It is celebrated as the world's largest democracy. But as India comes under pressure from the global financial crisis a 41-year-old Maoist insurgency is threatening the political consensus that holds the nation together.
|Arundhati Roy says that the Maoist resurgence stems from social-economic problems.
According to Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, the Maoists, or Naxalites as they are called in India, represent the greatest security threat the country faces.
Away from India's booming cities, poverty and despair are fuelling a wave of violence and at hidden training grounds in the jungle Maoist commanders are drilling new recruits, many still children.
The insurgents have been trying to disrupt the democratic process. Since polling began earlier this month they have hijacked trains, murdered 17 people, including election officials, and threatened to kill voters who defy an election boycott.
So far the government's strategy has been to create a state-sponsored vigilante army, the Salwa Judum, to take the fight to the rebels.
However, critics argue that this is making matters worse and that giving rifles to poor villagers does nothing to address resentment at the widening gap between rich and poor.
This episode of People & Power aired from Wednesday, April 29, 2009.
Source: Al Jazeera