Complaining to the State: Grievance Redress and India's Social Welfare Programs
Harvard Law School, Program on the Legal Profession; Center for Policy Research (India)
August 19, 2013
UPenn Center for Advanced Study of India Working Paper Series
Poor implementation of social welfare programs is a chronic challenge in developing countries such as India. Yet, despite the large number of people affected and the serious consequences of implementation failure, there have been few studies, and even less theorization, of grievance redress in these contexts. Based on fieldwork conducted by the author, this article examines grievance redress for social welfare programs in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. It argues that the idea of accountability regimes, which has been developed in the administrative law literature, provides a more useful framework for understanding grievance redress than commonly invoked alternatives, such as a purely rights-based approach or an ad hoc analysis of the costs and benefits of specific redress mechanisms. While not rejecting either of these alternatives, it claims that an accountability regime approach that focuses on how officials are monitored and controlled through grievances is both more descriptively complete and more likely to generate a wider range of useful policy prescriptions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 38
Keywords: Social and economic rights, accountability, law and development, institutional design, administrative law, grievance redress
JEL Classification: K41, K23, K42, K10working papers series
Date posted: August 20, 2013
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