Researching the politics of development



Have newly created Indian states promoted inclusive development? A comparison of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh


This project aims to bridge a gap in the understanding of differing development performance of newly created states, through a political analysis of developmental trajectories in two such states in India. The research uses the political settlements approach to characterise sub-national political settlements in the two selected states, and explain variations in the states’ approaches to inclusive development in critical arenas.


The selected cases are Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh in central India, which have performed very differently in the domains of growth and social provisioning since their formation. Despite tremendous interest in the emerging narratives of these differences, no systematic explanation has yet been offered that can capture why one newly created state should do better than the other. The investigation is concentrated on two critical areas: mining and social provisioning by the state, specifically the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Public Distribution System (PDS).

Main research question

How can sub-national political settlements that emerged at the time of state formation in 2000, and have been sustained in the period since, explain contrasting trajectories of inclusive development in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh?

Methods and research design

The project is a comparative study, combining a political settlement approach with insights from actor-oriented and actor-network theories. The research design requires an examination of three areas of state policy (mining, MGNREGA and PDS) in two state contexts within India, using a mixed methods approach. The methods are predominantly in-depth and qualitative, including interviews and case studies, with a small element of quantitative research using data gathered through a citizens’ survey. Archival research, documentary analysis, and extensive literature reviews are also being carried out.
The project is organised around four integrated work packages (WP):

  • State level studies of sub-national political settlements and cognitive maps
  • Social provisioning under MGNREGA and PDS
  • Extractive development, mining and social investment
  • Public spending and taxation


How does this project fit within ESID’s research agenda?

The overall project falls within ESID’s programme 4, on ‘the politics of identity and equity’, while its specific components also relate to programme 2 on ‘the politics of growth and natural resources’ through natural resources and to programme 3 on ‘the politics of social provision’.


Lead ResearcherVasudha ChhotrayUniversity of East Anglia, UK
ResearcherPratap Bhanu MehtaNew Delhi, India
ResearcherRathin RoyNew Delhi, India


Vasudha Chhotray, Anindita Adhikari and Vidushi Bahuguna (2018). ‘The political prioritisation of welfare in India: Comparing the Public Distribution System in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand‘. ESID Working Paper 111.
ESID Briefing No. 18. ‘Has Chhattisgarh done better than Jharkhand in promoting inclusive development? A political settlements analysis of two newly created mineral rich Indian states‘.
Vasudha Chhotray (2016). ‘Has Chhattisgarh done better than Jharkhand in promoting inclusive development? A political settlements analysis of two newly created mineral rich Indian states‘. ESID blog, 9 September.