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Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy

Edited by Gabriele Koehler  and Deepta Chopra 
Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group, London, New York, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 248, $145.00


Despite the significant achievements in poverty reduction made by the South Asian countries, the region remains home to over 40 per cent of the developing world’s total poor. More than 570 million people survive on less than US$1.25 a day and over 60 per cent live without adequate sanitation. To compound the challenges of population growth and poverty, environmental degradation and climate change, South Asia has also been exposed to increased frequency of natural disasters, which is undermining the sub-region’s economic performance. With a rising interest in the role of public policy and the role of the state in the developmental process, Development and Welfare Policy in South Asia is a welcome addition to the development studies literature.  This book is divided in three sections. The first section seeks to develop a notion of the developmental welfare state and presents ways of exploring its manifestations, at the normative or ideational level, in South Asia. By putting the emerging South-Asian welfare states in a conceptual context, this section seeks to establish whether a South-Asian type of developmental welfare state is emerging with sufficient inter-country similarities that would justify its classification as different types of developmental welfare states—‘welfare geography’. Köhler provides an overview of the history of public policy in the region and the welfare state developments during the last decade. She asks whether the region has a common developmental welfare state identity and attempts to answer if there is a common political economy leading to a South Asian version of a developmental welfare state, and, if so, whether this differs from other welfare state experiences.   The different strands of thinking about the role of the state, the responsibility ascribed to government involvement in human development and the heightened attention to social policy obviously take different forms in different countries and regions but seem to point in the direction of a certain renaissance of the welfare state.  Köhler suggests four overarching policy domains—policies addressing the basic social situation; policies addressing socioeconomic insecurity; social assistance policies and programmes addressing poverty; and policies for voice and social inclusion, with sets of policy measures or programmes constituting elements of social policy in a welfare state with a right-based approach. Though the list is illustrative, the author finds some commonalities that are all aimed at addressing human development, well-being and inclusion. Thus, despite the political differences and rivalries among the countries in South ...

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