Comparative State Politics and Public Policy in India

About Us

This website hosts the work of a partnership between Lokniti and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and the King’s India Institute, King’s College London . The partnership, initiated in 2011, brings together a network of political scientists and sociologists who seek to compare regional political environments within India as contexts for the formulation and implementation of public policy. The activities of the network are supported by a British Academy International Partnership award (2011-2013)

The partners seek to advance a new agenda for the study of comparative politics within India moving beyond single state case studies and building on the existing expertise of Lokniti in the study of India’s electoral democracy. India is the world’s largest ‘laboratory’ for the study of comparative politics in a democratic setting, containing substantial regional variation within a common overarching system. Yet there are significant practical barriers to inter-state comparison by political scientists. This project seeks to overcome these barriers through a dual focus on a) a series of collaborative research projects by scholars within the network in different regions of India; and b) the development of new curricula for universities in India and Europe.

The network has a particular interest in bringing electoral politics back in to conversation with the study of public policy, focusing in particular on the framing of social policy within India’s states in the context of economic liberalisation. There is often, as numerous analysts have observed, something of a curious divide – not only in India - between the study of comparative political economy and public policy on one hand, and the study of political parties and electoral democracy on the other. The primary goal of our collective endeavours under this partnership is to bridge this divide: to bring the analysis of India’s electoral politics into conversation with the study of public policy.

This initiative on politics and public policy forms one strand of a wider set of activities overseen by Lokniti on comparative state politics in India between 2011-2014. The other activities are supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR). The Lokniti initiative consists of three annual workshops aimed at internal training and capacity building of scholars working on comparative studies of politics in Indian states. Lokniti’s hope is that cross state comparisons will have a lot to contribute in terms of understanding Indian politics; will strengthen the discipline of comparative politics in Indian universities and will also help push the discipline of Indian political science to expand its analytical horizons beyond electoral and party competition to issues of political economy and the interface between domination and people’s resistance. 

Staff exchange visits by members of the network are also supported by the UK-India Education Research Initiative .