University of Cambridge > > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Anatomy of a Revolution: Maoism in Telengana and the Indian State, 1948-51

Anatomy of a Revolution: Maoism in Telengana and the Indian State, 1948-51

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Revolutionary Maoism, commonly known as Naxalism, is one of the major challenges faced by the Indian Government today. There are vigorous debates in official and media circles on the best ways for the state to solve the challenge of agrarian revolution and Maoist guerilla warfare. These debates, however, are not new. While it is commonly held that Indian Maoism was born in the late 1960s, it was as early as 1948 that communist revolutionaries officially adopted Maoist principles of revolution. The Telengana revolution from 1948 to 1951 was, until the present conflict, the largest and longest sustained agrarian revolt of the 20th century in India. In many ways, the experience of Telengana foreshadowed the current crisis. Not surprisingly, policy makers and the media have failed to learn, or apply, any valuable lessons from the past. This paper seeks to understand the structure of both the revolution and counterinsurgency in Telengana. It seeks to create the first military history of the movement and critically analyses the strategies of both the revolutionaries and the government. This paper uses archival sources to chronologically reconstruct the rise, spread, and ultimate demise of the first sustained attempt to spread revolutionary communism in independent India.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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