COSTS OF DEMOCRACY: POLITICAL FINANCE IN INDIA | OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS | 2018 (co-editor with Devesh Kapur)
The first, in-depth examination of how money operates in the world’s largest democracy.
Chapter One: Introduction (with Devesh Kapur)
Chapter Two: Political Finance in a Developing Democracy: The Case of India (with E. Sridharan)
Chapter Four: Builders, Politicians, and Election Finance in India (with Devesh Kapur)
Chapter Nine: Conclusion: Implications for Research and Policy (with Devesh Kapur and E. Sridharan)
RETHINKING PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN INDIA | OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS | 2017 (co-editor with Devesh Kapur and Pratap Bhanu Mehta)
An analytical overview of the institutional foundations of the world’s largest democracy.
WHEN CRIME PAYS: MONEY AND MUSCLE IN INDIAN POLITICS | YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS/HARPERCOLLINS INDIA | 2017
The first comprehensive study of the nexus between crime and democracy in India.
Visit book page here
SHORT OF THE GOAL: U.S. POLICY AND POORLY PERFORMING STATES | CENTER FOR GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT | 2006 (co-editor with Robert Ayres and Nancy Birdsall)
Analyzing one of the most troubling, yet poorly understood challenges in the developing world, Short of the Goal sets an agenda for increased American effectiveness in dealing with failed states to promote economic development and international security.
INDIA REVIEW | JULY 2019
Digital India? An email experiment with Indian legislators
Of the many tasks elected representatives perform, constituency service is among the most difficult to observe and, therefore, to measure. However, a burgeoning literature uses digital tools such as email to experimentally evaluate the responsiveness of political elites to requests for constituency service. To date, this literature has overwhelmingly focused on the developed world. In this article, we describe the results of an email experiment in which we sent plausible, but fictitious constituency service requests to national legislators in India to evaluate their responsiveness, helpfulness, and possibly discriminatory behavior. While the overall response rate to our request is quite poor, those that do respond tend to offer “meaningful” responses. We find scant evidence of legislators discriminating on religious lines.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | APRIL 4, 2019
The BJP in Power: Indian Democracy and Religious Nationalism (editor)
The upsurge in Hindu nationalism ushered in by Modi’s government is reshaping Indian society, secularism, economics, and diplomacy.
SEMINAR | JANUARY 1, 2019
Political Finance in India: Déjà Vu All Over Again
As the global democratic reform movement is agitating for more transparency, disclosure and openness in political funding, India is rapidly hurtling in the opposite direction. India has earned a reputation for often bucking global trends. But here is one domain where India’s innovation is hardly cause for celebration.
PS: POLITICAL SCIENCE AND POLITICS | JUNE 2018
The Strategic and Moral Imperatives of Local Engagement: Reflections on India (with Tariq Thachil)
Drawing on India, we present two principal arguments for scholars to increase their local engagement. First, we argue that there are solid professional incentives to subject our work to local scrutiny at multiple stages of progress. The second argument is a moral imperative to not simply inform and engage the communities that enable our careers but also to offer them a degree of agency in shaping our research agenda.
STUDIES IN INDIAN POLITICS | APRIL 2018
Does Higher Turnout Hurt Incumbents? An Analysis of State Elections in India (with Johnathan Guy)
Conventional wisdom holds that an increase in voter turnout hurts incumbents in Indian elections. Our analyses show that an increase in turnout, relative to the prior election, has no statistically meaningful relationship with three measures of an incumbent government’s electoral performance. While the belief about the anti-incumbent nature of rising turnout is widely held, it does not appear to be supported by the data.
ASIAN SURVEY | JULY/AUGUST 2017
Ethnic Identifiability in India: Evidence from a Voter Survey
The ethnic politics literature assumes that one’s ethnic identity is readily identifiable. This paper evaluates how well this assumption holds in practice, drawing on a voter survey in the Indian state of Bihar. While voters often misidentify the identity of their candidate, the degree of error is small but systematic.
Op-ed version here
SEMINAR | MAY 1, 2017
India’s Democratic Marketplace for Criminality
It is more useful to view the relative success of criminal politicians in India as a byproduct of democratic practice, rather than its authoritarian antithesis.
GOVERNANCE | OCTOBER 1, 2016
In democracies around the world, candidates who stand accused or convicted of criminal misconduct routinely win elections and assume important positions. How can crime and democratic politics coexist?
The Indian government should reshape recruitment and promotion processes for the Indian Administrative Service, improve performance-based assessment of individual officers, and adopt safeguards that promote accountability while protecting bureaucrats from political meddling.
SEMINAR | AUGUST 1, 2016
Exploiting Survey Data (with Neelanjan Sircar)
This article sheds light on three issues that can help determine what we can and cannot learn from election opinion surveys in India.
INDIA REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 21, 2015
Does Good Economics Make Good Politics? Evidence from Indian States (with Reedy Swanson)
The Indian voter weights economic performance more heavily now than in the past.
INDIA POLICY FORUM | SEPTEMBER 1, 2015
Corruption in India: Bridging Research Evidence and Policy Options (with Sandip Sukhtankar)
The most important thing for combating corruption is not the law on paper but the implementation of the law; the binding constraint, as always, is the government’s desire and ability to punish corrupt officials and politicians.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT PAPER | JUNE 23, 2015
Understanding the Indian Voter
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) historic victory in India’s 2014 general election prompted declarations of a watershed in the behavior of the Indian voter. Upon closer inspection, the reality is more nuanced.
Chapters in Edited Volumes
THE GREAT MARCH OF DEMOCRACY: SEVEN DECADES OF INDIA’S ELECTIONS | (S.Y. QURAISHI, ED.) | PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE INDIA | 2019
Confronting the Challenge of Money in Elections
This chapter summarizes a critical challenge facing the Election Commission of India and Indian democracy more generally: the sky-rocketing costs of campaigning. The agenda for reform is clear, but who will take up the challenge?
COSTS OF DEMOCRACY: POLITICAL FINANCE IN INDIA | OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS | 2018
Introduction (with Devesh Kapur)
This chapter serves as an introduction to this edited volume, which seeks to shed light on the methods, sources, and implications of political finance in a major developing country setting—India.
Political Finance in a Developing Democracy: The Case of India (with E. Sridharan)
This chapter surveys the legal and regulatory history of political finance in India, situating it in the context of India’s political economy. It devotes special attention to recent developments, including new reforms implemented by the Modi government in 2017.
Builders, Politicians, and Election Finance in India (with Devesh Kapur)
(Online Appendix here)
A new measure of construction activity reveals evidence that builders in India use their assets to help politicians circumvent election finance laws.
Note: A previous version of this paper was circulated as a Center for Global Development working paper. Please cite the updated version posted above
Conclusion: Implications for Research and Policy (with Devesh Kapur and E. Sridharan)
This concluding chapter ties together the book’s major themes and offers a roadmap for future policy and research
RETHINKING PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN INDIA | OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS | 2017
Introduction (with Devesh Kapur and Pratap Bhanu Mehta)
This chapter outlines the analytical framework for the volume, situating the book’s inquiry of India’s institutional foundations in the larger context of the multiple transformations the country has experienced since 1947.
Election Commission of India (with E. Sridharan)
This chapter examines the evolution of one of the world’s most powerful elections bodies, the Election Commission of India (ECI).
THE NEW MIDDLE CLASS: DATA AND PERCEPTIONS (DAWID BARTELT AND AXEL HARNEIT-SIEVERS, EDS.) | 2017
The Importance of Being Middle Class in India (with Devesh Kapur and Neelanjan Sircar)
This chapter analyzes new survey data on the “self-identification” of the middle class in India and tests whether positive self-identification is associated with distinct views on economic and social mobility.
CHECKBOOK ELECTIONS? POLITICAL FINANCE IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE (PIPPA NORRIS & ANDREA ABEL VAN ES, EDS.) | OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS | JUNE 2016
India (with E. Sridharan)
This chapter outlines the evolution of India’s political finance regime over the past several decades, with a focus on the key developments that have shaped the system as it currently exists.
Policy brief here
GETTING INDIA BACK ON TRACK (BIBEK DEBROY, ASHLEY J. TELLIS, & RECE TREVOR, EDS.) | CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE | JUNE 2014
Strengthening Rule of Law (with Devesh Kapur)
In India, the rule of law that exists on paper does not always exist in practice.
Op-ed version here
POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY | AUGUST 28, 2013
Book Review: India Today: Economics, Politics and Society
It is easy to be awestruck by the sweeping changes that have transformed India’s political economy in recent decades. But these changes, paradoxically, are taking place amidst a great deal of continuity.
STUDIES IN INDIAN POLITICS | JULY 3, 2013
Book Review: India Since 1980
In their important new account of a pivotal period in Indian history, Sumit Ganguly and Rahul Mukherji sometimes overemphasize the changes that have taken place, overlooking sources of stagnation in Indian politics.