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Fighting against Naxalism in India with sports

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The U.S Department of Statea��s a�?Country Reports onA�act of terrorismA�2016a�? wasA�freeA�recently.A�within theA�listA�of nationsthatA�two-facedA�the foremostA�terror attacks,A�Republic of IndiaA�wasA�stratifiedA�third, behindA�IrakA�andA�Islamic State of Afghanistan. The reportA�createdA�a special mention of the Naxalite (Maoist) attacks thatA�Republic of IndiaA�two-facedA�in 2016,A�thatA�upped its ranking.A�tho’A�the U.S. State Department report createdA�a robustA�mediaA�maniaA�inA�Republic of India, the byA�currentlyA�regular encounters between NaxalitesA�and therefore theA�policeA�within theA�states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telengana, orA�geographic areaA�becameA�thusA�common that they hardlyA�benefitA�mentionA�within theA�media. UnlessA�there’sA�a massacre, such encountersA�don’tA�evoke debatesA�any longer.

While the regularity of the encounters makes them stale news for the media,A�it’sA�this constancy that warrants discussion from a policy perspective. The Indian governmenta��sA�ancientA�approach a��A�victimisationA�force combined with economic development programs a�� hasA�thus farA�didn’tA�stop the Naxalites from mobilizingA�social groupA�youths.A�it’sA�time that Indian policymakersA�checked outA�new avenues ofA�partakingA�youthA�in Naxalite areas, forA�they needA�oil-firedA�the Naxalite movement for too longA�currently.

Naxalism has existed inA�Republic of IndiaA�forA�quiteA�fortyA�yearsA�currentlyA�andA�is taken into accountA�to beA�the largestthreat to Indiaa��s internal security. From 2005 to 2017, Naxalites killedA�regardingA�two,000 security personnel andA�quitethree,000 civilians. The worst-hit statesA�areA�Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

AnA�professionalA�clusterA�of the erstwhileA�commissionA�ofA�Republic of India, in 2008, hadA�lamentedA�the govtA�for considering Naxalism as a law-and-orderA�downsideA�and concentrating its efforts onA�curbA�violence,A�rather thanaddressing the grievances of theA�social groupA�folksA�through development programs. Since thenA�sequentialgovernments have adopted multi-dimensional approachesA�to handleA�the difficultyA�of Naxalism inA�Republic of India. ThereA�arA�manyA�development programsA�presentlyA�beingA�pass byA�totally differentA�ministriesA�to pushA�the economic development of the Naxalite-affected districts.

While poor economic development indicatorsA�would possiblyA�appear as ifA�the foremostA�obvious reasons for NaxaliteA�insurgenceA�in these states, a study conducted in 2017 by researchers of the LondonA�collegeA�ofA�economic scienceA�has shown thatA�there’sA�no conclusiveA�proofA�to prove this. The Naxalite-affected states have similar growth trends toA�alternativeA�states, andA�don’tA�scoreA�considerablyA�lower on development measures.A�tho’A�the govtA�hasA�intenseA�the implementation of development programs in these states, incidents of violenceA�haven’tA�abated.A�it’sA�thereforeA�time to scrutinize the motivations of theA�social groupA�youths forA�connexionA�the Naxalites.

While exploitation and oppression of theA�social groupA�folksA�at the hands of rulingA�categories, abjectA�financial condition, and deprivationA�arA�some serious reasonsA�that can’tA�be discounted,A�social groupA�youthsa�� reasons forA�connexionA�the NaxalitesA�arA�varied. A study by a HarvardA�school of lawA�investigatorA�in 2010A�instructedA�2A�main reasons: a�?Motivation of public mindednessa�? (where youthA�conceive toA�violence unselfishlyA�as a result ofA�theyA�supposeit enhances public good) and a�?Motivation of rational mindednessa�? (where youthA�wishA�to regain power and socialA�statusA�in their own villages). Naxalites use theseA�2A�motivations to sell their ideology to youthsA�whereasA�recruiting.

In 2005,A�onceA�157 NaxalitesA�givenA�to the Andhara Pradesh police, theyA�createdA�attention-grabbingA�revelationsA�regardingA�their reasons forA�connexionA�the movement.A�whereasA�thirty twoA�%A�joinedA�onceA�being attracted by the revolutionary songs of the cadre,A�seventeenA�%A�were instigated byA�psychological featureA�speeches,A�and therefore therest joinedA�thanks toA�social exclusion. In 2015, a study by researchers from the Department of Defense Studies at Government ScienceA�schoolA�in RaipurA�unconcealedA�thatA�only a fewA�United Nations agencyA�joined the Naxalites understood their ideology. Rather,A�ninety twoA�%A�joinedA�onceA�beingA�drawn toA�their a�?Army-likea�?A�inexperiencedA�uniform, guns, andA�psychological featureA�speeches, besides interests in dances,A�persuasion, andA�alternativeA�activities of the cultural outfits of the Naxalites.

These evidencesA�purposeA�toward a much-neglectedA�downside.A�exceptA�allottingA�economicA�advantages, therea��sA�a requirementA�forA�partakingA�the vulnerableA�social groupA�youthsA�in a veryA�purposefulA�manner in society. No development programA�are oftenA�palmyA�unless itA�ends up inA�social inclusion and mainstreaming of the marginalized communities. A studyA�printedA�in 2017 in a�?Psychology ofA�act of terrorism,a�? a special issue of the journal TheA�yankscientist, notes that a healthy partnership betweenA�the govtA�and community membersA�willA�offerA�early warning systems forA�interferenceA�of violentA�political theory. True partnership builds community resilience andA�ends up inA�A levelA�of community engagement that effectively servesA�to scale backA�the threat of violentA�political theory.A�thusA�whatA�reasonablyA�development programsA�willA�effectivelyA�interactA�these youths?

AfterA�coming backA�into power, the National Democratic Alliance governmentA�developedA�a brand newA�National Youth Policy 2014. The policy highlightsA�the requirementA�to sociallyA�embraceA�youths of theA�eighty eightA�districtsA�laid low withNaxalism.A�it’sA�knownA�elevenA�priority areas of focus; sports isA�one in every ofA�them.A�proofA�shows that sports-based interventions (SBI) have a positive impact on crime reduction in youth. In England, activelyA�taking partA�in sports has been shown to wean youthA�faraway fromA�violence.A�partakingA�in sports helped the a�?at-riska�? youths inA�2A�ways that. First, itA�amusedA�theA�peopleA�and prevented them fromA�taking partA�in violent activities; and second, itA�power-assistedA�in overall physical and mental development of theA�peopleA�by addressing health, welfare,A�and academicA�problems.

Undoubtedly the context of violence inA�EnglandA�is extremelyA�totally differentA�from Naxalism inA�Republic of India,A�howeverA�the strategy ofA�victimisationA�sportsA�to handleA�the eventA�problems withA�conflict prone areas isA�priceA�testing. A report from theA�United NationsA�buryA�Agency Taskforce on Sport for Development and Peace emphasizes that programs of a�?sports for development and peacea�?A�would likeA�largerA�attention and resources from governments. ItA�powerfullyA�recommends that sportsA�ought toA�be incorporated asA�associate degreeA�integrated toolA�within thedevelopment programs.

In 2016, theA�UNA�rumoredA�theA�accomplishmentA�of youngstersA�by NaxalitesA�within theA�states ofA�Bihar, Chhattisgarh,A�geographic area, Odisha, andA�state. It raisedA�issuesA�thatA�the kidA�recruits were trained and used as couriers and informants, to plantA�temporaryA�explosive devices, and in front-line operations against national security forces.A�whereasforceA�could also beA�accustomedA�inductA�terriblyA�youngA�youngsters, teensA�arA�largelyA�mobilized through lure of guns and stories ofA�valianceA�by the Naxalites. TargetingA�the youngstersA�of thoseA�vulnerable communities with sports-based interventionsA�willA�facilitateA�them learn life skills and enhance their psycho-socialA�upbeatA�through resilience, and social bonding. InA�Republic of Sierra Leone, formerA�kidA�troopersA�wereA�restoredA�byA�UNICEFA�withA�the assistanceA�ofA�an areanongovernmental organization. The program used community-based sport programs to demobilizeA�the youngstersand buildA�in themA�a wayA�ofA�happinessA�to theA�thought.

Conventionally too the IndianA�social groupA�youths haveA�a robustA�memoirA�in physical endurance-based sports,A�stillA�asA�ancientA�sports likeA�athletics. Deepika Kumari, from a Jharkhand, village has won accolades in prestigious internationalA�athleticsA�competitionsA�whereasA�social groupA�youths from a village in Chhattisgarh have wonA�ninety fourA�medals inA�athleticsA�at the national level, andA�arA�eyeingA�followingA�Olympiad. A villageA�within theA�NaxaliteA�spaceA�of Jharkhand boastsA�twentyA�internationalA�girlsA�hockey players,A�together withA�Nikki Pradhan,A�United Nations agencyA�paintedRepublic of IndiaA�at theA�urban centerA�Olympiad. TheA�Republic of Indian contingent atA�urban centerA�consistedA�of 5playersA�United Nations agencyA�came from theA�social groupA�hinterlands of India.

In India, sportA�may be aA�state subject andA�it’sA�the responsibility of the state governments and national sports federationsA�to pushA�sports. In 2014, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan (RGKA) was launched to support building sports infrastructure and access toA�sporting goodsA�at theA�councilA�level, in rural areas.A�tho’A�theA�themeA�conjointlyA�helps in organizing sports meets, itA�doesn’tA�cowlA�comprehensiveA�workA�andA�coaching.A�there’sA�associate degreeA�acute shortage ofA�skilledcoaches in rural areasA�United Nations agencyA�willA�train theA�nativeA�villagersA�to requireA�up sports in anyA�purposefulmanner. In 2015-16,A�the govtA�spentA�eight.48 billion rupees on sports, and 3.39 billion rupees on youth welfare schemes,A�howeverA�the entireA�fundsA�freeA�for RGKA from 2014-16 wasA�solelyA�134 million rupees.

Though organizations likeA�UNICEFA�have partnered with NGOs inA�a number ofA�the Naxalite-affected states to use sports for peace-building, the approach is isolated and scattered. The central governmentA�ought toA�partner with these organizationsA�in a veryA�consolidated effort to use sportA�in a veryA�targeted manner for the reduction of violence. ItA�ought toA�fund special sports packages for the Naxalite-hit areas.

Indian policymakersA�got toA�understandA�the potential of sport asA�associate degreeA�engine of development, to support peace-buildingA�and forestallA�conflict.A�onceA�appliedA�in a veryA�nuanced manner, well-designed sports programsA�willpromote social integration andA�facilitateA�bring the vulnerableA�social groupA�youths livingA�within theA�Naxalite pockets into theA�thought. SportsA�are oftenA�associate degreeA�agent of realA�amendment, notA�simplyA�mere fun andA�recreation.A�whereasA�the mostA�development programs ofA�the govtA�willA�continue in their original forms, sportsA�ought toA�be integrated into themA�in a veryA�coherent manner.A�perhapsA�the Naxalite belts of {india|India|Republic ofA�Republic of India|Bharat|Asian country|Asian nation}A�willA�commenceA�a brand newA�dawn for IndiaA�within theA�world of sports,A�at the side ofA�the peace that has eluded these areasA�for thusA�long.

Kavita TatwadiA�may be aA�public policy analyst.

Sumit KumarA�may be aA�developmentA�skilledA�and a former Prime Ministera��s Rural Development Fellow. The views expressed hereA�arA�personal.

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