PSCI 4420: South Asian Politics

Spring 2007, Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University

Instructor: Mahendra Lawoti

Class Room: Dunbar 2209, Class Hours: 3:30-4:45 Tuesdays and Thursdays

Office: 3408 Friedmann, Office Hours: 2:15-3:15 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 5:15-6:15 PM on Mondays; Email:; Telephone: 387-5702



Course Overview

This course will survey major issues relevant to politics and policies in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  The first part of the discussion for each country will survey political background.  It will cover government structures, political actors and their strategies, and social composition and dynamics as they affect politics and policies.  We will specifically analyze political culture and heritage, political institutions and government processes, political parties and political leaders, and groups and multiple demands on the system.  The second part will look into policy issues and political ramifications.  We will critically analyze authoritarianism and democratization, conflicts and mediation, and modernization and development, among other issues.  We will focus on salient political features of each country.  We will discuss consolidation of democracy and conflict management in India, persistence of authoritarianism in Pakistan, the failure of democracy and the Maoist Insurgency in Nepal, ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, and the role of NGOs in Bangladesh. 




Baxter, Craig, Yogendra K Malik, Charles H Kennedy, and Robert C. Oberst.  2002, fifth edition, Government and Politics in South Asia, Westview Press; here after Baxter et al.

Kohli, Atul, ed. 2001.  The Success of India’s Democracy, Cambridge University Press; here after Kohli, ISBN: 052-180-5309


Some articles and book chapters are available on e reserve and online.



You are required to buy the textbooks.  You should do the corresponding readings before each lecture.  Lecture will not simply restate or summarize the information in the readings.  It will complement the readings.  Mastery over both lecture materials and readings are required for doing well in the course.  Students should come to class prepared to discuss the readings.  The class will be held in a seminar style through discussions.  If you have not read the assigned readings, you may not benefit from the class.  All students are expected to debate points in the literature, ask thoughtful and informed questions, and/or provide appropriate examples and counter examples of the issues discussed based on their own experience and understanding of issues.  Students must take part in discussions to do well in this part of the grade.

Twice during the semester, each student will participate on two presentations on a country.  A group of two or three will be formed early in the semester for each country presentation. You may present anything that is of interest to you on the country.  The presentations should go beyond summarizing the readings.  They should take our discussions to the next level in the class.  For example, it could be a presentation on political leaders, political parties, particular conflicts or other things that interest you.  You may make individual presentation or as a group.  If you make individual presentations, please coordinate so that same issues are not repeated.     

A term paper is required for the class.  It should be around 15 pages long, double spaced.  You must footnote/endnote/refer sources you use.  All papers must contain a bibliography.  Students are free to use any of the several standard formats for reference, footnotes, or endnotes, so long as they are consistent within the paper.  Include all the information a reader would need to locate the source of your information (i.e. the title, author, and the date of source, paper numbers, publisher’s name and location if it is a book, and issue number if it is a journal). 

            An outline of the term paper is due on March 15.  It should be a page or two long.  In the outline you should mention the issue you are going to deal with, a research question, and a plan of the paper (how you are going to answer the research question). I expect you to have done some preliminary research while preparing the outline.  Some tentative reference should be cited in the outline. I will provide comments on the outlines.  The outlines will not be graded- the idea is to help you in the process.

            Your paper will be graded on the directness and clarity of writing style, quality of your research, reasoning, argumentation, and support you provide to your arguments.  Students are strongly encouraged to see me during my office hours or other agreed upon time to discuss the term paper.  The term paper is due on April 20.

            Two exams will be taken: the first on February 22 and the final on April 23.  The exams will be combinations of long and short essay questions.



Two exams: 2x25= 50

Term paper: 30 (25+5: paper + presentation)

Participation: 10

Country Presentations: 10


Grade scale: 92 and above = A; 85-91 = BA; 78-84 = B; 71-77 = CB; 64-70 = C; 57-63 = DC; 50-56 = D; below 50 =E


A Note on Academic Integrity

Western Michigan University’s Undergraduate Catalog defines plagiarism as “intentionally, knowingly or carelessly representing the words or ideas of another person as one’s own.”  The catalog discusses numerous issues of academic honesty in considerable detail. You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate Catalog (pp. 271-272) that pertain to Academic Integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.  Each student is responsible ensuring that they have referred the proper authors or sources in their work.  Ignorance of the rules in the Undergraduate Catalog will not be accepted as an excuse.  The minimum penalty for plagiarism or cheating is a failing grade in the class.





Week 1, Jan 9 and 11: Introduction

January 9

Class Introduction: Democracy, Development, and Conflict in South Asia


January 11

Baxter et al, 2002. “Introduction,” “The Governance of South Asia under the British,” introduction and chapter 1 in Government and Politics in South Asia, p. 1-18

Kohli, Atul, 2001. “Introduction,” chapter 1 in The Success of India’s Democracy, edited by Atul Kohli, Cambridge University Press, p.1-19



Week 2, Jan 16 and 18: Government and Society

January 16

Baxter et al., 2002. “Political Culture and Heritage,” chapter 2 in Government and Politics in South Asia, p. 21-54

Kohli, Atul, 2001.  “Indian Democracy: the Historical Inheritance,” chapter 2 in The Success of India’s Democracy, edited by Atul Kohli, Cambridge University Press, p. 23-46


January 18

Baxter et al., 2002.  “Political Institutions and Government Processes,” “Political Parties and Political Leaders,” “Groups and Multiple Demands on the System,” chapters 3, 4 and 5 in Government and Politics in South Asia, p. 55-147


Week 3, January 23 & 25: Political Institutions and Democratic Consolidation  

January 23

Dasgupta, Jyotrinda. 2001. “India’s federal design and multicultural national Construction,” chapter 3 in The Success of India’s Democracy, edited by Atul Kohli, Cambridge University Press, 49-77

Manor, James. 2001. “Center-State relations,” chapter 4 in The Success of India’s Democracy, edited by Atul Kohli, Cambridge University Press, 78-102

Mitra, Subrata K. 2001. “Making local government work: local elites, panchayati raj and governance in India,” chapter 5 in The Success of India’s Democracy, edited by Atul Kohli, Cambridge University Press, 103-126


January 25: FILM

Gandhi, second part


Week 4, January 30 and February 1: Caste, Hindu Nationalism, and Kashmir

January 30

Weiner, Myron. 2001. “The Struggle for equality: caste in Indian Politics,” chapter 8 in The Success of India’s Democracy, edited by Atul Kohli, Cambridge University Press,193-225

Basu, Amrita. 2001. “The dialectics of Hindu Nationalism,” chapter 7 in The Success of India’s Democracy, edited by Atul Kohli, Cambridge University Press, 163-189

Ganguly, Sumit. Autumn, 1996. “Explaining the Kashmir Insurgency: Political Mobilization and Institutional Decay,” International Security, 76-107, available at


February 1

Presentation on India




Week 5, February 6 & 8: Government and Society

February 6

Baxter et al., 2002.  “Political Culture and Heritage,” “Government Structure,” and Conflict and Mediation,” chapters 8, 9, and 11 in Government and Politics in South Asia, p. 171-194, 215-223


February 8: FILM

India-Pakistan: The Expanding Nuclear Threat, DVD DS 3


Week 6, February 13 and 15: Authoritarianism

February 13

Jayal, Ayesha.  1995.  Various Selections, pages 48-65, 77-85, 100-120 from chapters 2 and 3, Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia. Cambridge University Press


February 15

Presentations on Pakistan




Week 7, February 20 and 22: History and Society

February 20

Bista, Dor Bahadur. 1990. “Introduction, The General Background, The Caste System in Nepal, and Values and Personality Factors,” chapters 1, 2 and 4 and introduction, in Fatalism and Development: Nepal’s Struggle for Modernization, p. 1-60, 77-100, available on e reserve


February 22

MID TERM EXAM (India and Pakistan)


Week 8, February 27 and March 1: The Maoist Insurgency

February 27

Lawoti, Mahendra. 2005. “Exclusion and Violent Conflicts in Nepal: The Maoist Insurgency and Beyond,” in Towards a Democratic Nepal: Inclusive Political Institutions for a Multicultural Society, Sage Publications: 38-84, available on e reserve

Deraniyagala, Sonali. 2005. “The Political Economy of Civil Conflict in Nepal,” Oxford Development Studies 33(1): 47-62, available ONLINE


March 1: FILM

The Killing Terraces


Week 9, March 6 and 8: SPRING BREAK


Week 10, March 13 and 15: Politics and Development

March 13

Devendra Raj Panday, 1999. “Development Performance,” chapter 2 in Nepal’s Failed Development: Reflections on the Mission and the Maladies, Kathmandu, Nepal South Asia Center, p. 34-94

Lawoti, Mahendra. 2006, Draft. The Centralized Polity and Multiple Conflicts and Crises in Nepal: The Maoist Insurgency, Ethnic Conflict, and Governance Problems, 1990-2002, East-West Center Washington Policy Monograph


March 15



Week 11, March 20 and 22

March 20

Presentations on Nepal




March 22: Government and Society

Baxter et al., 2002. “Political Culture and Heritage,” “Governmental Structure,” “Political Parties and Interest Groups,” “The Search for Prosperity,” “Modernization and Development,” chapters 19-21, 23, 24 in Government and Politics in South Asia, p. 325-368, 375-387


Week 12, March 27 and 29: The Tamil-Sinhalese Conflict

March 27

Baxter et al., 2002. “Conflict Mediation: Ethnic Conflict and War,” chapter 22 in Government and Politics in South Asia, p. 369-374

DeVotta, Neil. 2005. “From ethnic outbidding to ethnic conflict: the institutional bases for Sri Lanka’s separatist war,” Nations and Nationalism 11(1): 141-159, available ONLINE


March 29

Presentations on Sri Lanka




Week 13, April 3 and 5: Government and Society

April 3

Baxter et al., 2002.  “Political Culture and Heritage,” “Government Institutions,” “Election, Parties, and Interest Groups,” “Conflicts and Resolution,” chapters 14-17, p. 251-312


April 5: FILM

The Women’s Bank of Bangladesh, V6376


Week 14, April 10 & 12: Civil Society and Development

April 10

Baxter et al., 2002. “Modernization and Development: Prospects and Problems,” chapter 18, in Government and Politics in South Asia, p. 313-321

Yunus, Muhammad.  1996.  “The Grameen Bank: Rural Credit in Bangladesh,” in Reasons for Hope: Instructive Experience in Rural Development, edited by Anirudh Krishna, Norman Uphoff, and Milton Esman, Kumarian Press, p. 9-24

Abed, E. H. and A. M. R. Chowdhury.  1996.  “The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee: How BRAC learned to Meet Rural Peoples’ Needs through Local Action,” in Reasons for Hope: Instructive Experience in Rural Development, edited by Anirudh Krishna, Norman Uphoff, and Milton Esman, Kumarian Press, p. 41-56


April 12: NO CLASS

Mid West Political Science Conference


Week 15, April 17 & 19: Presentations

April 17: Presentations on Bangladesh


April 19

Term Paper Presentations


Term paper due: April 20


Week 16, April 24-26: Exam week


Final Exam- Monday, April 23, 12:30-2:30 PM