Three out of four people who form the poorest 1 billion in the world have been affected by some form of group-conflict (Collier 2007). What is the politics of crime and how can one reduce violence?
Public or Private Leviathan? Crime and Development in Contemporary Bihar
How do low-income, conflict prone societies control crime, restore autonomy of the state and transition to developed ones? This project (joint with Ashwani Kumar) seeks answers to two puzzles: (1) How did a ‘weak state’ like Bihar succeed in reducing high-value coercive crimes like kidnapping for ransom, dacoity and murder but the same state was ineffective in controlling other forms of crimes like riots, rapes, crimes against scheduled castes, burglary and theft? (2) If as many as 3 out of 4 convicted criminals have spent only 1 year or less in prison, an unresolved question is why didn’t they resume their activities after they were released?
Agrarian Origins of Violence
This project (joint with Rahul Verma) investigates how technological changes in agriculture altered bargaining power of marginal farmers and landless laborers in India, which in turn led to pressure on historically and structurally determined labor relations fueling agrarian unrest in the countryside.