Singh, Ruchika: Actors’, Ideas and Ideational Realm in Irrigation Management : The Case of Decentralization in Madhya Pradesh, India. - Bonn, 2014. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Ruchika Singh}},
title = {Actors’, Ideas and Ideational Realm in Irrigation Management : The Case of Decentralization in Madhya Pradesh, India},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2014,
month = oct,

note = {Decentralization has been considered a panacea for good governance worldwide and pursued with great fervour by international organizations and national government alike. Though experiences worldwide reveal that it is not a panacea that it is envisaged to be. Given this dichotomy, this work systematically explores the puzzle why decentralization is being projected as a panacea for irrigation management by the Indian state and/or international institutions alike, when it has failed to deliver envisaged outcome. In this context, greater need to understand the inter-linkages between decentralization and participation has been noted in the literature. In contrast to the argument that greater participation is good for decentralization of water resource management, this dissertation examines the relationshiplinkages between participation, decentralization and politics through the lens of actors’ ‘ideational realm’ which I argue in light of structural and cultural ideational variables influences outcome of decentralization processes. This dissertation posits actors’ ideational realm as a compelling parameter to understand processes that influence decentralization of water resources or in other words processes that elucidate how institutional change happens. Specifically, focus is on role of actors (NGOs, bureaucrats, farmers and farmer organizations) in influencing (or obstructing) decentralization of water resource governance structure at the intermediate level in Madhya Pradesh, India.
Ideational realm in this research building on Campbell (2004), Berman (2013), and other scholars, viz. Mielke, Schetter and Wilde (2011) is conceptualized as actor’s interpretation of situation, and not the situation itself, that determines a way forward for an actor. Actor’s choices are narrowed down when they take a certain subjective or objective standpoint for interpreting things. Ideational realms are formed by ideas that actors’ subscribe to, and which define their ideational role. Ideational variables like norms, beliefs, and values are employed in this research to elucidate how actors’ ideational realms are shaped by their motivations as well contexts. Furthermore, ideational approach is useful in elaborating how ideas about farmer participation in irrigation management have institutionalized. This research demonstrates how the existing idea on irrigation management is deliberatively formed as consequence of particular kind of ideational belief(s) that state, and state actors have countenanced. This dissertation examines the historical processes that have facilitated adoption and consolidation of certain idea of irrigation management in India. This work examines the historical choice and the ideological practices of actors that established and reinforced particular definition of participation in irrigation management during the colonial period, in the post-colonial developmental state, and the liberalized Indian state. This dissertation posits that relationship of actors (bureaucracy and political office bearers) with the larger institutional ideological context within which they operate is critical to bear in mind to understand institutional changes, as actors embody particular identities/subjectivities - for instance, engineers as harbingers of growth and progress. Furthermore, this dissertation concurs with other policy translation literature that argue that the global turn to participatory approaches by international organizations has equally fuelled and supported perpetuation of participatory management polices at the national and state level in India.
Specifically, as a case study this work studies processes that led to introduction of participatory irrigation management in Madhya Pradesh in 1999 and argues that decision to form farmer organizations was not an outcome of deliberative discussion process. Rather thrust on farmers from the top. This work also discusses how top-down regulation can initiate processes for a certain institutional change, but with little problem resolution on the ground through the empirical findings of two case study farmer organizations. Based on empirical findings this research posits that actors’ ideational realm is a compelling parameter to understand and (mould) institutional change i.e. intermediate level decentralization. As implementation of decentralization initiatives in Madhya Pradesh has reinforced rather than reduce hierarchal boundaries thereby creating a contentious arena for policy implementation.},

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