Colonial Institutions and Civil War: Indirect Rule and Maoist Insurgency in India. Shivaji Mukherjee
Book, South Asia, Government & politics, Conflict & security, Centre for South Asian Studies, Asian Institute

Colonial Institutions and Civil War: Indirect Rule and Maoist Insurgency in India

What explains the peculiar spatial variation of Maoist insurgency in India? Mukherjee develops a novel typology of colonial indirect rule and land tenure in India, showing how they can lead to land inequality, weak state and Maoist insurgency. Using a multi-method research design that combines qualitative analysis of archival data on Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh states, Mukherjee demonstrates path dependence of land/ethnic inequality leading to Maoist insurgency. This is nested within a quantitative analysis of a district level dataset which uses an instrumental variable analysis to address potential selection bias in colonial choice of princely states. The author also analyses various Maoist documents, and interviews with key human rights activists, police officers, and bureaucrats, providing rich contextual understanding of the motivations of agents. Furthermore, he demonstrates the generalizability of his theory to cases of colonial frontier indirect rule causing ​ethnic secessionist insurgency in Burma, and the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan.

‘Colonial Institutions and Civil war makes a crucial contribution to the fast-growing literature that analyzes how historical legacies influence contemporary political violence. Focusing on the consequences of colonial governance for the Naxalite rebellion in India, Mukherjee abandons simplistic dichotomies of direct and indirect rule in favour of a sophisticated, detailed scrutiny of historically rooted causal mechanisms. Based on painstaking analysis of rich data with state-of-the-art research designs and methods, this book has important lessons for students of political violence and comparative politics in India and beyond.’

Lars-Erik Cederman – Professor of International Conflict Research, ETH Zürich

‘Colonial Institutions and Civil War breaks new ground in the study of intrastate wars by pointing to the historical roots of insurgency, which may account for more proximate factors often cited in the literature. Adding to the rich body of knowledge about the long-term effects of colonialism, Mukherjee shows how areas where the British ruled indirectly offer more fertile ground for more recent insurgencies to thrive. At the same time, he does not take history as destiny: Both wittingly and unwittingly, policy-makers can undo or dampen the effects colonial legacies. Mukherjee’s close analysis of the Maoist insurgency in India capitalizes on his deep knowledge of his cases and his compelling, multi-methods research approach.’

Melani Cammett – Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Government Department, Harvard University

‘The fundamental problem of development is how to attain order in post-colonial states. This book provides a new theory and rich empirical analysis of the Indian case which reorients (pun intended) our understanding. If only Hobbes had lived to see it.’

James Robinson – The Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies, University of Chicago