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Policy Making in India: A Dynamic Process of Statecraft

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This paper problematizes the concept of the state by studying its role and interactions with society in the realm of making policy. To achieve this, the case of a recently formulated social policy in India, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), is examined. The paper provides empirical evidence of policy making as a complex and iterative process, which is mediated by a multiplicity of actors who operate in relation to each other. In tracing the formulation process of the NREGA, theoretical claims regarding the understanding of the state as an ideological construct as well as comprising of material practices are substantiated. The paper sees policy making as an act of governing, and contributes to ethnographic understandings of fuzzy and porous boundaries between the state and society that are redefined through the act of policy making. This dynamism, it is argued, results in the two-dimensional phenomenon of statecraft: how the state pursues policy making as a strategy for governing its population, and in turn, how the state itself gets reconstituted in the making of policy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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