Acharya, Mahesh, and Gang Guo. 2024. “Political Trust in South Asia.” Asian Survey Pdf 

This study examines relative trust in national versus local institutions in South Asia using a tripartite framework that combines performance and culture with religious identity to explain the three categories of relative trust that correspond to individuals whose trust in national institutions is stronger than, equal to, or weaker than their trust in local institutions. In particular, religious minorities in South Asia are often discriminated against at the national level but tend to cluster in local communities, which erodes trust in national institutions but not necessarily that in local institutions. The empirical analysis of two waves of South Asian Barometer surveys eight years apart produced consistent results which suggest that the religious segregation and discrimination in South Asian countries tilt relative trust patterns among religious minorities in favor of local institutions at the expense of national ones. 

Book Chapter

Acharya, Mahesh (2017). 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship: Road to Review. In P. Jaiswal (Ed.) Revisiting Nepal’s Foreign Policy in Contemporary Global Power Structure (p.65-78) New Delhi: G.B.Books. Pdf

After much wrangling for decades, Nepal and India have finally spearheaded in the direction to revise officially perhaps the most controversial treaty between them. Kathmandu and New Delhi have constituted a joint Eminent Persons Group (EPG) in early 2016 to review the past treaties and agreements and submit recommendations to the respective governments so that they befit the current realities. The Indo-Nepalese Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed in 1950 which has been a perennial irritant from the early years of its inception, is undoubtedly the major agenda on the table. There would be hardly disagreement that it could be a good starting point in the direction to quell the deeply ingrained mutual distrust but much will depend on the political will of both the capitals as the recommendations of EPG will not be obligatory. The chapter examines the different facets of the Treaty which both the parties see the need to review, and explores the reasons that held New Delhi and Kathmandu back for a whopping sixty-seven years to traverse the road to the review.

Working papers 

“ ‘Mark My Words’: Measuring Personality of Global Leaders.” Pdf (JMP)

Awarded Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant 2022,  National Science Foundation's fund via American Political Science Association (APSA)

This essay introduces an alternative method to measure the personality traits of global leaders from their speeches using recent computational advances. It enables scholars to make wide-ranging cross-national comparisons that have not been possible hitherto, adding value to the extant works, which are mostly US-centric, rely on expert ratings, and are designed for specific tasks only. Scholars firmly believe that socially relevant and salient personal characteristics are encoded in the natural language. Based on this fundamental idea, this work uses a machine learning algorithm to estimate personality scores on the framework of cross-culturally validated ‘Big Five’ that is described in terms of five dispositional traits–openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability. The availability of personality estimates of the world leaders from the speeches they delivered at the annual jamboree of the United Nations General Assembly from 1946 to 2022 opens several research avenues to test the substantive implication of leader personality on her policy decisions. I also validate my findings with spontaneous forms of speeches that are believed to be more representative of a speaker’s personality, giving confidence to the scholars in using widely available public statements to perform the tasks at hand. In a substantive application to International Relations, I show that personality traits are linked with risk-taking behavior, and find that the leaders scoring more on Extraversion and less on Agreeableness have a higher propensity to use military force abroad.

“UN Demands on Civil War: Do Governments of Democracies Comply More?" Pdf (in progress)

Systematic study about warring parties' compliance with the demands of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is relatively new in the intrastate literature. The availability of a new compliance dataset has opened an avenue to further such studies and in one of such attempts, this paper examines the potential impact of regime types on the compliance of UNSC's demands. The governments of civil war-ridden democratic states are more likely to display a higher level of compliance with the relevant demands issued by the UNSC in comparison to their non-democratic counterparts. This paper also finds that multidimensional peacekeeping operation is significantly associated with the state's propensity to comply than the traditional peacekeeping--a finding which also reaffirms the effectiveness of the former as argued in most of the past works. The power play between the permanent five members and the ensuing dissonance inside the UNSC, contrary to the author's expectation, is found to increase compliance. 

“Approval and Legacy: Modi Mantra of Invoking Dead Leaders.” 

Leaders often invoke their dead party leaders or other political figures with popular and stronger historical legacy in their speeches. Though it seems to be a common phenomenon in global politics, the impact of such invocation has been under-studied. In line with recent work on Argentinian socialist leader Peron, we examine the speeches of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to analyze his frequent invocation of dead leaders--especially Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Our preliminary observations point toward an increasing trend of Modi invoking Patel when his approval ratings are sliding. Though Modi is one of the most consistent global leaders who commands high approval ratings, the availability of a granular dataset at a weekly level has enabled us to parse out the variations.  Vallabhbhai Patel, a historical figure associated with the Indian National Congress (the main opponent of Modi's party BJP), is widely admired for his role in bringing all the independent princely states under united India after British rule ended. Patel who hails from Gujarat--the home state of Modi, is portrayed by historians as one of the founding fathers of independent India who had softer stances towards Hindu nationalists as opposed to the first Indian PM Jawahar Lal Nehru. 

“Populist Personality: Evidence from Text Analysis.” 

Populist leaders look distinctly different from their mainstream counterparts. Past works exploring this variation point in two different directions. One strand demonstrates the populist posture as a strategic tool to capitalize on the anti-establishment sentiment for electoral benefits. The other strand however posits that the personality of populist leaders determines their posture and the policy they undertake. This strand either examines a limited number of text related to populist leaders or rely on experts' subjective ratings to reach conclusions about the populist personality. Improving upon the latter school of thought, I use recent advances in computational methods and the rich research in the field of psychology linking speeches and individual personality to examine populist personalities.  I find populist leaders, on average, score significantly higher on extraversion, and lower on emotional stability compared to non-populist leaders providing support to the past evidence of populist leader's excitement-seeking nature, verbosity, and impulsivity. Populist leaders, on average, also are found to have a more negative tone in their speeches. This finding is in line with the established narrative in populism literature which portrays populist leaders as 'drunken dinner guests' because of their negative and hardened tone in debate, and use of offensive language against the opponents. Even a cursory look at populist speeches also indicates the people-centrism tenet of populism as demonstrated by the higher usage of the term 'people'  relative to non-populist. 

“It’s not just the gender!: Personality of Women leaders and Foreign Policy.” (with Elaine Tagert, University of Mississippi). 

Two competing camps are prominent as to how the gender of a leader could play a role in foreign policy outcomes. The first camp prioritising bio-evolutionary factors and social norms sees women leaders as pacifist (or dovish). On the contrary, the second school of thought argues that women leaders tend to be hawkish as they are under more pressure to counter gender stereotypes and to avoid punishment from the domestic electorate. Amid these contrarian beliefs, we argue that the personality traits of women leaders (yes, male leaders too) would play a significant role in determining the path they traverse in terms of foreign policy. This approach would also explain the variation within the women leaders' foreign policy directions. With the help of a novel dataset on leader personality traits approximated from their speeches using recent Natural Language Processing (NLP) methods, we report our preliminary findings. Women leaders who are deemed as hawks score higher on Openness(to action), and less on Emotional Stability (and hence more impulsivity). 

“Populist Attitudes and Political Participation: Evidence from South-East Asia.” (in progress)

This work contributes to the literature on populism by highlighting the unexplored association between populist attitudes and the modes of political participation. It does so in the Asian region which has got less academic attention vis-à-vis populism hitherto. Whatever the existing works are, they are primarily focused on the supply side (leaders/parties) of populism. Contrary to that dominant tendency, I explore the populist attitudes of people in Asia i.e., the demand side. My assessment of datasets from the Asian Barometer Survey Wave 4 (2014-16) covering a dozen countries demonstrates that almost all the components of populist attitudes, except the one related to people’s will, significantly affect the likelihood of participation in protests. Populist attitudes that are reflective of anti-liberal and anti-establishment sentiments as well as the perception that the ruling section is widely corrupt seem to increase the propensity to protest.