Research Blog

Media appearances on Kashmir and more

  1. I wrote a skeptical op-ed in the Hindustan Times about the government’s move on Article 370. As I note, I could easily be wrong, but my judgment is that this is a much riskier and less straightforward policy shift than much of the hyperbolic, government-line-backing discussion in India (to a lesser extent, the US) suggests: “Kashmir: A bold strategy isn’t always wise”
  2. I participated in podcasts on the topic: Deep Dish with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and The World Unpacked by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  3. Drew Stommes and I published a piece in The Print summarizing some data we have gathered on the demography of India’s main paramilitary forces (the Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force) and Army. The academic version, with way more stuff, is here, and the dataset is available here.
  4. Austin Carson and I went on the Thank You for Your Service podcast to discuss civil-military relations around the world and in the US, as well as a huge variety of other topics.
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All about Weber

I vividly remember reading Max Weber’s “Politics as a Vocation” as a college freshman; mixed with passages that baffled me were remarkable insights that still stick with me. Here are 2 articles discussing its meaning on its 100th anniversary:

  1. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, “Reading 1919 in 2019,” The Indian Express.
  2. Robert Zaretsky, “Max Weber Diagnosed His Time and Ours,” Foreign Affairs.

Asia and foreign policy podcasts

I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts while doing dishes, mowing the lawn, etc. When not listening to photography shows (i.e. the Classic Lenses Podcast), I focus on Asia and foreign policy podcasts. Here are a few recommendations, in no order (I listen to all of them on iTunes, but links are to whatever pops up most easily when I googled):

The Diplomat/Asia Geopolitics – a very granular, background-to-the-news podcast ably hosted by Ankit Panda. Covers all of Asia, including places/topics that tend not to get much attention in US media.

National Security Conversations with Happymon Jacob. Jacob, a JNU academic with a broad public profile in India’s security debates, interviews a guest on a specific topic each week. Excellent for giving a wide variety of perspectives on India’s security and foreign policy from prominent Indian journalists, scholars, analysts, and former policymakers.

Bombshell. A now-classic War on the Rocks podcast, often with a female NatSec-focused guest. Mostly built around the insights and personalities of Erin Simpson, Radha Iyengar, and Loren DeJonge Schulman. Very enjoyable and covers a wide range of US and international topics; manages to stay fresh.

Three Things from the Indian Express. I listen to this news summary show when I want to immerse in day-to-day happenings in Indian politics. It’s too much to keep up with otherwise, but was invaluable in the aftermath of Pulwama and through the 2019 general election, and when I was teaching my IR of South Asia class.

Grand Tamasha. Milan Vaishnav’s show blends interviews with summaries of what’s been happening in Indian politics. It does a really nice job bringing in journalists and academics to provide analysis.

Ganatantra. A primarily-academic show on Indian politics and society – based on interviews with scholars of particular topics; good for selected deep-dives.

Tea Leaves. Kurt Campbell and Rich Verma’s interview-based show. More a celebration of the guests than back-and-forth analytical, but still often insightful.

Asia Chessboard. Hosted by Mike Green at CSIS, a new interview-based focus on Asia strategy and geopolitics. Similar to Tea Leaves, in ways good and bad.

Jaw Jaw. Another War on the Rocks podcast; Brad Carson does a great job pushing interviewees hard on their views of the rise of China – lots of willingness to get into debates and push back on guests’ arguments. The first season was on China and is now finished; not sure what will come next but the China interviews were diverse and fascinating.

Power Problems. I’m not a Cato Institute person in my general politics, but their views of foreign policy are often thought-provoking. Hosted by Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall.

New data on Indian internal security force fatalities and demographics

Drew Stommes and I just published an article in India Review that introduces a set of new data we’ve collected in the last four or so years on fatalities among India’s internal security forces. It is fairly comprehensive, we hope, on the CRPF and BSF, substantially less so on the Army, and, unfortunately, incomplete and problematic (with huge variation in both) on the state police forces.

The project began while I aimlessly googling around and found a pair of massive PDFs that MHA had published to commemorate those who died in service, which then begin a multi-year process of trying to more systematically gather relevant information. I personally found the demographics of the MHA forces to be the newest and most interesting set of findings – with important caveats, there appear to be substantial regional imbalances in the composition of these forces (some intended, some perhaps not).

The data are available in the Data section of my website – we’d love for researchers and analysts to use and improve them.

Laksmana on “micro” military politics in Indonesia

Evan Laksmana has a really interesting article out in the Journal of Contemporary Asia that examines how internal promotion patterns have influenced the politics of the TNI after democratization. I have found research on military politics in Indonesia (i.e. Kammen and Chandra) a real inspiration for my own work, with Dann Naseemullah and Ahsan Butt, on “Pakistan’s Military Elite.” Here’s the abstract of the Laksmana paper:

“This article seeks to explain the increasingly regressive (or illiberal) behaviour on the part of the Indonesian military. It focuses on the expansion of the Army’s Territorial Command structure, the growing military intrusion into civilian polity and the stunted progress of military professionalism. It provides an organisational, rather than political, perspective. Conceptually, the article synthesises various approaches to comparative politics to explain why and how military personnel policies affect political behaviour. Empirically, using a series of original datasets of hundreds of officers, the article demonstrates how promotional logjams – too many officers but too few positions available – over the past decade help explain the regressive behaviours we recently witnessed. It is further argued that the lack of institutionalisation in personnel policies gave rise to and prolonged these logjams. This article draws attention to the importance of intra-organisational dynamics in understanding the state of civil–military relations in post-authoritarian Indonesia.”

Malik and Siddiqui on violence & politics in Karachi

This is a fascinating new report for the United States Institute of Peace by Mashail Malik and Niloufer Siddiqui on exposure to violence and politics in Karachi. Some key takeaways:

“individuals exposed to violence are less likely to trust that elections would be free and fair, and more likely to expect and fear electoral violence. The impact of violence on political behavior was greater for respondents exposed to violence perpetrated by political or state elements, and such individuals are less likely to turn out to vote.”

“the survey also found very low baseline levels of trust between ethnic communities in Karachi. Exposure to violence is correlated with higher levels of intolerance”

“Narratives that framed Karachi’s history of violence in distinct ways had minimal effect on decreasing prejudice, indicating that intergroup trust may be difficult to alter in the short term”