From barefoot brokers to entrepreneur brokers: the rise of a new social category in the development of Bihar?

S Perwez

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The north Indian state of Bihar has recently witnessed a massive development intervention, incorporating a paradigm shift to 'development assistance' that heavily relies on cash conditional transfer schemes. As a result, huge sums of cash have been siphoned off through development schemes that are giving rise to ostensibly a new breed of brokers/intermediaries, who insert themselves into the chain of policy implementation, usually for a fee/commission. Colloquially, they are called 'dalals'. They are becoming ubiquitous, and are found operating outside the administrative offices, banks, post offices, hospitals, drug stores, and pathological lab centres at the district level, and within the institutions of Panchayati Raj at the village level. In other words, they are increasingly facilitating the state's access to people. Do they then embody the late arrival of postcolonial Indian state in Bihar?

These intermediaries have long been considered as parasites and exploiters, standing between government agencies and private individuals. Yet there is surprisingly much less information on their role in the development process and their relationship with policy implementers and the beneficiaries within the South Asia context. This paper is located within the emerging literature on the new forms of brokerage arising as new social policies are implemented in cases of "successful" development. Using ethnographic research, this paper will consider the emergence of such brokers under Bihar's 'new' model of development, wherein their presence, for example, has gravely undermined state interventions on women's health.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event23rd European Conference on South Asian Studies - University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Duration: 23 Jul 201426 Jul 2014


Conference23rd European Conference on South Asian Studies


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