The Political Economy of Ethnic Empowerment in India
This dissertation consists of three papers, which together examine whether policies meant to address inequality, succeed in mitigating the impact of traditional institutions such as caste and enable ethnic minorities to claim their rights. Using experimental and quasi-experimental methods with data from a variety of primary and secondary sources, this dissertation analyzes whether policies meant to empower vulnerable groups in India have succeeded in doing so. The findings suggest that while legislations in the form of mandated political representation or freedom of information laws are necessary in terms of increasing the accountability of government towards citizens, they may not be sufficient in ensuring adequate and uniform delivery of public services, especially to citizens belonging to marginalized groups. Further, empowering citizens – especially those belonging to groups that have faced historic discrimination – to actively participate in civic and political life may require more active and intensive policy and programmatic interventions.
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