An Issue in Governance
Community-based initiatives that work to empower the poor and promote their participation have gained a strong support among scholars and practitioners of development. Yet, the questionable assumptions about culture and development that inform these initiatives render it unclear as to whether and how community participation can be promoted in practice, especially in settings that depart from the ideal conceptions of community. Through a case study of the Unicef-Ikea Bal Adhikar Pariyojana (BAP), a grassroots initiative that seeks to advance child rights in India, this paper examines how traditionally disempowered communities learn to mobilise collectively around child education and health in the least-likely setting of rural Uttar Pradesh. Building on the recent literature on culture and public action, and relying on field research, village-level comparisons and interviews with stakeholders, this paper traces the process by which BAP fieldworkers and community members make strategic use of the cultural understandings, norms and identities that govern family, gender and caste relations to build new communitybased networks that promote the rights of children…. To maintain ties with different caste groups, BAP takes an apolitical posture and does not actively build the capacity of communities to mobilise politically and make demands on state agencies.
From “Mobilizing Culture for Public Action: Community Participation and Child Rights in Rural UP”