Book Review: Uddipana Goswami, Conflict and Reconciliation: The Politics of Ethnicity in Assam

Published date01 June 2015
Date01 June 2015
AuthorSantana Khanikar
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 143
Delhi government. The CSE launched a campaign for CNG and presented a report. A committee was
appointed to look into the matter and members from CSE were also included in this. The committee
had rejected the multi-fuel policy and upholding the recommendation of it; finally the Supreme Court
ordered the use of CNG as a single mode of fuel for public transport.
Mathur also describes the policy struggle in education among politicians, bureaucrats and education-
alists. The educationalists desire full political support without any political interference while politicians
interfere too frequently with education without committing themselves to provide any support. He
concludes that educational decisions in India are political decisions and rarely reflect the technical
expertise in education.
The author has also highlighted the emerging relationship among the states, through the theme of
governance as network of business and NGOs, and more specifically the state, market and civil society.
He emphasizes public–private partnerships, where the state has cooperated with the private sector for
implementing programmes in areas like education and health services. The business associations like the
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian
Industries (CII) are recognized as legitimate forums for policy discussion and policy briefings. The
state has absorbed business leaders into committees related to trade and commerce where they play an
important role in policy formation.
Mathur has tried to examine the scope of development administration and governance for develop-
ment of the state and believes that a strong bureaucracy is required to improve state capabilities. However,
he specifies that this idea of strong bureaucracy is not enough as it alone cannot lead to development and
a strong state. The state must have policies to which citizens have contributed consent and in a process
that they perceive to be legitimate. This is possible only through the incorporation of multiple institutions
that strengthen the democratic process through negotiation and debates. Since the Indian administrative
system is very rigid, the author argues that it must be reformed.
The author has made a comprehensive effort by compiling the essays in one volume that have been
written at various times spanning from 1993 to 2009. However, some of them need to be revised. For
instance the essay describing education policy was written in 2001, and since then many changes have
occurred in the education system and education policy: the introduction of the right to education was a
joint venture of state and civil society for providing free and compulsory education as a fundamental
right, for example. Similarly, the essay on administration reform in India was written in 2004 and needs
to be updated with the new growth in administrative reforms that occurred after the establishment of the
second Administrative Reform Commission in 2005. The book has highlighted the shift in the approaches
to policy studies and also discusses how the notion of government has been replaced by the notion
of governance where policies are more people centric. However, at various stages, the study has also
mentioned the gap that exists in current policy research and analysis that need to be filled for better
understanding of the subject.
Jyoti Mishra
Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)
Uddipana Goswami, Conflic t and Reconciliation: The Polit ics of Ethnicit y in Assam. New Delhi: Routledge.
2014. 223 pages. `695.
DOI: 10.1177/2321023015575242
Rich scholarly books on the politics of the conflict-ridden state of Assam have been written in
recent times. Uddipana Goswami’s work, however, stands out as it goes to the roots of ethnic identity

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