Mao Zedong, Maoism and Maoists

Maoists are causing a lot of havoc and destruction in India. Over the last 2 months itself, they have carried out three horrible attacks on the Indian citizens - resulting in the death of 250 odd precious lives.

So who are these Maoists? And what do they want?

We need to start with Mao Zedong.
Mao Zedong was a Chinese leader. He was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 until his death in 1976. He was also the Chairman of the People's Republic of China from 1949 to 1959.

He is considered as the most influential Chinese Leader of the 20th century - and is regards by most Chinese as the person who set them on course to be become a super power.

Before the times of Mao Zedong, two prominent theories of Communism were in practice. They were Marxism - by Karl Marx, and Leninism - by Vladimir Lenin.

Marxism put forth that an economic minority (the wealthy class of people)  exploited the working class for their benefits. The theory advocated that the working class must seize political power through social revolutions.

Leninism argues for the forceful deposition of the incumbent government; assume power (as agent of the proletariat) and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat  government. Moreover, as the government, the vanguard party must educate  the proletariat — to dispel the societal false consciousness of religion  and nationalism that are culturally instilled by the bourgeoisie  in facilitating exploitation.(Courtesy Wikipedia).

Mao built on these basic tenets of Marxism and Leninism.

His theory of Maoism is built on the following concepts.

  • Revolutionary struggle of the mass against against their exploiting classes and their supporting state infrastructure. 

  • Political transformation through the involvement of the people from the lower strata of the society.

  • Supporting the struggle through guerrilla war tactics.
What has led to the emergence of Maoism in India?

India is a country which has a vast variety of natural resources at its disposal. Minerals are widely available in India and Mining is a important activity in India. 

The contribution of mining to the Indian economy is significant. Central India is especially rich in minerals. Large corporations have significant stakes in these mining activities. 

Many a times, or rather frequently, the policies of the government and the actions of these corporations are detrimental to the interests of the people who live in these mineral rich regions. 

The people in these regions often feel exploited. Frequently, the economic benefits gained out of such mining explorations are not given back to the region. This creates a sense of discontent among the mass leading to unhappiness.

The Maoists are people who are fighting for this strata of the society. They are fighting for the rights of the tribals from these regions of India. 

Maoists are active in regions of India which are rich in minerals. These regions - which see significant military activity from the Maoists - is also known as the Red Corridor.
Over the past many years, this fight has been bloody.

Significantly, recently, the Maoists launched three attacks on the Indian State which resulted in the death of a large number of people.

In April, they ambushed a group of armed forces in the jungles of Dantewada in Central India killing 76 jawans. Just a month later, they bombed a bus - killing 44 people - 15 among them being from the armed forces.

As India was coming to terms with this aggressive style of Maoist warfare, the Maoists blew up a rail track resulting in a train derailment just 3 days back. This was the worst among the three attacks - resulting in the death of more than 130 odd people.

India has been crying hoarse for strong action against these Maoists - which have some presence in approximately 28% of the Indian administrative districts.

Now 28% is a huge number - it means approximately 1/3rd of India. It is high time that the Maoists Movement is quelled before it becomes seriously damaging to the nation at large.

What is my take on the situation right now?

As an immediate measure, the Government of India should take strong decisive steps to bring down the Maoists. 

It can include holding peace talks with them - urging them to join the political main stream and assuring them of the Government's greater support in bringing all round development to the region, which they feel is neglected. But such peace talks will take time. Should India bleed till then?

As an alternative, the Government can launch an all out military offensive against the Maoists. These will make things bloody in short term. But if the offensive is successful, we can have assured peace later.

This would importantly require that the Indian State takes adequate steps to ensure the all round development of such regions - the lack of which is the cause of this struggle. This has been lacking to some extent in the last 60 years. And with the huge amount of corruption in the Indian bureaucracy, ensuring this will be a far fetched task.

There is a section of the civil society which is against such military offensive. Their line of argument - why should you attack your own people? 

The argument is fine - but I think it holds good only till your own people support the nation. When they start going against the nation and its people at large, this argument should not hold good.

Can we draw an equivalence from Sri Lanka - which was fighting the LTTE for close to 33 years? After several years of peace talks, the Lankans launched an offensive against the tigers and defeated them in May 2009. We are now looking at a peaceful country and Sri Lanka is hoping to make the most of it.

Taking a decision on the plan of action against the Maoists is not easy. P Chidambaram, the Home Minister of India, is looking for a larger mandate to take appropriate against the Maoists.

A re-look at the policy against the Maoists is a must.

Finally, I strongly hope that we have a a peaceful solution to the threat from the Maoists.
Mao Zedong, Maoism and Maoists Mao Zedong, Maoism and Maoists Reviewed by Vyankatesh on Sunday, May 30, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Venky has done great job in this article...i completely agree with his ideas. i liked it.

  2. I was interested to read this page of your blog. I did not get a sense of who the Indian Maoists are. Indians influenced by Mao rather than Chinese? Indians with significant links to Chinese Maoists? What they wish to achieve? If the mineral wealth of India is what they hope to gain, how is it that they have hit upon violent incidents as a way to forward their aims? Is the distribution of the wealth in the red corridor of India such that there are people with a genuine sense of unequal distribution of wealth? And why would you so glibly advocate a bloody clampdown as a solution that would stop violence. I can see that stepping up security is appropriate always - but advancing in violence? to suppress violence? I do not get this logic as it creates worse scenarios. In the context of your blog it sounds like you give only the hastiest of thoughts to any peace processes.

    Thankyou for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

    Penelope Wood