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August 2022 History

Governing Water in India
Inequality, Reform, and the State
By (author): Leela Fernandes
Leela Fernandes


University of Washington Press



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


Professional/Scholarly : Grade (US) 17
Aug 16, 2022
$37.95 CAD


9in x 6 in | 1 gr

Page Count:

298 pages


2 b&w illus., 6 maps, 1 chart, 4 tables
University of Washington Press
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
Politics and government|Asian history|Conservation of the environment|Water supply and treatment

The challenges of managing resource use in the world's largest democracy

Intensifying droughts and competing pressures on water resources foreground water scarcity as an urgent concern of the global climate change crisis. In India, individual, industrial, and agricultural water demands exacerbate inequities of access and expose the failures of state governance to regulate use. State policies and institutions influenced by global models of reform produce and magnify socio-economic injustice in this "water bureaucracy."

Drawing on historical records, an analysis of post-liberalization developments, and fieldwork in the city of Chennai, Leela Fernandes traces the configuration of colonial historical legacies, developmental-state policies, and economic reforms that strain water resources and intensify inequality. While reforms of water governance promote privatization and decentralization, they strengthen the state centralized control over water through city-based development models. Understanding the political economy of water thus illuminates the consequent failures of the state within countries of the Global South.

Leela Fernandes is a political scientist who has written widely about inequality and change . She has published numerous books and articles on inequality and democratic politics in contemporary India and on contemporary feminism in the U.S and internationally. Her latest book is Governing Water in India: Inequality, Reform, and the State. She has taught for three decades at the University of Michigan as the Glenda Dickerson Collegiate Professor of Women?s Studies, Rutgers University, the University of Washington, and Oberlin College. At Michigan she served as the Director of the Center for South Asian Studies and was a senior fellow at the Michigan Society of Fellows and at the University of Washington she served as the Director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

Brilliantly argues how centralization tendencies occur in the liberal economy of India at both the national and sub-national levels.

- Nagesh Prabhu, author of Reflective Shadows: Political Economy of World Bank Lending to India

Offers a rich description of the dynamics of state authority and a new space to understand centralization beyond the nature of Indian federalism.

- Vandana Asthana, author of Water Policy Processes in India: Discourses of Power and Resistance

Fernandes deftly reveals the complexity of postliberal governance in the context of water scarcity. The study sets a new standard for understanding how the bureaucratic state?s reaction to climate change creates and deepens existing inequalities.

- Nancy Naples, co-editor of Border Politics: Social Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization

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