Managing Conflicts in India

Managing Conflicts in India : Policies of Coercion and Accommodation

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In Managing Conflicts in India, Bidisha Biswas analyzes how democratic states choose between policies of coercion and accommodation by addressing the under-studied topic of India's approach to internal conflicts. Biswas weaves an examination of three conflicts in India into a larger exploration of the challenges and choices facing democratic and multiethnic countries that are dealing with protracted insurgencies.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 144 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 362.87g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 9 Tables, unspecified; 4 Maps; 4 Illustrations, black and white
  • 0739187546
  • 9780739187548

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: The Curious Case of Punjab Chapter 3: The Intractable Case of Kashmir Chapter 4: The Conflict that Won't Go Away: The Left-Wing Extremist Insurgency Chapter 5: Conclusion Appendix A : Chronology of Key Events Appendix B: States Affected by Left-Wing Extremists References
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Review quote

Using India as a case study, Biswas looks at the ways in which a democracy responds to political violence within its territory. She argues that India has handled its three major insurgencies--Punjab, Kashmir, and left-wing--using a mix of coercive and accommodative policies...The discussion of the three insurgencies is helpful in illustrating the author's ideas. Each discussion identifies the various strategies utilized by the state and the extent to which they help contain the insurgency. Most importantly, scholars and policy makers are provided with a comparative framework to analyze insurgencies in India and determine how the state responds to them. This work represents an important contribution to the field of conflict management as well as counterinsurgency. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. CHOICE Managing Conflicts in India is an academic treatise aimed at serious students of India and Political Science. It is not a book for the layman or the casual reader. In classic academic style, Biswas presents a thesis and rigorously tests it to determine its applicability. The book is not meant to explain why so many Indians at different times did not want to belong to India. That has been the subject of many previous studies. Instead, Managing Conflicts in India examinesthe strategies adopted by the Indian state to counter insurgency...Biswas is systematic and well organized. She follows her analysis well and goes where it leads her. She demonstrates that in all three instances the Indian state relied on coercion almost exclusively in the early phases of the counter insurgency. Initially, the security forces appeared bogged down in a protracted conflict...Biswas provides valuable insight into the failures of India's leadership to address the root causes of insurgency and its embarrassing and debilitating over-reliance on coercion, violence and human rights abuses. Her book is a useful introduction to the Naxalite insurgency that has a presence in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. American Diplomacy The significant contribution Biswas makes, however, is to identify the pattern of Indian policy, and to relate this to a very sound series of recommendations at the conclusion of her study...The book is a good read on an important subject that is all too often glossed over in discussions on contemporary India. Survival: Global Politics and Strategy Biswas takes on an extremely important topic in Managing Conflicts in India: Policies of Coercion and Accommodation-how and why democracies choose different strategies to deal with the challenge of political violence-and does so within the challenging context of India, the world's largest democracy, which faces a plethora of insurgencies. Biswas highlights the different choices that states can make between coercion, negotiation, and accommodation and, most importantly, focuses on the motivations for choosing different strategies in her three case studies. Biswas makes an important contribution to our understanding of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism policies by highlighting how often decisions related to how states deal with political violence are often divorced from a long term-strategy and rather driven by political expediency and the need to make a point (for example by doing something to "establish a reputation for firmness"). Biswas also sheds light on the different challenges that India faces when countering the insurgencies in Kashmir, as well as the Maoists and Naxalites in large areas of the country (she also discusses the 1980s insurgency in the Punjab), and how the too-often-chosen policy of expediency has hurt both the state's ability to end these insurgencies as well as the credibility of the state as whole. Overall this is an important contribution to our understanding of counter-insurgency efforts in India, as well as a theoretically important contribution to the general counter-insurgency literature as a whole. -- Victor Asal, University at Albany, SUNY This book provides a lucid account of India's experience with rebel movements between the 1980s and the present. It focuses on the strategies and policies that have sought to counter 'separatist' insurgencies in Punjab and Kashmir, and the Maoist insurgency active in some parts of India. Biswas develops sound conclusions on the shortcomings of these responses and the lessons to be learned. -- Sumantra Bose, London School of Economics, author of Transforming India: Challenges to the World's Largest Democracy This accessible, enlightening, and critical study on the causes and consequences of three insurgencies in India will serve students of the world's largest democracy very well indeed! Biswas does a superb job of capturing the conflicts' dynamics and India's successes and deficiencies with counterinsurgency. Policymakers will do well to consider seriously her practical recommendations, given how the absence of transitional justice in these cases tarnishes India's commendable democracy. -- Neil DeVotta, Wake Forest University Managing Conflicts in India: Policies of Coercion and Accommodation by Bidisha Biswas offers academics and policymakers a unique and compelling framework with which to understand and explain the trajectories of various ethnic and ideological insurgencies in democratic India. The book focuses on three cases-the Sikh separatist movement in Punjab, the Kashmiri Muslim insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir, and the ideological Naxalite movement in central India. Instead of examining only the causes of these insurgencies or the government's counterinsurgency strategies, Biswas also analyzes the underlying determinants of the policy choices and actions of leaders. Her analytical framework specifically examines not only the politics between armed groups and the state, but also the parochial interests of various stakeholders including competing insurgent factions and the leaders of established democratic political parties. While Biswas finds a consistent pattern of initial inertia, subsequent massive coercion and finally attempts at dialogue and democracy in the state's response to insurgencies, she is also careful to take into consideration the unique histories and dynamics of each case. The result is a well-researched and skillfully-argued book which identifies the factors behind the Indian democracy's often 'mismanaged' approach in avoiding and ameliorating the various insurgencies within its borders. -- Jugdep S. Chima, Garfield Institute of Public Leadership, Hiram College
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About Bidisha Biswas

Bidisha Biswas is associate professor of political science at Western Washington University.
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