Colloquium: Studying Last-Mile Welfare in the Districts of India

2021 Jan 29, Friday

About the Lecture

Using official statistics, welfare registers and ethnographic material collected from the implementation of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) from six districts across Indian States over time, the lecture will explain under what conditions the capacity of last mile bureaucracy matters for the performance of pro-poor welfare programs in the Indian federal polity.  Challenging the conventional thesis that only a strong- autonomous state succeeds in implementing welfare programs, the lecture emphasizes that effective policy implementation can occur within the peculiar environment of relatively low-capacity last mile bureaucracies even in the face of adverse socioeconomic circumstances. In short, the lecture shifts attention to the understudied relationship between the capacity of last mile bureaucracy and welfare outcomes in India.


About the Speaker

Ashwani Kumar is professor and policy researcher at the Center for Policy, Habitat & Human Development, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai). He is the author of ‘Community Warriors: State, Peasants & Private Caste Armies in Bihar’, one of the chief editors of ‘Global Civil Society: Poverty & Activism’ @ London School of Economics, and co-editor of ‘Migrants, Mobility & Citizenship in India (forthcoming Routledge 2021).  He has served as a Member of ‘Central Employment Guarantee Council’ (CEGC) and also monitored implementation of NREGA in more than 30 districts of across several states in India.  He obtained his Ph.D. in political science from University of Oklahoma.