chapter  1
22 Pages

Introduction: In search of the definition of Naxalbari

These fragments of news reports and creative literature emerged from the radical leftist uprising in Naxalbari and its aftermath in West Bengal, India, during the 1960s. These fragments indicate the international attention to the movement and also reflect the willing engagement of Bengali youth with radical politics in the 1960s and 1970s.3 These years saw a redefinition of Marxist theory and practice and large-scale mobilisation of students and youth against state power as represented through student movements in France, anti-Vietnam war protests in the United States, Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia and various leftist radical movements in Latin America and Asia (Cockburn and Blackburn 1969; Jameson 1984). The Naxalbari move - ment shared this common thread of radical leftist politics. The principal Naxalite journal Deshabrati (The Patriot) contained a regular column on inter - national theoretical debates on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and through out 1968 this column summarised events of student movements across Europe and the United States, especially anti-Vietnam war protests all over the world. Naxalites debated over these events to delineate the revolutionary path of their own. Particular socio-economic, political and cultural contexts in specific

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movements. For Naxalbari, these particular impetuses were provided by the socio-economic and political crises in postcolonial India, particularly in West Bengal.