What is the United States-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET)?

Rudra Chaudhuri has a very useful Carnegie India piece up on how to think about this new initiative:

“The iCET is not designed to deliver a single deal. There are, at least, eight to ten different streams for cooperation under the iCET, which serve as a framework for collaboration between the United States and India on critical and emerging technologies. Accordingly, there are a range of deals to be done across these technologies.”

The decline in (most) kinds of violence in India: Ahuja and Kapur

Amit Ahuja and Devesh Kapur have edited a hugely important volume, just out from Oxford, about patterns of violence and state policy in India. I was lucky to be asked to write a chapter of it on internal security in comparative perspective, exploring the “de facto” rules of Indian state response to a wide variety of armed actors and how those resemble or diverge from other cases.

One of the most striking findings of their book is the dramatic decline in violence in recent decades in India. I’d noted some of this decline in the insurgency context in this 2020 Carnegie Endowment piece on the “Triumph of the State?” (pointing in part to an under-appreciated “internal security buildup” since the 1990s), but hadn’t realized how far-reaching the drop is across numerous other indicators. Yet as Ahuja and Kapur emphasize, the nature of violence has also shifted, with vigilantism taking on major symbolic and political importance. Arguments and theories built around data from the 1960s-1990s period clearly need to be seriously rethought for the post-2000 period.

The BBC’s Soutik Biswas has written a thoughtful overview of the findings and possible interpretations here. Read the article and buy the book.

Angshuman Choudhury remembers Nellie

A thoughtful post on the Nellie massacre 40 years later:

“I was born in Assam and grew up there. Yet, no one in my family or friends told me about Nellie. I read about it much later in my life. It was just not a part of collective memory or dinner table discourse in caste Hindu families in the state. But, I’m sure everyone who lived through the 1980s – our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts or elder siblings – knew about it. They must have also known who the killers were or who incited them. But, most of them had either crafted a subconscious mental story to rationalise their ignorance or simply dismissed it as a stray local clash.

Everyone was responsible for Nellie, so no one was responsible for Nellie.

But, Nellie didn’t happen in a vacuum”

India goes after the BBC

Coincidence I am sure (especially given the BJP’s take on things):

“The tax department’s action comes weeks after the British broadcaster released a documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots titled “India: The Modi Question”. On January 20, the Central government ordered YouTube and Twitter to take down links sharing the documentary, with officials saying it was found to be “undermining the sovereignty and integrity of India” and had “the potential to adversely impact” the country’s “friendly relations with foreign states” and “public order within the country”.”

New article with Avinash Paliwal

I was lucky enough to work on a fascinating project about variation in Indian support for insurgent groups in its neighborhood with Avinash Paliwal. The manuscript has just been published in International Studies Quarterly. The abstract is here:

“States support transnational insurgents in an important variety of ways, from highly public efforts to transform the status quo to covert backing with limited ambitions. In this paper, we introduce a new theory to help explain variation in these strategies of external support. We argue that the offensive or defensive goals of state sponsors interact with their fears of escalation to shape how they support armed groups. Four strategies of state sponsorship emerge from different combinations of sponsor goals and escalation fears. We empirically investigate this argument with a unique medium-N study of Indian support and nonsupport for insurgents in South Asia. Based on fieldwork, primary sources, and specialized secondary literature, we uncover a rich landscape of links between India and armed groups in its neighborhood. We show a systematic connection between the strategies of support that India chooses with its aims in supporting rebels and its fears of escalation from doing so. However, there are mispredictions between our theory and empirical reality that we use in the conclusion to suggest new directions for research.”

“starkly diminished lives”

A grim recent NY Times overview of Sri Lanka’s grinding economic disaster:

“The part of the economic crisis that they have felt deepest was self-inflicted by the government. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president toppled by the protests, banned chemical fertilizers on a whim in the spring of 2021 to push the country into organic farming.

The effect was catastrophic, with the United Nations estimating a 50 percent drop in agricultural production. By the time the government reversed its ban in the face of protests, it had run out of foreign reserves to import fertilizer.”