Friday, February 4, 2011


From Nitin’s new fortnightly column in DNA: 
  • Dilip Rao, a blogger at Law and Other Things, found a Freakonomics-like correlation between birth rates and terrorism in some states. He notes that a spurt in birth rates in the early 1970s in Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir meant that there was a youth bulge available in the 1980s to answer the separatists’ call. We can trace back the rise of terrorist violence in these states to Operation Blue Star or the rigged 1987 state election, we can prove that Pakistan used these conflicts to conduct proxy war, but Heinsohn goes to the extreme to argue that the cause itself is immaterial - if there is a youth bulge, it will be accompanied by violence. 

  • While these studies do not indicate or claim a definitive causal link, the data are sufficient for us to regard youth bulge violence as a long-term risk to national security. Going by the National Commission on Population’s projections to the year 2026, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi will experience a net increase in young people. The 15-24 cohort will grow in Bihar, Assam, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Gujarat. States that cannot both reduce grievances and create enough opportunities are likely to get into trouble. 

  • The best way to minimise grievances is not by pandering to them individually, but by delivering overall good governance. The politics of entitlement that the UPA government seeks to make respectable under the veneer of “inclusive growth” breeds more grievances for every entitlement. These are already expressed through the idiom of competitive intolerance and coercive violence. While they must be rolled back, those politically opposed to the Congress must do so without themselves creating and appealing to grievances.

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