Making Development Work for the Poor

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By Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Milan Vaishnav. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

One of the most vexed questions in development studies is why the poor often receive such poor government services. The development literature is littered with hundreds—if not thousands—of examples of elite capture, weak state capacity, corruption, and subversion.

But a focus on the failures obscures the fact that, every once in a while, the state does get it right and the top-down and the bottom-up meet in a place that produces positive benefits for ordinary citizens.

How exactly this happens is the subject of a new book by Georgetown University professor Rajesh Veeraraghavan, Patching Development: Information Politics and Social Change in India. Milan and Rajesh discuss how bureaucrats and civil society forged an unlikely partnership in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to implement the world’s largest workfare program at scale. Plus, the two talk about the the role of technology in government, the political economy of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), and the limits of transparency.

  1. Information Politics and Social Change,” Ideas of India (podcast) with Shruti Rajagopalan and Rajesh Veeraraghavan, March 3, 2022.
  2. Philip Keefer and Stuti Khemani, “Why Do the Poor Receive Poor Services?Economic and Political Weekly 39, no. 9 (2004): 935-943.
  3. Diego Maiorano, “The Politics of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Andhra Pradesh,” World Development 58 (2014): 95-105.

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