Book review: Shashi Bhushan Kumar and Umesh Kumar, Naxalism and Caste Militancy in Bihar

Publication Date01 December 2020
AuthorRam Naresh Sharma
DOI10.1177/0019556120976588
Date01 December 2020
SubjectBook Reviews
Book Reviews 613
this book. The book is useful to students and teachers of development administra-
tion, comparative public administration and those with a specific interest in public
sector reforms across countries of the world.
John Olushola Magbadelo
Director (Reforms), Ministry of Petroleum Resources
Abuja, Nigeria
smagbadelo@yahoo.com
Shashi Bhushan Kumar and Umesh Kumar, Naxalism and Caste
Militancy in Bihar. Delhi: Saad Publications, 2017, pp. 224., `895.00.
DOI: 10.1177/0019556120976588
A society which is stratified based on social and economic exploitation coupled
with the political ambition of a political elite bent upon conflagrating social unrest
armed with a violence-provoking ideology like left extremist Maoism is bound to
face violence and counter-violence. Traditional caste-based Bihar with potential
socio-economic animosity presented fertile ground for igniting agrarian unrest
suitable for politicians who want to fish in the troubled waters. It had come to
the surface that some of the big politicians of mainstream political parties have
invested caste, cash and political power to create a social divide and bring the
majority section in their fold.
The book under review, authored by Shashi Bhushan Kumar and Umesh
Kumar, is a fine attempt to analyse the factors leading to the agrarian unrest in the
flaming fields of Bihar. The very title, Naxalism and Caste Militancy in Bihar,
attracts attention because ‘Naxalism’ in the political lexicon is considered to
be ideologically a class phenomenon which cropped up on left extremism even
beyond the established Marxism of CPI and CPI(M). The agrarian unrest that
sparked off on 23 May 1967 in Naxalbari (West Bengal), the epicentre where
the movement derived its nomenclature, was an armed protest by sharecroppers,
tenants, small and marginal peasants and agricultural labourers which appeared as
storm not just against landowners but also against state power itself. This violent
upsurge which broke away from the then ruling CPI(M) was later organised as
CPI(ML) under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar in 1969 as an all-India organi-
sation, spreading over to other states such as Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Punjab,
Odisha and even undivided Bihar.
The dynamics of democratic politics in India has compelled politicians to
persuade numerically larger sections of rural society in their favour. This process
raised their consciousness to assert their numerical and physical strength which
led qualitatively to impact rural social formations in general and agrarian structure
in particular. However, even now historically disadvantaged castes/classes find
themselves deprived and hence alienated from the democratic institutions, which,
they think, are beyond their reach. Their discontent and frustration got reflected
in their proclivity towards struggle waged by leftists providing ideological
moorings interwoven with Marxist Leninist and Mao Zedong thought. For their
emancipation, they liked to follow the path of radical agrarian movement leading

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