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The Naxalite group mainly consists of the armed cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). These are also areas that suffer from the greatest illiteracy, poverty and overpopulation in modern India, and span parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal states. As per Ministry of Home Affairs, altogether 1048 incidents of Left-wing extremism (LWE) violence took place in these 10 states in 2016.
All forms of naxalite organisations have been declared as terrorist organizations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of India (1967). According to the Government of India, as of July 2011, 83 districts (this figure includes a proposed addition of 20 districts) across 10 states are affected by left-wing extremism down from 180 districts in 2009.
The districts that comprise the Red Corridor are among the poorest in the country. Areas such as Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana (formerly part of Andhra Pradesh), are either impoverished or have significant economic inequality, or both.
A key characteristic of this region is non-diversified economies that are solely primary sector based. Agriculture, sometimes supplemented with mining or forestry, is the mainstay of the economy, which is often unable to support rapid increases in population. The region has significant natural resources, including mineral, forestry and potential hydroelectric generation capacity. Orissa, for example, "has 60 percent of India’s bauxite reserves, 25 percent of coal, 28 percent of iron ore, 92 percent of nickel and 28 percent of manganese reserves."
The area encompassed by the Red Corridor tends to have stratified societies, with caste and feudal divisions. Much of the area has high indigenous tribal populations (or adivasis), including Santhal and Gond. Bihar and Jharkhand have both caste and tribal divisions and violence associated with friction between these social groups. Andhra Pradesh's Telangana region similarly has deep caste divides with a strict social hierarchical arrangement. Both Chhattisgarh and Orissa have significant impoverished tribal populations.
As of July 2011, 83 districts across 10 states are affected by left-wing extremism down from 180 districts in 2009. The districts affected by people's war stand at 106 in 10 states as on 12 February 2016.
The Odisha gap
The Red Corridor is almost contiguous from India's border with Nepal to the northern fringes of Tamil Nadu. There is, however, a significant gap consisting of coastal and some central areas in Odisha state, where Naxalite activity is low and indices of literacy and economic diversification are higher. However, the non-coastal districts of Odisha which fall in the Red Corridor have significantly lower indicators, and literacy throughout the region is well below the national average.
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- Sanjoy Chakravorty and Somik V. Lall, "Made in India: The Economic Geography and Political Economy of Industrialization", Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-568672-1. Snippet:... and Punjab are considered advanced regions, while Bihar and Odisha are considered lagging regions. With the district level data used here, it is possible to create new data driven definitions of advanced and lagging regions that are distinct from politically defined regional ...
- Sevanti Ninan, "Headlines from the Heartland: Reinventing the Hindi Public Sphere", Sage Publishers, 2007, ISBN 0-7619-3580-0. Snippet:... This one state (Madhya Pradesh) alone, taken together with Chhattisgarh, accounted for 17.9 percent of the total decadal decrease in illiteracy in India in the 1990s ...