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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 19 April 2024

  1. Analysing the Foothold of Left-Wing Extremism
  2. India’s Nuanced Approach in the South China Sea


The enduring conflict with the Maoists, which reached its pinnacle in the early to mid-2000s, has gradually settled into a discernible pattern. Recent events have seen the insurgents facing a series of setbacks inflicted by paramilitary and police forces, exemplified by the demise of at least 29 Maoist operatives in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh recently.


GS3- Internal Security- Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism

Mains Question:

Despite military gains, solution to Maoist insurgency cannot rest on just violence. Discuss in the context of recent government steps to weaken Left Wing Extremism in the country. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

Analysing the Strength of the Maoists Today:

  • Confined primarily to the dense jungles of central India and regions with sparse tribal presence, where the developmental and welfare initiatives of the state hold lesser sway compared to other parts of the nation, the Maoists have considerably waned as a political and ideological force.
  • Their Communist Party of India (Maoist) struggles to garner support for its ideologies or visions of an alternative governance system.
  • Nevertheless, the Maoists have retained a capacity to strike at security forces, as evidenced by the incidents such as the killing of 22 paramilitary personnel in April 2021 and 10 soldiers in April 2023.
  • Consequently, security forces have been compelled to adopt unconventional military strategies and explore new routes for combing operations to confront the armed Maoist factions.
  • Although these attacks chip away at the military capabilities of the Maoists, they do not collectively eradicate the insurgency threat, as asserted by the federal government.
  • The Maoists’ stronghold in rugged, mountainous terrain makes them difficult to root out entirely, and they have demonstrated an ability to win over certain disaffected segments of the tribal population, who bear the brunt of the ongoing civil strife.

Shift in the Government’s Approach:

  • After grappling with the Maoist insurgency for over two decades, a period marked by the consolidation of their strength following the merger of two prominent Naxalite parties into the CPI (Maoist), the Indian government has come to recognize that confronting them militarily while simultaneously addressing the grievances of tribal communities is imperative.
  • Initially, attempts in the late 2000s to arm tribal groups to counter the Maoists, such as the controversial Salwa Judum campaign, proved to be misguided and counterproductive.
  • However, a strategic shift occurred as the state endeavored to extend its welfare initiatives and administrative reach into previously inaccessible regions of central India, gradually debunking Maoist narratives portraying the Indian state as exploitative.
  • The relentless conflict led to weariness among tribal populations, prompting some to distance themselves from the Maoists and even defect from their ranks in other states.
  • Despite these fractures, in Chhattisgarh, the protracted warfare has provided the Maoists with a foothold to exploit lingering discontent.

Government Initiatives to Combat Left-Wing Extremism (LWE):

Operation Octopus:

  • The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has undertaken a significant operation known as ‘Octopus’ in the heavily mined ‘Burha Pahar’ hilly range within the Garhwa district, bordering Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
  • This operation marks a substantial success, marking the first instance where the force successfully eliminated Naxal influence from the area.

Operation Double Bull: Launched in the dense jungles of the Bulbul area in Lohardaga and neighboring districts of Jharkhand.

Greyhounds: Established in 1989 as an elite anti-Naxal force.

Operation Green Hunt: Commenced in 2009-10, entailing a massive deployment of security forces in Naxal-affected regions.

Aspirational Districts Programme: Introduced in 2018, with the objective of swiftly transforming districts that have exhibited comparatively slower progress in key social indicators.

SAMADHAN doctrine: A comprehensive strategy for addressing the LWE issue, encompassing short-term and long-term policies formulated at various levels. SAMADHAN stands for:

S – Smart Leadership,

  • A – Aggressive Strategy,
  • M – Motivation and Training,
  • A – Actionable Intelligence,
  • D – Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas),
  • H – Harnessing Technology,
  • A – Action plan for each Theatre,
  • N – No access to Financing.


  • A special initiative under the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (formerly Ajeevika Skills), launched in June 2013.
  • ROSHNI focuses on providing training and placement opportunities for rural youth from 27 LWE-affected districts across nine states.
  • Additionally, the government has undertaken measures such as intelligence sharing, and the establishment of separate units like the 66 Indian Reserved Battalion (IRBs), as well as specialized CRPF battalions including the COBRA battalion and Bastariya battalion, aimed at curbing the activities of LWE organizations.
  • Efforts by civil society and peace activists to broker ceasefires and facilitate dialogue between the Maoists and security forces, advocating for the pursuit of tribal causes through democratic channels, have been met with resistance from the insurgents.


The Maoists remain entrenched in their outdated ideology, refusing to acknowledge that the impoverished tribals they claim to represent seek meaningful engagement and improvements within the existing welfare and electoral frameworks, rather than a violent upheaval that endangers their lives. This entrenched stance ensures the continuation of a protracted war of attrition, perpetuating the cycle of conflict and instability.


In March 2024, India’s Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, expressed India’s unwavering support for the Philippines in safeguarding its national sovereignty, as stated in a joint declaration during his visit to Manila. Mr. Jaishankar’s statement came amidst the ongoing tensions in the South China or West Philippine Sea dispute between Manila and Beijing, which experienced heightened volatility in 2023, marked by frequent maritime confrontations and diplomatic strains.



  • Bilateral Groupings and Agreements
  • Important International Institutions
  • Regional Groupings
  • Groupings and Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

Mains Question:

Analysing the South China Sea’s critical importance to regional security and the global maritime order for India, discuss India’s evolving approach towards the South China Sea amidst tensions between ASEAN nations and China. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Similar Statements:

  • A similar joint statement issued in 2023 by New Delhi and Manila urged China to adhere to the rules-based maritime order and respect the 2016 ruling of the International Court of Justice favoring Manila. These statements reflect a shifting approach in India’s stance towards the South China Sea, departing from its previously cautious and neutral position.
  • India’s evolving position on the South China Sea signifies a departure from its earlier stance and aligns with its broader strategic and economic aspirations on the global stage.
  • This revised approach underscores India’s commitment to upholding the principles of international maritime law, sovereignty, and sovereign rights in the South China Sea region.

Significance of the South China Sea:

Strategic Location:

  • The South China Sea is surrounded by China and Taiwan to the north, the Indo-Chinese peninsula (encompassing Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore) to the west, Indonesia and Brunei to the south, and the Philippines to the east (often referred to as the West Philippine Sea).
  • It is linked to the East China Sea by the Taiwan Strait and to the Philippine Sea by the Luzon Strait, both of which are marginal seas of the Pacific Ocean.

Trade Significance:

  • In 2016, an estimated USD 3.37 trillion worth of trade flowed through the South China Sea, highlighting its critical role as a global trade route.
  • According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), around 80% of global trade by volume and 70% by value occurs via maritime routes, with 60% of this traffic passing through Asia and one-third of global shipping transiting the South China Sea.
  • China, as the world’s second-largest economy, heavily depends on this waterway, with approximately 64% of its trade moving through the region.
  • In contrast, only 14% of U.S. trade passes through these waters, illustrating the unequal distribution of maritime traffic.
  • India also relies significantly on the South China Sea for approximately 55% of its trade volume.

Fishing Ground:

Additionally, the South China Sea serves as a productive fishing ground, providing a crucial source of livelihood and food security for millions of people in the surrounding region.

Policy Shift:

  • Initially, New Delhi’s engagement with the region primarily focused on economic aspects, driven by its Look East Policy. This policy aimed to strengthen economic ties with Southeast Asia, as well as secure energy resources essential for its burgeoning economy.
  • India’s involvement in oil and gas exploration ventures in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs), facilitated by state-owned enterprises like ONGC Videsh, not only underscored India’s economic interests in the region but also demonstrated its commitment to the principle of freedom in exploring and exploiting maritime resources within the framework of international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • The transition from the Look East Policy to the Act East Policy signifies a strategic shift towards a more dynamic and engaged approach to the Indo-Pacific region. This policy evolution reflects India’s recognition of the evolving geopolitical dynamics and the necessity for a proactive and comprehensive foreign policy strategy.
  • The Act East Policy goes beyond mere economic integration and emphasizes the importance of forging strategic partnerships and enhancing security cooperation with nations across the Indo-Pacific, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
  • Concurrently, India has also bolstered its own capabilities through measures such as forward positioning, mission-based deployments, enhanced maritime domain awareness, and the development of deep-water maritime facilities.
  • These efforts demonstrate India’s commitment to assertive and proactive engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, aligned with its broader strategic objectives.

India’s Complex Relationship with China:

Amid escalating geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea, driven largely by China’s aggressive territorial claims and militarization efforts, India’s stance has evolved to become more nuanced while simultaneously becoming less cautious. The trajectory of India’s position on the South China Sea is intricately linked to its intricate relationship with China.

India’s Approach Towards the South China Sea:

  • The two nations have a longstanding history of border disputes, which have heightened since the Galwan Valley clash in 2020.
  • China’s periodic incursions into Indian territory, and more recently, its renaming of Indian villages in Arunachal Pradesh, have exacerbated these tensions.
  • The Galwan Valley incident prompted India to deploy a frontline warship to the South China Sea, showcasing India’s capacity for asymmetric deterrence.
  • China’s assertive behavior and territorial claims in the South China Sea, as well as along India’s land border, pose significant disruptions to regional stability.
  • India’s strategic engagements, including regular naval exercises and bolstered military cooperation with Southeast Asian nations, serve dual purposes: they underscore India’s commitment to regional security and act as a deterrent to China’s unlawful assertions.

The ASEAN Dimension:

  • The disputes in the South China Sea, primarily involving China and several member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have ramifications for the principles of freedom of navigation and oversight.
  • These principles are not only vital for India’s trade and energy transportation routes but also for those of nations worldwide.
  • As a responsible participant in the Indo-Pacific region, India can no longer evade taking clear positions on matters of such critical importance.
  • India’s central role in the Indo-Pacific theater means that its sphere of influence extends beyond just the Indian Ocean to encompass the broader maritime domain, where China’s ascent is disrupting the established order in unforeseen ways.
  • The ASEAN’s central position in India’s Indo-Pacific strategy underscores the necessity for India to reinforce the ASEAN’s stance, even though internal divisions within the regional bloc continue to present challenges to such efforts.
  • New Delhi’s advocacy for a rules-based international maritime order, particularly its emphasis on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), signifies a firm opposition to unilateral actions that undermine regional stability.
  • This stance, rooted in India’s principled foreign policy approach, indirectly challenges China’s expansive territorial claims and activities in the South China Sea.
  • It also reflects India’s portrayal of itself as a responsible stakeholder dedicated to upholding regional stability and security.


India’s nuanced approach in the South China Sea thus symbolizes its broader strategy aimed at safeguarding its interests while contributing to collective efforts to uphold peace, stability, and adherence to international law in the Indo-Pacific region

May 2024