Publications

Books

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.

Visit book page here
Excerpt: Mint

Chapter One: Introduction (with Devesh Kapur and Pratap Bhanu Mehta)
Chapter Ten: Election Commission of India (with E. Sridharan)
Reviews: Business Standard, OPEN

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.

Introductory chapter: “A Mismatch With Consequences” (with Jeremy Weinstein)
Full manuscript here
Reviews: Foreign Affairs

Papers

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

Why Voters Sometimes Prefer Criminals as Candidates

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?

CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT PAPER | SEPTEMBER 1, 2015
The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data (with Saksham Khosla)

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.

One-page summary here
Media coverage: Wire, Governance Now, Press Trust of India, DNA, Firstpost
Op-ed version here

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.

Media coverage: EconomistWall Street JournalMint, Mint editOutlook
Op-ed version here

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.

Media coverage: Times of India
Op-ed version here

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.

One-page summary here
Op-ed version here

Chapters in Edited Volumes

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

Book Reviews

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.

Working Papers

Builders, Politicians, and Election Finance (with Devesh Kapur) (under review)
(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.

Media coverage: Economist, Washington Post,Wall Street JournalBloomberg View, Mint, Business Standard, Economic Times
Op-ed version here

Note: A previous version of this paper was circulated as a Center for Global Development working paper. Please cite the updated version posted above

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