Correlation between development and extremism



Without development processes, there is no organic end to the causes of discontent, unrest and extremism. Development and security together lay the foundations for sustainable peace. It is a truism that underdevelopment often creates the conditions for insurgency and spread of extremist ideologies among the people, who perceive that their needs are not being taken care of by the government. While it has been the policy of governments around the world today to emphasise on “inclusive development”, there are always groups in every state who feel alienated because they perceive that they are left out of the developmental efforts. Such perceptions coupled with inefficient and corrupt governance create an ideal condition for extremism and militancy. More than lack of development, it is the perception of injustice, mis-governance and inability of the system to engage the disaffected lot that lead people to violence and extremism.


Extremism hindrance to development

As security is the primary infrastructure of economic activities and social stability and certainty about future are the essential prerequisite of investment, the persistent insurgency atmosphere has been the most important contributor to economic stagnation of the region.

  • The first casualty of insurgency has been its already weak infrastructure especially, its transport sector.
  • The subversive activities of the insurgents’ damage rail tracks, cause accidents leading to loss of life and property, create terror among the travelers and throw the entire system out of gear.
  • The next important target of the insurgents is the resource-based industries like petroleum and tea which form the core of the modern organized sector in the region.
  • Oil pipelines are often blown up by the insurgents, tea gardens are targeted for extortion and sometimes, tea garden executives are abducted.
  • The attack of the insurgents on tea and petroleum is bound to convey negative signal to the prospective investors. The potential of using gas reserve of the region will also be seriously hampered because of insurgency situation.
  • The third, but first from long term point of view, victim of insurgency in the region is environment. On the one hand, insurgents damage forests by taking shelter there and on the other, anti-insurgency operations also lead to denudation of forests.
  • The insurgency has aggravated the problem to such an extent that development workers of both the Government and NGOs are utterly discouraged from going to the hilly and rural areas as they face constant extortions and threats of abduction or death.
  • It is extremely difficult to build up rural infrastructure like roads and communication links, power grid, irrigation arrangements etc. It is also equally difficult to build up and administer schools, hospitals, agricultural extension centres etc in such a condition.
  • Consequently, insurgency is pushing the backward areas of the region to the darkness of greater underdevelopment and is acting as a retarding force rendering disservice to rural poor especially the indigenous people whose causes, they are supposed to uphold.


Developmental issues related to rise and spread of extremism:

Developmental issues which pertain to the spread of extremism are linked to lack of access to basic resources to sustain livelihood.

  • Forest policy:
    • In the name of development, habitat of principal adivasi communities were declared reserve forests & in accordance with Forest conservation Act 1980, no forest land can be diverted to non-forest use without permission.
    • Rights of primitive forest dwellers were restricted resulting in losing access to land.
    • Mass resentment leading to extremist activities.
  • Land alienation:
    • 40% of rural households have no land or less than half an acre of land, increased marginal landholdings, no land reforms, insecurity and exploitation of tenants and unrest leading to extremism.
    • Land acquisition for Special Economic Zone (SEZ) again deprived the poor of their lands. Loss of food production as a huge block of productive lands acquired for SEZ; major impact in livelihood resource, leading to conflict.
  • Displacement & rehabilitation:
    • Displacement/ forced eviction of people occurs due to developmental projects such as irrigation, industrial projects, mining projects, power plants etc. It can be physical, emotional or cultural.
    • Tribal people are most prone to displacement because tribal areas are rich in mineral resources such as Orissa, Jharkhand. This impacts multidimensional trauma on them leading to serious consequences.
  • Labour, unemployment and wages:
    • Unemployment and insecurity of livelihood are growing source of dissatisfaction and anger among youth, both in urban and rural areas.
    • Minimum wages for agriculture work are not implemented, increased share of unorganized workers in unorganized sector, no effective coverage of labour welfare laws.
    • Hence this multifaceted form of exploitation in the absence of any developmental propaganda forms the major cause of spread of extremism.
  • Moreover, tourism industry in this development scenario is posing a great threat to the existing tribal life which is interwoven with ecology. The introduction of foreign influence and commercialisation is triggering the process of disintegration of tribal society leading to extremist activities.

Thus, the above causes show that underdevelopment and socio-economic lacunae lead to extremism.


Way Forward

  • Effective implementation of legislation:
    • PESA, MGNREGA, Scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers acts must be implemented effectively.
  • Land Related Measures:
    • A serious effort must be made to continuously implement the land ceiling issues for distribution amongst the most vulnerable section of the landless poor.
    • Land should be acquired by government for SEZ by paying proper compensation to the farmers.
    • Land tribunals or fast track courts must be set up for speedy disposal of land ceiling cases. The loopholes in the respective state ceiling laws must be corrected.
  • Basic amenities and Infrastructure:
    • Failure to provide infrastructure and services as per national norms is one of the much discriminatory manifestations of governance in extremism affected areas. Basic services to standards among the people in these areas to be given top priority.
  • Governance Issues:
    • Areas in central India where unrest is prevailing covers several states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and parts of Maharashtra.
    • State interventions both for development and for law and order are fairly low. Local populations present in the tribal areas are being exploited by the rich people. Government should take necessary action in protecting these people.
    • The basic steps required in the direction include establishment of credibility and confidence of government, keeping a continuous vigil for fulfilment of people’s vision, effective protection, peace and good governance; sustainable development with equity in tribal areas will make extremism low in tribal areas.
  • Livelihood Security:
    • should strengthen the subsidiary and supportive activities in horticulture, poultry, fisheries, animal husbandry under the strict guidelines of ministry of agriculture through establishment of quality infrastructure & efficient market linkages at the village level.
    • Universalize basic social services to standards amongst the people of extremist affected areas so that the discriminatory manifestations of governance can be removed.
  • Institutional arrangements for centre-state cooperation:
    • Since problems in formulating a counter-Extremist policy as well as in dealing with the issue on a day-to-day basis are sourced to the lack of centre-state cooperation, a permanent institutional mechanism in the form of a coordination centre can be established to thrash out emerging differences.
    • A coordination centre does currently exist within the Ministry of Home Affairs, but requires the active participation of state representatives to ensure smoother coordination



Inequalities between classes have increased over the years which act as source of unrest. Indian Constitution in article 39 mandates states to prevent concentration of wealth in few hands but policy makers often ignore this resulting into two dimensions: BHARAT and INDIA. Only when adivasis and marginalized groups are taken care of both these worlds won’t merge. Structural violence causes much of violence. While not condoning radical violence, an honest response to extremism therefore must begin by ameliorating the structural violence in the society.