Insecure Peace

Understanding Citizen and Local Government Relations in a Maoist-Affected Region in India

Author: Hyun Mee Kim | Shinhye Park | and Ariun Shukhertei

Abstract:

This paper examines emerging citizen and local government relations in a village in the Junglemahal region of the state of West Bengal, long a site of Maoist violence in India. Since 2014, Junglemahal has not experienced a single Maoist-related incident. This has been widely attributed to the West Bengal government's "model" handling of the insurgency, which rests on the rapid mobilization of public services through the non-elected arms of local governments, bypassing elected officials. How have Junglemahal's residents experienced this particular form of post-conflict governance? Drawing on a culture-centered approach, our findings indicate that the hyper-developmental state was paradoxically experienced by our respondents as a very distant entity. A recurrent theme in our interviews is the absence of a locally embedded party leadership that could be approached regarding issues of distributive justice. We argue that this desire for party mediation in public service delivery is an expression of a powerful social norm that has survived the pre-conflict period and ought to be integrated into post-conflict governance structures if the current peace is to endure.


Regions: South Asia
Countries: India

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