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Logics of Empowerment

Logics of Empowerment: Development, Gender, and Governance in Neoliberal India

Aradhana Sharma
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Logics of Empowerment
    Book Description:

    How do those cast out of India’s successes mobilize against disempowerment? Aradhana Sharma takes up this question, focusing on a women’s program that is part governmental and part nongovernmental and strives to empower those rural Indian women who have been pushed aside. Bringing specificity to the study of neoliberalism, Logics of Empowerment fosters a deeper understanding of development and politics in contemporary India._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6651-5
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: The Politics of Empowerment
    (pp. xiii-xxxviii)

    The cover of the March 6, 2006 issue ofNewsweekfeatured the Food TV celebrity Padma Lakshmi, in an ethnically marked outfit and hands folded in anamaste,the common Indian gesture of greeting. The captions read, “The New India” and “Asia’s Other Powerhouse Steps Out.” Inside was an article by Fareed Zakaria titled “India Rising.” Written in the wake of the 2006 World Economic Forum held in Davos, Zakaria’s article outlined India’s economic coming of age and extolled some strategies used by the Indian government to mark their arrival on the world economic stage.

    In the decade that I’ve...

  6. 1 Empowerment Assemblages: A Layered Picture of the Term
    (pp. 1-29)

    State involvement as a key player in women’s empowerment in India can be dated back to 1984 when the government of Rajasthan implemented the Women’s Development Programme (WDP). WDP had empowerment as its explicit goal and was structured as a tripartite partnership between the government, NGOs, and academic institutions. WDP provided a blueprint for MS, which was launched by the Indian government in 1989 as a pilot project in three states, including U.P.; both programs also shared some key personnel.

    The Indian state’s turn toward women’s empowerment as a desired development strategy and goal is the cumulative result of multiple...

  7. 2 Engendering Neoliberal Governance: Welfare, Empowerment, and State Formation
    (pp. 30-61)

    On a sunny morning in November 1998, I accompanied a team of MS staff members to the block office in Nizabad, a paddy-growing region of the state of Uttar Pradesh (U.P.).¹ Meena Rani, a field-level MS employee, led the group in its mission to introduce the program to local government officials and to garner their support.² The block office was abuzz with activity as it was a Friday, the scheduled day for weekly meetings between the block office staff and residents, when they discussed and resolved local development issues. A clerk navigated us through clusters of people and showed us...

  8. 3 Empowering Moves: Paradoxes, Subversions, Dangers
    (pp. 62-91)

    One of the key reasons why the planners of MS structured it as a GONGO was to use the state’s greater reach and resources to empower subaltern women. The GONGO structure also addressed some activists’ concerns about state involvement in women’s empowerment. These activists believed that the program’s partial nonstate identity, characterized by some as its

    “semiautonomous” nature, would shield it from bureaucratic co-optation and afford MS functionaries the freedom to interpret and implement empowerment in an open-ended and flexible manner. In this chapter I examine the extent to which these advantages of a hybrid organizational form are realizable by...

  9. 4 Staging Development: A Drama in North India
    (pp. 92-120)

    In February 1999 I joined a team of MS functionaries for a program introduction event in Jhabua, a village located in eastern U.P. The staff had planned an elaboratejatha[a band of people]—to gain visibility for the program. The jatha began with a procession through the village. Members of the MS team and I held placards, shouted slogans, sang songs about women’s rights, and invited women and girls to join us at the local primary school. Once a sizable group of people gathered at the school, the remaining program unfolded. There were games for children and educational activities...

  10. 5 (Cross)Talking Development: State and Citizen Acts
    (pp. 121-149)

    One of the first interviews I conducted in Nimani was with the elected village chief, orpradhan,a Dalit male named Gyan Ram, who sketched an outline of the social, political, and economic landscape of the village. He informed me of the various caste groups residing in the village, the agricultural and other income-generation activities the residents were engaged in, and the eleven village council [panchayat] members, six of whom were women. When I asked him about the development-related situation of Nimani, he told me that they had recently started a new primary school in the village with the support...

  11. 6 Between Women? The Micropolitics of Community and Collectivism
    (pp. 150-182)

    I first visited Nimani in August 1998, just as the monsoons were ending. The village is situated amid paddy fields, not far off the main road in Seelampur block. The paddy crop, about 4 feet tall and bright green in color, would be harvested in a few weeks’ time. Tulsi and Sita, the two MS field-level functionaries who had recommended that I work in Nimani, accompanied me to the village to introduce me to the MS participants and residents.

    Our first stop was the house of one of the two sakhis [leaders] of Nimani’s MS women’s collective.¹ An older woman,...

  12. Conclusion: Terra Incognita, or a Politics without Guarantees
    (pp. 183-200)

    Even as I write this conclusion, much is happening in the field of popular politics in India. 2007 and 2008 have witnessed tense protests and often bloody confrontations between government representatives, the police, corporate agents, and marginalized actors over the juggernaut of state-abetted, procapitalist neoliberal development. In the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, for example, government acquisition of agricultural land for industrial development has caused much angst and struggle. Land that comes under “Special Economic Zones” is being taken away from agriculturalists and awarded to industry on highly lucrative terms for the latter. Farmers and peasants who depend on...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 201-218)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-238)
  15. Index
    (pp. 239-260)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 261-261)