Indian Defence

Understanding Naxalism: The Ideology (Part 1)

Hello defence lovers! In a series of articles, we are going to discuss a very sensitive and important topic that is Naxalism. In the first article, we are going to discuss what is Naxalism, what is the ideology behind it, how it started, what are its phases and much more.

What Is Naxalism ?

“Naxalism as the most significant threat to internal security being faced by the country today”

Former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh

The term ‘Naxal’ has been derived from the village called Naxalbari located in the district of Darjeeling in West Bengal, where it all began. A revolutionary movement originated in Naxalbari in 1967 under the leadership of Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal.

Naxalism or Left-wing extremism refers to the use of violence to destabilize the state through various communist guerrilla groups following guerrilla warfare tactics.

The people who believe in Naxalism are called Naxalites. Naxalites are far-left radical communists who derive their political ideology from the teachings of Mao Zedong, the infamous Chinese revolutionary leader who founded a state which is a global threat nowadays. Naxalites have been operating in various parts of the country since the early seventies.

Time and again, different areas our country have been seriously affected due to excessive violence resorted to by Naxalite groups active in those areas. Since its uprising, Naxalism is the greatest internal security concern. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Naxalism as the most significant threat to internal security being faced by the country today. The threat has existed since long though there have been many ups and downs.

The Ideology

History has witnessed time and again the repeated occurrence of violence against the ruling elite mostly by the peasant and the unprivileged class, motivated by leftist ideologies. The ideological basis for these violent movements and revolutions of the peasants and the poor was provided by the writings of Carl Marx and Friedrich Engels. This ideology is commonly called Communism or Marxism. This was later supported by Lenin and Mao Zedong through their respective movements in their Russia and China respectively.

Leftist ideologies assume that all existing social relations and state structures in an elitist or capitalist society are exploitative by nature and only a revolutionary change through violent means can end this exploitation. Marxism advocates removal of the capitalist bourgeois elements through violent class struggle.

Maoism based on the ideology of Mao Zedong is another doctrine that teaches to capture State power through a combination of an armed insurgency along with mass mobilization and strategic alliances. Mao called this process, the ‘Protracted Peoples War’. The Maoist ideology glorifies the use of violence and, therefore, the ‘bearing of arms is non-negotiable’ as per the Maoist insurgency doctrine. Fundamentally, Maoism considers the industrial–rural divide as a major division exploited by capitalism.

Maoism’s political orientation emphasizes the ‘revolutionary struggle of the vast majority of people against the exploiting classes and their state structures’. Its military strategies have involved guerrilla war tactics focused on surrounding the cities from the countryside, with a heavy emphasis on political transformation through mass involvement of the lower classes of society.

The Key slogan of Maoists is ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’. They often forcibly mobilize large parts of the rural population to revolt against established institutions (government and law enforcement) by engaging in guerrilla warfare. Today Maoism is no longer an ideological movement only. The Maoists are now creating a fear psychosis and denying democracy and development to tribals.

Unlike the other political mass movements with violent underpinnings in the border areas, the Naxalites do not seek to withdraw from the Indian Union to secure and establish a sovereign independent state of their own but their aim is to capture political power through an armed struggle to establish the so-called ‘people’s government’.

Phases Of Maoist Insurgency

The Maoists/ Naxalites spread their ideology very systematically and in a phased manner as mentioned below :

  1. Preparatory Phase—This is the first phase which involved a detailed survey of new areas for identifying important people, important public issues on which masses can be mobilized.
  2. Perspective Phase—The second phase consists of mobilisation through frontal organisations which involve staging a demonstration against the government or law enforcement authorities based on local public grievances.
  3. Guerrilla Phase—The third phase is converting the public movement into violent guerrilla warfare. The masses are trained to transform them into guerrilla warriors.
  4. Base Phase— In this phase the Maoists try to establish their base and change the guerrilla zone into a so-called liberated zone.
  5. Liberated Phase—It is the Final phase when their so-called objective is achieved. The Maoists establish a so-called people’s Government.

So that was the ideological background of Naxalism. In the forthcoming articles, we would discuss the rise of Naxalism in India.


Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.


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