Militarised Authoritarian State and Informal Institutions: Zulm and Rasookh in Downtown Srinagar

Touseef Y. Mir


Kashmir is in a situation of protracted conflict. The paper offers an examination of daily life in the downtown of Srinagar, the region's capital.  The conceptual focus is on the role of informal institutions, here defined as ordered patterns of behavior, in this setting.  A particular concern with how these informal institutions explains how the different residents make sense of the generalized condition of what they term zulmZulm refers to the experience of living with, enduring, and engaging with the administration of the militarized authoritarian Indian state, and can be disaggregated into a series of informal institutions deployed by citizens of downtown Srinagar.  Based on the ethnographic fieldwork, the paper looks at how differently situated individuals use these institutions – often in the form of networks, economic relationships, connections – to challenge and sustain relations with state structures.  The particular focus is given to the informal institution of rasookh. This thesis makes a contribution to the neo- institutionalist debate within conflict studies by drawing on the social side of the informal institutions. It also contributes to the regional studies literature on South Asia by documenting at close quarters the experience of protracted conflict in Kashmir. 


Informal institutions; Neo-institutionalism; Kashmir; conflict; south Asia; Zulm; rasookh

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Journal of South Asian Studies
ISSN: 2307-4000 (Online), 2308-7846 (Print)
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