This book analyses the role of politics in the process of social sector policy reforms in the context of developing countries. Considered significant in the real world, politics is missed out by the dominant approaches used to design or analyse the policy process. In the small body of literature available, politics is viewed in a negative way-an obstruction which leads to failure. However, if we focus also on cases of success, we find that it works in a far more nuanced and complex way. Specially, if changes are viewed 'downstream' as people experience them, the reform-politics relationship unravels as a deeply contested process. Comparing the case of educational policy reform in two Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, this book finds that unintended policy consequences, building allies amongst teachers, and a preference for collaboration with unions over more conflictual approaches, may have been responsible for better outcomes in Andhra. In comparison, the stagnation in Bihar was on account of weaker policies of teacher management, and elite capture of local institutions of school decentralization.
Seeing the change process, in terms of the day-to-day conditions of policy implementation, close to where poor people experience it, helps in understanding the locally embedded nature of power relations. This book engages with the big world or power without necessarily romanticizing the local, or ignoring that leaders may indeed be pursuing political motivations while they seemingly work in the name of the poor.
Manisha Priyam is ICSSR Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, and teaches Political Science at Gargi College, University of Delhi.
List of Figures and Tables ; Preface ; List of Abbreviations ; Introduction: Understanding the 'Missing' Politics in Educational Reform ; 1. Theory and Practice of Educational Reform in India: A Review ; 2. The Context of Change: Centre Sets the Agenda ; 3. Federal Opportunities, State-level Implementation: The Puzzle of Contrasting Outcomes in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar ; 4. Reform Opponents: Do Teachers and their Unions Resist the Implementation of Change? ; 5. Reform Proponents? Contrasting Effects of Educational Decentralization and Community Participation ; 6. Politics, Schools, and the Poor: A Local View ; 7. Politics Matters: The Continuing Agenda of Educational Reform ; Research Methods Appendix ; Glossary ; Bibliography ; Index ; About the Author