- Master of Public Policy
- Mar 2021
- Core Course
India has been an enduring puzzle in the study of democracy and development. While the “vibrancy” of Indian democracy has been widely discussed, India’s development efforts have been treated with much more skepticism. India’s development trajectory has been marked by regular iterations of a range of welfare measures but weak political institutions, overburdened and under-resourced bureaucracies and pervasive inequalities. These pose significant challenges to citizens exercising genuine democratic freedoms. Amongst other things, ensuring the welfare of citizens brings out the contrast between electoral democracy and everyday democracy. Given this seeming incompatibility in India, how do ordinary people hold the state accountable between elections? What are the democratic interfaces through which people engage with the state every day to claim basic entitlements, ask questions and participate in decisions that affect their well-being? What role can these institutions, procedures and mechanisms of accountability play when democracy in contemporary India itself faces fundamental challenges?
This course is rooted in theory that has emerged from practice. It presents a view from the ground, developed through the articulation and practice of everyday engagement by ordinary people. Centering the experiences of social movements that have engaged with or critiqued the state, this course will explore a range of substantive debates around welfare rights and social accountability. It will also draw on empirical work from the disciplines of anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology.
Course objective and learning goals
- To provide students with a critical understanding of current debates on social accountability and their legal, social and political history in India
- To learn about the essential elements of the practice of social accountability
- To gain insights into examples of elements of social accountability in practice, through case studies and interactions with leading activists and practitioners
- To orient students to contemporary challenges to social accountability