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Revolutionary Violence Versus Democracy

Revolutionary Violence Versus Democracy
Narratives from India

First Edition
Edited by:
  • Ajay Gudavarthy - Associate Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.

October 2017 | 248 pages | SAGE India

This book focuses on the interFace between democracy and violence, with specific reference to revolutionary strategies and mobilisations.

Revolutionary Violence Versus Democracy: Narratives from India
explores the armed conflict in India’s ‘Red Corridor’, where Maoists have been employing militant-revolutionary strategies to implement an alternative model of development. It studies this model, the purpose of which is to ensure the inclusion of impoverished tribals considered dispensable by mainstream political parties.

Maoists feel that capture of State power is essential for revolution. State-sanctioned extra-judicial violence is common in the tribal belt—Maoists use strategies that challenge the State’s monopoly over the use of violence. This first-of-a-kind book reflects on revolutionary strategies, such as kidnaping, in terms of their validity in democratic mobilisation. Based on extensive field data, the chapters in this compilation discuss the everyday politics of Maoists and contemporary tribal society. Revolutionary violence is debated in the context of the limits of democracy and ineffective modes of governance.

Introduction : Is Violence Necessary for Revolutionary Change Today?
Varavara Rao
Janatana Sarkar: An Alternative Model of Development
Anand Teltumbde
Examining the Logic of Revolutionary Violence
G Haragopal
Kidnap as a Revolutionary Strategy : The Case of Sukma District Collector
Neera Chandhoke
The Ambiguities of Revolutionary Violence
Sumanta Banerjee
The Crisis of Maoist Theory of Agrarian Relations and Strategy of Revolution in India
K Balagopal
Revisiting the Question of Violence : Maoist Movement in Andhra Pradesh
Coming to Be `Maoist’: Surviving Tropes, Shifting Meanings
Lipika Kamra and Uday Chandra
Maoism and the Masses : Critical Reflections on Revolutionary Praxis and Subaltern Agency
Epilogue : Populist Democracies, Failed Revolutions

A critical appraisal of the Maoist movement examines their everyday politics and concerns of contemporary tribal society… Ajay Gudavarthy’s edited collection of essays raises the vital question at this juncture: Is violence necessary for revolutionary change in a democracy? While not being completely dismissive of the ideology or the exigencies driving the movement, the book presents perspectives both from within and outside the Maoist movement illuminating its raison d’être as also limitations. [He] sets the tone for the book in the introductory essay outlining arguments in favour of as also critical of Maoist violence.


The Hindu, 11 November 2017

This book analyses the functions and impact of revolutionary violence within the democratic discourse of India. It engages with the most every aspect of the Maoist movement in India, Its objectives, methodology, revolutionary generis, changing patterns of political strategy, and various debates on the legitimization of violence as a revolutionary tool. Author traces the genealogy of the Maoist movement, demonstrating how the “semi-feudal” fostered political discontent.

The book also Questions the efficacy and legitimacy of Maoist violence as a political tool by arguing that “Violence obstructs the basic participatory ethos, given the sensibilities that democracy create” and that’s why Maoist violence can be seen sometimes as “obstructionist” rather than “empowering”.

The Indian Express, 24 March 2018

This book is about Maoists way of people’s power, focusing on the interface between democracy and violence, with specific reference to revolutionary strategies and mobilisations.

The book, the blurb promises, debates revolutionary violence in the context of the limits of democracy and ineffective modes of governance.


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ISBN: 9789386446954