Working Papers

Riots and Rebellion: State, Society and the Geography of Conflict in South Asia

I disaggregate types of political violence in a way that should more clearly delineated the relationship between conflict and state capacity across South Asia. I specifically differentiate between sovereignty-challenging violence and sovereignty-neutral violence. Incidences of the latter are more likely when state structures at the local level are powerful and the resources of the state are plentiful, groups will often pursue conflict as a means of electoral or social polarization or contestation over the control of the levers of the state, without questioning the centrality of the state in social life. The former is more likely to be present, however, when the state has been historically weak and distant from society; in those contexts, social groups maintain distance from the state and will challenge its authority directly if and when the state acts against their interests or autonomy. Separating these two different kinds of violence, both of which are prevalent across the subcontinent, will help clarify the causal relationships and mechanisms between the variations in the presence of the state across these national geographies and its impact in the incidence of political and social conflict.

Violence, Rents and Investment: Explaining Growth Divergence in South Asia

How can we explain divergence in growth between countries that are converging on their political and economic institutions through democratic transition and economic reform? To explain stark differences in growth between two such countries since 1991, India and Pakistan, I employ the notion of local political orders. In India, political order has been maintained in locations in which investors are concentrated, enabling greater fixed investment and higher growth despite significant violence. In Pakistan, however, political violence and insurgent attacks have affected the sites of elite concentration and salience, which has led to a preference for non-fixed investment and lower growth. I provide evidence for these claims through a multimethod approach embedded in a controlled case comparative design. I additionally apply this argument to comparable middle-income states as a means to test external validity of the argument.    

Patronage, Bureaucratic Capacity and Electoral Coordination in Developing Democracies (with Pradeep Chhibber)

Electoral coordination is central to the creation of national party systems, but there are instances where we see coordination fail even at the district level. In this paper we show that electoral coordination at the district level is linked to patronage politics.  Electoral districts in which bureaucrats do not hold a monopoly over the distribution of patronage, aspirants have little incentive to coordinate in order to control this distribution.  This leads to number of independent or local candidates competing for office. In districts in which the bureaucracy controls patronage, however, we see coordination yielding Duvergerian equilibria. We formulate and test this argument through constituency- and precinct-level analysis of Pakistani elections, and provide evidence for its plausibility with some evidence from India and Nigeria.

The Political Economies of Economic Conservatism in India: From Moral Economy to Markets and Mercantilism

Economic conservatism in India today is associated with the BJP’s embrace of markets and international competition. This article argues that conservatives within the nationalist movement was founded on rejecting both the market and the planned economy, embracing instead ‘moral economy’ principles of economies guided by social norms and development founded on small-scale craft production. After independence, conservatives within the Congress Party, while acknowledging the need to enhance state power through industrial production, protected the moral economies of craft-based and agrarian production. But as the Congress Party fractured, farmers’ movements asserted interests in market-based agricultural transformation and liberalization shifted the issue space of economic debate, conservatives allied to Hindu nationalism presented a new vision based on enhancing national wealth and strength through capitalist enterprise.