“The State and Civil Society in Communal Violence: Sparks and Fires” (with Joshua Gubler), in Atul Kohli and Prerna Singh, eds, Routledge Handbook of Indian Politics, New York: Routledge, 2013.

“Battles Half Won: Political Economy of India’s Growth and Economic Policy Since Independence” (with Sadiq Ahmed), in Chetan Ghate, ed, The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Economy, Oxford University Press, 2012.

“Two Banks of the Same River? Social Order and Entrepreneurialism in India” in Partha Chatterjee and Ira Katznelson, eds, Anxieties of Democracy: Tocquevillean Reflections on India and the United States, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Pro-Seminar in Comparative Politics – Spring 2011

Called a field seminar in many departments of the country, this is a survey course. Its purpose is to introduce the key theoretical and conceptual materials in comparative politics since the birth of the field. The course proceeds thematically. Readings cover the classics as well as major works of a more recent vintage. Each week participants discuss a subset of the relevant scholarly literature. Two further points ought to be noted.

Although this course stresses empirical political analysis, normative concerns do inform the questions to which we seek answers. For example, although we usually normatively privilege democratic participation, representation, and accountability over political order, in many parts of the world lack of personal security effectively debars well-being and expansion of choice unless order is established. We do not engage in primarily normative debates in this class, but normative concerns, wherever necessary, will be kept in mind.

Key methodological issues will be addressed in context. Careful attention to research design and method is important for ensuring that our normative predilections do not bias the answers we offer to questions. A number of methodological issues will arise throughout the course, even though research design is not a principal focus of our inquiry in this class. Appropriate research designs and theoretical and empirical methods can vary across substantive applications, and we will address these considerations, whenever required.

Politics, Economy and Society in India – Lecture – Fall 2016

Roughly 1.2 billion people live in India. In other words, every sixth person in the world is an Indian. This course will present an overview of India’s politics, economics and society. The primary focus will be on modern India, though the materials will be presented in a historical as well as comparative perspective.

The stories of India’s economic boom over the last decade are now commonplace in diplomatic, business and journalistic circles. But India’s chronicle of achievements, economic as well as political, coexists with several unresolved problems. We will concentrate on three aspects of the “Indian experience”: democracy, ethnic and religious diversity, and political economy.

First, defying democratic theory, India has continued to be democratic since 1947 (with the exception of a brief period during 1975-77). In the developing world, India’s democratic record is unparalleled. It should, however, be noted that India’s political freedoms exist in a land of remarkable socio-economic inequalities, raising issues about how freedoms are actually experienced by millions of people.

Second, remarkable cultural and religious diversity marks India’s social landscape. Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and Sikhism constitute the religious tapestry. More than 15 languages, with long histories, developed grammar and literature, are spoken in the country. The term “race” does not have a clear meaning in India. Therefore, unlike the US, racial diversity is hard to sort out. Generally speaking, caste and religious cleavages, rather than class (or racial) cleavages, have played the most significant role in politics. Of late, “tribal” cleavages have also acquired considerable political salience.

Third, Indian economy has been going through a market-oriented reform since July 1991, raising prospects of a serious economic transformation. India’s corporate sector has entered a period of remarkable wealth, and a very sizeable middle class, numbering 200-300 million, has also emerged. Though millions remain poor, the signs of economic, especially corporate, dynamism are plentifully evident. That China and India will be the economic superpowers of the 21st century is now widely believed.

Since so many of India’s contemporary developments cannot be fully understood without paying sufficient attention to history, the course has an inescapable historical dimension to it. To understand the debate on Hindu-Muslim relations, for example, one has to go back to a period when, centuries back, Islam arrived in the subcontinent. The British period of Indian history – roughly 1757 through 1947 – also has played a pivotal role in the evolution of contemporary politics. History lives in the present in interesting ways, sometimes constraining Indian citizens, at other times liberating them.

On India, our main questions will be as follows: Given its multireligious, multilinguistic and generally multicultural social and historical context, how has India defined its national identity? How was India transformed under British rule (1757-1947)? After independence in 1947, how has a liberal political order, defined by political equality, interacted with India’s social order, defined by inequality and hierarchy? Is the former undermining the latter? What sort of economic transformation is underway?

Politics in India – Seminar – Fall 2010

This seminar will present Indian politics in a comparative and theoretical framework.   It will focus on four themes: British India and Indian Nationalism; India’s democratic experience: politics of ethnic and religious diversity; and political economy. The rationale for these four themes is as follows. First, British rule in India (1757-1947) is a natural beginning, if one wishes to understand modern India. A great deal of what happened in post-1947 India was linked to, if not caused by, developments in the British period.  Second, India’s democracy, lasting since 1947 (with the exception of 18 months), has posed new puzzles for democratic theory.  According to theory, India, a poor and primarily agricultural land, should not have been democratic for so long.  Third, remarkable cultural, ethnic and religious diversity exists in the country.  Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism are the five major religions.  More than fifteen languages are spoken in the country.  In addition, Hindu society has major caste cleavages. Democratic politics has wrestled with such diversities in a way that has historically attracted a lot of attention and enriched theories of modernity, ethnic conflict and social justice.  Fourth, Indian economy has begun to boom, and growth rates have been second only to China’s.  The idea of China and India as economic powers of the coming decades is now commonly proposed in corporate, government and journalistic circles. The politics of the ongoing economic transformation needs to be understood to assess future trajectories

“Ethnic Diversity and Ethnic Strife. An Interdisciplinary Perspective” (with Ravi Kanbur and Prem Rajaram), World Development, February 2011.

It is time for India to rein in its robber barons
(with Jayant Sinha)
January 6 2011

Memo to Obama: Back India to join the UN’s club
November 4 2010

Politics and Economic Development in Asia – Seminar

It is widely accepted that development is not simply an economic phenomenon. Political processes are intimately tied up with economic development. Consider the following questions. Does the nature of the political system affect development? Does democracy slow down economic growth? What is the relationship between democracy and economic liberalism? As more and more countries have embraced both political freedoms and market-oriented economic reforms, should one expect both to succeed equally?

Consider some comparative questions now. Why have some countries industrialized faster than others? Why do some countries do better at poverty alleviation than others? Why have some countries been successful in solving the problem of food production, while others have not been? Are their different paths to agrarian and industrial development?

Since the Second World War, an enormous amount of intellectual effort has gone into understanding these issues. Asia has been at the heart of much of this literature. We will compare and contract the various Asian countries and models of development around themes identified above. The heaviest emphasis will be on China, India and South Korea.