Publish Date: 2023-04-20 12:02:57

SPP Seminar | Organizational Rules, Bureaucratic Preferences, and Local State Capacity| Anustubh Agnihotri (April 21, 2023)

In the Indian public policy context, public bureaucracy can substantially alter public policy outcomes through good or bad governance.  Our last academic seminar this term will be delivered by Anustubh Agnihotri, who will speak to this subject.

Please see details of the seminar below and join us for this event.  

Speaker: Anustubh Agnihotri
Date: 21st April
Time: 5-6:30 pm
Venue: LH 602

Title: Organizational Rules, Bureaucratic Preferences, and Local State Capacity


State capacity, or the ability of the bureaucracy to effectively deliver services to its citizens, varies significantly at the local level. While in some jurisdictions, citizens experience bureaucratic delays, in other jurisdictions, the same bureaucracy can be responsive. How should we understand these spatial differences in local state capacity? I argue that we need to closely examine the politics within the state. Specifically, I look at the role of politics behind the transfers of Tehsildars – mid-level bureaucrats in the land bureaucracy who deliver crucial services to citizens – in creating differences in the extent to which jurisdictions remain unoccupied at the local level. I show that Tehsildars have strong locational preferences and regularly lobby against organizational orders relocating them over long distances or placing them in jurisdictions further away from their homes. These lobbying efforts result in less preferred jurisdictions remaining vacant for a longer duration. Further, the likelihood of state absence due to bureaucratic lobbying efforts mirrors historical patterns of development, less developed regions with lower bureaucratic representation experience a higher period of absence. These findings have important implications for how we think about determinants of the quality of last-mile delivery of public services. I suggest that aligning organizational processes with the preferences of individual bureaucrats can act as an important policy level for shaping the quality of local governance.

Brief Bio:

Anustubh Agnihotri is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Ashoka University. He finished his Ph.D. in Political Science at The University of California at Berkeley and holds a Masters in Public Policy and a Masters in Electrical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin as well as a Bachelors in Electronics and Telecommunications from Pune University. His research engages with questions around bureaucratic politics and citizen-state interactions and his papers are published in journals like World Development and Governance.  He also studies  how new technologies are adopted and scaled in resource-poor contexts and was part of an interdisciplinary team effort to put together an open source textbook in the field of Development Engineering.

You can find more information about Anustubh on his website

IIT Campus, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, Delhi 110016