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India’s Maoist Insurgency and Counterinsurgency

Ahmed Ayed

George Kunnath photograph

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India’s Maoist Insurgency and Counterinsurgency

About Dr. George Kunnath and this TKS episode:

Dr. George Kunnath is a social anthropologist and a Research Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute within the London School of Economics. In this episode of The Know Show Podcast, we discuss his research which focuses on the everyday life of Dalit and Adivasi communities living amidst India’s Maoist insurgency and counterinsurgency. We will also explore caste and class relations, the relationality of poverty, inequality, conflict, and development.

 

A brief synopsis:

Dr. George Kunnath begins by describing how he got into the academic world. He states that before doing research, he was a development practitioner working in Indian villages. He highlights his observations on inequality and the caste system, linking this heavily to land property. He makes clear that the Maoist movement was born in response to this oppression and exploitation, with leaders inspired by the ideology of Marxist-Leninism. 

George explains how the Maoist movement improved the lives of the protesters from the lower class by achieving increased wages and changing the attitude of the landlords. 

What happened with the Maoist movement is that the resistance itself transformed from individual resistance to collective resistance. So a transformation of the nature of resistance takes place in this process because it was more about assertion and people coming together. These were the things they could never do in oppressive social relations earlier.

Dr. George Kunnath

 

Dr. George Kunnath tells Hussain that in terms of mobility, there is no concrete evidence that these types of movements offer many benefits to people, rather psychological empowerment. He also highlights the importance of land property in different parts of India, and the role this plays. 

George talks about his views on the nature of conflicts and social movements, which he believes stem from either greed or grievance. He also points to the book, The Spiral of Violence, written by Helder Camara, where the author discusses three levels of violence. 

George goes on to discuss his thoughts on the 2012-2016 positive peace process in Colombia, another area of his research, concluding that: 

If you want to end a conflict, you need to go for positive peace. Positive peace can only happen if you address structural inequalities.

Dr. George Kunnath

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TKS take home points:

In this TKS episode, we learnt about the Maoist movement in India, and its achievements. Dr. George Kunnath affirms that the most efficient solution to a conflict happens through applying a positive peace process, which benefits all sides of the conflict, and allows for open discussion. Key to this is addressing structural and systematic inequality.

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