The politics of participation: a study of Water Users Associations in Western India

Bhasme, Suhas R (2016) The politics of participation: a study of Water Users Associations in Western India. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The thesis investigates the processes of the formation and functioning of
Water Users Associations (WUAs) which have been implemented under the
policy of Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) in Maharashtra,
Western India. The thesis explores (1) how social and economic hierarchies
shape the process of participation in WUAs; (2) the roles played by the State
and Non-Governmental Organisations in the process of participatory
development; (3) the ways in which processes of neo-liberalisation have
influenced water reforms in a developing country like India. The study draws
on different critiques of neo-liberalism, and it explores theories of
participation to provide a holistic understanding of PIM (Participatory
Irrigation Management) reforms carried out in Maharashtra. The study uses a
qualitative approach, based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out over twelve
months at two Water Users Associations in a village in the Nashik district of

The study finds that processes of participation are complex, and characterized
by the vested interests of the different actors involved in the process of the
formation and functioning of WUAs in the village. The WUAs have been able
to provide water to many farmers in the area. However, the policy has been
unable to achieve much success in terms of resolving conflicts among farmers
and enhancing the participation of small landholding and marginalized farmers
in the WUAs. I found that the process of neo-liberalisation does not challenge
or reform traditional institutions such as caste and gender, but rather that it
uses them to entrench market reforms. The implementation of WUAs’ policy
in the wider neo-liberal context has increased the powers of the State and NGO
intervention in the formulation and implementation of WUAs policy.
Processes of WUAs’ formation and functioning are significant examples of the
ways in which neo-liberalisation is taking shape in India, including the
commodification of water, and thereby, the reproduction of existing
hierarchies and power imbalances. The study contributes towards developing
an understanding of the wider processes of neo-liberal governance in the water

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD1401 Agricultural economics > HD1635 Utilisation and culture of special classes of lands Including pasture lands, water resources development
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2016 10:35
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2016 11:54

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