One-sixth of India’s citizens live in areas of armed conflicts. There are the insurgencies of the Northeast, the secessionism and conflict in Kashmir, and the Maoist
insurgencies and struggles to capture power in several regions of India. Besides these are the past insurgencies of Punjab and Mizoram that have been resolved but have
left a deep impact on people and state structures. Wheat are these armed conflicts? Why do these insurgencies happen? What are the factors that fuel armed conflict?
What is their impact? These are some of the basic issues that this book addresses.
Armed conflict is the use of armed violence by groups of people to resolve disputes or fulfil demands that have a political/economic/cultural/social origin. The
Uppsala University Conflict Data Program defines armed conflict as: ‘An armed conflict is a contested incompatibility that concerns government and/or territory where the
use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths in one calendar year. This book
critically looks at the various debates on the root causes of armed conflict, in order to situate those occurring in India. It also seeks to discuss whether any of the
available models are appropriate for understanding and resolving such conflicts.
The goals or social transformation that armed conflicts seek to achieve may originate from contesting claims. Terrorism or violence may be used as a tactic or
sometimes as a statement of communication. Conflicts can be between groups, or between groups and the state, over control of political power and resources. It often
originates because of and sustains itself on the deprivation of rights and is aggravated by conditions of poor human security. Armed conflict is different from war, since it
can be of lower intensity and sustained over longer periods of time. Armed conflicts can encompass insurgency, violent political struggles, violent liberation movements
and violent movements for social change.
Political or economic demands, grievances and disagreements, or belief in certain rights-like the right to self determination-or the struggle for a change in the
structure of power may act as a trigger. These demands could be interpreted as being for more autonomy or even independence, and thus be met with force by the state.
Armed conflicts may not be continuous but sporadic, rising repeatedly over similar issues, with differing levels of violence at different times. They may also shift from one
community/issue to another. Such conflicts also involve many human rights violations which become part of the collective memory of grievances.
The Geneva Conventions describe armed conflicts as intra-state conflicts of non-international character and lay down rules of behaviour for them, which are
addressed by the additional protocols of the Conventions. To avoid using these Conventions, states do not recognize internal armed conflicts officially and term them as
militancy, insurgency or terrorism. Besides, most conflicts, even when confined within a state, have some forms of linkages outside their boundaries, by way of moral or
material assistance. Conflicts in Kashmir, the Northeast and Punjab have received material and political support from neighbouring countries. Pakistan justifies support
to Kashmiri militants; Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhuttan have had camps that harboured militants.
States look at armed conflicts through the paradigm of national security. National security is the primary concern of the modern state and is the basis of its
domestic and foreign policy. The paramount task of the state is perceived as creating and maintaining political, economic, social and other structures to ensure its
survival. The notion of state security is linked to its legitimacy and strategic vision. Realistic theories provide the dominant, mainstream theoretical foundation of the
prevailing concepts of national security. National security is based on military force, and state power is seen as the core of security in times of conflict or potential strife.
National security is also used as a cover to justify policies and actions by regimes and to curb accountability and dissent.
Realists argue that since states are the primary providers of security, an individual’s security is ensured by virtue of membership of the state. The individual’s
security is tied to the state’s because the latter is bound to protect and preserve the social order, and to protect individuals from outsiders and from internal strife. In
other words, individual security ‘trickles down’ from state security. From this perspective, individuals are not the appropriate starting point in thinking about security.
Power is seen in terms of a hierarchy dominated by men who can influence others, when necessary by force, and society is organized on this basis. For the
neo-realists, the main actors are men who exercise rational choice. Increasingly states of the South, including India, have based their theories of security on such realist
and neo-realist doctrines of national security.
National security doctrines rely on militarism and justify it in the name of national interest which is seen as the ‘supreme interest’ of the nation. The use of
military power by the civilian leadership ‘to save the nation’ and to solve political problems, citing instances of instability or sectarian strife, legitimizes authoritarianism
and militarizes society.
Militarized values are when the belief and need for force to assert power are justified and when power is equated with force and manliness. Militarization is not
just an outcome of a large, standing and capable army but of specific national security policies and the militarist response by state and non state actors.
During insurgency and armed conflict, the ideology of militarization becomes dominant for both the insurgents and the state. Militarization involves cultural as
well as institutional, ideological and economic transformations. Political systems keep militarism alive through their decision-making rather than by tradition or culture.
Militarization exists during peace and war, and can occur in any part of society, even that not controlled by the military; thus virtually anything can be militarized-toys,
scientific research, motherhood and curriculum. A state does not have to be dominated by the military to be militarist. Democratic states often use militarist methods to
deal with other states in their foreign policy, or with opposition and internal dissent.
When used by states to deal with dissent, militarization may intersect with other ideologies and is termed as antinational, or even as terrorism. National
security acts may be used indiscriminately. Defence spending and military ideas gain ascendancy even in peace times in a militarized set-up or wherever there is armed
conflict. The state then uses a large part of its resources to beef up its security which is at the cost of social expenditure on heath and education.
This book argues that we need to revisit the dominant realist paradigms which inform mainstream theories of nationalism. State security has to be
democratized and broadened to include gendered human security which must also privilege the subaltern sections of society. This would necessitate a democratization
of policy-making and the expansion and protection of human rights. International law in general, apart from international humanitarian and human rights law in particular,
should be respected and the international laws that states have signed like the human rights conventions should be made part of domestic laws and carefully
implemented. This book looks at insurgencies from different points of view. It looks at the state response but also focuses on the impact and response of civilians.
Chapter 1, the introduction, lays down the hypothesis that in large area where armed conflicts persist, the state has limited hegemony and consent and thus
resorts to the doctrine of force.
Chapter 2 analyses the theoretical models of armed conflicts and their relevance in studying conflicts in India.
Chapter 3 provides an overview of the genesis of armed conflicts, without detailing every event that marks their history, and also the main trends. It probes the
root causes of these conflicts and examines the demands, structure and ideology of insurgent groups.
Chapter 4 looks at the response of the state, which has become the primary actor in the armed conflict, and the laws that they use. The Indian state views
armed conflicts through the lens of national security and use of force but has also offered conditional negotiations with insurgents.
Chapter 5 looks at the political economy of conflicts and how these are funded. Is there a linkage between conflict and the way the economy functions in these
conflict regions? Armed conflicts weave their own distinct political economies which is turn give rise to and sustain armed conflicts. In South Asian, and especially
Indian, conflicts, it is not easy to track down the precise source of funding, but the non-state militias have access to funds and weapons that make them formidable. The
state uses massive resources to counter them and ratchets up its defence spending and its forces.
Chapter 6 looks at human rights, militarization and alienation. It examines the immense impact of armed conflict and shows how it varies depending on the
location, vulnerability and relation of individuals and groups to the armed conflict. The effect on the general social and economic development, environment and health of
the societies and state where conflicts takes place is also studied.
Chapter 7 discusses the gendered dimensions of conflict as well as the impact of this on the affected men, women and children. It shows why women are
joining these conflicts in large numbers and relates some of their experiences.
Chapter 8 is on civil society and its role in armed conflict. In India, despite armed conflict, civil society has grown and functions primarily because of the
existence of democratic structures. Civil society has reacted to the insurgencies and has taken steps through the use of non-governmental organizations and other
groups to work towards peaceful solutions of these conflicts.
Chapter 9 concludes that ultimately armed conflicts in India can only be resolved through political negotiations and with political will. The book does not look
into the complex of conflict resolution theories, but looks at the status of negotiations around the ongoing conflicts. It argues for a human security approach and political
negotiations with all sides, in order to resolve these armed conflicts. This book argues that ongoing conflicts are essentially political and, therefore, resolution of these
conflicts will also have to be political rather than predominantly military and repressive.
This book looks at armed conflicts and their peaceful resolution through the paradigm of human security is popularly accepted conceptualization of human
security is security at the level of the individuals; that is addressing the factors that can make a person’s life insecure. The different aspects that can be incorporated in
an understanding of human security are: economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security, political
security. In the words of the United Nations, human security is freedom from want and freedom from fear. Human rights are critical for human security and both are
dialectically linked, in that human rights are not possible without human security and human security is based on human rights. Thus, civil society has an important role
in armed conflicts and their resolution.
This book is based on our extensive travel to regions of armed conflicts over the years, where we conducted many interviews. In the Northeast, we were helped
by several of our students who come from these areas. We were able to interview fifty-five men and fifty-five women, many of whom had links with the conflicts in
Nagaland and Manipur. In Kashmir. And elsewhere we met large numbers of victims, activists and others. We have included our experiences in each of these conflict
areas. Besides our observations from primary research, we have drawn on readings of local papers, reports by civil society groups, news items in the national press,
books and official documents.
Back of the Book
One-sixth of all Indians today live in areas of armed conflict. Seeking solutions, this book is a holistic examination of present armed conflicts as well as the post ones in
Punjab and Mizoram, illuminating their common roots, as well as the responses of the state and civil society.
The authors show how insurgencies are propelled by a complex mix of issues: the denial of justice and rights, identity concerns, and the breakdown of the
social and symbolic order, rather than merely poverty and lack of education. Draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and measures like encounters
crackdowns and Salwa Judum aggravate the sense of collective victimhood and feelings of alienation from the national community. Furthermore, the long-term use of
force leads to militarization of the state and society and a flourishing illegal economy.
Uniquely the authors also explore the gendered aspects of such conflicts. Women are considered signifiers of the community’s honour, to be protected or
violated, and hence become subject to greater control than at normal times. Domestic violence gets enhanced and even where women become combatants, men
sanction and ultimately control their roles.
Bringing together for the first time ever, field data and interviews with insurgents and activists, especially women, civil society and politicians from these diverse
areas, this book is a powerful critique of national security approaches for resolution of armed conflicts.
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