The Threat to India's High-Tech Sector

4 MINS READDec 16, 2005 | 00:48 GMT
The People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, the militant wing of the Indian Communist Party (Maoist), plans to attack multinational corporations and government institutions in several states, members of the army's Central Committee told "a select group" of Indian journalists at a secret meeting Dec. 13. Although the committee did not specifically mention high-tech companies, history suggests these firms are at particular risk — given that they represent some of the biggest and most prolific multinationals in the country. The Indian Maoists are known as the Naxalites or Naxals, a general name given to numerous groups in India that are waging a low-intensity insurgency against the government in several states. These revolutionary Maoist groups developed from a division in the Indian communist movement that corresponded with the Sino-Soviet split in the early 1960s. Since 1967, the Naxalites have been waging what they call a class struggle against the Indian government, with the aim of establishing a communist regime. Over the years, one Naxalite group, the People's War Group, has targeted Indian police, government officials, multinational corporations, landlords and other institutions in the name of their class struggle. In return, New Delhi has waged a campaign against the Naxalites that has included forcible displacement of local tribes that are sympathetic to the Maoists. In addition to overt pressure from federal police and paramilitary forces, the Indian government reportedly has used vigilantes to attack the Naxalites and their supporters. In addition, several states run private armies and other organizations whose job it is to terrorize the Naxalites, the Naxalites say. In Jharkhand state, for example, the government has sponsored hunts by villagers — backed by police — for Naxalites and their sympathizers. The Naxalites, believing these actions are intended to tame or to drive out tribal elements that resist the entry of multinational corporations, have vowed to lead a popular insurrection against the government. This insurrection is warranted, they say, in order to combat what they see as oppression of the peasant class. The insurrection will include raiding government arsenals in order to arm tribes in the so-called "Red Corridor" running south from Nepal.
According to the Maoists, the attacks will occur in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra states. The Dandakaranya region of Orissa state, which has witnessed a campaign by India's government to forcibly displace Naxalite sympathizers among the local tribes, was specifically mentioned. In addition, the Central Committee told the Indian journalists that its cadre also will target banks and the Dandakaranya-Visakhapatnam natural gas pipeline. The most audacious direct attack against India's high-tech sector came in October 2003, when four claymore-type anti-personnel mines detonated as the convoy of N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, passed by on the way a shrine. Naidu was injured but survived the attack, though eight more mines were discovered later at the ambush site — enough to have destroyed every vehicle in the convoy had they all detonated. Naidu, known as India's "High-Tech Czar," is generally acknowledged as the driving force behind much of India's economic development in the high-tech sector. Consequently, Andhra Pradesh state has figured prominently in the development and expansion of India's high-tech economic relationship with the United States. Foreign investment in India's high-tech sector — including facilities operated by Motorola, Dell and IBM — is critical for the country's economic growth. The Maoists therefore can be expected to attack the high-tech industry — and the government can be expected to rigorously defend it. Should the Naxalites make good on their recent threats, the security situation in India could deteriorate further.

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