Renewable Resource Shocks and Conflict in India’s Maoist BeltFebruary 25, 2013 By Maria Prebble
India’s Maoist (or “Naxalite”) insurgency has resulted in more than 9,000 deaths in the last decade and famously been called the country’s “single biggest internal security challenge” by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In, Renewable Resource Shocks and Conflict in India’s Maoist Belt, a working paper for the Center for Global Development, Devesh Kapur, Kishore Gawande, and Shanker Satyanth present their econometric analysis of the conflict and suggest that there is a link with natural resource depletion.
Kapur et al. conclude that negative resource shocks in the “Maoist belt,” such as periods of decreased rainfall, have a “robust, significant association with the intensity of the conflict” because they decrease the opportunity costs of joining the insurgency. They compared vegetation density to the intensity of the conflict measured in number of deaths. Based on data collected over seven years, the report’s initial results indicate that a one standard-deviation decrease in local vegetation density “increases killings by 12.5 percent contemporaneously, 9.7 perfect after a year, and 42.2 percent after two years.”
To alleviate the economic stresses imposed by resource shocks, the authors recommend granting local communities greater accessibility to national forests, as was ostensibly permitted through the Recognition of Forest Rights Act of 2006, and making more effort to ensure they are included in government-funded insurance schemes, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
Sources: Center for Global Development, Eurasia Review, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Project Ploughshares.
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