NIAS Wednesday Discussion: "Political Inequality and Political Violence: Indian State and the Maoist Conflict" by Anshuman Behera, Lecture Hall, NIAS, 0930 hrs

NIAS Wednesday Discussion


Political Inequality and Political Violence: Indian State and the Maoist Conflict



Anshuman Behera

Assistant Professor, Conflict Resolution Programme, NIAS


Chairperson: Narendar Pani, Professor, Conflict Resolution Programme, NIAS,       


19th July, 2017, 9.30 am, Lecture Hall, NIAS


Abstract:  Political violence as a function of economic inequality is one of the most dominant narratives in understanding the links between inequality and violent conflict. The proposition that inequality between the rich and the poor is enough to cause violent conflict needs thorough re-evaluation. The existing literature on inequality and political violence largely focuses on the individual inequalities neglecting the group aspects (Ostby, 2008). Political violence led by certain groups shouldn’t only be understood as a confrontation between individuals randomly fighting each other (Duclos, Esteban &Ray, 2004). Established theoretical frameworks such as ‘relative deprivation’ (Gurr, 1970) and ‘greed & grievance’ (Collier & Hoeffler, 2004) do not provide concepts adequate for reasoning about the role of political inequality in political violence. While existing literature on political (in)equality mostly highlights aspects of equality of income, equality of welfare, and equal rights and liberties (Sen, 1992), the connection between political inequality and political violence remains least explored.

In this talk I intend to explain the roles and functions of political inequality in political violence in India with a special reference to the Maoist conflict. There exist multiple perspectives for understanding the Maoist conflict in India. Understanding the Maoist conflict through the aspect of existing political inequality in the Maoist present areas opens up a new perspective. In this process, my talk engages with the larger ‘political equality’ debate to conceptualize ‘political inequality’ in a democratic form of government. Secondly, I intend to explore the process in which multiple ‘socio-economic and political’ inequalities crystallize under the banner of Maoism (or Maoist conflict) in India. The protracted violence in and around the Maoist theatre perpetrated both by the Maoists and the state, I argue, is sustained by long standing political inequality.

About the Speaker: Dr. Anshuman Behera is an Assistant Professor in the Conflict Resolution Programme at National Institute of Advance Studies, Bengaluru. A co-author of the book Militant Groups in South Asia (Pentagon, IDSA 2014), his research interests lie in understanding socio-political conflicts in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. In addition to extensive work on Maoism he also writes on political processes in South Asia.


All are cordially invited

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For further info, please contact Sangeetha Menon [ or] and D. Suba Chandran [], Coordinators of NIAS Wednesday Discussion Meetings, and NIAS Discussion Reports.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Lecture Hall, NIAS