Maoism is not the only issue of concern for the country. Time and again, we get a setback from the youth of Jammu and Kashmir, who are often described by some as Indian Mujahedeen. They attack the government by targeting the security forces. This has been continuing since our independence, and till date, no forthright and pragmatic approach has been arrived at. Similarly, a simmering disturbance is visible in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, which often culminates in guerrilla warfare, leaving many dead among both the security forces and the community. In this crossfire, it is the innocent people who not only lose their lives but also get bruised egos and feel helpless and hapless being, as they are, in the midst of the armed forces, who they detest, on one hand, and the rebels, whom they fear, on the other hand. These disillusioned people have no faith in the government and, therefore, opt for a revolutionary role. So we can see that wherever there is unequal development, some sections move into the grooves of no return and continue to be impediments to the peace and tranquillity and progress of the country.
There can be some psychological explanations to all these terror-related activities. One is that the lower castes, who have suffered for decades, even before independence, at the hands of the upper castes, are seeking revenge and so we often witness incidents of class and caste fights.
There can be some psychological explanations to all these terror-related activities. One is that the lower castes, who have suffered for decades, even before independence, at the hands of the upper castes, are seeking revenge and so we often witness incidents of class and caste fights. Second, those who have been displaced from their roots and natural resources due to industrial development remain maladjusted in a new environment, where they do not have proper succour and the government has done nothing to mitigate their grievances. Third, the landless labourers, who have been treated miserably by the landlords, have now sought to settle their scores. There can be many other factors, but basically all these movements are the creations of inner hatred and longstanding deprivation and insecurity and the final outcome is the growth of rebels whose leaders have only one thing in mind, how best to exploit the innocent, illiterate, poor and highly frustrated population to settle their scores against the government. The latest incident at Bastar disclosed the ugly side of the story, shifting the responsibility on to the police and authorities of the area, with one party blaming the other and no productive solution in sight for the people of the area.
The Task Force Report on National Security and Terrorism published by FICCI7 has made some recommendations to curb the spread of insurgencies:
- Find a long-term solution that ensures rapid economic growth that is inclusive of and sustainable for India’s largely rural population.
- Address the issue of land reform and redistribution to prevent the spread of Naxalism.
- Upgrade education, healthcare and general infrastructure at the village level.
- Upgrade intelligence, infrastructure, rural policing and inter-linkages while seeking local solutions to local instabilities.
The respective governments have not yet woken from their slumber, and steps for immediate redressal of the locals have not formulated. These terror-stricken states are sitting on volcanoes whose eruptions are time and again destroying the peace and prosperity of the region. Tolerance has run out, and the locals are no more willing to listen to any lip service of the administration; they want results.
This is parallel to what happens when there is cross-border terrorism: blame game begins, and finally the accountability is laid on the country that has sponsored terrorism. Some relations can be drawn from Rohit De’s article,8 where he states that when the government has no serious proposal about problems such as health, education, unemployment, etc., it is necessary to divert the “bewildered herd” and whip up the fear of the enemy. Just as Hitler, in the 1930s, focused on the Jews and the gypsies, India is doing the same. Instead of targeting the actual problem and diagnosing the psyche of these unfortunate people, the government is declaring them as outlaws and terrorists and exiling them from their own homelands.
The strength of the instigation was seen to vary as a function of associative ties between the actual source of frustration and the alternative target.
Psychological Explanation for Terror
Giving psychological explanations for all these terror-related activities, we must look into the psyche of the actors and their backgrounds. To begin with, we must understand that each one of them has a personality that determines his or her behaviour. Personality is a complex set of emotional and behavioural attributes that tend to remain relatively constant as the individual moves from situation to situation. It is a uniqueness and consistency in the behaviour of the individual that differentiates him or her from the others. To know what makes a person behave in a particular manner, it is important to understand his or her personality.
Sigmund Freud, the prominent psychoanalyst, analysed the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind and explained that anything unpleasant is pushed to the subconscious and unconscious mind and remains dormant until the arrival of the actual stimulus to elicit the response. If we attribute this to the violent and aggressive behaviour of the rebels involved in insurgencies, we will observe that their deprivation in terms of basic needs, their disturbed self-identity and their frustration with being continuously and discreetly wronged place them in the opposite camp. The unpleasant thoughts in the unconscious mind never let them rest in peace and spontaneously push up as soon as any precipitating factor comes in their way. In brief, it is said that they are highly frustrated and are not hesitant to become aggressive.
Frustration has a close link to aggression. In 1939, Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer and Sears9 published a monograph on aggression in which they presented what has come to be known as the frustration-aggression hypothesis. Dollard et al. (1939) posited “that the occurrence of aggressive behavior always presupposes the existence of frustration and, contrariwise, that the existence of frustration always leads to some form of aggression.” They proposed that a particular frustration instigates aggression primarily against the source of the frustration but also instigates aggression against targets that are to some degree related to that source. The strength of the instigation was seen to vary as a function of associative ties between the actual source of frustration and the alternative target.
…the probability of conflicts between “modernisers” and “conservatives” is enhanced as socioeconomic development accelerates. The faster the rate of modernisation, they conclude, the greater the degree of disruption and the conduciveness to civil violence.
Researches on frustration and its link with aggression explains that both traits are linked both from social and psychological perspectives. Frustration is the by-product of the experience of relative deprivation. Some individuals feel anger more intensely, more often and for a longer period. Besides, people who are high on trait anger are predisposed towards responding angrily when they are criticised, treated unjustly or treated badly. In Why Men Rebel (1970),10 Gurr defines related deprivation (RD) as the perceived discrepancy between men’s value expectations and their value capabilities. “Value expectations are the goods and conditions of life to which people believe they are rightfully entitled. Value capabilities are the goods and conditions they think they are capable of getting and keeping.”
This is further expanded by Huntington (1968, 1971),11 who speaks on political violence in what he terms “transitional” societies, societies that are in the mid-process of modernisation. His analysis suggests that rapid modernisation always involves intensified relative deprivation because it widens the gap between the changing aspirations and capabilities of the groups involved: social mobilisation, education and increased opportunities of political participation enhance aspirations while the already inadequate levels of production, employment opportunities and governmental and administrative resources cannot keep pace with fresh expectations and needs. For some groups, capabilities actually decline (for example, peasants who are made landless by agricultural modernisation programs and who cannot find work in the cities). Huntington observes that deprivation of political capabilities such as the basic civil liberties and the right to vote is more likely to lead to civil violence than purely economic deprivation. He argues that the modernisation process even stimulates and intensifies traditionally rooted communal conflicts and that most of the forms of political violence likely to ensue from development – praetorian violence, political repression and communal conflict – are of a destructive and debilitating character.
Feierabend & Nesvold (1969, 1973)12 are of the opinion that the modernisation process tends to simultaneously intensify modernising groups’ aspirations while challenging the entrenched positions of traditional groups. Hence, the probability of conflicts between “modernisers” and “conservatives” is enhanced as socioeconomic development accelerates. The faster the rate of modernisation, they conclude, the greater the degree of disruption and the conduciveness to civil violence.
Another view, from Davis (1969),13 says, “Revolution is most likely to take place when a prolonged period of rising expectations and rising gratifications is followed by a short period of sharp reversal, during which the gap between expectations and gratifications quickly widens and becomes intolerable. The frustration becomes focused on the government, the violence becomes coherent and directional. If the frustration is sufficiently widespread, intense, and focused on the government, the violence will become a revolution.” Finally, the theory propounded by Marx and Engel indicates that the working-class masses were all efficient maximisers who would be able, unaided as it were, to arrive at an adequate understanding of the nature and causes of their oppression and the means of their emancipation. The very famous sentence of Marx14 reads as follows: “Our desires and pleasures spring from society; we measure them, therefore, by society and not by the objects which serve for their satisfaction. Because they are of a social nature, they are of a relative nature.”
Rising expectations and the gap between those expectations and reality are the breeding grounds of rebellion. This inequity that economic progress brings in its trail, if not corrected, negates the progress itself. Unless empowerment covers all sections of society, disparity of all kinds is removed and education and a general social awareness are established, a society remains vulnerable to violent methods of change. In such a scenario, it is imperative that we revisit our idea of development and progress and adopt a long-term strategy of development.
Notes and References
- National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center. “Facts for Teens: Aggression.” 2002. <www.safeyouth.org>.
- Varun Vira. “Counterinsurgency in India: The Maoists.” Small Wars Journal, 7 December 2011. <http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/counterinsurgency-in-india-the-maoists>.
- Research on Inequality and Poverty, Alpa Shah, Programme Convenor, London School of Economics, Department of Anthropology, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE.
- Kamal Davar. “Combating Left-Wing Extremism.” Aakrosh 16, no. 59, April 2013. p. 29.
- Times of India. “Accept Verdict, Hasina Tells Defiant Khaleda.” 1 January 2009. New Delhi Edition. p. 24.
- Times of India. “Accept Verdict, Hasina Tells Defiant Khaleda.” 1 January 2009. New Delhi Edition. p. 24.
- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Task Force Report on National Security & Terrorism, vol. 1. New Delhi. <www.ficci.com/SPdocument/20032/terrorism-report.pdf>.
- Rohit De. “Clash of Civilizations: US vs. Them.” Aakrosh 6, no. 20, July 2003.
- Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears, quoted in Johan M. G. van der Dennen, “Frustration and Aggression (F-A) Theory.” <http://rechten.eldoc.ub.rug.nl/FILES/root/Algemeen/overigepublicaties/2005enouder/A-FAT/A-FAT.pdf>.
- Ted R. Gurr, quoted in Johan M. G. van der Dennen, ibid.
- Huntington, quoted in Johan M. G. van der Dennen, op cit, n. 9.
- Feierabend & Nesvold, quoted in Johan M. G. van der Dennen, op cit, n. 9.
- Davis, quoted in Johan M. G. van der Dennen, op cit, n. 9.
- Marx, quoted in Johan M. G. van der Dennen, op cit, n. 9.