Issues surrounding the CPI (Maoist) have acquired an important place in the political debates on contemporary India. By estimates of the Government of India, the Maoists have their presence in about 220 of 626 districts of the country. While the ruling dispensation, including most mainstream political parties, paint the Maoists, to use the famous expression of the current Prime Minister, as “the gravest threat to internal security”, the Maoists claim that they are fighting for the marginalized, poor and tribal populations.
Maoist presence is mainly concentrated in the forested regions of central-east India. The militarized Maoist movement – which does not contest elections unlike the mainstream Communist parties in India – and its predecessor, the Naxalite movement of the 1970s, claim to have given voice to the social, economic and political aspirations of the rural poor through their revolutionary opposition to the Indian state. Those sympathetic to the Maoists claim that Maoists have been successful in developing their movement in India in the era of economic liberalization, in contrast to the fate of the parliamentary Left in India, most notably the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which are increasingly faced with electoral decline in areas where they were once dominant. The parliamentary Left on the other hand, is critical of the Maoists. They consider them to be dogmatic and term their militarized strategy and tactics to be erroneous in the Indian context, which has high human costs and has no chance of success.
How do we understand these debates between the parliamentary Left and the Maoists in contemporary India? How are these debates related to the changing political economy of contemporary India? What do they reveal about the state of the Left in India today, as a whole? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in the course of this colloquium.
Those interested in participating in the conference should submit an abstract (300 word maximum) and CV to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org by February 1, 2011.
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