Something to Complain About: How to make government work for minorities

Guest post by M.R. Sharanindex

This is the thirteenth in this year’s series of posts by students on the job market. 

Earlier this year, we interviewed Mr Manjhi, an elected representative in rural Bihar (India) from an extremely marginalized caste group. He described his struggles with his prejudiced superior – an elected representative from a high caste – who refused to release funds to build public goods in Mr Manjhi’s ward. In his desperation, Mr Manjhi appealed to the higher state via a new mechanism he had only recently heard of – a formal complaints system. Over the next month and more, Mr Manjhi was called for “hearings” featuring his high-caste superior and a dispute-resolution officer of the higher bureaucracy. After scrutinizing the evidence and hearing both sides, the officer awarded the complaint in favour of Mr Manjhi and directed his superior to release funds immediately. Mr Manjhi used the funds to deliver piped water to all his constituents.

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