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My expertise is in the comparative political economy of developing countries, with a regional specialization in South Asia. Research interests: governance, bureaucracy, frontline public services, state capacity and social welfare. I study these topics through intensive fieldwork in India, using qual and quant methods. Current research: (1) the implementation of primary education; (2) police reforms and women's security; (3) social policy development and India's welfare state.
Gender-targeted police reforms are frequently proposed to tackle the global problem of rising yet under-reported gender-based violence (GBV)—but with mixed and often disappointing results. We explore this issue in India, a country with alarming rates of GBV and limited police capacity, by studying the impact of Women’s Help Desks (WHDs): dedicated...
How do states realize social reforms for marginalized groups in settings of entrenched inequality? This article argues that reform implementation is a conflict-ridden process driven by the institutional activism of street-level bureaucrats. Through an ethnographic case study of Mahila Samkhya, a novel government program for women's empowerment in U...
This article analyzes India's recent enactment of universal primary education. This programmatic policy change is puzzling given the clientelistic features of Indian democracy. Drawing on interviews and official documents, I demonstrate the catalytic role of committed state elites, who introduced incremental reforms over three decades. These offici...
Himachal Pradesh outperforms other Indian states in implementing universal primary education. Through comparative field research, this article finds that bureaucratic norms-unwritten rules that guide public officials-influence how well state agencies deliver services for the poor. The findings call attention to the informal, everyday practices that...
Private, voluntary compliance programs, promoted by global corporations and non-governmental organizations alike, have produced only modest and uneven improvements in working conditions and labor rights in most global supply chains. Through a detailed study of a major global apparel company and its suppliers, this paper argues that this compliance...