India is the world’s largest democracy and since its birth over a half century ago, it has proven able to maintain the basic features of a democratic society. However, despite the emergence of a well educated and fairly prosperous middle class, poverty still haunts the lives of hundreds of millions in India. The poverty has led to a Maoist led guerrilla warfare which is responsible for about 90% of violence in the nation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently commented: ‘I have consistently held that left wing extremism is, perhaps, the gravest internal security threat we face. We have not achieved as much success as we would have liked in containing it.”
Ironically, at a time when nations such as Pakistan and India should be focusing on poverty in their nations, both expend huge amounts of money on arms in order to be prepared for a war that most probably will not arrive. Singh urged the use of “nuanced strategies” in order to confront Maoists. Among such strategies the most effective is addressing issues of education, economic development and engagement of poor people in the democratic process.