Operationalizing rights-based approaches to development: a study of state and non-state duty-bearers in Odisha, India

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Mishra, Nita
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University College Cork
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This thesis examines how rights-based approaches to development are operationalised in Odisha, India, through an investigation of its practice by state and non-state actors at various levels. The thesis asks four research questions. The first asks how state political will and commitment defines, and expresses, rights of poor communities, and how this impacts upon its operationalisation of RBA. The second asks what specific governance strategies are used by the state to operationalise RBAs. The third looks at how “lived experiences” of grassroots state duty-bearers impacts on the practice of RBA. The fourth question seeks to identify different development issues, and strategies non-government organisations (NGOs) prioritise and adopt to enable poor communities to claim rights. The study uses a range of qualitative methods for the collection of data across three districts including 64 villages, and from over one hundred individual informants. The following significant findings emerge from my study. One is the importance of experiential knowledge of middle level officials in operating a rights-based program. Second is that poor women duty-bearers at grassroots level are also rights-holders which poses multiple constraints on the implementation of RBA programs. Third is that cooperation between the state and non-state duty-bearers is essential for a rights-based development practice. The fourth finding focuses on the importance of communities taking responsibility for their development through active participation, and strengthening community governance systems. The fifth shows that empowerment processes are invisible and intangible and begin with an assertion of individual agency as in the case of self-help groups. Sixth is the use of a rights’ language to challenge existing power structures. The findings of this study enhance our understanding of the potential, and constraints, of the approach in practice. At the theoretical level the thesis provides guidelines to what it is really to secure rights to someone. .
Rights-based approach , Right to food , Odisha , Self-help groups , Anganwadi worker , NGOs , Duty-bearers
Mishra, N. 2017. Operationalizing rights-based approaches to development: a study of state and non-state duty-bearers in Odisha, India. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.