Foreword by Jean Drèze
About the book
There is a wide diversity in the provision of public services in India. In some states one can go miles without seeing a functional school or public health centre, where roads are poorly maintained, and electricity has not yet been introduced. In contrast, a few states provide public services to all efficiently. This book discusses how Tamil Nadu, one of the remarkable states, developed its social commitment to delivering services effectively.
The author traces the commitment to incessant public action, which started in the 1970s. Unlike the great social movements, such as the Dravidian movement, this form of public action is decentralized and initiated within villages. Since the seventies, people have taken action when services are not available or functional and thus create pressure on the government to deliver. Unlike in the past, traditionally oppressed communities are now able to engage in action, forcing those in positions of power to ensure that basic services are socially accessible to all.
The culture of protest is in-turn explained by crucial socio-political transformations that improved common people’s ability to engage in action. The author argues that similar changes took place in Kerala, but a few decades earlier. Such changes are now happening in other parts of India, including the Hindi belt, which can help us understand the improvements in public service delivery in states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh.
to read a series of short articles that outline the key themes of the book.
About the author
is a social scientist working with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. In the past, he coordinated the support group of India's Right to Food Campaign. He blogs at http://viveks.info