After four years of work and many unexpected twists and turns, I finally defended my dissertation on Muslim politics in North India last week and subsequently received the title of Dr. phil. (graded very good / magna cum laude). The dissertation consists of five refereed articles, a reprint, two published datasets and an overview essay that links them all together (the latter is published here):

In last week's post, I began to introduce Lucknow's real estate market in an attempt to unearth the story behind the city's residential segregation along religious lines. I have shown where Muslims achieve higher and where lower prices than non-Muslims for comparable property (importantly, as one commentator pointed out by email, adopting a seller's perspective -- for sellers, higher prices are good, while for buyers, lower ones would be. I am currently wrapping my head around how this impacts my findings). Today, I want to volunteer one explanation for why this price difference (still firmly from a sellers perspective) might be as it is: it has to do with social networks and proximity - and with the uneven opportunities in colluding with the "actually existing state".

In the interest of transparency and accountability, I want to start today's blog with a confession. A good week ago, I broke the model code of conduct for the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. I did so for my own petty financial benefit, and in cooperation with - in fact instigated by - an assistant manager of a large private-sector bank. Travelling in a humble three-wheeled conveyance to avoid being searched by one of the many police teams on election deputation (who tend to concentrate on wannabe politicians' window-tainted, over-speeding, and seriously-honk-endowed SUVs), I transported a large amount of cash along the width and breadth of Lucknow - without enclosing the officially required, duly signed, stamped, and authorized authorization from the authorities. To my defence, I can say no more than that I intended to use said cash as the minimum required opening balance for my domestic savings account. I know this might sound like a lame excuse, though. The only option left to me now is to at least put this episode to good use ex post - by reflecting upon the complexities of corruption in today's blog. Food for thought: