Governing Water in India
Inequality, Reform, and the State
- PUBLISHED: October 2022
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / South Asia, Environmental Studies, Politics
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 298 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 2 b&w illus., 6 maps, 1 chart, 4 tables
- ISBN: 9780295750439
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
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.
Authors & Contributors
Leela Fernandes is a political scientist who has written widely about inequality and change. Her numerous books and articles include India's New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform and Transnational Feminism in the United States: Knowledge, Ethics, Power. She has taught for three decades at the University of Washington, University of Michigan, Rutgers University, and Oberlin College. At Michigan she served as director of the Center for South Asian Studies and was a senior fellow at the Michigan Society of Fellows, while at Washington she served as director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.
Leela Fernandes’s Governing Water in India is a tour de force, analyzing the politics of reform and bureaucracy, and calibrating and deepening insights into India’s unequal social fabric...Nuanced, rigorous, and refreshingly original.- Current History
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