This report from Bloomberg, a financial and business news service, traces the prospects for capital investment in India against the Indian government promise of eliminating the people's resistance, especially that of the Maoists and those labelled as Maoists
Pillai to Unlock Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013
By Bibhudatta Pradhan and Santosh Kumar – Sep 17, 2010
Maoist insurgents blocking $80 billion of investments will be subdued within three years as India pours security forces into contested regions, builds roads and opens schools, Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai said.
“The tactic of keeping a hold on areas is working,” Pillai said in an interview at his office in New Delhi’s British-era government buildings yesterday. Security forces have clawed back 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) of territory where rebels operated almost one year into a major offensive, he said.
Pillai, 60, and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram last October started the campaign against leftist rebels who have attacked security forces, railways and mining infrastructure in a third of India’s 626 administrative districts. India needs to clear the so-called “Red Corridor” to access deposits of iron ore, coal, bauxite, and manganese that London-based Execution Noble Ltd. says may secure investments of $80 billion.
To maintain control, India needs to recruit as many as 30,000 security personnel each year, Pillai, the top bureaucrat in the home ministry, and security analysts say. Ambushes by rebels in the jungles of central and eastern India have claimed 211 police lives up to mid-July this year.
“We are nowhere near the required policing, training, and technology to check the Maoists’ growth,” said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “There’s no reason to believe that the situation will suddenly improve in the next three years.”
The epicenter of the attacks lies in the forests of the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, which has accounted for almost half of the 573 police and civilians killed in Maoist violence in the first half of this year.
NMDC Ltd., Asia’s third-largest iron-ore producer, operates its biggest mine in the region, and Essar Steel Ltd., India’s fourth ranked producer of the alloy, plans to build a $1.5 billion steel plant there. The Maoists last year blew up Essar’s pipeline built to transport iron ore from NMDC’s mine.
As the rebels have pursued their revolution, Indian governments “ignored the problem for a decade, thinking it will go away,” Pillai said yesterday, conceding Maoist guerrillas targeted by police may have regrouped elsewhere.
Pillai said he doesn’t expect the rebels to agree to put down the guns in the next two years. “If you are comfortable, you are expanding and you are making money, why should you come for talks?” he said.
‘Peal of Thunder’
The leftwing insurgents are known as Naxalites after the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where demands for land reform coalesced into a radical uprising in 1967 inspired by Mao Zedong. The Indian revolt was greeted as “a peal of spring thunder” by China’s People’s Daily.
The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor villagers and tribal communities whose resources are, the rebels argue, being exploited to propel India’s $1.3 trillion economy with few benefits for local people.
Pointing to what he says are newly opened police stations on a map of Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh, Pillai highlights the expanding area colored yellow, in contrast to a shrinking red region still patrolled by the insurgents.
In these areas, roads have been built, schools have started functioning and markets have been opened for the first time in years, he said.
In April, 76 policemen were killed in Dantewada district, the neighboring region to that displayed on Pillai’s computer, in the biggest strike on security forces in four decades of conflict.
“The government strategy of clear-hold-develop is gaining the upper hand in some patches, mainly in Chhattisgarh,” N. Manoharan, an analyst at the Center for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said today. “But the overall spread of the Maoists is increasing” with 10 to 15 more districts coming under their influence in the last year, he said.
The government needs to improve intelligence gathering, protection for informers and build its forces, Manoharan said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the Maoists the greatest internal security threat to the world’s biggest democracy and its third fastest growing major economy.
None of the insurgencies at India’s margins — from a 21- year rebellion in Kashmir to even older separatist movements in the northeast — reach into the heart of the subcontinent.
Pillai, who as secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries from Sept 2006 to June 2009 played a leading role in expounding India’s opposition to developed world farm subsidies at global trade talks, said four Maoist attacks that resulted in large numbers of police fatalities obscured the fact that overall deaths were just below those of a year ago.
In Dantewada, Pillai says, there are 1,500 police personnel, a fraction of the 45,000 based in the similarly sized northeastern state of Tripura, where a separatist insurgency is now largely dormant.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at email@example.com