Tribal movements have a fascinating history and they are nothing new. Each part of the country has been affected by such upsurges. The country has seen hundreds of them. Most are strikingly similar in causes, course and other dynamics.
The present upsurge is both a combination of a tribal movement and a Maoist one. The very fact that tribal people were not attended to by the state has given rise to this problem.
And this is where the Maoists have used the situation to their advantage. They have created this false impression that they are the saviours and messiahs of the tribal populace. What I mean to say is that the tribal people have been taken for a ride by the Maoists.
The most effective way to deal with this issue is to adopt radical means. First, radically eliminate all the red tape that our system is encumbered with, and to undertake all-out efforts to improve the economic conditions of the tribes.
The idea is to wean them away from the Maoists. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and many others have been speaking about the twin-pronged strategy comprising a massive developmental effort as well as the use of force. This strategy is essential.
It's nonsense to say that people do not want development. The government has already embarked on a clearly laid-down developmental path specifically meant for the tribal brethren.
Many laws have already been enacted but they have to be implemented in letter and spirit.
(The author was an IPS officer)