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Subaltern and the civil war : an assessment of left-wing insurgency in South Asia.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2002
JournalCivil Wars
Number of pages21
Original languageEnglish


In the past decade and a half there has been a steady rise in left-wing violence in South Asia, confined mostly to India and Nepal. The key characteristics of this type of uprising are: (a) it is rural/agrarian in nature; (b) there is a strong element of ideological presence; (c) it targets a certain class, the state and its institutions; and (d) victims of this uprising are both civilians and officials (now estimated to be over 20,000). While both countries acknowledge the presence of these factors in their political process, their official definition of this conflict is ambiguous. Do these violent encounters satisfy the definition of civil war? Is it an insurgency? If indeed it is a civil war and the groups fighting the war against the state are insurgents, what constitutes their key objectives? This article seeks to place the nature and character of this conflict within a theoretical framework. It makes an ethno-political analysis of this uprising. It audits the human cost associated with this violence. And, finally, it explores the group motivational factors behind this uprising and the consequent responses of the concerned state