What began as an uprising against poverty and ill treatment of the landless has grown so big that no other force plays more into India’s security and growth than the so-called 'red corridor'.
It was the latter half of the 60s that the Santhal tribals in the Naxalbari village of West Bengal under the leadership of a few, took to an armed rebellion for their right to a decent livelihood by having a redistribution of land in favour of the landless. However, the uprising did little to assuage their original problems and ended up creating situations that further added to the frustration and worsened their livelihood while an inability to reach a constructive conclusion worsened their relations with the authorities.
Trying to understand what led to the current situation is not difficult. Many of the uprising's members come from some of the poorest and most marginalised groups in the country. Lack of education combined living on the fringes of society has, in part, contributed to the unrest. PM Manmohan Singh rightly puts it by tagging it as “the most serious internal threat to India’s security”.
India needs to concentrate on what led this to happen as well as formulate measures that can be taken to productively address this issue. What is the source of their arms? How do we better monitor and regulate our borders so that the illegal trade of weapons is stopped?
India must be vigil. Vigilant on maintaining a proper border policy, vigilant on monitoring any outbreaks of violence and, above all, vigilant on providing access to proper services, such as healthcare and education, to help discourgae disenfranchised members of the community from taking up arms.
Strengthening our border security and tightening up security checks could be an initial step. In our science and tech-driven world, satellites can be used to monitor outbreaks of violence in the region as well as the flow of arms and ammunition across borders.
Next, we need to take stock of these communities and anaylse methods for improvement. We need to ask ourselves why the incumbents of this nation are treated as strangers. Tribals are at the very core of this nation. Grassroots campaigns must stretch into this region and look to lay a foundation to connect these communities with society at large.
Understanding the problems these communities face and acting upon these issues would be beneficial. We must instill in them the feeling that they are not separate from the rest of society. If care and affection is shown to them and respect given to their ideas and things of worship, this could go a long way towards helping to solve the bigger problem.
Food, shelter and the opportunity to create a dignified life are something that the government needs to provide as a part of the directive principles to each and every citizen of this nation. Tribals are no different. Initial support should be provided to them in building homes and providing an infrastructure that can help them earn their bread. A clean and sanitised environment should be provided with standardised medical facilities. Their handicrafts should be promoted so as to attract tourists thereby increasing their source of income.
Education must be provided to them, both moral and scientific. Youth must be encouraged to attend school. In short, all facilities that the government provides to the citizens in other towns of the nation must all be implemented in these regions.
We are a strong and resilient people. We must work with the government and, in turn, with these communities to help eliminate this threat to our internal security and once again portray to the world the values imbibed in us.