Sunday, November 1, 2009

Maoists in India

The New York Times has an article about the escalating fight against Maoist rebels in India. It includes this map:

maoists in india map

Says the Times:
India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have evolved into a potent and lethal insurgency. In the last four years, the Maoists have killed more than 900 Indian security officers, a figure almost as high as the more than 1,100 members of the coalition forces killed in Afghanistan during the same period.

If the Maoists were once dismissed as a ragtag band of outdated ideologues, Indian leaders are now preparing to deploy nearly 70,000 paramilitary officers for a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign to hunt down the guerrillas in some of the country’s most rugged, isolated terrain.
The rebels claim to represent many of India's impoerished people, especially among its indigenous tribal groups. Despite their violent tactics, they have some support among intellectuals in India, including the writer Arundhati Roy. They're not to be confused with the above-ground Communist Party, which is a force in Indian politics.

52 comments:

Gus Snarp said...

Why Maoism is actually an ideology that appears to be growing in some places is a mystery to me. Dear Maoists, you do realize that the genius of Mao's planning resulted in a famine that killed millions of people, right?

Andrew B said...

"indigenous tribal groups"

That's just silly.

The Indo-Aryans and Dravidians are not colonists (as has been conclusively proven by mitochondrial and y-chomosomal genetics), so other Indians living along side them are not more "indigenous".

The Indo-Aryans are primarily Y-chromosome C, H, J, and R1A. The Dravidians are primarily C, F, H, J, L, R1A, and RxR1. Indian women are generally groups M, R, and U.

R1A Y chromosomes are found throughout Siberia and Central Asia, as are U mitochondrial DNA. Y Chromosome L and H, and Mitochondrial DNA R are pretty unique to South Asia. The rest of the genetic material is common throughout South and East Asia, but not elsewhere.

Chachy said...

GS - I know, right? From a branding perspective, it seems like you could do better than to hitch your cart to the name of an infamous genocidal tyrant.

AB - I know somewhere on the order of absolutely zero about Indian tribal politics. I would only say that I'm not sure how far mitochondrial analysis can go in explaining the cultural distinctions, not to mention the power dynamics, between various groups of people. And those are distinct from questions about historical migration.

But I'm intrigued by your comment about the Indo-Aryans and Dravidians not being colonists. What do you mean, exactly? And more importantly: do you have a map that illustrates the point?

Andrew B said...

Chachy:

For a long time, based on the silly Aryan hypothesis, it was thought that the northern Indians, especially the fairer skinned/higher caste elites, who speak various Indo-European languages related to Sanskrit, were colonizing "invaders" who had "enslaved" and massacred the native population - especially, the generally darker skinned Dravidian speakers (who mostly live in the south of India), who were assumed to be in the majority of the native population. Thus:

"It is often speculated that Dravidian languages were native to India."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dravidian_languages

This was based on the thinking that if you spoke an Indo-European language, somehow you were from this mystical Aryan overlord group.

Based on this thinking, the non Indo-European speaking Dravidians were given special "opppressed" "tribal" status by modern India.

Dravidian Languages shown here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dravidische_Sprachen.png

Modern population genetics has conclusively proven that Indians are not closely related to Europeans, and that Dravidians and northern Indians are fairly closely related.

"Recent studies of the distribution of alleles on the Y chromosome,[1] microsatellite DNA,[2] and mitochondrial DNA [3] in India have cast overwhelmingly strong doubt for a biological Dravidian "race" distinct from non-Dravidians in the Indian subcontinent. The only distinct ethnic groups present in South Asia, according to genetic analysis, are the Balochi, Brahui, Burusho, Hazara, Kalash, Pathan and Sindhi peoples, the vast majority of whom are found in today's Pakistan."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dravidian_homeland#Dravidian_homeland

The people's mentiond above live in western Pakistan and mostly speak tongues related those spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. The Brahui speak a Dravidian tongue, though, and the Sindhi speak an Indo-Sanskrit language.

Genetic maps of the world here:

http://www.scs.uiuc.edu/~mcdonald/WorldHaplogroupsMaps.pdf

Andrew B said...

http://sites.google.com/site/thelineagesofasia/populationmap

http://sites.google.com/site/thelineagesofasia/home

Y Chromsome maps of West Asia.

http://www.pnas.org/content/103/4/843.full?ck=nck

Genetics of India (more maps at link)

FYI ... I am type G and from Switzerland in the male line (pretty conclusively proven by testing people of my surname in the US and Switzerland). It seems my family ultimately originates from North Ossetia in the Caucusus Mountains though, as that is the origin of group G.

Chachy said...

Interesting maps, Andrew. Still, even if the "Aryan hypothesis" is false, it may still be the case that Dravidian peoples in India are an underprivileged minority (and I don't know to what extent this is the case); genetic history doesn't really tell us anything about present-day social relations between groups (e.g., genetic distinctions had nothing to do with the US Civil War, the religious wards of Europe, or even ethnic conflicts in places like Rwanda and the Balkans, etc.).

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I read the article on New York Times website and the escalating fight against Maoist rebels in India really amazed me and worried me since I have some friend there

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