Democracy in India [with Pradeep Chhibber and Irfan Nooruddin; forthcoming with Cambridge University Press]

A survey of empirical social science literature on India that covers topics from party politics, federalism, the bureaucracy, to public goods provision.


Jassal, Nirvikar. 2020. Gender, Law Enforcement, and Access to Justice: Evidence from All-Women Police Stations in India.” American Political Science Review 114 (4): 1035–54.

Jassal, Nirvikar. 2020. "Segregation as Efficiency? Group-Specific Institutions in North India." Journal of Asian Studies, forthcoming.

Jassal, Nirvikar and Hanif Qureshi. 2021. “Riots & Rapid Action: The Special Wing of the Central Reserve Police.” Amit Ahuja and Devesh Kapur (Eds.), Internal Security in India (forthcoming with Oxford University Press).

Jassal, Nirvikar, and Pradeep Chhibber. 2019. “Crises of Institutional Legitimacy and Gender.” Asian Survey 59 (1): 85–97.

Chhibber, Pradeep, and Nirvikar Jassal. 2018. “The BJP, Economic Reform, and Contentious Politics.” Asian Survey 58 (1): 86–99.


Do Female Officers Affect Police Legitimacy? Experimental Evidence from India [with Sharon Barnhardt]

Several nations have established gender quotas partly based on the intuition that, because women are generally rated higher on measures of fairness and trust, their presence will positively affect institutional legitimacy. We theorize that the link between representation and perceived legitimacy is moderated by the roles women are seen to perform within an organization. We test this in the context of Indian law enforcement using a large-scale survey and a novel video-based experiment -- one of the few on police legitimacy outside the United States. Consistent with our expectations, we find that context matters. We find policewomen are seen as more legitimate when tackling non-gendered cases compared to gendered crimes - especially by other women. The findings contribute to scholarship on gender and the conditions under which representation can improve trust in public officials.

Policing and Violence Against Women: Gendered Patterns in the Disbursal of Cases in India

How and why women are marginalized within public agencies remains understudied. Using original micro-level data on crime in India, I highlight the patterns of exclusion faced by women in law enforcement. By classifying India's Penal Code, I demonstrate that women are tasked with specific cases, especially 'non-heinous' gendered crimes that the bureaucracy prefers to address informally. Because policewomen are tasked with---rather than self-select into---arbitrating sexual- or dowry-harassment, they are impeded from serving in cases seen as high-prestige, including investigating murder and rape. Nevertheless, female supervisors are able to mitigate such occupational segregation; they are more likely to allocate policewomen diverse tasks, and they play a causal role in assigning female investigators more cases. I argue that without an equitable division of labor or female leadership, a 'representative bureaucracy' may not translate into an egalitarian institution because newly represented groups may simply be pushed toward tasks seen as low-prestige.

On-Going Projects

Do Cops Discriminate? An Experiment with Indian Police Officers (in collaboration with the Haryana Police)

Representation and Policing: A Text-as-Data Study of Crime in India

Does Ethnic Representation in Law Enforcement Affect Hate-Crime? Evidence from Policing in India