a) The Abe manoeuvre

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has secured a resounding victory for a third term in the poll to the Lower House of Japan’s Diet. The development bucks the recent trend in advanced economies of incumbents being returned with much-reduced margins. A vindication of his decision to call elections a year ahead of schedule, the outcome increases Mr. Abe’s prospects of winning a third term next year as leader of his conservative party and becoming Japan’s longest-serving premier. The deeper import of the verdict, however, lies in the requisite two-thirds mandate to press ahead with plans to revise the country’s U.S.-backed post-War pacifist constitution to reflect current geopolitical realities. The prospect of securing such a large majority had seemed in doubt given the public scepticism over amending the charter, coupled with a drop in Mr. Abe’s personal ratings. Now, having cleared that hurdle, he would hope to garner support to accord legal status to the Japan Self-Defence Forces, leaving intact the no-war provisions in the 1947 constitution. In this, he would count on the backdrop of escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear belligerence and China’s growing military influence in the region. But public approval of the proposal in a plebiscite will be the all-important challenge. Sunday’s verdict was otherwise largely a foregone conclusion, as the charismatic Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, did not even contest the race from the new platform she had launched, the Party of Hope. In any case, her fundamentally conservative orientation, even on the constitution, left voters with no real alternative. The opposition Democratic Party, facing months of internal turmoil, initially considered fielding candidates under the banner of Ms. Koike’s party. But the latter’s insistence on a loyalty test for nominees led to a split within the opposition.  With a firm mandate, the government should be able to focus more on the Abenomics strategy to further stimulate growth and demand. A June assessment of the International Monetary Fund points to the country’s sustained growth and record unemployment as evidence of the success of the model. Also significant is the Fund’s support for the Bank of Japan’s continued loose monetary policy in the face of weak demand. Mr. Abe’s poll promise to further boost the fiscal stimulus should please critics who say that concerns over public debt were being overplayed. Whereas Mr. Abe is weighing a sharp increase in the controversial consumption tax up to 10% by 2019, the Fund has proposed a more calibrated approach. Such an alternative may be the right course in a country with a declining working-age population, and faced with persistently low consumer spending. Mr. Abe has his eyes set on seeing the country through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Japan will by then be a very different country from what it was in 1964, when it first hosted the Summer Games.

b) On a different trajectory

Half a century after the Naxalbari movement arrived like a Spring Thunder over India, questions are beginning to arise as to whether the spark that gave rise to it is in danger of being extinguished. Independent India had previously experienced armed peasant movements, including the Telangana armed struggle and the Tebhaga movement (in Bengal), but the Naxalbari movement seemed to follow a different trajectory. It was ignited by a small group of Bengal revolutionaries (all members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) formed in 1964) who felt disillusioned with the so-called embourgeoisement of the party which had only recently split from the CPI on the ground it had turned revisionist. Breaking away from the CPI (M), this faction received almost instant endorsement from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Mao. This was followed by a few cadres visiting China to receive the benediction of the CCP. In course of time some of the cadres went to China for training.

Rural, semi-urban base

It was in April 1969 that the movement took formal shape, with the coming into existence of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar. It initially had a mesmeric effect, enthusing sections of the rural population as well as some semi-urban and urban elements mainly in the States of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The Chinese Communists were keen that the new Naxalbari movement should follow the Chinese model of revolution relying on the peasantry, establishing base areas in the countryside and using the countryside to encircle and finally capture the cities. As the movement progressed, it became obvious that the Indian Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries preferred the Ho Chi Minh model to that of Mao. The CPI(ML), hence, consisted of both rural and semi-urban elements. In the early years, and till the 1990s, a number of recruits to the movement came from the urban intelligentsia. From the beginning, the movement, which included many well-known ideologues, suffered from a series of splits. Several leaders from Bengal and Andhra Pradesh thereafter set up their separate parties. A high degree of ideological motivation, however, helped the movement to survive despite the several splits. The ideological motivation could be sustained through the several hundred revolutionary journals in different languages published during the period. The splintering of the movement subsided to some extent after Muppala Lakshmana Rao, aka Ganapathy, took charge in the early 1990s. Following this, the movement witnessed a degree of consolidation with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) formally coming into existence in the first decade of this century with the merger of several existing factions. Nevertheless, several smaller Marxist-Leninist parties and groups survive to this day.

Organisational coherence

The main strength of the CPI (Maoist) has been its organisational structure. It has a Central Committee headed by Ganapathy. It possesses a powerful military wing headed by Nambala Keshav Rao aka Basavaraj — the Central Military Commission (CMC). Members of key committees, and especially the Central Committee, are geographically distributed, thus ensuring a degree of cohesion across the party. The hierarchical organisational structure consists of regional bureaus, zonal committees and area committees. Some of the area and zonal committees such as the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee and the North Telangana Special Zonal Committee have been more active than others. Over a dozen States have been, or are, affected by Naxalite activity to varying degrees. The most affected States are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. Naxalite or Maoist violence is mainly concentrated at present in pockets such as Abujhmad and Narayanpur districts, Bastar, Dantewada and Sukma, all in Chhattisgarh. Areas of Odisha are also increasingly affected today by Naxalite violence. Considerable potential for Naxalite violence exists in Bihar, pockets in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Maharashtra and the tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The movement’s leaders are in constant search of new areas to expand their activities and to secure fresh recruits. Maoist actions and scale of violence have steadily come down in recent years, and more so since 2010. The presence of over 100 battalions of Central paramilitary forces aided by State police forces has had a sobering effect on the movement. It has not, however, prevented Naxalites from carrying out a few spectacular attacks during this same period. One of the deadliest attacks took place in April 2010, involving the massacre of 76 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Dantewada. There have been other serious attacks as well, notwithstanding the overall decline in the tenor of the movement. This year, there have been at least two major attacks. One took place in March this year, leading to the killing of 12 CRPF personnel, members of a road opening party. In April this year, the Maoists carried out an even more daring attack on a CRPF patrol in Sukma district killing 25 personnel. On more than one occasion between 2010 and 2017, the Maoists were to demonstrate their penchant for large-scale attacks — in one instance ambushing a group of Congress leaders during electioneering (May 2013 in Chhattisgarh). At least 27 people, including former Union Minister V.C. Shukla, died. In official circles, Maoist success is often attributed to the failure of police personnel to observe ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ and also to the failure of intelligence. This, however, ignores the intrinsic capacity of the Maoists to carry out ambushes, their skill in employing improvised explosive devices, and their capacity to resort to ingenious weaponry such as arrow bombs. It also underestimates the ability of the highly trained battalions of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, who constitute the vanguard of the movement. They are well-armed and adept in the use of both orthodox and unorthodox weapons. Their skill is often evident in the so-called ‘liberated zones’ in the Naxalite heartland. The decline in the rate of Maoist successes — in the past year the numbers of those killed by the Maoists was hardly 20% of that in 2010 — and the relative success of the security forces, seems to have induced some rethinking in Maoist circles. There is growing demand today for a change in approach, and for a new direction. The spirit of Naxalbari was predicated on a mixture of intellectual fervour and armed struggle methodology. Over the years, the concept of capturing the cities by mobilising the countryside has lost much of its steam. Far fewer recruits to the Maoist cause also came from the urban areas, especially the intellectual class. By the turn of the century, the movement had become increasingly militarised, more adept at so-called military actions and hardly retaining any of its intellectual élan.


Demand for a churn

Leaders like Ganapathy, who has remained General Secretary of the CPI (Maoist) since its inception, were more influenced by the past. They seemed out of step with the current genre of violent revolutionaries, who make up the bulk of the cadres today. Younger elements favour not only newer tactics but also a change of guard, viz. seeking a new leader more experienced in employing militaristic techniques. The demand for a churn has been growing louder in recent months. All indications, hence, are that as perceptions of a Maoist decline intensify, the CPI (Maoist) would move away from the previous traditional line and embark on a more violent path. This would be under a new leadership more attuned to such policies and techniques. A strong possibility exists that Ganapathy may be replaced by the present chief of the CMC. The CMC is in direct charge of guerrilla type violent activities of the party. With the change of guard, the ideological content of the movement is bound to decline still further. The link with Naxalbari and the Naxalbari spirit threatens to snap as a result. The CPI (Maoist), bereft of ideology, could then drift towards becoming like any other militant or terror group active in different parts of the country. This could have graver consequence for the country since the CPI (Maoist) has a much wider base than any other militant outfit.


1) Resounding

Meaning: Unmistakable; emphatic.

Example: “the evening was a resounding success”

Synonyms: Enormous, Huge

2) Bucks

Meaning: Oppose or resist (something oppressive or inevitable).

Example: “the shares bucked the market trend”

Synonyms: Resist, Oppose

3) Incumbents

Meaning: The holder of an office or post.

Example: “the present incumbent will soon be retiring”

Synonyms: Holder, Occupant

4) Post-War

Meaning: Occurring or existing after a war (especially the Second World War).

Example:”post-war Britain”

5) Pacifist

Meaning: A person who believes that war and violence are unjustifiable.

Example: “she was a committed pacifist all her life”

Synonyms: Objector, Conscientious

Antonyms: Warmonger

6) Scepticism

Meaning: A sceptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something.

Example: “these claims were treated with scepticism”

Synonyms: Doubt

Antonyms: Conviction, Belief

7) Backdrop

Meaning: Lie behind or beyond; serve as a background to.

Example: “the rolling hills that backdropped our camp”

8) Belligerence

Meaning: Aggressive or warlike behaviour.

Example: “Mortimer was eyeing Guy with belligerence”

Synonyms: Aggressive

9) Plebiscite

Meaning: The direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution.

Example: “the administration will hold a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms”

Synonyms: Vote, Referendum

10) Foregone

Meaning: Past.

Example: “poets dream of lives foregone in worlds fantastical”

Synonyms: Past, Former

Antonyms: Recent

11) Stimulate

Meaning: Encourage or arouse interest or enthusiasm in.

Example: “the reader could not fail to be stimulated by the ideas presented”

Synonyms: Encourage, Prompt

Antonyms: Discourage, Uninspiring

12) Overplayed

Meaning: Give undue importance to; overemphasize.

Example: “he thinks the idea of a special relationship between sitter and artist is much overplayed”

13) Calibrated

Meaning: Carefully assess, set, or adjust (something abstract).

Example: “the regulators cannot properly calibrate the risks involved”

Synonyms: Assessment

14) Extinguished

Meaning: Put an end to; destroy.

Example: “hope is extinguished little by little”

Synonyms: Destroy, Annihilate

15) Peasant

Meaning: An ignorant, rude, or unsophisticated person.

Example: “‘That is a civilized drink, you peasant’”

Synonyms: Clown, Lout

16) Trajectory

Meaning: The path followed by a projectile flying or an object moving under the action of given forces.

Example: “the missile’s trajectory was preset”

Synonyms: Course, Orientation

17) Ignited

Meaning: Arouse or inflame (an emotion or situation).

Example: “the words ignited new fury in him”

Synonyms: Arouse, Trigger

Antonyms: Dampen

18) Embourgeoisement

Meaning: The proliferation in a society of values perceived as characteristic of the middle class, especially of materialism.

19) Revisionist

Meaning: A person with a revised attitude to a previously accepted situation or point of view.

Example: “revisionists have argued that the battle was crucial”

20) Benediction

Meaning: The state of being blessed.

Example: “he eventually wins benediction”

Synonyms: Beatitude, Bliss

21) Mesmeric

Meaning: Causing a person to become completely transfixed and unaware of their surroundings.

Example: “she found herself staring into his mesmeric gaze”

Synonyms: Causing

22) Enthusing

Meaning: Express eager enjoyment, interest, or approval regarding something.

Example: “they both enthused over my new look”

Synonyms: Gush, Rave

23) Intelligentsia

Meaning: Intellectuals or highly educated people as a group, especially when regarded as possessing culture and political influence.

Example: “a distrust of the intelligentsia and of theoretical learning”

Synonyms: Literati, Scholars

Antonyms: Masses

24) Splintering

Meaning: Break or cause to break into small sharp fragments.

Example: “the soap box splintered”

Synonyms: Shatter, Split

25) Consolidation

Meaning: The action or process of combining a number of things into a single more effective or coherent whole.

Example: “a consolidation of data within an enterprise”

Synonyms: Integrate

26) Cohesion

Meaning: The action or fact of forming a united whole.

Example: “the work at present lacks cohesion”

Synonyms: Unity, Solidarity

27) Sobering

Meaning: Make or become more serious, sensible, and solemn.

Example: “his expression sobered her”

Synonyms: Relax, Soften

28) Spectacular

Meaning: Beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching way.

Example: “spectacular mountain scenery”

Synonyms: Striking, Arresting

Antonyms: Dull

29) Massacre

Meaning: Deliberately and brutally kill (many people).

Example: “thousands were brutally massacred by soldiers”

Synonyms: Kill, Annihilate

30) Daring

Meaning: (of a person or action) adventurous or audaciously bold.

Example: “a daring crime”

Synonyms: Intrepid, Undaunted

Antonyms: Cowardly, Cautious

31) Ambushing

Meaning: Make a surprise attack on (someone) from a concealed position.

Example: “they were ambushed and taken prisoner by the enemy”

Synonyms: Entrap, Ensnare

32) Electioneering

Meaning: (of a politician or political campaigner) take part actively and energetically in a campaign to be elected to public office.

Example: “the election will not be lost or won as the result of a few weeks of electioneering”

Synonyms: Campaign, Doorstep

33) Intrinsic

Meaning: Belonging naturally; essential.

Example: “access to the arts is intrinsic to a high quality of life”

Synonyms: Inherent, Natural

Antonyms: Extrinsic

34) Improvised

Meaning: Produce or make (something) from whatever is available.

Example: “I improvised a costume for myself out of an old blue dress”

Synonyms: Contrive, Temporary

35) Guerrilla (Army)

Meaning: A member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces.

Example: “this town fell to the guerrillas”

Synonyms: Freedom fighter, Irregular

36) Vanguard

Meaning: A position at the forefront of new developments or ideas.

Example: “the prototype was in the vanguard of technical development”

Synonyms: Front, Lead

Antonyms: Rear

37) Élan

Meaning: Energy, style, and enthusiasm.

Example: “they performed with uncommon elan onstage”

Synonyms: Flair, Elegance

Antonyms: Clumsiness

38) Inception

Meaning: The establishment or starting point of an institution or activity.

Example: “she has been on the board since its inception two years ago”

Synonyms: Establishment, Formation

Antonyms: End

39) Churn

Meaning: Move or cause to move about vigorously.

Example: “the seas churned”

Synonyms: Heave, Swirl

40) Graver

Meaning: Giving cause for alarm; serious.

Example: “a matter of grave concern”

Synonyms: Serious, Significant

Antonyms: Trivial, Carefree