Fighting Maoist violence with promises: Evidence from India’s Employment Guarantee Scheme

Gaurav Khanna, Laura Zimmermann


The Indian state faces a substantial internal security threat in the form of a Maoist insurgency, but decades of relying predominantly on military strength have not been a successful strategy for resolving the conflict. Recently, there has been a growing interest in whether anti-poverty programs can increase the effectiveness of the government forces by improving the relationship between citizens and the state and making civilians more willing to share information on insurgents. A prime candidate for such a program is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the world’s largest public-works program. We find that the introduction of NREGS leads to an increase in violence in the short run that is driven by police-initiated attacks, and an increase in the number of captured Maoists. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that civilians assist the police because of NREGS, and suggest that the role of civilians in internal conflicts should not be ignored.

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