What is Radicalism or Extremism?

The word "radical" is popularly used to designate individuals, parties, and movements that wish to alter drastically any existing practice, institution, or social system.

The beliefs or actions of people who advocate thorough or complete political or social reform.(oxford)

Associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change.(merriam-webster)

Extremism can be defined as any ideology considered to be far outside the mainstream attitudes of a society or to violate common moral standards.

A huge local population engulfed by systematic radicalisation can create a major challenge as there seems not much preparedness in this direction.

Types of Radicalisation

Right-Wing Extremism – It is characterized by the violent defence of a racial, ethnic or pseudo-national identity, and is also associated with radical hostility towards state authorities, minorities, immigrants and/or left-wing political groups.

Politico-Religious Extremism  It results from political interpretation of religion and the defence, by violent means, of a religious identity perceived to be under attack (via international conflicts, foreign policy, social debates, etc.). Any religion may spawn this type of violent radicalization.

Left-Wing Extremism  It focuses primarily on anti-capitalist demands and calls for the transformation of political systems considered responsible for producing social inequalities, and that may ultimately employ violent means to further its cause. It includes anarchist, maoist, Trotskyist and marxist–leninist groups that use violence to advocate for their cause.

It drives its thoughts from communism and emphasises advancement of people’s social and economic life by establishing classless society through armed revolution.

What are the causes of Extremism?

After independence Nehruvian Panchsheel stressed the need to recognise tribal rights over land and forests and allow them to develop along the lines of their own genius. In reality, however, tribal communities have been systematically alienated from their traditional rights over natural resources like land, forests, water and commons, which has eroded the very basis of their existence.

The major issues faced by tribals in the Eastern India are:

  • mining-related displacement of  tribals and PVTGs,
  • trafficking of women and girls,
  • oppression by Police especially on tribal women,

  • violation of PESA and FRA,
  • acute poverty conditions of PVTGs like Mankidia, Khadia and Paudi Bhuiyan and  high prevalence of malnutrition and starvation deaths among these communities
  • the tribal are getting sandwiched between naxals and security forces in every tribal village.
  • government fail to understand their need-based economy and introduce privatisation and globalisation.

The major issues faced by tribals in the the Southern India are:

Tribal in southern states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh face different forms of discrimination.

  • There is no schedule area in any southern states except Andhra Pradesh.
  • PVTGs like Errula tribes face many forms of exploitation in their day-to-day life. They are deprived of natural resources and livelihood.
  • The status and condition of women and girls is more deplorable than tribal men. Some tribal like Irulas, who depend on the sea coast, are increasingly losing their access to the sea and its resources, due to the interference of big trawlers and climate-related challenges like frequent high tides.
  • Hunger, dignity and lack of governance are important issues of tribal in these States.
  • Availability, accessibility and affordability of food and other essentials are very important but not in place.
  • The law and order situation in tribal areas is totally disturbed and out of control.
The major issues faced by tribals in the the Northeastern India are:

The political boundaries in most cases do not coincide with the existing social boundaries. The northeastern units of the Indian federation, in spite of several political permutations and combinations, have not been able to cater to the demands of all the ethnic categories clamouring for recognition of their distinctive identity.

  • home to a curious amalgam of cross-cutting societies.
  • tendency for ethnopolitical assertion is high among almost all the groups.
  • politically fragmented groups to redraw international boundaries and also to reorganise states within the Indian Union.
  • the Islamic extremist groups of Bangladesh such as Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) who have expanded their area of operations into India
  • These terrorist groups, as well as Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have reportedly colluded with various militant groups of Northeast
  • availability of sanctuaries in Myanmar and Bangladesh; 
  • assistance to rebel groups by countries inimical to India.
  • false propaganda by leaders of the area;

How Development is related to Extremism?

Underdevelopment often creates the conditions for insurgency and spread of extremist ideologies among the people, who perceive that their needs are not being taken care of by the government. While it has been the policy of governments around the world today to emphasise on "inclusive development", there are always groups in every state who feel alienated because they perceive that they are left out of the developmental efforts. Such perceptions coupled with inefficient and corrupt governance create an ideal condition for extremism and militancy. More than lack of development, it is the perception of injustice, misgovernance and inability of the system to engage the disaffected lot that lead people to violence and extremism.

Developmental issues which pertain to the spread of extremism are linked to lack of access to basic resources to sustain the livelihood.

However, development is a useful tool against extremism but it must operate in tandem with the security forces.

Some of the developmental issues which lead to the spread of extremism are listed below-

Forest Laws-

In the name of development, habitat of principal Adivasi communities were declared reserve forests & in accordance with Forest conservation Act 1980, no forest land can be diverted to nonforest use without permission. Rights of primitive forest dwellers were restricted resulting in losing access to land.This resulted in mass resentment against government.

Land Fragmentation-

40% of rural households have no land or less than half of acre of land

Increased small/marginal land holdings and no land reforms, Insecurity, and exploitation of tenants creates Unrest.

Special Economic Zones (SEZ)-

Large tracts of land are being acquired across the country for this purpose. Land is livelihood resource for farmers. A farmer’s life is completely dependent upon the land.

SEZ requires a single huge block of land and government is taking harsh steps in acquiring the land. Farmers are not getting proper compensation for the land being taken away from them. These atrocities lead them into extremist thoughts. Extremists have stated one of their objectives as fighting against India’s efforts to set up SEZ in tribal areas reflecting the adverse effect of development.

Encroachment on Common Property Resources-

Common Property Resources (CPR’s) include community pastures, watershed drainages, village tanks etc. and are vital for rural areas to develop.

CPR’s contributes effectively to the rural economy and provides sustenance to local communities.

But due to industrialization, privatization and development projects, the CPRs area is shrinking and this also increases resentment of villagers.

Displacement due to developmental projects-

Displacement/ forced eviction of people occur due to developmental projects such as irrigation, industrial projects, mining projects, power plants etc. It can be physical, emotional or cultural.Tribal people are most prone to displacement because tribal areas are rich in mineral resources such as Orissa, Jharkhand. This imparts multidimensional trauma on them leading to serious consequences.


  • Unemployment and insecurity of livelihood are growing source of dissatisfaction and anger among youth, both in urban and rural areas.
  • Minimum wages for agricultural workers are not implemented,
  • the share of workers in unorganized sector has increased, there is no effective coverage of labour welfare laws.

This multifaceted form of exploitation in the absence of any developmental propaganda forms the major cause of the spread of extremism.

Environmental degradation-

  • Land is being targeted by land mafias for mineral extraction and in that process agricultural land gets barren
  • Pollution of water & air resources also happens and people are deprived of basic necessities to survive


Tourism industry in this development scenario is posing a great threat to the existing cultural-economy-governance matrix of tribal life which is interwoven with ecology.

The introduction of foreign influence and commercialization is triggering the process of disintegration of tribal society leading to extremist activities