Droughts and local conflicts in India: a case study approach

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The drought-conflict link has been studied before; however, inconclusive results indicate more research is necessary to understand this relationship. In this thesis the relationship between droughts and political violence is studied in India. As the literature indicated that the drought-conflict link is context dependent, I chose to do a single case study. This way I could include the sociopolitical context as well. I identified a causal mechanism from the literature connecting droughts to different forms of political violence. Using process-tracing this mechanism was tested in drought-affected regions in India. The results indicate that inadequate water governance at the state level, coupled with substandard water infrastructure, exacerbated water scarcities, thereby increasing the likelihood of protests and riots in areas hit by drought. In addition, inadequate water governance in drought-affected areas increased the likelihood of communal violence. However, the influence of water infrastructure on the incidence of communal violence was not definitive, and no evidence was found to suggest that water-related grievances played a role in such conflicts. Implications for India’s water governance and infrastructure are discussed based on the findings.
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