There were at least 110 known instances of adivasi-peasant uprisings over a period of 117 years from 1783 to 1900 (Ranajit Guha 1983:13). Ranjit Guha studied these uprisings and, in 1983, he argued that there were ‘insurgencies’ in colonial India which have six elementary aspects-negation, ambiguity, solidarity, transmission, and territoriality. The thrust of his argument was that these were not revolutionary movements. These uprisings were against the ‘taking away’ of people’s means of subsistence by the British-led commercial expansion of forestry and agriculture. Between 1900 and 2013, insurgencies have proliferated, not only against the continued ‘taking away’ of the means of subsistence but ‘more’!!!
It is important to inquire why this proliferation? What ‘more’ is being said? What have been the changes in the modes of ‘insurgency’? Did the first change occur after independence in 1947, and the second after 1989 when the Berlin wall was smashed and the new regimes of neo-liberal governance and economic development were put in place? To discuss this question it will perhaps be necessary to discuss amongst other things, the difference between insurgency and revolution on the one hand, and between these and terrorism on the other. How is ‘insurgency’ constructed? Is it associated with random /spontaneous use of arms against a state regime? Does it not have a vision? Is insurgency constructed in association with the tenets of anarchism or is it a construction of the State? Is it constructed in contrast to revolution, which has a vision and a plan? Further, it important to study at what point of time in history did these and other like forms of protest begin to be classified under the category “terrorism”?
Today from the standpoint of the State, insurgency is a reaction to uneven development (economic, political, social and cultural), increasing disparities and shrinking opportunities. Policy makers and their associated social scientists argue that therefore it is possible to diffuse these insurgencies with better governance, one that ensures development, reduces disparities, and opens up multiple ‘fora’ for opportunities. This understanding is the basis for a new set of counterinsurgency policy interventions.
Thus, the Planning Commission set up an Expert Group on “Development Issues to deal with the causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism” in May, 2006. Its task was to identify processes and causes contributing to continued tensions and alienation in the areas of unrest and discontent. The hope was that recommendations made by this group would, if implemented sincerely and promptly, “douse the spreading bushfire of rural discontent.” In 2011, USAID produced a policy document on The Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency. Its purpose was to provide a policy framework that USAID could use to improve the effectiveness of its development tools in responding to violent extremism and insurgency, as well as its capacity to interact constructively with its interagency and other partners. In January 2013 Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development and Minister of Drinking water and Sanitation gave a talk on 'Democracy, Development and Extremism: Meeting the Challenge of 21st century Maosim in India' at Teen Murti Bhavan, Delhi. Aseem Shrivastava reports that 2
the Minister traced the origins of Maoism to “4 D’s: disconnect, displacement, deprivation and discontent.” Defending the Indian State’s security policies in Central and Eastern India, the Minister said that they would not work without the fifth “D”: “dialogue.”
The subject for discussion is negotiation. What is it? Who are insurgents? Where does their violence come from? What are they saying? Are they being listened to? What is the available apparatus to listen? Could listening be subjected to the imperialism of categories? What constitutes listening?
To discuss these and other related questions is Ranjit Guha’s ‘elementary aspect’ a good starting point. Are negation, ambiguity, solidarity, transmission, and territoriality truly, elementary aspects of insurgency? Would this not depend on the veracity and appropriateness of the historical-anthropological apparatus deployed by Ranjit Guha? How is this to be determined?
A second starting point could be to decommission the term “insurgency”! This could open up a way of leaning to listen. What could be heard are voices trying to overcome the angst. As the work of Albert Camus-“the Rebel’ and Gandhi’s work “My experiments with truth” show, this angst comes from, amongst other things, not finding a space to say and not finding people who listen.
A third starting point could be a hypothesis, that if the development apparatus has been responsible for the disparities, then can this apparatus rectify this situation in a responsible way. This begs the question, is development self-reflexive and self-corrective? Does it have the where-withal to undo the damage it has caused?
There could be several other ways of listening to the angst.
This special issue hopes to open-up different ways to listen and learn about the bearing of insurgency on development or vice versa.
Call for Papers
The National Seminar on “Insurgencies and Development” to be organized by the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (India), aims at bringing together the researcher, academia, policy makers, civil society organizations, industry representatives and other scholars to an international forum for the dissemination of original research results, new ideas and practical experiences which concentrate on both theory and empirics.
The conference will solicit both theoretical and empirical research papers associated with Seminar themes. The tentative themes of the seminar are as follows:
Ø People/Civil Society Testimonies
Ø Social Construction/Representation of insurgency and insurgent (with emphasis of changing dimensions)
Ø Development as Counter-insurgency /Representation and Strategies of Counter Insurgency
Ø Indian Tribal Experience.
Ø Insurgent Media and Media Counter Insurgency
Ø Re-ordering governance and policy in the light of insurgencies.
Ø Global insurgency, popular discontent, International Response
Authors are advised to submit their paper electronically in MS Word format to email: email@example.com. Papers will be blind refereed and revised version of selected papers will be published in a special issue of centre’s journal “History and Sociology of South Asia” and/or an edited book.
Important Deadlines Abstract Submission
31st August, 2013
30th November, 2013
Notification for Accepted Papers
31st December, 2013
28th and 29th January, 2014
Participants are expected to bear travel cost. The organizers will bear expenses of local hospitality. In select cases, partial/full grants may be extended to one author depending on the availability of funds. In such cases, the participants are advised to apply separately with reasons for seeking grants. However, the final decision will be taken by organizers depending on the merits of seeking grants and on the availability of funds.
Prof. Shahid AhmedDirector,Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies,Jamia Millia Islamia,New Delhi-110025
Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies - 91(11) 26981717 +91(11) 2693 5306 firstname.lastname@example.org