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13 Nov

Capacity Building for Conflict Resolution – 2nd ARC

Capacity Building for Conflict Resolution – 2nd ARC

CHAPTER 1. Introduction

Conflict is an unavoidable facet of human life. The maturity of a society is thus measured not so much by the absence of conflict in it as the ability of its institutions and procedures for resolving it.

The potential for conflict will always exist in a society with its members having different mores, interests, and socio-economic conditions and needs. Thus, in any society, for a variety of reasons, perceptions may be conceived about group or communal interests being harmed or relatively deprived.

Democracy is, in fact, essential for conflict resolution and nation building, particularly in pluralistic States. Conflicts and differences cannot be removed by Government decrees nor can the energy of diverse elements be channelized towards nation building except through the means and methods available within a democratic framework.

The real problem in many of our States and regions is economic; the conflict is over resources but camouflaged in various forms of identity politics based on religion, on caste, on region, on ethnicity, on language and less frequently based on ideological divides.

CHAPTER 2. Conflict Resolution – A Conceptual Framework

Conflict has been defined as a situation between two or more parties who see their perspectives as incompatible. Conflicts have a negative beneficial connotation, but some conflicts are desirable as they can create change.

John Donne, the 16th century poet, wrote, ‘No man is an island entire of itself’. Individuals see themselves as members of a variety of groups which often span a number of their interests.

The search for identity is a powerful psychological driving force. The sense of identity can contribute enormously to the strength and warmth of an individual’s relations with others such as his neighbours, members of his community, fellow citizens or people who profess the same religion.

And yet, identity can also kill – a strong and exclusive sense of belonging to one group does, in many cases, leads to conflict. With suitable instigation, a fostered sense of identity with one group of people is often made into a powerful weapon to brutalise another and the result is hatred and violence. The intensity of such hatred and violence poses a veritable threat to the very fabric of society.

A. Stages of Conflicts – a Life Cycle Approach

A conflict is not a single-event phenomenon but is a dynamic process having different stages.

  1. Individual and Societal Tensions when an individual or a group feels that he/it has been wronged or has not got what was due.
  2. Latent Conflict: Tensions lead to a feeling of injustice and give rise to simmering discontent. However, at this stage, these tensions may manifest themselves in the form of requests to authorities, etc. This is the best time for Administrative to act.
  3. Escalation of Tensions: The parties involved express their feelings through more aggressive methods such as demonstrations, processions, strikes, ‘bandhs’ etc.
  4. Eruption: a small ‘spark’ leads to eruption of violence.
  5. Stalemate: situation similar to the ‘latent tension’ and has the potential to erupt at regular intervals.

B. Conflict Resolution and the Constitution

Democracy is one of the most potent instruments for containing and moderating conflict.

The constitution opted for the democratic process and adult franchise which created the space for diverse groups in the country to acquire a stake in the process of nation-building.

Apart from providing for a powerful and independent judiciary, the constitution also included provisions for the creation of institutions for resolving conflicts, for example, water disputes, disputes between States etc.

What should the State do to resolve conflicts?

The State should develop an understanding of the genesis of conflicts and to formulate long-term strategies that not only address immediate demands but also include attention to underlying issues such as alleviation of poverty, social justice and empowerment, and corruption-free development at the grass-root level.

CHAPTER 3. Left Extremism

A. Left Extremism: Spread and Intensity

The left extremist outburst, later known as the Naxalite movement, started in March 1967 in the three police station areas (Naxalbari, Khoribari and Phansidewa) of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. The ‘Naxalbari phase’ of the movement (1967-68) gathered momentum during May-June 1967 but was brought under control by July-August 1967. Today, the left extremist movement is a complex web that covers many States.

B. The ‘Nature’ of the Movement

The left extremist movement has been largely agrarian, that it seeks to mobilize discontent and misgovernance in the rural areas to achieve its objectives.

C. Causes for Spread of Left Extremism

A summary of causes extracted from that report is as under:

  1. Land Related Factors
    • Evasion of land ceiling laws
    • Encroachment and occupation of government and community lands
    • Lack of title to public land cultivated by the landless poor
  2. Displacement and Forced Evictions
    • Eviction from lands traditionally used by tribals.
    • Displacements caused by irrigation and power projects without adequate arrangements for rehabilitation.
    • Large scale land acquisition for ‘public purposes’ without appropriate compensation or rehabilitation.
  3. Livelihood related causes
    • Lack of food security – corruption in the Public Distribution System.
    • Deprivation of traditional rights in common property resources.
  4. Social Exclusion
    • Denial of dignity.
    • Continued practice of untouchability in various forms.
    • Poor implementation of special laws on prevention of atrocities, protection of civil rights and abolition of bonded labour etc.
  5. Governance Related Factors
    • Corruption and poor provision/non-provision of essential public services including primary health care and education.
    • Incompetent, ill trained and poorly motivated public personnel who are mostly absent from their place of posting.
    • Misuse of powers by the police and violations of the norms of law.
    • Perversion of electoral politics and unsatisfactory working of local government institutions.

D. Resolution of Left Extremist Conflicts – Successes and Failures

Many left extremist movements, notably the uprising in Naxalbari, were resolved successfully.

The comprehensive Area Development Programme (cADP) was introduced to supply inputs and credit to small farmers and the government took the responsibility of marketing their produce and it was ensured that debts incurred by the tribal poor are cancelled and instead, loans were advanced to them from banks and other sources for agricultural improvement.

In West Bengal, Operation Barga was started to ensure the rights of the sharecroppers. Alongside, significant increases were made in the minimum wages which benefitted large sections of the rural poor. As a result, the beneficiaries of these government programmes began to distance themselves from Naxalism and this started the beginning of the end of Naxalism in these areas.

Unlike the relatively successful stories outlined above, the situation in Chhattisgarh today continues to cause serious concern. The situation in the region has not been helped by the raising of local resistance groups called Salwa Judum.

Applying the West Bengal model is a matter requiring careful consideration. It is clear that a judicious mix of development and welfare initiatives coupled with land reforms and well planned counterinsurgency operations is required to restore peace, harmony and confidence in the administration in such areas.

E. Managing Left Extremism – the Political Paradigm.

It needs to be emphasized that while the ultimate goal of the left extremist movement is to capture state power, its immediate manifestation is in the form of a struggle for social justice, equality, dignity and honesty in public services. In that context, there may also be a need to keep the door open for negotiations with such groups and not necessarily insist on preconditions such as laying down of arms.

To sum up, left extremism feeds on persistent and serious shortcomings in the domain of general and development administration, resulting in the failure of the government to address the needs of the poor in areas pertaining to land, food, water and personal security, equity, ethnic/cultural identity etc.

Way Forward

  • Most of the ‘participants’ in left extremist organizations are alienated sections of society
  • Police action over a long period is counter-productive; it is likely to affect the innocent more than the extremists.
  • Negotiations have a definite ameliorative role.
  • Faithful, fair and just implementation of laws and programmes for social justice will go a long way to remove the basic causes of resentment among aggrieved sections of society.
  • Development initiatives suitable to local conditions along with democratic methods of conflict resolution will have a high success rate.

F. Capacity Building to Deal with Violent Left Extremism

Government Policy to Deal with Naxalite Menace

  1. The government will deal sternly with the naxalites indulging in violence.
  2. Keeping in view that naxalism is not merely a law & order problem, the policy of the Govt. is to address this menace simultaneously on political security, development and public perception management fronts in a holistic manner.
  3. Naxalism being an inter-State problem, the states will adopt a collective approach and pursue a coordinated response to counter it.
  4. The states will need to further improve police response and pursue effective and sustained police action against naxalites and their infrastructure individually and jointly.
  5. There will be no peace dialogue by the affected states with the naxal groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms.
  6. Political parties must strengthen their cadre base in naxal affected areas so that the potential youth there can be weaned away from the path of naxal ideology.
  7. The state from where naxal activity/influence, and not naxal violence, is reported should have a different approach with special focus on accelerated socio-economic development of the backward areas and regular interaction with NGOs, intelligencia, civil liberties groups etc. to minimize over ground support for the naxalite ideology and activity.
  8. Efforts will continue to be made to promote local resistance groups against naxalites but in a manner that the villagers are provided adequate security cover and the area is effectively dominated by the security forces.
  9. Mass media should also be extensively used to highlight the futility of naxal violence and loss of life and property caused by it and developmental schemes of the Government in the affected areas so as to restore people’s faith and confidence in the Government machinery.
  10. The states should announce a suitable transfer policy for the naxal affected districts. Willing, committed and competent officers will need to be posted with a stable tenure in the naxal affected districts. These officers will also need to be given greater delegation and flexibility to deliver better and step up Government presence in these areas.
  11. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has an effective surrender and rehabilitation policy for naxalite and has produced good results over the years. The other states should adopt a similar policy.
  12. The State Governments will need to accord a higher priority in their annual plans to ensure faster socio-economic development of the naxal affected areas. The focus areas should be to distribute land to the landless poor as part of the speedy implementation of the land reforms, ensure development of physical infrastructure like roads, communication, power etc. and provide employment opportunities to the youth in these areas.
  13. Another related issue is that development activities are not undertaken in some of the naxalite affected areas mainly due to extortion, threat or fear from the naxalite cadres. In these areas, even contractors are not coming forward to take up developmental work. Adequate security and other measures would need to be taken to facilitate uninterrupted developmental activities in the naxal affected areas.
  14. The Central Government will continue to supplement the efforts and resources of the affected states on both security and development fronts and bring greater coordination between the states to successfully tackle the problem.

Capacity Building of Elements of State and civil society.

  1. Security Forces
  2. Administrative Institutions
  3. Government Personnel
  4. Local bodies
  5. Civil Society Organizations

1. Building capacity of Security Forces (including the Police)

A satisfactory state of law and order is a necessary precondition for development.

  • Temporarily entrusting some development work to the security forces, For eg. the local police helped in ensuring that schools and health institutions functioned effectively.
  • Laying down necessary standard operational procedures and protocols in specific terms and detail.
  • Training and reorientation including sensitizing police and paramilitary personnel to the root causes of the disturbances that they are seeking to curb are required.
  • Formation of specially trained special task forces
  • Strengthening the local police station is far more cost effective and more viable in the long run than inducting central forces.

2. Building capacity of Administrative Institutions

Institutional capacity refers not only to organizations but also to the legal framework and norms within which services are to be delivered.

  • By filling the administrative vacancies for better delivery of services and effective implementation of schemes.
  • Providing Provision of local courts and giving judicial and magisterial powers to the officers of the revenue and developmental departments to effectively deal with local issues
  • LAMP (large Area Multipurpose cooperative Societies) to replace privately owned fair price shops and to implement decentralized schemes for procurement and distribution of food-grains.
  • Enhancing institutional capacity through Legal interventions like the MGNREGA and FRA (Forest Rights Act) and if implemented, would address both the problems of inadequate employment opportunities and depressed wages.

3. Capacity building among Government Personnel

  • People serve in a tribal area (by non-tribals) out of compulsion and are apathetic to their needs, therefore there is a need to Identifying those officers who are compassionate and sensitive and training them at LBS National Academy of Administration to professionally equip them to serve in tribal areas. Such officers will make of public policies, strategies and schemes for the development of these areas and the well being of its citizens.
  • It must be recognised that a major reason for such practices in ‘disturbed areas’ is the apprehension of senior functionaries about their personal safety while on duty. It would therefore be advisable to provide suitable security to senior administrative and technical officers.

4. Capacity building in local bodies


  • Enactment of PESA ( Panchayat Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
  • PESA brings the Gram Sabha – at the centre-stage of village affairs.
  • It brings common village assets under the collective ownership with the power to approve implementation of development plans and to verify their implementation by ratifying, or not ratifying, decisions of the Panchayats.
  • It will contribute in inculcating a sense of participation and purpose within the village community.


  • The problem, however, is that PESA is an ‘indicative legislation’; whose implementation depends on the States carrying out specific amendments in their Acts.
  • Apex level institutions like TRIFED have failed to provide the right guidance and leadership to the cooperatives in tribal areas.

5. Capacity building in Civil Society Organizations

  • Such organizations have a major role to play as interlocutors, and that their vigil and critical alertness acts as a bulwark against abuse of power by the police and other state functionaries.
  • They have the potential to act as a bridge between the extremists and the government and in educating the people about the futility of violence and preventing aggravation of the situation by ventilating public grievances within the legal-democratic framework.

G. Cutting the Source of Finances for Naxalites

  • Naxalites movement requires funds, which is mobilized through extortion from local people and from contractors executing various projects in these affected areas. Besides, funds are also raised through forest and mine operations.
  • One way to ensure that development funds do not reach the extremists is by entrusting these works temporarily to organizations like the Border Roads Organization and other governmental agencies which can execute these works directly.
  • An effective anti-extortion and economic offences wing that can curtail if not totally dry up such funding sources to extremists, has to be constituted.


  1. A long-term (10-year) and short-term ( 5-year) Programme of Action based on the ‘14-Point Strategy’ announced in Parliament may be formulated .
  2. Negotiations with the extremist outfits should be an important mode of conflict resolution.
  3. Enhanced protection for senior functionaries regarding their personal safety while on tour
  4. Enhance the capacity of the security forces to act effectively and firmly.
  5. Sensitizing the police and paramilitary personnel to the root causes of the disturbances that they are seeking to curb.
  6. Formation of trained special task forces on the pattern of the Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh (Special task force for Anti-Insurgency and Anti-Naxalite operations.)
  7. Establishing and strengthening local level police stations, adequately staffed by local recruits.
  8. Effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006.
  9. Better implementation of constitutional and statutory safeguards, development schemes and land reforms initiatives for containing discontent among vulnerable sections.
  10. Implement locally relevant development and adequate flexibility to implementing agencies.
  11. Monitoring and incentivizing performance of the States in amending their Panchayati Raj Acts and other regulations to bring them in line with the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA).
  12. Constituting Special anti-extortion and anti-money laundering cell to break the nexus between illegal mining/forest contractors and transporters and extremists.
  13. Use of specialized Government agencies likes the Border Roads Organization, temporarily, in place of contractors for implementing large infrastructure projects.

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