The book examines (1) the relationship between political mobilization and the making of policy/ to grant socio-economic rights (2) the creation of institutions and (3) representation in public institutions i.e. legislatures. It investigates the relationship of political mobilization, party strategies and policy change to understand how campaigns and agitations organized by actors outside traditional electoral networks interact with established political actors to influence the making of social policy and legislations in India in the broader frame of democratic politics.
The central question is in what circumstances is social and political mobilization to claim rights and entitlements or the demand for accountability or greater representation in legislatures responded to and addressed to by the state. This is done through an analusis of three empirical cases: (1) Right to employment and Right to food; (2) The anti-corruption or Lokpal or movement, (3) Legislative reservations for women. All but one resulted in legislation. These three cases cover recurring themes in the sphere of political mobilization and the claims they make for redistribution, accountability and representation.
By focusing on political actors and processes that shape various legislations to expand rights, accountability and representation, the book argues that it is principally the political context, party processes and leadership strategies that influenced policy decisions of the government. Taken together, the arguments advanced here underlines the social and political implications of situations where both state and mobilization campaigns are the agents and loci of dominance, resistance, and critique. Outcomes are contingent on political responses and party strategies which are an important element of the underlying dynamics, and not merely the scale and intensity of public protest and collective action.