Leela Fernandes

Jun 17, 2023

Governing Water in India

Inequality, Reform, and the State

University of Washington Press 2022

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.

Governing Water in India: Inequality, Reform, and the State (U Washington Press, 2022) is available open access here.

 Anubha Anushree is a Lecturer at the COLLEGE Program, Stanford University. She could be reached at anubha1@stanford.edu.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Anubha Anushree

Anubha Anushree is a doctorate from the Department of History, Stanford University and a Lecturer at the Stanford COLLEGE Program. She could be reached at anubha1@stanford.edu

Learn More

Also Hosted By Anubha Anushree