Doing Development: Voluntary Agencies in the Sundarbans of West Bengal

Mukhopadhyay, Amites. 2003. Doing Development: Voluntary Agencies in the Sundarbans of West Bengal. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This study explores the working of voluntary agencles or NGOs in the Sundarbans delta of West Bengal. By focusing on the region and its problems the thesis attempts to address the ideology and practice of sustainable and participatory development. Accordingly, the thesis focuses on the activities of three organisations: a) the Tagore Society for Rural Development involved with embankment and flooding; b) the Ramakrishna Ashram Farm Science Centre engaged with 'sustainable' agriculture; and c) the Juktibadi Sanskritic Sangstha (Rationalist Cultural Association) involved in a campaign against the state government's proposed Nuclear Power Plant in the Sundarbans.

Through analysis of the specific problems of the region and the engagement of three grassroots development organisations with such problems the dynamics of local politics is revealed. A consideration of the processual dimension of NGO practices in a specific context reveals the complex ways in which these voluntary agencies negotiate with the local networks of power and with the state institutions at the local level. An attempt has also been made to document the contested views of sustainability and participation born of such negotiations. A focus on how NGOs do development also necessitates the deconstruction of 'people' as a meta-category. By focusing on people's perceptions and practices attention is drawn to the ways in which their multiple subject positions are often at odds with the unifying awarenessraising campaigns launched by the voluntary agencies studied in the thesis.

The thesis problematises, in the light of ethnographic evidence, the state civil society duality, widely used in much NGO and development literature, demonstrating how it glosses over the complex ways in which the 'social' interpenetrates with the 'political'.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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voluntary agencles, NGOs, West Bengal, politics, Tagore Society for Rural Development, Ramakrishna Ashram Farm Science Centre, Juktibadi Sanskritic Sangstha (Rationalist Cultural Association)

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Date Deposited:

04 Jun 2020 16:00

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:42


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