Governing nutrition, performing state: workers of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, India

Deshpande, Shilpa (2019) Governing nutrition, performing state: workers of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, India. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The failures of state implemented development programmes have been largely attributed to governance issues. I study one of the largest child development programmes in the world, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme of India to understand how its governance is determined and gaps between design and practice produced. Building on a non-normative concept of governance, my research ethnographically examines the everyday processes and practices of the ICDS, through ten months of fieldwork in a community development block of Aurangabad District, Maharashtra.
State practices have been studied but the role of state functionaries has not been adequately addressed. I research everyday state practices as performative - negotiated and constructed by ICDS functionaries in interaction with the local politics of caste, vertical systems of ‘corruption’ and initiatives of bureaucratic reform. I find that ICDS functionaries use state practices to: (a) perform caste, exercising dominance but also contesting caste-based subordination, (b) develop and manage informal systems of financial practices, and (c) stage performance to make it appear as if targets have been met and rules followed.
The improvisation of programme practices by ICDS functionaries generates gaps and variations from programme design including the dominant caste capture of field level ICDS positions, exclusion of Scheduled Caste beneficiaries and localities from programme benefits and manipulation of programme records and performance audits. But such improvisation is also facilitative providing sites for challenging the dominant political and social order and enabling the delivery of ICDS services despite resource poor contexts and unsuitable programme rules. These findings suggest that ICDS governance at the sub-district or implementation level is determined in interaction with the politics of caste and the un-implementability of bureaucratic rules. Additionally, I highlight that implementation gaps do not always reflect the incapacity of state functionaries but may also represent their ingenuity in constrained circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions and public administration (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.) > JQ0021 Asia > JQ0200 India
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2019 12:30
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2019 12:30

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