I am an Assistant Professor in Political Science, at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, and also part of the Graduate Faculty at the University of Toronto, St. George. I am a Faculty Associate at the Center for South Asian Studies, Asian Institute, Munk School, University of Toronto.

In 2018-19, I was a Visiting Fellow at the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame. https://www.facebook.com/krocinstitute/posts/10156332243510325

Research interests:

I work on political violence and conflict in India, and do research on insurgencies in South Asia, particularly focusing on the Maoist insurgency in India. I also have an interest in state formation, legacies of colonial institutions, and other types of political violence in South Asia.

I did my PhD in political science at Yale University. My dissertation is on the Maoist insurgency in India, and uses data gathered during field work, archival data and quantitative analysis of sub national datasets to demonstrate that colonial institutions  of indirect rule selected by the British set up the structural conditions for post colonial insurgency through path dependent mechanisms.


Under graduate: I teach courses on Politics of South Asia, and Civil Wars, Terrorism and Insurgency at the undergraduate level at University of Toronto, Mississauga.

Graduate: I  teach courses on Qualitative Methods and Research Design to PhD students in political science, and a course on Civil War and Political Violence at the Graduate level at the University of Toronto, St. George.

Current Project: Historical Legacies of Conflict

Book Manuscript: Colonial Legacies of Indirect Rule: Maoist conflict in India

I am currently working on a book manuscript on the colonial legacies of British indirect rule and how this set up structural conditions for Maoist Insurgency in India. It tries to address the puzzle of why the Maoist insurgency is located along the central eastern corridor of India, and not in other areas? I theorize that different forms of colonial indirect rule create structural conditions of weak state capacity, and ethnic grievances due to land and natural resource extraction, which are exploited by Maoist rebels to consolidate rebel control in these areas. The book uses a nested analysis research design and focuses on the states of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, nested within an all India quantitative analysis. Other cases like indirect rule in Pakistan and Burma are also studied.

"Colonial Origins of Maoist Insurgency in India", Journal of Conflict Resolution, 62 (10), 2018: An article based on this research is published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution (https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002717727818), which does quantitative analysis of a district level dataset to show that different forms of indirect rule through princely states, and indirect revenue collection through landlords, created structural conditions for Maoist insurgency in India. In this article, I develop a new instrument for the British choice of indirect rule, based on wars in Europe which are exogenous to politics in India, and do IV2SLS analysis to address the issue of selection bias.
  • Awarded an 'Honorable Mention' for the Mary Parker Follett Best Article Award, Politics and History Section, APSA 2019
"Historical Legacies of colonial indirect rule: Princely states and Maoist insurgency in Central India", World Development, Volume 111, November 2018, Pages 113-129 (see https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.06.013)
This article uses a novel sub district dataset from the state of Chhattisgarh, and combines process tracing and quantitative analysis to show that areas previously under princely states in central India, tended to have Maoist conflict later. It uses an instrument based on random death of ruler during Lord Dalhousie's doctrine of lapse policy (1847-58) for the British choice of indirect rule, to address potential selection effects.

Future projects:

Sons of the soil, land conflict, and insurgency:

This project is on sons of the soil insurgencies, which are a type of ethnic insurgency in which indigenous or native sons of the soil staying in a particular region, develop grievances due to exploitation of resources and job opportunities by outsiders (Weiner 1978). The larger project will focus on variation in sons of the soil conflicts in South Asia. Below are some articles on this topic:

“Why are the Longest Insurgencies Low Violence? Politician Motivations, Sons of the Soil and Civil War Duration”. Civil Wars, Volume 16, Issue 2, 2014. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13698249.2014.927702 
There is a puzzle yet unanswered by theorists of civil war – why are the longest insurgencies low levels of violence? I argue that medium capacity states with multiple insurgencies tend to choose a counter insurgency strategy of containment vis-a-vis peripheral sons of the soil insurgencies, causing them to become stalemated low scale conflicts. The theory is tested on the Fearon (2004) data-set, and shows that those medium capacity states with multiple conflicts and sons of the soil insurgencies tend to have these low intensity long lasting insurgencies.

Colonial legacies of indirect rule and sons of the soil insurgency: In another manuscript, I argue that colonial legacies of indirect rule lead to migration and land revenue exploitation and these persist through power based path dependence (Mahoney 2000) causing tribal sons of the soil grievances that are then exploited by leftist rebel groups. I study the case of the Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh in India. There are two main contributions of this article going beyond previous studies on SoS conflicts like Weiner (1978) and Fearon & Laitin (2011). The first is to show that colonial legacies matter to explain sons of the soil conflicts, and the second is to show that it is not just immigration but also exploitation of land revenue that leads to sons of the soil conflict (Boone 2017).

Insurgency and counter insurgency in South Asia:
I have also written some chapters on insurgencies in South Asia in the Oxford Handbook of South Asian Security and Routledge Handbook of Asian Security. These outline the histories of insurgencies in India, and what were their proximate and deeper structural causes.