The Centre for Policy Research (CPR) has been one of India’s leading public policy think tanks since 1973. The Centre is a non-profit, independent institution dedicated to conducting research that contributes to a more robust public discourse about the structures and processes that shape life in India. CPR’s community of distinguished academics and practitioners represents views from many disciplines and across the political spectrum. Senior faculty collaborate with more than 50 young professionals and academics at CPR and with partners around the globe to investigate topics critical to India’s future.
About Devesh Kapur
Devesh Kapur is a well-known academic and researcher in the field of political science and South Asian studies. He is currently the Director of Asia Programs and Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) . He was previously the director at the Center for the Advanced Study of India, Madan Lal Sobti Associate Professor for the Study of Contemporary India, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development.
Kapur has a distinguished academic background, with a Ph.D. in public policy from Princeton University and teaching experience at Harvard College, where he received the Joseph R. Levenson Teaching Prize awarded to the best junior faculty in 2005. He has authored several books, including "Diaspora, Development, and Democracy: The Domestic Impact of International Migration from India".
Kapur is a monthly contributor to Business Standard, an Indian business news daily, and an occasional contributor to Project Syndicate. He has also written articles for other publications, including Financial Times and The Times of India.
The key idea of the video is that the Indian State needs to strengthen institutions and prioritize social cohesion over law and order in order to address the issues of violence and corruption in the country.
Violence and State Power
📚 After a sharp upswing in the 1980s and 1990s, most indicators on violence in India have come down in the past two decades, but this drop in violence has largely gone unnoticed.
💥 State building is inherently a violent process, as the state needs to eliminate all other sources of violence to establish a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence within its territory.
🌍 The state is not just an institution that manages violence, but also a cause of violence in many different contexts.
📈 The incidence of targeted communal violence, particularly lynching, has increased in recent years, highlighting a concerning trend in India.
📉 The decline of rural violence in India can be attributed to a significant decrease in caste violence, making it impossible for landlords to mistreat laborers as they did in the past.
📈 The number of central forces in India has dramatically increased over the years, from 5,000 in the mid-50s to 1 million now, resulting in a significant change in the structures of non-military security forces in the country.
🌍 India’s weak oversight mechanisms and judicial forbearance for human rights violations in the name of national security have long been sustained by governments at both the state and national levels.
🐘 The state’s coercive power can suppress insurgencies, but lasting peace can only be achieved through political settlements, particularly in regions like Kashmir and the Northeast.
🤔 The legitimacy of the state is crucial in addressing violence and maintaining order within society.
💰 The approach to dealing with violence in the Northeast and Kashmir involves buying off rebel groups, creating an extortionary racket on a massive scale involving politicians, bureaucrats, and the security apparatus.
Institutional Culture and Public Safety
🏛️ Devesh Kapur’s teachings have emphasized the importance of building and maintaining institutional culture, celebrating the values and purpose of public institutions in higher education.
💰 Despite numerous pleas from various commissions, Indian states have consistently underinvested in their police forces, leaving them ill-equipped to handle violence and maintain public safety.
00:00 📚 Devesh Kapur discusses the role of the Indian State in nurturing institutions and the need to strengthen them for more robust democracy.
1.1 CPR celebrates its 50th anniversary and marks the occasion by having Professor Devesh Kapur speak in their lecture series, as he has played a significant role in shaping the institution and its members.
1.2 CPR institution owes its culture and values to the mentorship and teachings of the speaker, which have helped them navigate difficult realities and challenges while celebrating the purpose of public institutions.
1.3 Devesh Kapur’s lecture discusses his important new book on violence, order, and the Indian state, highlighting the role of the Indian State in nurturing its institutions and addressing the complex dynamics of different aspects of the state.
1.4 The speaker discusses the limitations of institutions and the need to strengthen them towards the goal of more robust democratic institutions.
04:34 📚 The book and lecture discuss the drop in violence in India over the past two decades, highlighting the implications for state security and the significant decline in homicide rates and riots.
2.1 Insurgencies, terrorist attacks, caste and communal violence, and mob violence have claimed more lives in India than all wars combined, but there has been a significant drop in violence in the past two decades that has largely gone unnoticed, and this book aims to understand the implications of this drop in violence by bringing together academics, practitioners, and people from civil society to examine the links between violence and the state.
2.2 State building in any country involves a significant amount of violence, as the state aims to establish a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence within its territory, and while many countries have experienced high levels of violence during this process, India has surprisingly witnessed relatively low levels of violence.
2.3 The book discusses the long-term process of state building and violence in India, emphasizing that the state’s behavior is consequential and that terrorism and insurgencies have implications for the security of the state.
2.4 The lecture discusses trends in violence and order in India, focusing on interpersonal crime, social instability, communal violence, and violence directed at the state, with a particular emphasis on homicide data.
2.5 Homicide rates in India have declined significantly since 1990, with the country experiencing considerably less violence compared to other countries like Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, and the US, and if the homicide rate had continued at the 1990 level, around 400,000 more people would have died, while riots in India have also decreased over time and are currently at a historic low.
2.6 Violent strikes in India have followed a U-shaped curve since 1950, with some data limitations but consistent overall trends.
14:49 📊 Protests classified as non-violent have increased, violence in India has shown a downward trend, hijackings have decreased, targeted communal violence has increased, and there is a lack of official data on violence from the 80s to 2014, with plausible hypotheses presented for these trends.
3.1 Protests classified as non-violent have sharply increased according to official data, but the reporting of protests, fatalities, and incidents of violence has become inconsistent and incomplete.
3.2 Violence in India, including insurgencies and left-wing extremism, has shown a downward trend over the years, with the highest civilian casualties in the Maoist insurgency and the highest ratio of security forces to insurgents in left-wing extremism.
3.3 Hijackings were prevalent from the 70s to the 90s, but have decreased since then, while incidents of targeted communal violence, such as lynching, have increased in recent years, and there is a lack of official data on violence from the 80s to 2014, with a significant increase in civilian casualties in the 80s and 90s, followed by a decline, as reflected in debates in the Rajya Sabha and questions asked in the Lok Sabha.
3.4 There has been a rapid increase in violence in the 80s and 90s followed by a gradual decline, and the data on violence is collected by the states and then reported by the central government.
3.5 Official data on protests and incidents in India is significantly higher than the data used by researchers, indicating that researchers may not have better data and knowledge.
3.6 The speaker presents plausible hypotheses for the driving factors behind certain trends.
25:39 📚 Despite a decline in rural violence, religious violence remains prevalent in India, with a weak correlation between population bulges and homicide rates; India has lower access to guns and ammunition compared to Latin America and Africa, a low police force per unit population, and a higher number of criminals in Parliament, but crime is not low because everyone is in jail, rather due to underinvestment in the police force and federalization of the Law and Order machine; the number of central forces has increased, reducing the Army’s role in internal security, and state presence in terms of policing has gradually increased since Independence, with the growth of private security forces.
4.1 The decline in rural violence can be attributed to a decrease in caste violence, although religious violence remains prevalent, and there is a weak correlation between population bulges in the 15 to 24 age group and homicide rates.
4.2 India has lower access to guns and ammunition compared to Latin America and Africa, and despite having a drug problem, it is not as severe as in those regions; India also has a low police force per unit population, low incarceration rates, and a higher number of criminals in Parliament.
4.3 Crime is not low because everyone is in jail, but rather because there has been a federalization of the Law and Order machine and states have severely underinvested in the police force.
4.4 The number of central forces in India has significantly increased over the years, resulting in a decline in the Army’s role in internal security.
4.5 State presence in terms of policing has gradually increased since Independence, with a 25-fold increase in area covered, the creation of new agencies and laws, and the growth of private security forces, making them the 10th largest employer in the country.
32:12 📚 The lecture discusses the absence of violence but presence of fear in India, weak oversight mechanisms and human rights violations, the role of the Armed Forces special act, the evolution of central armed police forces, the treatment of police, the need for political settlements in Kashmir and the Northeast, and the importance of state legitimacy in addressing violence.
5.1 The absence of violence does not mean the absence of fear, as exposure to threats and assaults on dignity creates uncertainty and hinders individuals’ control over themselves, and while India has weak oversight mechanisms and human rights violations in the name of national security, there has been a decline in violence due to increased state capacity, which prioritizes national security over individual civil liberties.
5.2 The lecture discusses the long-standing presence of the Armed Forces special act and its impact on national security, as well as the role of the army in counterinsurgency and the evolution of central armed police forces over three decades.
5.3 The Indian state has the capacity to manage violence, but the question is whether it chooses to do so, as seen in the case of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Rapid Action Force.
5.4 The police are treated brutally and overworked, leading to their bad behavior, and political settlements are needed to address simmering insurgencies in Kashmir and the Northeast, while police reforms are neglected.
5.5 The legitimacy of the state is crucial in addressing violence, as it depends on economic growth, inclusivity, and the government’s ability to control both the governed and itself.
5.6 The speaker concludes that they have only partially covered the first part and still have a long way to go, and requests short questions from the audience.
42:25 📚 The Indian state should control institutions like the enforcement directorate and police to address the spike in violence during the 60s and 70s, but the lack of political will and resistance from chief ministers hinder police reform efforts.
6.1 Specify the institutions the state should control, such as the enforcement directorate and police, and explain the reasons for the spike in violence during the 60s and 70s.
6.2 The political class has the power to control and politicize the internal security bureaucracy, depending on their will and the level of agency they grant them.
6.3 In rural India, social control was primarily in the hands of landlords until the 1960s when industrialization led to a decline in growth and an increase in disorder, resulting in significant changes in the country’s politics.
6.4 The police wants to reform itself, but the lack of political will and resistance from chief ministers hinder the implementation of police reforms.
6.5 Police reform models and acts are often ineffective, and the opposition only opposes extensions when it personally affects them, highlighting the lack of coordination and effectiveness in government roles.
49:24 📚 The Indian state’s focus on law and order over social cohesion, the decline in caste-based violence but not religious violence, and the federalization of security since 2014 have contributed to a system of corruption and violence, while underinvestment in public goods and prioritization of subsidies and state-owned enterprises have hindered state building.
7.1 The framing of charges in the Indian legal system is dependent on a competent prosecution team, which is often hindered by the issue of placing the right individuals in positions of power.
7.2 Why does the state prioritize converting social disorder into matters of law and order instead of focusing on building cohesion within society, and why has there been a decline in caste-based violence but not religious violence, and is there a difference in the federalization of security since 2014?
7.3 Law and Order should be the first resort to stop communal violence, but in the case of the Northeast and Kashmir, the approach has been to buy off rebel groups, leading to a system of corruption where everyone involved is making money and there is no real interest in solving the problem.
7.4 Incentives to amplify religious cleavages in Indian politics have led to an increase in violence, while the decline in past violence is not due to religious factors.
7.5 States in India have consistently chosen to underinvest in public goods such as public health, primary education, and law and order, while willingly providing massive subsidies for irrigation.
7.6 The Indian state prioritizes subsidies and state-owned enterprises over public goods, leading to federalization and a violent process of state building.
57:34 📚 The speaker discusses the problems with data on violence in India, the importance of law and order, the lack of representation of Muslims, the potential for police reform, and the neglect of district courts in resolving land disputes.
8.1 The speaker discusses the problems with data on violence in India and the relationship between maintaining law and order and civil liberties, highlighting the need for evidence of consistent bias and the prioritization of security forces before political activity, citing Mizoram and Punjab as examples, and mentions the difficulty of police reform in India but suggests that the politics of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar show the importance of law and order in electoral outcomes.
8.2 The lack of law and order negatively impacts economies, and while the social composition of the Indian state has become more representative, the representation of Muslims has not significantly increased.
8.3 The speaker discusses the changing nature of the Indian state, the potential for police reform, and the increasing militarization and surveillance capabilities of the security apparatus, raising concerns about the representation of Muslims and the potential shift towards a settler colonial logic.
8.4 Order can exist without the enforcement of law, and the use of unofficial data in the study of history is important, while the issue of incorrect reports from states to the central government in a federal system needs to be addressed.
8.5 The neglect of district courts in India has led to a lack of resolution in land disputes, resulting in the highest cause of violence in the country, and attention should be shifted towards addressing this issue rather than focusing solely on the Supreme Court and central institutions.
8.6 Violence in India can increase in the future, as seen in the case of Manipur, despite previous declines, and the speaker is uncertain about the cyclical nature of this trend.
Q1: What is the significance of CPR’s 50th anniversary and the lecture series?
A1: CPR’s 50th anniversary is a significant milestone for the institution, marking its long-standing presence and contributions to academia and research in India. The lecture series launched as part of the anniversary celebration provides a platform for scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to engage in meaningful discussions on a range of topics related to violence, order, and the state in India.
Q2: What are some of the key findings discussed in Professor Divesh Kapoor’s book on violence, order, and the state in India?
A2: Professor Divesh Kapoor’s book delves into the complexities of internal security in India and explores the role of the Indian state in managing and addressing various forms of violence. Some of the key findings discussed include:
- The book examines the various factors contributing to India’s relatively low levels of violence compared to other states in the region.
- It highlights the decline in homicide rates in India, which have decreased considerably faster than the worldwide average.
- The book also discusses the trend of declining violence over time, with a significant reduction in violence during the 1990s and 2000s, particularly in the Northeast region.
- Additionally, the book explores the implications of violence for the legitimacy of the Indian government and raises questions about the effectiveness of oversight mechanisms and human rights protections.
Q3: What are some challenges and issues associated with violence, order, and the state in India?
A3: Several challenges and issues are associated with violence, order, and the state in India, as discussed in the lecture. Some of these include:
- The presence of various forms of violence, such as insurgencies, terrorist attacks, caste, and communal violence, which pose threats to public safety and the functioning of democratic institutions.
- The need for strong oversight mechanisms and judicial forbearance to address human rights violations and ensure the protection of civil liberties.
- The lack of political will to implement police reforms and the presence of extra-judicial killings and torture as long-standing issues in India.
- The interconnectedness of violence with factors such as economic conditions, political polarization, and the growth of the private security industry.
- The challenges associated with land disputes, which often lead to rights violations and contribute to societal unrest.
Q4: How has the Indian state evolved in terms of its approach to internal security and violence?
A4: The lecture highlights the evolution of the Indian state in addressing internal security and violence. Some key points include:
- The Indian state has witnessed changes in its approaches to internal security through the enhancement of the internal security apparatus, including increased presence of central armed police forces (CAPF) and the adoption of settler colonial practices.
- The frequency of strikes in regions like Kashmir and the Northeast has increased, reflecting a transition from a postcolonial logic to a settler colonial logic.
- The lecture emphasizes concerns regarding police reform, militarization, and the expansion of CAPF forces under the urban security apparatus. This trend raises questions about the allocation of forces, the role of federal and state forces, and the rising instances of police encounters and extrajudicial killings.
- Furthermore, the lecture highlights the importance of accurate reporting from states to the central government to ensure corrective action is taken, and the need for investment in district courts and the resolution of land disputes.
These comprehensive answers cover the major topics discussed in the video transcript, providing detailed insights into CPR’s anniversary, Professor Divesh Kapoor’s book, challenges associated with violence, and the evolution of the Indian state’s approach to internal security.
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