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Janathana Sarkar (people’s government): rebel governance and agency of the poor in India’s Maoist guerrilla zones

George Kunnath

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Taylor & Francis Group


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This article focuses on the agency of the poor in the context of rebel governance in rural India. During its five-decade-long armed agrarian struggle, the Maoist movement has established in several villages an alternative structure of governance called Janathana Sarkar (people’s government) with Adivasis and Dalits as the primary agents of social transformation. Drawing on the author’s long-term ethnographic fieldwork in the Maoist guerrilla zones, this article explores the insurgent consciousness of Dalits and Adivasis by engaging with two interrelated questions. First, how does Janathana Sarkar function as a platform for radical democracy by the marginalised? Second, is violence inherent in the emergence and manifestation of this agency? These questions, although primarily focused on the agency of Dalits and Adivasis in Janathana Sarkar, have a wider relevance to the study of transformative politics of the poor and radical democracy, which have received inadequate attention in the scholarship on rebel governance.

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