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Does Clientelism Work?

Mark Schneider

CASI has just published a working paper titled “Does Clientelism Work? A Test of Guessability in India,” written by Mark Schneider, a doctoral candidate in Political Science at Columbia University.

Central to the literature on clientelism is the assumption that low-level politicians are able to act as “brokers” between voters and higher-level politicians because they possess invaluable information on the partisan preferences in their area. These brokers are believed to be able to monitor votes and efficiently target benefits on a quid pro quo basis in their area because they possess fine-grained information about voters. In the working paper, Schneider challenges this assumption and introduces a behavioral measure- guessability- to test the degree to which local political elites (the “brokers”) can guess the partisan preferences of locals in their constituency. Based on data collected from nearly 1,000 voters and 100 sarpanches in seven districts throughout Rajasthan, Schneider’s research is a must-read for anyone who studies clientelism and targeted distribution in politics.

Read “Does Clientelism Work? A Test of Guessability in India”

Visit the author’s website and follow him on Twitter @schneidertime

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Political Mirage: Through the Lens of Mewat

Preeti Mann

Preeti Mann

Preeti Mann, a professor in the School of Development Studies at Ambedkar University-Delhi, has written this week’s IiT piece. Mann provides an insightful anthropological perspective on the recent election using Mewat district in Haryana as an example. She discusses the barriers that the Aam Admi Party faced in getting a foothold in the region and circumventing local thondas (middlemen).

“Each thonda represents a certain vote bank: depending on his clout, he could influence more than two thousand votes. The web of associations between the thondas and the locals has created a fine network of political ties in the region. Due to this, there is hardly a free floating, independent or disassociated vote in Mewat.”

Read the article here. 

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Defying the Odds in the media

CASI’s latest publication, Defying the Odds: The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs, is a collection of short biographies of 21 Dalit entrepreneurs who have overcome unimaginable obstacles to achieve immense success. Their inspiring stories combine “grit,ambition, drive, and hustle-and some luck.” Read an excerpt of the book which was shared on Yahoo India here.

The book was recently highlighted in an article for SAS Frontiers, the magazine of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. Read the article here.

For a new paradigm of social justice

Two of Defying the Odd‘s authors, D. Shyam Babu and Chandra Bhan Prasad have written an article about the CASI Dalit entrepreneurship project and survey of 1,000 Dalit entrepreneurs in The Hindu. They argue for a nayi soch (new thinking) on social justice in India which would facilitate Dalit participation in the economy in a more meaningful way, as “job givers” in addition to being “job takers.” Read their argument for entrepreneurship here.

Adam Smith v. Manu: Look who’s winning

SA Aiyer recently wrote a review of Defying the Odds for his Times of India blog, “Swaminomics.” He describes Defying the Odds as “the most heartwarming book of 2014.” Read his pointed analysis of how Dalit entrepreneurs spoil the hero/villian narrative in the review here.

Order your copy of the book on Flipkart or get the Kindle version (international).

Umesh Chaudhary

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Rethinking undergraduate education in the IITs

Anurag Mehra

Anurag Mehra

This summer’s CASI Visiting Scholar, Anurag Mehra, is a professor of Chemical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. He is also the author of the latest India in Transition (IiT) article about the need for reform of the IIT undergraduate system.  From coaching-induced burnout to student disinterest in technical fields to teacher apathy, Mehra exposes how India’s most celebrated academic institution may be falling short of its initial objective.

“The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) were founded almost five decades ago with the objective of providing technological leadership to a new and resurgent India, driven by Nehru’s deep commitment to science-led development. Whether they provided technological leadership to India or not remains debatable given the large numbers of their (under) graduates who have migrated abroad or have shifted to non-technical careers. India has changed much since the Nehruvian vision, begging the questions: how have the IITs adapted and how relevant are these institutions today, in particular their core undergraduate programs?” Continue reading…



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Pivot to Africa


Arndt Michael

Arndt Michael

Dr. Arndt Michael,  Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of Freiburg, Germany and author of the multi-award winning book India’s Foreign Policy and Regional Multilateralism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), has contributed the latest article to CASI’s bi-weekly publication India in Transition (IiT). He discusses the “Indian way” of dealing with Africa and recent evidence of India’s pivot to Africa.

“The drastic increase in trade volumes over the last few years is an impressive testament to the new Indian pivot to Sub-Saharan Africa; trade between India and Sub-Saharan Africa stood at $60 billion in 2012. Still, trade volumes in the same year were markedly eclipsed by those of the EU ($567.2 billion), the U.S. ($446.7 billion), and China ($220 billion). Nevertheless, India’s engagement shows a successful new focus on the region where it has implemented specific programs in the economic, political, and, especially, pan-African sphere. From an economic perspective, there are three pillars of Indian engagement….” Continue reading

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Latest on CASI publications

Defying the Odds book coverToday FT‘s Amy Kazmin reviewed CASI’s latest publication Defying the Odds: The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs. She writes:

“the book offers fascinating, bottom-up insights into the gritty workings of India’s economy, and its twisting, bumpy roads to potential upward mobility.”

Read the full review here.

The Kindle edition of Defying the Odds is now available in the US on Be sure to get your copy! You can read more about the book on our website.

Also, don’t miss CASI Director Devesh Kapur’s latest op-eds. In an article for Business Standard, he discusses the trade-off between competence and loyalty in government bureaucracy and argues that the Modi government should take a risk by bringing in new talent. Read the story here.

Kapur also writes about the need to build stronger state institutions which are better at promoting public good in an article for The Economic Times published today. Read the story here.



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