The 'Anti-Politics Machine' in India: Depoliticisation through local institution building for participatory watershed development in India

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This article investigates the rationale and implications of creating non-elected community-based bodies for India's national watershed development programme in 1994. A discourse of depoliticisation is in use to justify the creation of ‘apolitical’ watershed committees in contrast to ‘political’ panchayats, ostensibly unsuitable for participatory development for their embodiment of political contestation and vested interests. The discourse masks conflicts between key actors in India's development process and is highly malleable, acquiring pertinent meanings in specific contexts. Case-study evidence from two project villages in a south Indian district shows that the attempt to depoliticise this programme of panchayat politics fails, but sets up the ground for depoliticisation of another sort, by distancing watershed project spaces from pro-poor progressive politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1037-1056
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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