“Comparing Brokers in India: Informal Networks and Access to Public Services in Bihar and Gujarat” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2019.1605535) is a new article at the JCA publisher’s website.
This article is authored by Ward Berenschot of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) at Leiden in the Netherlands and Sarthak Bagchi of the School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad University, Gujarat, India.
The abstract states:
Faced with unresponsive and intimidating state institutions, citizens often need to rely on brokers to obtain state benefits. This article compares the ways in which brokers help people gain access to public services in two Indian states. Using ethnographic fieldwork in both states, we compare Bihar and Gujarat to argue that the evolution of the informal networks through which citizens gain access to public services constitutes an important dimension of democratisation processes. In both Gujarat and Bihar such brokerage networks have fragmented considerably over the last 40 years, while also becoming less marked by social hierarchies. This change has taken place despite a differing role and strength of political parties in the two states. The fragmentation and levelling of brokerage networks have enabled citizens to put more pressure on state institutions and power holders. This process of “informal democratisation” suggests that the comparative study of brokerage networks constitutes a promising and largely unexplored avenue to interpret the challenges facing governance and local democracy in India.