Hindu Muslim Violence And India

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Civil violence, often representing ethnic, religious or racial conflict has been rising through the past half-century (Gleditsch et al. 2002), but we still have only a limited understanding of its causes. While there is considerable evidence that the outbreak of civil conflict results from poverty (e.g. Miguel et al. 2004; Bohlken and Sergenti 2010; Do and Iyer, 2010), the evidence on other potential causes including the importance of social divisions and political grievances is more controversial (Blattman and Miguel, 2010: p.45). This paper examines Hindu-Muslim violence in India. Muslims constitute India’s largest religious minority, and the observed patterns of Hindu-Muslim violence suggest that Muslims are more likely to have been the victims of such violence (Mitra and Ray, 2010). Since Muslims are also under-represented in elected office (constituting only 5% of members in the national legislature in 2009, down from nearly 9% in 1980), we investigate whether increasing Muslim political representation lowers the incidence of religious conflict. We put together unique data on both the religious identity of politicians and religious conflict for the period 1960-2007, merged at the state and the district level. We account for the potential endogeneity of Muslim representation by instrumenting the share of Muslim legislators with the share of Muslim legislators who win in close elections against Hindus (a strategy similar to that implemented by Lee, 2001 and Clots-Figuer
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