Skip to main content

Study reflects on economic pattern during communal violence in India

By Rajiv Shah 
In an astounding revelation, two scholars, Anirban Mitra of the University of Oslo, and Debraj Ray of the New York University, have in their research paper, “Implications of an Economic Theory of Conflict: Hindu-Muslim Violence in India”, have found that “a one per cent increase in Hindu per-capita expenditure is predicted to decrease casualties (during communal violence) by anywhere between 3–7 per cent, while the same increase in Muslim per-capita expenditure increases casualties by 3–5 per cent.” While putting these findings in a perspective, the scholars reach the following conclusion: “The fact that Muslim expenditures display a significant and positive connection with later conflict, while Hindu expenditures have a negative link, suggests that Hindu groups have been largely been responsible for Hindu-Muslim violence in India.”
The scholars clarify, “We do not mean to suggest that aggression is an intrinsic quality of Hindu groups while inevitable victimization is the lot of the Muslims. Indeed, our findings do not speak to baseline levels of violence, but to their sensitivity to economic change.” Regretting that “political scientists, sociologists and anthropologists have written extensively on ethnic violence”, yet “the economics of violence have not been given center-stage in most of these writings”, the scholars say, so far, the focus has been “more on other sources of conflict, which include both politics as well as historical antagonisms.” Pointing out that “this lack of focus is not surprising”, they add, “Despite ample ethnographic studies that document an economic component to conflict, there is relatively little by way of firm statistical evidence that the two phenomena are connected”.
Attempting to link what they call “group incomes to violence”, the scholars, however, cite several instances which go to suggest how rising economic prosperity among the Muslims prompts Hindu groups to retaliate. Thus, they say, there are documents which suggest the manner of targeting of Muslim sari dealers in the 1991 Varanasi riots, or a similar effort to target the Muslims during the 1984 Bhiwandi riots. Something similar happened in Meerut, “where Muslim powerloom owners had started to diversify economic activity from cloth weaving and printing into other sectors, such as transport and auto-repair… The ferocity with which business establishments have been destroyed in Meerut bears testimony to this observation. Entire rows of shops belonging to Muslims were reduced to ashes.”
Referring to the 2002 Gujarat conflict, the scholars quote researchers Erica Field, Matthew Levinson, Rohini Pande and Sujata Visaria in a study, “Segregation, Rent Control, and Riots: The Economics of Religious Confict in an Indian City”, to point towards how locations in which valuable housing was retained by mill workers in residential colonies when the textile mills shut down: “Once the mills closed, preferential treatment of these lands under the Bombay Rent Control Act implied that residents were granted stronger than average tenancy rights. Since tenancy rights are not transferable on formal real estate markets, mounting tensions between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat led to a territory war rather than segregation in these locations. As tension mounted, acts of violence and intimidation were used to push out residents belonging to the religious minority group.”
Drawing on the 9th and 10th Annual Reports of the Minorities’ Commission, the scholars observe, “Muslims suffered disproportionately as a result of Hindu-Muslim riots. Of 526 Hindu-Muslim incidents that occurred from 1985 to 1987 in 10 major states, Muslims (12% of the population) accounted for 60% of the 443 deaths, 45% of the 2,667 injuries, and 73% of the property damage. Given that Muslims are, as a community, much poorer than Hindus the relative effect of communal riots on Muslims economic life is even greater than these percentages suggest… The fact that Muslims suffer disproportionate losses in riots and that Muslim businessmen are more often the victims of looting has convinced scholars and activists that riots are nothing more than a particularly brutal method of protecting Hindu merchants market share.”
In order to achieve the objective of their research, the scholars study “changes in Hindu and Muslim group incomes by using data on expenditure from the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). The data come from the 1980s and 1990s, during which several changes impacted differentially on Hindus and Muslims, thereby allowing for degree of independent movement in their incomes.”
Pointing towards “two examples” in this regard, the scholars say, “First, positive shocks to oil prices, starting with the concerted efforts of OPEC in the 1970s, resulted in a huge increase in the demand for labor from the Gulf countries. That resulted in a substantial emigration of workers from India to the Gulf over the next few decades. In particular, members of the Muslim communities in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh contributed to this steady flow of migrant workers. In turn, this flow resulted in remittances back to India from the Gulf, some of it resulting in highly visible real estate booms.”
And secondly, “the trade liberalization process in India, set in motion in 1991, led to the continuation and heightening of changes with even earlier origins. In particular, while some sectors made substantial gains from this liberalization process, the unorganized tertiary sector has suffered, certainly in relative and perhaps in absolute terms. After all, this sector has practically no safety nets to cope with the structural changes accompanying globalization. Muslims are heavily concentrated in this sector; furthermore, they mostly happen to be poor and self-employed. Therefore, such Muslim households were more at the mercy of the broad, sweeping changes which liberalization brought in its wake.”
The scholars argue, “An increase in individual income has two effects. To the extent that the recipient of the increase is a potential victim, it makes him (or his group, to the extent that the income increase is correlated within the group) a more attractive target of violence. But to the extent that the recipient is a potential aggressor, it makes him less likely to participate in conflict, because an income increase raises the opportunity cost of engaging in violence. It follows that groups with a large proportion of potential victims will exhibit a positive relationship between group income and subsequent conflict, while the opposite is true for groups with a large proportion of potential aggressors.”
Looking at the BJP’s presence in a region in this context, the scholars say, “Greater Hindu dominance may be more conducive to conflict, because there is more ‘infrastructural support’ for it.” At the same time, they add, Hindu dominance may be “associated with more peace, simply because there are smaller gains through conflict for an already dominant group. So the effect of heightened BJP presence is likely to be non-monotonic, depending on the level of presence to begin with”.
The scholars criticize the “counterargument”, according to which the “positive impact of Muslim expenditures on violence stems from Muslim, not Hindu aggression.” This counterargument also suggests that “rising Muslim incomes make it easier to fund conflict, outweighing the negative opportunity cost effects of direct participation.” Taking strong exception to this counterargument, the scholars say, one cannot doubt that “financial resources play a role in organized violence”, but the fact is, “Muslims are by far the larger losers in outbreaks of violence”, which suggests that the argument that the Muslims fund conflict does not stand. In fact, post-conflicts, the scholars say, Hindus get richer, while Muslims are by the bigger per-capita losers.
The scholars say, things become particularly easier for the Hindu groups to aggressively resort violence, adding, “We do not believe that a particular religious group is intrinsically more predisposed to the use of violence. Religious fundamentalists are of the same ilk everywhere. Yet, particular histories do condition subsequent events. In the Hindu-Muslim case under discussion, the Partition of India may provide a useful clue. It has been argued that Muslims in India, far from being acknowledged as showing their greater loyalty to India by staying, are constantly under pressure to demonstrate their Indianness. While extremist Islamic groups are undoubtedly active, the majority of Muslims constantly live under the pressure to prove their loyalty, and go out of their way to maintain communal harmony. Hindu fundamentalist groups face no such constraint. That, coupled with the sheer realities of demography, might explain the results we obtain.”

Comments

TRENDING

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h

Great march of migrants during lockdown: Lessons not learned, missed opportunities

By IMPRI Team  A panel discussion on “The Great March of Migrants During The National Lockdown: Lessons Not Learned and Missed Opportunities” was organized by the #IMPRI Center for Human Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the occasion of International Migrants Day, i.e December 18, 2022. Inaugurating the session, Ms Aanchal Kumari, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. The event was moderated by Dr Devender Singh, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists included Prof. R.B Bhagat, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai; Prof Arun Kumar, Distinguished Economist, a Former Professor Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi; Ms Akriti Bhatia, Founder of People