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From India to the West


2008 / 232 pages


This book provides fresh perspectives and insights on what may be the world’s largest ongoing decentralisation reforms—the Panchayat Raj reforms in India—and presents unique empirical material from Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. Comparative perspectives and references to historical cases from around the world are used to show how decentralisation can be connected to social capital and corruption. In particular, this book shows how certain forms of social capital, previously thought to be a hindrance to development, can work in favour of democracy.

Widmalm argues that there exists a strong and direct connection between degrees of corruption in village performance and the level of trust in society, even though only an ambiguous link can be said to exist between decentralisation and corruption. However, the kind of trust most strongly related to performance is not the kind we would expect from a reading of development literature or from the policies of certain aid agencies. This book shows that the relationship between decentralisation, corruption and social capital can be well understood if illuminated through the prism of collective action theory. Further, it dwells upon the consequences of these research results for aid policies.

Decentralisation, Corruption and Social Capital: From India to the West would be invaluable to aid agencies and development-oriented organisations, as well as students and researchers working in the areas of development, governance, decentralisation, federalism, social capital and civil society.

About the Author

Sten Widmalm is Associate Professor and the Director of the master's programme in Development Studies at the Department of Government at Uppsala University, Sweden. He has worked and written extensively on politics in South Asia.


Introduction / What do we Mean by Decentralisation? A Historical And Conceptual Overview of Federalism's Closest Cousin / Decentralisation in India: In Theory and Practice / Corruption and its Causes / Corruption In India / The Utility of Bonding Trust and a New Look at the Role of Social Capital in Development / Dicussion: How Decentralisation, Corruption and Civil Society Connect / Index


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