Security in South Asia: India's Emerging Role

Led by Åshild Kolås
Dec 2005 - Dec 2014

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The IDSA-PRIO cooperation is an institutional cooperation between the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (New Delhi) and the Peace Research Institute Oslo. Started in early 2006, the cooperation furthers joint research, networking and scholarly exchange. The objective of the cooperation is the development of new knowledge and expertise on topics of mutual academic interest, within the fields of conflict management, mediation, peacebuilding and non-traditional security. Main activities under the cooperation are organized in subprojects, currently covering research on 'Frameworks of South Asian Cooperation on Conflict Management' and ‘Modelling Climate Change and Environmental Challenges in South Asia'. The cooperation also facilitates academic exchange with a focus on research methodology. 

CURRENT RESEARCH

Frameworks of South Asian Cooperation on Conflict Management
 
Project duration: December 2010 - December 2013
Main researchers: Uttam Kumar Sinha (IDSA), Smruti Pattanaik (IDSA), Jason Miklian (PRIO) and Åshild Kolås (PRIO)
 

This project focuses on Indian responses to conflict in its neighbouring countries, with an emphasis on cooperative avenues to resolution. Historically, India has alternated between active engagement, neutral brokerage, and subtle persuasion in attempting to achieve desired conflict management and foreign policy goals with its war-torn neighbours, including Nepal and Sri Lanka. While the immediate post-Cold War period was driven by a mix of liberal internationalism and strategic Realpolitik, India's diplomatic relations with its small state neighbours are now more nuanced, colored by not only domestic experiences of conflict, but also by the increasingly transnational nature of non-state insurgent actors in South Asia. This project will examine Indian perspectives on South Asian regional conflicts, and how they influence India's regional and intenational political role. As an emerging power in Asia, it is important to understand Indian perspectives on peacebuilding, conflict management and human security through its intenal conflict management strategies, in anticipation of Indian actions and policies outside of its borders. In order to explore this interrelation, we will account for the multiple definitions of peacebuilding and human security that exist within India's diverse society. A comparative review of how regional issues are viewed by Indian policymakers and their counterparts in neighbouring countries may reveal new understandings and better strategies to deal with the challenges to states inherent in increased transnationalism, the ease with which 

Modelling Climate Change and Environmental Challenges in South Asia

Project duration: December 2010 - December 2013
Main researchers: Halvard Buhaug (PRIO-CSCW) and Nihar Nayak (IDSA) 

The South Asian sub-continent is shaped by widespread environmental stress and the continent is probably more exposed to natural hazards than any other region in the world. Climate change is expected to accentuate these trends. Moreover, the region hosts a number of violent conflicts today and faces major demographic, developmental, and security challenges in the years to come. The joint prospect of further population growth and increasing scarcities of renewable resources are usually viewed with much concern, though it may also create opportunities for inter- and intraregional cooperation and development. This project will develop a rigorous statistical methodology for studying the empirical links between rapid environmental degradation, population pressure, and local organized violence in India. A key contribution in this regard will be the development and use of high-resolution geo-referenced data on environmental conditions (e.g. freshwater availability, drought, flood, etc) and violent conflict events. The project thus seeks to evaluate the likely future human security threats directly linked to demographic and environmental stress. The project will also provide an assessment of transnational waters and interstate relations in the region. Water is important not only for household consumption and sanitation but increasingly also for power production (energy security) and irrigation (food security). Anticipated changes in rainfall patterns combined with melting of Himalayan glaciers are likely to put further strains on an already scarce transboundary resource. This part of the project seeks to identify how India and neighboring countries prepare for these challenges and identify instruments, such as proper water management arrangements and early warning systems, which might remedy possible security threats.

EARLIER PROJECTS

Conceptual Frameworks on Conflict Management

Project duration:  July 2007 - July 2010
Main researchers: Namrata Goswami (IDSA), Jason Miklian (PRIO) and Åshild Kolås (PRIO)

The focus of this subproject is intra-state conflict in India. The literature on intra-state conflict, particularly in the domain of irregular warfare and low intensity conflict, suggests that most of the theoretical/conceptual work on this topic has been drawn from the study of inter-state warfare. The project will assess the current theoretical frameworks and offer policy recommendations relevant to the re-conceptualization of intra-state conflict. The methodology will be comparative, using the Naxalite and Naga insurgencies as case studies. The Naxal movement mobilizes on a Maoist ideological basis and has currently spread to nearly 200 of India’s 602 districts across several states; Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar. The Naxal insurgency is a conflict in which recurrent encounters between rebels and Indian security forces contribute to shaping the conflict and maintaining it over time. The Naga movement has a long history of mobilization around Naga ethnic identity and nationalist ideology. In the Naga case a peace process has been evolving over a number of years. The focus in both cases is on attempts to address the conflict through counterinsurgency, ceasefire agreements and peace negotiations.

More:  Frameworks of Conflict Management 

 

Organization and Recruitment in Rebel Groups

Project duration:  January 2006 - July 2010
Main researchers: Nihar Nayak (IDSA), Jason Miklian (PRIO), P.V. Ramana  (IDSA) and Scott Gates (CSCW)

This subproject researches the organizational structure of Indian Left Wing Extremist (LWE) groups to understand patterns of group formation, recruitment, desertion and defection, strategies and tactics, as well as to gain a better perspective on conflict management efforts. The study focuses on the root causes, origins, growth, organizational structures, and geographical reach of Indian LWE (Maoist or Naxalite) movements. A central feature of the project will be an evaluation of the role of democratic institutions, with an emphasis on conflict management efforts. The existing conflict management strategies, and their implementation by federal and state governments, constitute the analytical focus. Ultimately, the study will evaluate the role of civil society to resolve conflicts. Specific hypotheses tested include: (1) States have failed to resolve the Maoist conflict due to lack of institutional initiatives and political willingness; and (2) Maoist outfits operating in India have larger standing armies (successfully recruit more members) in poorer districts with fewer economic opportunities than groups with more economic opportunities.

 

Human security and Development

Project duration: January 2006 –December 2007
Main researchers: Uttam Sinha (IDSA), J. Peter Burgess and Åshild Kolås (PRIO)

In the post-Cold War era, traditional military-political interstate security concerns have increasingly been replaced by non-traditional intrastate, transnational and global concerns such as the depletion of non-renewable resources, population pressure, pollution, environmental degradation, poverty and social inequality, epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, transnational crime, terrorism and civil strife. Some of these non-traditional issues have found their way into the security agendas of states. The concept of human security captures this trend, and encourages a leap of consciousness in security thinking. However, there is as yet little consensus on the policy relevance of the concept, especially in the ‘human security-development nexus’, which defines the linkages between socio-economic development and human security. This subproject explores a human security approach to two core issues on the human security agenda; water supply and health care provision (focusing on vaccinations). By investigating the roles and relationships of federal and state-level actors, the central government and multilateral agencies, and public/private partnerships in the provision of immunization services as well as water supplies, the project questions the state-individual dichotomy which can be seen as intrinsic to the concept of ‘human security’

Research Groups

Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Miklian, Jason & Scott Carney (2013) Corruption, Justice and Violence in Democratic India, SAIS Review 33(1): 67–49.
Kolås, Åshild (2013) Indigenous Rights, Sovereignty and Resource Governance in the Arctic, Strategic Analysis 37(4): 499–504.
Hoelscher, Kristian; Jason Miklian; & Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati (2012) Hearts and Mines: A District-level Analysis of the Maoist Conflict in India, International Area Studies Review 15(2): 141–160.
Miklian, Jason & Scott Roecker (2012) Fire in the Sky, Foreign Policy.
Kolås, Åshild (2011) Naga Militancy and Violent Politics in the Shadow of Ceasefire, Journal of Peace Research 48(6): 781–792.
Miklian, Jason; Kristoffer Lidén & Åshild Kolås (2011) The Perils of ‘Going Local’: Liberal Peace-building Agendas in Nepal, Conflict, Security & Development 11(3): 285–308.
Miklian, Jason (2011) Revolutionary Conflict in Federations: The Indian Case , Conflict, Security and Development 11(1): 25–53.
Kolås, Åshild (2011) GAVI and Hepatitis B Immunisation in India, Global Public Health 6(1): 28–40.
Miklian, Jason; & Carney, Scott (2010) India's Hidden War , Foreign Policy .
Kolås, Åshild (2010) The 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks: (Re-)Constructing Indian (Counter-)Terrorism, Critical Studies on Terrorism 3(1): 83–98.
Kolås, Åshild & Jason Miklian (2009) Managing Intractable Conflict: Indian Strategies, Journal of Conflict Management and Development 3(3): 1–20.
Miklian, Jason (2008) Nepal's Terai: Building an Ethnic Conflict? .
Miklian, Jason (2008) Nepal - the (Flawed) View From the US, Strategic Analysis 32(3): 349–357.

Book Chapter

Kolås, Åshild (2014) Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding: Ideas, Approaches and Debates , in Upadhyaya, Priyankar; & Samrat Schmiem Kumar, eds, Peace and Conflict - the South Asian Experience. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press India (1–22).
Kolås, Åshild; & Buzzi, Camilla(2010) Northeast India and Myanmar: Looking East towards a Dead-End? Beyond Borders. Look East Policy & Northeast India. : (148–165).
Goswami, Namrata(2008) Eastern Neighbourhood: Is the North Eastern Region on Board? IDSA Asian Strategic Review. : (xx–xx).
Miklian, Jason(2008) The New Warlords of India: The Salwa Judum's Purification Hunt in Chhattisgarh Windows into a Revolution: Ethnographies of Maoism In 2008. : (000–000). [Forthcoming]

Edited Volume

Beri, Ruchita (ed.) (2009) Africa and Energy Security: Global Issues, Local Responses.

Non-refereed Journal Article

Kolås, Åshild (2012) What's up with the territorial council?, Seminar New Delhi): a Monthly Symposium(640): 2–7.
Kolås, Åshild & Camilla Buzzi (2010) India-Burma Relations Hitting a Dead End?, The Irrawaddy 18(3).
Kolås, Åshild (2010) Theories of Conflict Resolution: Lessons for Northeast India?, Politeia: Annual Journal of North-East India Political Science Association 2009(1): 32–53.

Popular Article

Kolås, Åshild & Camilla Buzzi (2009) Suverenitetens grenser [The Limits of Sovereignty], Ny Tid, 17–23 April 2009.
Kolås, Åshild (2009) Veien etter Indias 9/11 [In the Aftermath of India's 9/11 ], Ny Tid, 6–12 March.
Miklian, Jason; & Goswami, Namrata (2008) Losing a New Game with the Same Old Moves, Outlook India, 3 December.
Miklian, Jason; & Goswami, Namrata (2008) India's Violent Internal Dissent, Economic and Political Weekly, 24 May.

Master Thesis

Glebova, Ksenia (2008) Media Securitization of Migration: Constructing Bangladeshi Migration to Assam as a Security Threat to Assamese Identity. MA thesis, Department of Political Science, World Politics, University of Helsinki, Finland, .
Alte, Maria Indiana (2008) The Framing of a Social Movement: Actors' Perspectives on Joining, Leaving and Refraining from Membership in the Naxalite Movement in South India. MA thesis, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Oslo, .

Conference Paper

Miklian, Jason (2013) Ethical Challenges of Fieldwork-based Research in Conflict Zones, presented at International Association for the Study of Forced Migration, Kolkata, India.
Miklian, Jason (2013) Ethical Challenges of Fieldwork-based Research in Conflict Zones, presented at European Conference on African Studies, Lisbon, Portugal.
Miklian, Jason (2013) Fieldwork Methods in Sensitive or Dangerous Locations, presented at International Studies Association, San Francisco.
Miklian, Jason (2013) The Political Ecology of War in Maoist India, presented at International Studies Association, San Francisco, 3–6 April.
Kolås, Åshild (2012) (De)constructing the Non-State Army: Making Sense of Insurgency in Northeast India, presented at European Association of Social Anthropologists EASA 2012: Uncertainty and disquiet, Nanterre, France, 10–13 July.
Kolås, Åshild 2011 Constructing the Non-State Army: Making Sense of Armed Conflict in Northeast India, presented at The Local in Global Understandings of War and Peacemaking: Anthropological and Inter-disciplinary Perspectives, , 1–2 September.
Ramana, P.V. 2008 A Critical Evaluation of Andhra Pradesh's Response to the Maoist Challenge, presented at ISDA Fellow Paper, , 1 December.
Kolås, Åshild; & Buzzi, Camilla 2008 Northeast India and Myanmar: Looking East towards a Dead-End?, presented at Borders and Beyond: The Northeast in India’s Security and Foreign Policy, , 21 February.
Kolås, Åshild 2008 Hill-valley Dynamics in Northeast India: A Research Agenda, presented at Asian Borderlands Research Network International Conference on Northeast India and its Transnational Neighbourhood, , 18 January.

PRIO Paper

Miklian, Jason (2009) Illicit Trading in Nepal: Fueling South Asian Terrorism [South Asian Briefing Paper #3], PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.
Miklian, Jason (2009) Nepal's Terai: Constructing an Ethnic Conflict [South Asia Briefing Paper #1], PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.
Miklian, Jason (2009) Post-Conflict Power Sharing: The Nepal Case [South Asia Briefing Paper #2], PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.
Pattanaik, Smruti S. (2013) Afghanistan and Its Neighbourhood. In Search of a Stable Future, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

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