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States as laboratories: The politics of social welfare policies in India

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Rajeshwari Deshpande, K. K. Kailash, Louise Tillin

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-105
Number of pages21
JournalIndia Review
Issue number1
Early online date10 Mar 2017
Accepted/In press5 Jan 2017
E-pub ahead of print10 Mar 2017


  • States as laboratories the_DESHPANDE_Publishedonline10March2017_GREEN AAM

    States_as_laboratories_the_DESHPANDE_Publishedonline10March2017_GREEN_AAM.pdf, 592 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:27 Mar 2017

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in India Review in March 2017, available online at

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This article examines the role of India’s states in shaping the implementation and framing of social policy within India’s federal system. Since the 2000s, the central government has overseen a substantial expansion of social welfare policies partly through a new push toward rights-based social provision. Yet, it is India’s states that are both responsible for an increasing proportion of total public expenditure on social welfare provision as well as determining the nature and effectiveness of that provision across space. Drawing on a comparative research program across pairs of Indian states, three critical factors explaining how state-level political environments shape social policy are identified: the role of policy legacies in shaping policy frames; the role of social coalitions underpinning political party competition; and the role of political leaders in strengthening state capacity to achieve program goals.

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