Kartika BHATIA will held her thesis « Essays in Political Economy of Maoist Conflict in India » on 1ft December 2015 Room MF 323 at 10:30 am.
Monsieur Jean-Marie BALLAND, professeur, Université de Namur
Monsieur Daniel L. CHEN, professeur, Université de Zurich
Monsieur Jean-Paul AZAM, professeur, Université Toulouse1 Capitole
Monsieur Farid GASMI, professeur, Université Toulouse1 Capitole
India's Maoist conflict is a left-wing armed political movement with an agenda to establish a people's government through protracted war. According to official government statistics, between 2005-2014 around 1567 rebels, 4579 civilians and 1837 security force personnel have been killed in the conflict. The conflict affects eight states in central and eastern India with varying degree. The Maoist conflict area is mineral rich and predominantly tribal. The last decade has seen an opening up of FDI in the mining sector with an increase in the royalty rate for iron, coal and bauxite. This has increased the value of the region for the states. The states have an incentive to start operations against the rebels in order to clear the land and minimize economic disruptions.
Paper 1 presents a model of provocation in a federation, where the state government triggers a conflict with the rebels with a view to acquire the control of some economic assets with the help of the central government. Our key theoretical prediction is that any aggressive move by the state government forces will provoke an insurgency by the rebels. Also an increase in the economic value at stake, e.g., minerals, will lead to an escalation of violence by all three players if the increased economic value favors mainly the state government. When the increased economic value has a spillover effect on the central government, the effect on violence levels might be ambiguous. To test the predictions of our theoretical model, we collect data on conflict casualties between January 2005 and July 2011. The violence data together with data on mineral deposits, tribal population and socio-economic controls validate our key theoretical prediction. Our empirical finding supports the hypothesis of state government provocation and violence escalation effect.
Paper 2 tests the impact of land protection laws and civil liberties judgment on Maoist conflict violence. The theoretical section follows the conflict model proposed in Azam and Bhatia (2012) and evaluates the effect of a change in the government's political cost of intervention on the equilibrium violence perpetrated by all the players. The model predicts a decrease in state government's armed intervention as its political cost of intervention goes up. We use the timing of two Supreme Court rulings and a federal law, together with data on conflict fatalities from 2005-14 to test our prediction. Our results support a decrease in violence by the state government after Forest Rights Act is passed and the Supreme Court verdict on Salwa Judum militia. The third law - Supreme Court verdict against mining company Vedanta shows no effect on state violence. The FRA and Salwa Judum verdict seem to pose a more credible shift in incentives for the state government while the Vedanta judgment perhaps just confirms or reinforces the impact of the other two laws.
Paper 3 uses the theoretical model of India's Maoist conflict developed by Azam and Bhatia (2012) to empirically test the impact of an increase in the cost of launching a rebellion on violence by the rebels. We use the adoption of a nationwide workfare program, NREGA and rainfall volatility to indicate a change in the cost of recruitment for the rebels. We find a decrease in rebel attacks against the civilians in rain-deficient districts after the adoption of NREGA. Rebel attacks against government forces do not change. The rebels seem to attach a different value to killing government policemen as against civilians. An increase in the marginal cost of recruitment reduces the number of civilian casualties without affecting the infra-marginal number of killings of policemen. Our work highlights the importance of government workfare programs in reducing conflict intensity, at least on the civilians. NREGA not only protects rural poor against climatic shocks but also reduces conflict violence targeted at civilians.