Sailen Routray, "Everyday State and Politics in India: Government in the Backyard in Kalahandi" (Routledge, 2017)


Set in the eastern state of Odisha in a district known as the “Somalia of India,” Everyday State and Politics in India: Government in the Backyard in Kalahandi (Routledge 2018) studies a development project in a region iconic for development failure. Drawing on rich fieldwork with a watershed development project in district Kalahandi, anthropologist Sailen Routray moves beyond the question of success and failure to ask: how has the state itself transformed in the process of trying to develop Kalahandi? By analyzing the implementation of WORLP (Western Orissa Rural Livelihoods Project), the book shows the morphing of the state on the ground, and the ways in which it is perceived by the agents and objects of statist actions. It argues that since the 1980s, the state has come to not only be seen but also felt as it has made its way into the interstices of rural society through the mission-mode of state-fabrication. The book also identifies an increasing convergence in the everyday practices of governmental and non-governmental organizations, and the growth of ‘the social’ as a terrain and object of governmental actions, as two important effects of the process of deployment of these tactics. By providing an alternative analysis of state and politics in India, this book adds to the literature surrounding the everyday state by illuminating recent changes in state-society relations. It will be of interest to academics in the field of Political Science, Public Policy, Development Studies, and Social Anthropology.

Sailen Routray is a researcher and writer based in Bhubaneswar. His interests lie in the areas of anthropology of development and governance, food and society, teaching and learning of social sciences, and life writing.

Aparna Gopalan is a doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology at Harvard University studying the reproduction of inequality through development projects in rural western India.

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