brazenness and defiance of the Maoists. Moreover, the protracted face off with the state gives them an opportunity for rapid radical political mobilisation. It emphasises that the Maoists are following the “textbook strategies” of guerrilla warfare and also have a sophisticated intelligence apparatus. Unlike ‘jihadis’ they attack mainly ‘hard targets’ like police stations and paramilitary posts. In its assessment, all this is made possible due to “the magic spell of Maoist Mass Control” that the militants are able to weave. It explains that such a spell is constituted of a propaganda machinery that is “based on folklores woven around Sido-Kanu, Birsa Bhagwan, etc.” with Mao thrown in for good measure; thus “Mao has started replacing Sido-Kanu and Birsa in various tribal strongholds of the Maoists (40).” The report also warns that Maoists have an imminent plan for encircling and capturing cities and will find sympathy amongst students and unemployed.

What the FICCI task force assesses to be the character of the ‘Maoist threat’ for the Indian business, economy, and polity can be best summed up below by three brief quotes from the report:

India’s emergence as a hot growth market depended at first on the tech outsourcing boom in Bangalore and elsewhere. Now the world is discovering the skill and productivity of India’s manufacturers as well. Meanwhile India’s affluent urban consumers have started buying autos, appliances and homes, and they’re demanding improvements in the country’s roads, bridges and railroads. To stoke Indian manufacturing and satisfy consumers, the country needs cement, steel, and electric power in record amounts… Anxious to revive their moribund economies, the poor but resource rich states of eastern India have given mining and land rights to Indian and multinational companies. Yet these deposits lie mostly in territory where the Naxals operate. Chattisgarh, a hotbed of Naxalite activity, has 23 per cent of India’s iron ore deposits and abundant coal. It has signed memorandum of agreements worth billions with Tata Steel and ArcelorMittal, De Beers Consolidated Mines, BHP Billiton, and Rio Tinto… And US companies like Caterpillar want to sell equipment to the mining companies… (37-38).

The naxalites may be the sleeper threat to India’s economic power, potentially more damaging to Indian companies, foreign investors and the state than pollution, crumbling infrastructure, or political gridlock. The growing Maoist insurgency over large swathes of the mineral-rich countryside could soon hurt some industrial investment plans. Just when India needs to ramp up its industrial machine to lock in growth and just when foreign companies are joining the party – the naxalites are clashing with the mining and steel companies essential to India’s long-term success. The threat doesn’t stop there. The naxalites may move next on India’s cities, where outsourcing, finance and retailing are thriving (36, emphasis added).

The CPI-Maoist is partly political, partly insurgent, partly terrorist organisation. It believes in the Maoist strategy of capturing political power with the help of a well-motivated and well-trained army of the impoverished rural masses… As an insurgent organisation it believes in establishing its control over territory ‘liberated’ by it. As a terrorist organisation, it differs from others. It does not indulge in indiscriminate killings of civilians (non-combatants)… Maoist terrorism is a totally indigenous phenomenon motivated by domestic grievances and a domestic political agenda (41-42).

Liability for the ‘Naxal Threat’

Though the report does not dwell so much on this issue, yet it makes it sharp and clear that the primary responsibility for the ‘problem’ lies with the government and it has some startlingly strong words to say about it. It asserts that the government is squarely to be blamed for the “criminal neglect of the rural economy” and following a “scorched earth policy” [7] in the rural agrarian sector with feudal lords in command (emphasis added)”. Thus the conditions that prevail in vast areas of the Indian countryside are “mature for waging a people’s war by the Maoists”.

The authors lament that despite such high abundance of natural resources in the areas under Maoist influence, its benefits are far from reaching local populations. Thus, going by their past experience with ‘development’, the tribals are rightly apprehensive of the mining and construction activity and plans. It concedes that the tribals are supposed to get a fair compensation for the land given for business, but the “state’s record in this area is patchy at best (emphasis added)”.

It further blames the local vested interests and corruption, the alliance of contractors, money lenders, politicians, etc., for lack of effective delivery of development goods to the local population [8]. It even has scathing comments for programmes like NREGA that, according to the task force, “suffer from appalling levels of corruption”. Thus “government policy of offering doles, unemployment allowances, rural employment grants, etc. have made about 35 per cent of the rural population to look up to the political rulers as gods raining occasional manna (30, emphasis added).” Through this process people in such areas, “gradually start looking up to the Maoists for protection…” and “they start living on the hope that the changed system as promised by the Maoists would one day deliver the dream world that would glitter like the cities and homes of the affluent. They rapidly lose confidence in the State and any coercive action implement(ed) by the State further alienates the(m) (32, emphasis added).”

Another aspect which is repeatedly emphasised in the report is the inadequacy of the security apparatus of the state. It stresses continually on the capabilities of the Maoists in mounting large-scale surprise attacks on ‘hard targets’ in vast area under their control. And it bemoans the poor state of policing (including paramilitary) and intelligence set-up to such an extent that they fail to “inflict even a moderate level of attrition” on the Maoists – “(i)n the vast operational areas from Bihar to Andhra Pradesh with most active hubs in (remote tribal areas of) Orissa, Jharkhand (and) Chhattisgarh… the Central and State intelligence apparatus is appallingly inadequate (39).” The report is at pains to bring out the fact that the primary problem is “infirmity of the state” and not really the strength of the rebels. Thus “inadequacy of State response makes the Maoists look bigger than life.” It even warns that, “in the absence of supplementing administrative, economic, and security reforms, mere application of force by isolated police actions (is likely to) alienate the people more, resulting in (further) erosion of state’s (authority) (33).”

I. Addressing the ‘Maoist Problem’

At several places as well as in a separate small chapter [9], the report has specific recommendations for addressing the ‘Naxal challenge’. Though it endorses the approach of Prime Minister Dr. Singh of ‘walking on two legs” [10]: taking up military and development aspects simultaneously, the primary response for the authors appears to be military strategy and tactics, which is worked out in some detail in the report. One of the continuous refrains here is lack of coordination amongst different states under Maoist influence and between states and the central government. The report repeatedly laments the fact that the states are divided in ‘political boundaries’ while Maoist influence is not determined by any such boundaries, that the government has to follow the Constitution and the primary responsibility for security is that of the state governments, while they lack resources and the sophistication to put adequate challenge to the Maoists, militarily as well as from the development point of view. Additionally the large federal parties have splintered in recent times and there is rise in the influence of local – ‘caste based’ parties, leading to further weakening of the Indian state. Thus the Maoists have been able to exploit such lack of coordination and the government response has been largely incoherent and ineffective.

The report strongly recommends a National Counter Terrorism Agency with an all India jurisdiction and where “the executive authority shall devolve on the central Government”. It also recommends a separate Ministry of Internal Security with an independent minister to deal exclusively with counter terrorism and Left Wing Extremism. Such a centralised agency should “have at its disposal forces trained for carrying out special operations with adequate mobility, technology (aerial surveillance, electronic monitoring mechanism et al.), and fire power… (54).” The task force even goes to the extent of recommending some kind of conscription – it “strongly recommends that all entry into Central and State Government employment (IAS, IFS, etc. as well as lower levels) including into PSUs be made contingent on two/ three years of compulsory service in the Armed Forces (55).” The police and military aspect of the recommendations have been worked out in great detail in the report and even the role of a beat constable has been discussed as a separate point. As a strategy to counter the Maoists, it has good words to say about Salwa Judum as well, as “People’s defence against the people who want change through violence is an internationally recognised War Zone policy” but admits that “allegations of human rights (violation) against the group (has) defeat(ed) the very purpose of (its) creation (33).”

Though ten out of thirteen points in the recommendation chapter deal with military aspects, it further stresses that such a strategy for “Regain(ing) mass control through superior targeted force” has to be accompanied by what it terms as “National Repair Works to fill in the fault lines” by providing basic amenities like education, hospitals, etc. It also emphasises that such a process of wresting initiative from the Maoists is going to be slow – “block by block” and it ought to be done “without seasonal and cynic(al) political gimmicks (perhaps meaning that it should not be tried only at the time of elections, and for immediate political gains, emphasis added, 54).” The report states that “the tribal areas have to be developed on a crash basis” and the “local democratic institutions should be strengthened”. It goes on to recommend that the government should attempt to bring Maoists to the mainstream electoral politics by identifying those who have “political ambition”; it even sates that after Charu Majumdar when Vinod Mishra “came in, he formed the Maoist Communist Centre and fought elections (! [11], 54).” The recommendation chapter has interesting concluding lines:

When one looks at Kerala today, the Left Wing Extremism situation is much less grim than in other states… Has it something to do with the actions taken particularly by the communist parties while in power in Kerala at various times over the last five decades, and possibly other parties as well, to cap land holdings and provide land to those who worked on it? It may be useful to draw on that experience (56).

II. Analysing the Report I: So what does business really have to say about Maoism?

With the brief discussion above where we have attempted to bring out various strands on Maoism in the report, the question remains as to how to make an overall sense of it. There are some aspects that have been repeatedly stressed, some facets where the details have been worked out, at least to some length, while some other issues find only a brief mention. In our overall reading of the report, we find the following aspects worthy of further comment:

1. According to the report, the Indian economy is going through an unprecedented ‘boom’ led by the big business and Maoists are a threat to this ongoing ‘party’. Basically this growth is overall for the good of everyone but Maoists are exploiting some ‘genuine grievances’ which are arising in remote-rural areas.

2. It is the state which has to be squarely blamed for such ‘criminal neglect’ which has resulted in the rise of such grievances. The Maoists have a well oiled and significantly superior (to the state) propaganda and military machine to exploit the wrongs for their own ends of building up a ‘counter state’ and seizing power in the long run.

3. In order to address the problem the state has to primarily better the Maoist military machine by setting up a sophisticated, unified and dedicated command which is effective across the country and take up some development works as well along with it to wean away masses from the Maoists.

We elaborate on the three themes below.

Growth of Business and Economy is for the Good of Everyone

The underlying assumption here is that in contemporary India there is a party, an economic boom (right in the preface the report claims that India is “shak(ing) away the socialist lethargy”) going on and as national-international corporate players join in, some people – the Maoists, are out there to spoil it by exploiting the grievances of those who have not been invited. The task force concedes that though some people have not been made part of the ‘growth party’, in its opinion it is only because of their remoteness and inaccessibility. There is also an essential belief that it is the big business which is the engine of this economic growth, the real hand behind this party – the Mittals, the Rio Tintos, the Caterpillars… In fact the task force believes that the best contribution that business can make against terrorism is by continuing its business activities. That the very fact and nature of this economic growth could be a cause of serious problems did not even seem to have crossed the minds of the members of the task force. It does not appear that the strong correlation between the recent years of sharpest economic growth and the most rapid rise in the influence of Maoists in terms of area and population under their influence bothered the task force and motivated them to find its underlying causes. The report seems to be completely innocent of severe structural limits of the Indian economic growth – the epidemic scales of malnutrition, the significant majority much below any reasonable notion of living wage, the farm suicides, chronic unemployment and under-employment, lack of access to drinking water, health, education, etc., and the growing unrest of various kinds amongst the populace across the length and breadth of the country.

State is Primarily Liable for the Neglect of the Tribal-Rural Areas

Since the report sees the primary problem as lack of access to development goods for some in remote areas due to which some ‘genuine grievances’ are arising, the problem is squarely put in the state’s court – a state which is a distinct entity from business, especially big business. Thus nowhere in the report is there any hint of a relationship between a third world state like India and global capital – the ‘inputs’ it provides in making and influencing the policies, the contributions of the more material kind that big business makes in aligning the policies and practices to its own ends and/or building a nexus between government, polity and business. The report stresses that if it is found that the politicians and officials are in league with the terrorists, then “this should be made public”, but has nothing to say about the financial deals that business apparently strikes with the Maoists to continue with their operations. Even when the report mentions repeatedly about the crunch of resources for providing appropriate military and development response to the Maoists, there is no hint that such constraints can have anything to do with the zero taxes that big corporate houses aspire for, or for that matter any link with the massive subsidies that they wrench from the governments for their business deals – project after project and year after year. Interestingly even here, business finds an opportunity and recommends ‘tax relief’ for investing in its own security measures!

As per the report, if at all the state is weakened it is due to local factors – ‘caste based’ parties – and not due to any constraint being imposed by national and international capital. It is the state and only state as distinct from business which is supposed to provide such development goods to the people – there is no mention here of any role for the private players or for the ‘public private partnerships’ which otherwise seem to be big favourites even for providing public goods and utilities in ‘profitable’ urban sectors. If the locals are not being compensated reasonably for the land acquired for big projects, it is the government which is not providing them adequate compensation and it has nothing to do with business! If at all there are some vested interests between business and politics it is at the local level between contractors, money lenders and politicians – no such thing finds any mention at the national level where big business operates. It even has something as strong as an accusation of ‘scorched earth policy’ to make against the government, meaning thereby that actually the government is destroying the farms and rural infrastructure to get back at the Maoists! But again, the corporations, as per the report, have nothing to do with it – the corporate farming and business interests in new technologies like GM foods, entry of big business into food retail, the burgeoning mining industry, the environmental costs of industrialisation, the buying spree of real estate for SEZs and massive investments of the corporate sector can be nothing else but good for ‘everyone’ if only various arms of the government were doing their job properly.

Centralised, Sophisticated, and Dedicated Military Command as the Answer to the Maoists

The report believes that the core of the strategy to counter Maoism lies in addressing the problem militarily and overwhelming them by force. The prognosis here is that the Maoists appear to be larger than life due to military failure of the state on various counts: lack of coordination between centre and states as well as amongst states, poor intelligence and lack of technological sophistication in weaponry as well as surveillance systems. Hence the recommendation of the task force is a centralised command exclusively for dealing with contingencies like Maoism with all the resources and technology at its command which can cut across the length and breadth of the country. Thus the task force has little patience for the plural and federal character of the Indian polity and they consider this as one of the biggest hurdles for containing the Maoists. It further recommends Salwa Judum kind of strategy of arming civilians to fight Maoists, though it does concede that Salwa Judum itself has got into ‘human rights problems’. Additionally, the report also recommends short commission in the armed forces as a compulsory requirement for all those aspiring to get government jobs, though interestingly no such thing is recommended for private sector jobs.

The second leg of the strategy, i.e., ‘development’, to counter Maoism does find some mention in the report but is very clearly supposed to play second fiddle – as the report itself suggests – to fill up, what it considers, ‘fault lines’ as a complimentary tactic to the basic military thrust [12]. Further, it recommends that the government should act in such places in its pristine form and counsels it to not being ‘cynical’ and get into short term calculations, and would like to see local institutions functioning at their best. All the same it has nothing to say how this will happen in real life? After all, if business interests have become the primary influence on the Indian polity from the central down to local levels, and if the only purpose of business is to earn quick profits, how can the government take care of the long term and discount the short term? It has nothing to say of an institution like FICCI that can possibly play any role here in chastising its member companies and/ or advising them to help government consider longer term interests of the poor local population. It even goes on to recommend to the government to find ways of inducing the ‘more ambitious’ ones amongst the Maoists to join the mainstream electoral politics, of course the assumption being that ambition has only one trajectory – that of rising up the present political order by fighting elections.

III. Analysing the Report II: So what do we learn about business?

As would be clear from the brief description above, the report, though written by such an eminent set of authors, on an issue which according to them is of such great import for business and the ‘young Indian nation’, that too on something that otherwise business as a class has not articulated much, yet we find it has little to offer beyond the standard clichés on Maoism. The report has little to say beyond the line that yes some people, especially the tribals, have some ‘genuine grievances’ which are being exploited by the Maoists and that they are the ‘gravest threat’, etc. There is no attempt to understand the deeper aspects of what it calls the ‘Naxal threat’ – its historical specificities and development – in fact wherever it attempts this, it ends up cutting a sorry figure like ‘MCC joining elections under Vinod Mishra’. The treatment is very much here and now [13] – so there is repeated mention of Lalgarh, Singur and Nandigram (perhaps because Lalgarh was a flashpoint in 2008-09) but no attempt to understand the differences in the nature of the Maoist movement – from AP, to Maharashtra to Chhattisgarh, to Jharkhand, Bihar to Bengal. Moreover there is repeated mention of how the Maoists are getting massive help from Nepal [14] without any sense of proportion that perhaps an area larger than Nepal and population no less than under the authority of Nepali Maoists is under the influence of Maoists in India and there were serious differences which had already surfaced between the Nepali and Indian Maoists by the time the report was written in 2009. But the authors have no patience to get into such details and intricacies, and thus paint the phenomenon with a broad brush, which is very much symptomatic and seems to be at times based on hearsay. Thus, the report has little to offer on facts and analysis about Maoism and yet its reading is rewarding in another sense – as it definitely has something to tell us about the character of business and how it looks at itself vis-à-vis other constituencies in the present Indian context. We will attempt to comment on this issue below.

The authors have no doubt that the current form of economic growth is good for all and that the corporate houses are the ones who ought to get the real credit for it. When states want to “revive their moribund economies”, they give mineral and other resources to the corporations, so that they can revive them. Thus the one significant assumption in the report is that business basically works for the good of the economy and people. Moreover, when it comes to their own diagnosis about why this growth has not reached the tribals and rural folks, the report is very clear that this problem has been created by the state due to its ‘criminal neglect’ and ‘scorched earth policy’. If the tribals are being displaced, if they are not getting the ‘good’ rates for their land, if they are not finding employment, if the wages are getting depressed in spite of the growth, the spiralling corporate profits, and the increasing board room salaries [15], then still the report does not see any liability for the corporations in the increasing disaffection in the country at large. For instance read this with the recent debate on the draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill. While FICCI and other business bodies have taken the standard position that ‘this will lead to zero investments’, some of them have gone further ahead, like Federation of Indian Mineral Industries and goes on to make patronising claims that “such a bill will breed lazy people, who will only drink and beat up their women” [16]! In fact the proposed bill suddenly makes FICCI worry about, of all the things inequality, and the general secretary of FICCI (and one of the authors of this report) Mr. Amit Mitra says [17]: “The scheme would also lead to social and economic inequality as the people affected by the projects will derive benefits, while the rest of the population will not get any.” The report has no doubt that business has to continue doing whatever it does, putting up more ventures and making profits, and the genuine grievances will get resolved if only the state does its job well and if politicians were not corrupt and if the local ‘vested interests’ could be taken care of. The report has nothing to offer in terms of analysis of the implications of such growth for various sets of people and how these large scale mining, manufacturing and utility projects are going to affect especially the vulnerable sections who are resisting and protesting against such projects across the length and breadth of the country (according to a recent estimate such projects are going to displace 1 million people only in Jharkhand [18]). The report does not see any contradiction between its own here and now symptomatic treatment of Maoists and its attempt to continuously exhort the state to indulge in long-term ‘strategic thinking’ and action.

So does this mean that the report has nothing to offer in terms of concrete agenda? On the contrary, the substantive parts of the report are those where it proposes a detailed action plan for the state to implement – these are the parts where an elaborate military strategy has been worked out and specific recommendations have been provided for various parts of the state – the nature of command structures, the sophisticated technology that is required, the changes in legal regime, etc. We have summarised this aspect of the report in Part III and these appear to be the implementable aspects of the report likely to be picked up by the target audience. It may not be a mere coincidence that, simultaneously when the report was being written and released, we began hearing about ‘operation green hunt’ (OGH), which according to the home minister has never ever been even discussed inside the inscrutable walls of North Block let alone existing in reality; yet OGH seems to be going strong for more than a year now. The purpose of the ostensible operation is to militarily ‘destroy’ the Maoists with all the unified might of the Centre and states, being led by central paramilitary forces, with state police and local militias like Salwa Judum in tow and assisted by the armed forces with UAVs, night vision, and so on. There appears to be uncanny similarity between what was proposed in the FICCI report in 2009 and what appears to have unfolded since then.

The authors of the report are very clear about the task of the state, that is, to first be the advance party of business by doing literally the spade work, like getting the land and infrastructure ready; and second, when faced with ‘security threats’ like Maoists, to ‘take care’ of them, genuine or no genuine grievances. That is the basic role of the neoliberal state and that is the function it is supposed to serve in spite of all the rhetoric of free markets and privatisation. That is why the model government is that of the Modi’s Gujarat where all kinds of dissent can be squashed in the name of a ‘vibrant Gujarat’ and the state can be completely sanitised and made ready for business. No wonder that Forbes [19] very recently called Gujarat the “most market-oriented and business-friendly” among Indian states. This is the monolithic state that business wants to see, where there is no scope for plurality, democracy and dissenting voices, only a well oiled machine-like ‘system’, where the business is the prime engine and the job of the state is to fill-in the ‘fault lines’. In fact where possible, business itself can take up the role of the state, like Blackwater in Iraq. It recommends a change in the statutes so that the private security agencies have the right to carry heavy weapons and also wants fewer regulations for such private security firms. Moreover, the report also sees civil society and the media as well in its own image and has an interesting take on these institutions. It repeatedly mentions how the two also need to be co-opted in its war on terror and exhorts them repeatedly to fulfil their duties and responsibilities. For instance it has a large list of do’s and don’ts for the media: “information should be factual and responsible”, “provocative media coverage must be avoided”, “nothing should be done which helps the terrorists”, etc. It also would like to see a ‘code of conduct’ for civil society groups and NGOs, of course meaning thereby that they should toe the business line, “and any of the organisations breaching this code should be brought to book mercilessly…(99)”. In order to implement proper monitoring, it also exhorts civil society to support laws that may even result in ‘invasion of privacy’. In such a conception of society there is no place for citizens. One way of interpreting this report is that rise of Maoism in the country is an opportunity for big business to articulate their vision of a monolithic state devoid of citizens and voices. Needless to say, it does not necessarily mean that they will be able to attain their vision.

Note: This is part of an unfinished work, feedback is most welcome; please write at: rahulv [at] iitk [dot] ac [dot] in


1. We are using the word Maoism here for both what media broadly puts under the category of ‘Maoism’ and ‘Naxalism’.

2. FICCI Task Force Report on National Security & Terrorism, Vol. I

3. http://www.ficci.com/about-ficci.asp accessed on 29/09/10

4. In this piece by and large we have focused on these two dedicated chapters, the two more security threats that the report discusses are ‘terrorism’ and Nroth-East.

5. Wherever not specified the quotes are from the FICCI report, numbers at the end of long quotes are the page numbers in the report; if anything inside the quotes has been added by the authors it has been put within brackets.

6. Though the report was released on November 2009, yet it appears to have been written in the first half of the year and mostly based on events till the previous year.

7. This indeed is a pretty strong phrase to use for the Indian state by FICCI and it is used twice in the Naxal part of the report! According to Wikipedia, “A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area. Although initially referring to the practice of burning crops to deny the enemy food sources, in its modern usage the term includes the destruction of infrastructure such as shelter, transportation, communications and industrial resources. The practice may be carried out by an army in enemy territory, or its own home territory.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorched_earth, accessed on 10/10/10)

8. According to Vishwa Ranjan, the director general of police of Chhattisgarh, the Maoists extort Rs. 2000 crores annually across India from business, especially mining and infrastructure companies; of course all this cannot be from petty contractors without the complicity of big business if we go by the figures of the DGP, though he does not substantiate it as usual (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LH04Df04.html).

9. Only other chapter in the recommendation part of the report on a specific security problem is on ‘Managing Pakistan’.

10. It is interesting to see PM Singh and the task force picking up a phrase from Mao’s book which perhaps was used for the first time in the context of the Great Leap Forward in China of the late 1950s!

11. It is a different matter that this piece of history is wrong on many counts but perhaps the task force can be excused for not understanding the intricacies of the history of the Maoist movement! Perhaps they are alluding here to the formation of Indian People’s Front by CPI (ML – Liberation) under Vinod Mishra which participated in elections in the 1980s.

12. Interestingly, while on p10 in the executive summary, inclusive growth and land reforms are mentioned as first two recommendations to “quell… the Maoist insurgency”, it does not even find a mention in recommendation highlights from p13-17.

13. Right in the preface the report draws an analogy between the beginning of the WWI and the present global situation. It claims that the world was plunged into the war ‘at the peak of economic boom’ due to the single act of a ‘Serbian terrorist’ of killing the Austrian crown prince. It paints a specter that like an individual terrorist act plunged the world into a world war, similarly the present situation may led to the destruction of the economic boom. Perhaps the preface was written before the events of the second half of 2008 when the boom came to a grinding halt but for very different reasons than the report’s prognosis; moreover, there is no hint of the complex geopolitical and economic context at the time of the WWI and the whole thing is reduced to a result of a single madman’s act.

14. By invoking Nepal repeatedly, perhaps the concern of the authors is to suggest that the state can be taken over by the Maoists like it has happened in Nepal. Of course, there is no end to such unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, like R S N Singh of the India Defence Review claiming that “For China, the Maoists are the most reliable tool in the proxy war that it is waging against India.”

15. Bellary, the iron ore capital of Karnataka, has the highest number of private aircrafts while simultaneously is ranked the lowest in HDI in the state (source: same as 16).

16. Narain, Sunita Sharing profits for new gains, Business Standard, Monday, Nov 29, 2010. http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/sunita-narain-sharing-profits-for-new-gains/405397/

17. FICCI opposes mining bill, debunks tribal compensation scheme, The Hindu, New Delhi, July 25, 2010

18. Dungdung, Gladson, Adivasis’ Struggle against Displacement in Jharkhand. Countercurrents.org, 04 August, 2009

19. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai among world’s fastest-growing cities: Forbes – The Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Ahmedabad-Bangalore-Chennai-among-worlds-fastest-growing-cities-Forbes/articleshow/6752681.cms#ixzz12QZerFCz, accessed on 15/10/10.

1 Comment »

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