New Delhi: Dubbing the Naxal movement as the "prime developmental and national security concern", Vice President Hamid Ansari on Friday said the government and the civil society continue to face the challenge of balancing development and national security imperatives.
"The Naxalite movement emerged four decades earlier. Its geographic spread covering over 160 districts of the country makes it a prime developmental and national security concern. The challenge of reconciling the imperatives of development, equity and national security continue to confront the state apparatus and the civil society," Ansari said here.
He was addressing the India Today Chief Ministers` Conclave on the `State of States` report released by the group.
Ansari said this year`s India Today report on `Development in times of Naxalism` posed the problem and suggested a linkage between the two.
He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too had noted that "in many areas, the phenomenon of Naxalism is directly related to underdevelopment" and that "exploitation, artificially depressed wages, iniquitous socio-political circumstances, inadequate employment opportunities, lack of access to resources, underdeveloped agriculture, geographical isolation, lack of land reforms -- all contribute significantly to the growth of the Naxalite movement."
Much the same thing had been said for years by police officers, who had had first-hand experience of working in Naxal-affected areas, he added.
"No analysis of the ground reality can escape the centrality of the problem to the 70 million tribal population of Central India, spread over ten states of the Union. These
citizens score the lowest in the Human Development Index when compared to other population groups.
"They suffer from geographical and social exclusion, high poverty rates and lack of access to appropriate administrative and judicial mechanisms. Low level of infrastructural endowments and growing gap in infrastructure creation in tribal areas, as compared to the rest of India, has further diminished prospects for progress," Ansari pointed out.
Posing his own questions to those in the seats of power, he said these related to forest rights, the lack of effective implementation of constitutional and statutory provisions for
tribal populations, the difficulties faced in their political mobilisation, the need for a new development paradigm in tribal areas and multiple vulnerabilities of tribal people.
Noting that over 80 percent of the Scheduled Tribes population worked in the primary sector, with 45 percent of them being cultivators and 37 percent being agricultural
labourers, the Vice President said land represented the most important source of livelihood, emotional attachment and social stability in tribal communities.