Community Participation or Manufactured Consent? Strategies for Implementation of Drinking Water Project 'Jalanidhi' in Kerala (India)
by Madhav Govind & Abhilash Babu
International Journal of Rural Management, 2017, 13(1), 1-19.
Abstract: The present study explains how the state engages with the dominant groups in the community and how people's consent is manufactured to legitimize the implementation of the project. On the basis of focus group discussion with beneficiaries and informal interview of implementing actors, the study shows that people's responses towards 'Jalanidhi' vary as per their socio-economic positions in the society. While the middle and the upper class people were generally favouring the project, the poor and weaker sections were strongly opposing the idea of user charge for drinking water. The middle class viewed the user charge for drinking water as 'normal' and more efficient compared to the state-driven supply; the lower class, especially those who belonged to the scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST), viewed it as a violation of their rights. Yet, they were denied any alternative to the neoliberal agenda of community-based drinking water supply and were forced to conform to the project. The study focuses on using the insights developed by Michel Foucault. His genealogical analysis offers tools to understand the forms of power relations at the grassroots. The study uses 'Jalanidhi' as a context to examine these concepts and shows how it can be used to understand the processes that lead to the social acceptance of commodification of natural resources like water.