[CSH Seminar #Hybrid] Caste, Collective Action and Local Government: Learnings from Bihar (M. R. Sharan)

Event Details

The Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) is delighted to invite you to a Hybrid Seminar with:


(Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland)

Caste, Collective Action and Local Government:

Learnings from Bihar

Discussant: Rahul Verma (Research Fellow, CPR and Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Ashoka University)

Monday, 12 December 2022 at 5:00 p.m.

At Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), IFI-CSH Conference Room (ground floor)

2, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road, New Delhi, 110011


Despite seven decades since Indian independence, one in seven rural Indians continue to live below the poverty line. Among these, the majority are members of Dalit, extremely backward castes and women. This talk, focusing on Bihar in India, compares and contrasts the effectiveness of three distinct instruments in platforming members of marginalised groups: first, the Muzaffarpur people’s movement that mobilises rural wage workers – mostly women – to demand better implementation of pro-poor welfare programs. The movement is entirely bottom-up and is spread across three districts in the state. Second, JEEViKA, Bihar’s state-supported self-help group movement of 12 million women, that encourages women to come together to participate in micro-lending activities and empower each other. JEEViKA is both bottom-up and top-down, comprising women from over 40,000 villages, all mobilized through the state. Third, local self-government institutions — Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) — that have democratically elected leaders with quotas for women (up to 50%) and Dalits (17%). The interactions between these three instruments often result in tensions and even conflict. This talk, however, will focus on the role of each in empowering the marginalised, the lessons each can draw from the other and potential ways to come together in furthering the cause of those left behind in India’s development story.


M. R. Sharan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He completed his PhD from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center For Global Development. His research, based in India, especially in Bihar, focuses on inequality in socially diverse settings and how institutional and technological innovations could empower marginalized groups. In addition to research in economics, he wrote a non-fiction book on village politics in Bihar titled Last Among Equals (Westland, 2021) and a novel, Blue (HarperCollins, 2014).

CSH Seminars are in hybrid mode. If you are interested to attend online, please follow this link: https://us06web.zoom.us

(!) Due to covid security protocols, we request you to pre-register over email and kindly carry an ID proof to be granted access to the venue. Please note that the room capacity is limited. Seats will be reserved on a first come first basis. Send an e-mail mentioning your full name (before Monday, 12 December, 2:00 p.m.) to: neeru.gohar@csh-delhi.com

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