Against the Odds is a Machiavellian study of the machinations of three senior politicians in quite different developing countries who adroitly played the tough political game in ways that reduced poverty. The three - former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Chief Minister Digvijay Singh in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh - had scarcely heard of one another, and never communicated. And yet they used a broadly similar repertoire of political devices - persuasion, distractions, bargaining, stealth and pressure - to pursue broadly similar goals. They demonstrated two crucial things: poverty reduction is politically feasible, even in the teeth of daunting economic and political constraints; and it is politically beneficial to those who achieve it, since it enhances their popularity, legitimacy and influence. If leaders in other developing countries who are naturally preoccupied with their own political interests recognise these things, then serious efforts to reduce poverty will become more common elsewhere.
This book is, unusually, the work of three well-known political scientists from Brazil, Kenya and Britain - each of whom specialises in one of the three countries that are analysed. After extensive field research, they engaged in detailed comparative discussions that impart greater coherence to Against the Odds, especially its conclusions.
Marcus Andre Melo is Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Center for Public Policy at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil. Njuguna Ng'ethe is Associate Research Professor of Political Science and the former Director of the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya. James Manor is the Emeka Anyaoku Professor of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, England, and the former V.K.R.V. Rao Professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, India.
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