India Border Disputes Inspires Award-Winning Research Paper

The Kashmir region of India.


A research paper investigating why bordering countries with settled borders engage in militarized conflicts earned a political science doctorate student the Jim Wintakes award for best graduate paper at the International Studies Association (ISA)-South Conference in Ashland, Va., recently.

Karthikeyan Thiagarajan, who is pursuing his doctoral degree in security studies, won the award Oct. 13 after presenting his empirical findings on territorial conflicts. The paper, titled “Why Do Bordering Countries with Settled Borders Fight?” argues that the importance, or salience, associated with the territory will increase the probability of militarized conflicts, even if the countries settled their border disputes legally. The findings from the study would add to the scientific knowledge on the past research work on territorial war and peace research.

“Settled Borders Variable, a standard measurement to quantify countries that legally settled their territorial disputes, becomes statistically insignificant with the inclusion of the Territorial Salience Variable. This new finding will be a valuable addition in exploring why countries fight militarized conflicts,” Thiagarajan said.

Hailing from India, his inspiration for the research came from frequent militarized confrontations between India and Pakistan, and also between other Asian countries in the region. He said recurrent militarized tensions between India and its neighbors motivated his research.

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