India’s urban slums exhibit dramatic variation in their access to basic public goods and services—paved roads, piped water, trash removal, sewers, and streetlights. Why are some vulnerable communities able to secure development from the state while others fail?
Author Adam Michael Auerbach, Assistant Professor at the School of International Service at American University, Washington D.C, explores the this question in his book, Demanding Development: The Politics of Public Good Provision in India’s Urban Slums
(Cambridge UP, 2019)
Drawing on over two years of fieldwork in the north Indian cities of Bhopal and Jaipur, the book’s theory centres on the political organization of slums and the informal slum leaders who spearhead resident efforts to petition the state for public services—in particular, those slum leaders who are party workers. The book shows that the striking variation in the density and partisan distribution of party workers across settlements has powerful consequences for the ability of residents to politically mobilize to improve local conditions.