I am a political scientist interested in the politics and governance of natural resource use and extraction, and the larger politics of development, welfare and citizenship in India. My areas of critical enquiry include the discourses, interests and relationships shaping policy formulation and implementation on the one hand, and state-society relationships, particularly to understand how the poor and vulnerable access the ‘everyday’ state, on the other. My work is situated at the national, subnational, cross-subnational, and local levels, and I have worked across several Indian states.
I am currently working in three areas: extractive regimes in mineral rich Indian states; the politics of climate change in energy governance relating to coal and hydropower; and the long-term drivers of recovery and change following a disaster.
Other recently completed projects include the certification of citizenship through identity documents in Odisha, the subnational political settlements in the newly created mineral rich states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh in India, and the comparative politics of the Public Distribution System in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
My research has appeared in a range of journals including World Development, the Journal of Development Studies, Geoforum and Development and Change. My monograph ‘The Anti-Politics Machine in India’ was published by Anthem Press, London and New Delhi, in its South Asian Studies series.
I have a Ph.D. in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and an MA and BA in Politics Science from Lady Shri Ram College at the University of Delhi. I was an ESRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Manchester before joining UEA in 2007.
Areas of Ph.D. supervision:
I would welcome Ph.D. applications in the following areas: politics of mineral extraction, climate change and energy politics, hydropower dams and development, governance of natural resources, disasters and recovery, citizenship and local politics, identity documents, states and welfare provision, environmental and social justice, subnational political analysis of development, political ecology. Country/regional expertise: India and South Asia.
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Nullification of citizenship: negotiating authority without identity documents in coastal Odisha, India,
in Contemporary South AsiaFull Text UEA Repository
(E-pub ahead of print)
Erratum to: ‘Justice at Sea: Fishers’ politics and marine conservation in coastal Odisha, India’,
in Maritime Studies (MAST)
(1)Full Text UEA Repository
Justice at Sea: Fishers’ politics and marine conservation in coastal Odisha, India,
in Maritime Studies (MAST)
(4)Full Text UEA Repository
Disaster Relief and the Indian State: Lessons for Just Citizenship,
pp. 217–225Full Text UEA Repository
How an NGO works the state and why it succeeds: A case study from central India,
in Water Governance and Civil Society Responses in South Asia.
Global justice and disasters,
in The Geographical Journal
pp. 105–113Full Text UEA Repository
Two types of citizenship politics: state, authority and resource property rights in coastal Odisha, India,UEA Repository
Post-disaster recovery and 'ongoing' vulnerability: Ten years after the super-cyclone of 1999 in Orissa, India,
in Global Environmental Change
pp. 695-702Full Text UEA Repository
Hydrological modelling of water allocation, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in the Pongola floodplain, South Africa,
in Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
pp. 1237-1260Full Text UEA Repository
The anti-politics machine in India: state, decentralization and participatory watershed development,
ISBN 9780857287670UEA Repository
Understanding the co-existence of conflict and cooperation: Transboundary ecosystem management in the Virunga Massif,
in Journal of Peace Research
pp. 621-635Full Text UEA Repository
Contrasting visions for aid and governance in the 21st century: the White House millennium challenge account and DFID’s drivers of change,
in World Development
pp. 36-49Full Text UEA Repository
Governance theory and practice: a cross-disciplinary approach,
ISBN 9780230546769UEA Repository
The 'Anti-Politics Machine' in India: Depoliticisation through local institution building for participatory watershed development in India,
in Journal of Development Studies
pp. 1037-1056Full Text UEA Repository
Book review: 'Rural governance: international perspectives' - edited by L. Cheshire, Vaughan Higgins and Geoffrey Lawrence,
in Journal of Agrarian Change
pp. 161-162Full Text UEA Repository
Political entrepreneurs or development agents? An NGO's story of resistance and acquiescence,
in Can NGOs Make a Difference?: The Challenge of Development Alternatives.
Zed Books Ltd.
ISBN 978-1842778937UEA Repository
Managing watershed externalities in India: theory and practice,
in Environment, Development and Sustainability
pp. 263-281Full Text UEA Repository
Review article on ‘Waiting for Democracy: The Politics of Choice in Natural Resource Decentralisation’ by Jesse C. Ribot (2004), World Resources Institute, Washington DC and ‘Democratic Decentralisation through a Natural Resource Lens’, edited by Jesse C. Ribot and Anne M. Larson (2005), Routledge Press, Oxon,
in Journal of Agrarian Change
pp. 267-270Full Text UEA Repository
Managing watershed externalities in India,
in Impact Assessment of Watershed Development: Issues, Methods and Experiences.
Associated Publishing Company
ISBN 8185211620UEA Repository
Participation or local politics? The illusion of development projects,UEA Repository
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Key Research Interests
Political analysis of development; political economy analysis of environmental change; governance, decentralisation and participation; environmental and social justice; extraction; hydroopower development; climate change discourse; disasters, vulnerability and recovery; states and welfare provision; citizenship, local politics and identity documents; fishers’ rights and marine protected areas. India.
Research Groups: Global Environmental Justice Politics, Governance and the State, UEA Water Security Research Centre
Recent Research Grants and Awards
DFID funded ‘Inclusive development and sub-national political settlements in newly created Indian states: a comparative study of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh’, Effective states and inclusive development research centre, University of Manchester, 2014-16.
IDRC and DFID funded ‘ASSAR’ (Adaptation at scale in semi-arid regions’) under the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative for Asia and Africa, 2014-2018.
NWO funded ‘Conflict and Cooperation in the Management of Climate Change Project on Hydropower development in the context of Climate Change in the Eastern Himalayas’, 2014-2017
ESPA funded ‘Just Ecosystem Management: Linking ecosystem services with poverty alleviation’, 2010-2012
UNDP India Funding for year-long study in Orissa, 2009-2010
British Academy Small Research Grant 2008
Postdoctoral Fellow to Prof Gerry Stoker (ESRC Professorial Fellowship 2005-2007)
ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship 2004-5
Felix Scholarship for Ph.D. Research 1998-2002
Inclusive development and sub-national political settlements in newly created Indian states: A comparative study of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh
This project aims to bridge a gap in the understanding of differing development performance of newly created states, through a political analysis of developmental trajectories in two such states in India. The research will use the political settlements approach to characterise sub-national political settlements in the two selected states, and explain variations in the states’ approaches to inclusive development in critical arenas.
Just Ecosystem Management: Linking ecosystem services with poverty alleviation
This is a two year research project (Oct 2010- Oct 2012) with funding under the ESPA initiative by NERC, DFID and ESRC. This project develops a novel conceptual framework to inform research on the linkages between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation. Four case studies in China, India, Nicaragua and Uganda illustrate key justice dimensions in the management of particular coastal and terrestrial ecosystems. My role is to lead the case study in Orissa in India, which follows on from my recent work on socio-political and environmental dimensions of vulnerability and recovery since the 1999 super-cyclone (see below). The current study will focus on socio-ecological tradeoffs concerning mangroves, agriculture and prawn cultivation in coastal Orissa.
Socio-political and environmental dimensions of vulnerability and recovery in coastal Orissa: Critical lessons since the 1999 super cyclone
The United Nations Development Programme, India funded a year-long study in coastal Orissa, India, ten years since the super-cyclone of 1999. This research built on an exploratory study carried out in November-December 2008 together with Roger Few through a British Academy Research Grant. It took a detailed look at livelihoods trajectories in eastern Orissa since 1999, the socio-political and environmental dimensions that have helped shape them, and examine how these translate into the ‘ongoing vulnerability’ of coastal communities. The project was completed between January and December 2010.
An executive summary can be found here
The Pongola River ESPA was a project managed by Bruce Lankford (DEV, UEA), Chris Dickens and Kate Pringle (both INR, South Africa). I worked on this project together with a project team that included Fonda Lewis, Myles Meander and Zibonele Nxele (from INR) and Marisa Goulden (from DEV). It was one of 12 projects funded by NERC examining the linkages between eco-system services and poverty alleviation (ESPA). The research site was in the Pongola/Jozini water system in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. The project ran from January 2009 to January 2010. My role was to examine the governance and institutional arrangements in the floodplain area and to clarify their links with ecosystem services and poverty reduction.
Conferences and Presentations
2017 'Newly created Indian states and inclusive development: the sub-national political settlements of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh', Development in the face of global inequalities conference, Barcelona, May
2014 ‘Certifications of citizenship: the history, politics and materiality of identity documents’, Panel Convenor and presenter, European Association for South Asian Studies, Zurich, July
2014 ‘The morality of disaster relief’, Brown bag seminar series, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UEA, Norwich, March
2013 ‘Two types of citizenship politics: State, authority and property in coastal Odisha’, presented at ProCit, University of Copenhagen, May
2013 ‘Justice at Sea: Marine conservation and fishers’ politics in coastal Odisha, India’, presented at MARE, Amsterdam, June
2012 ‘Justice at Sea: Marine conservation and fishers’ politics in coastal Odisha, India’, presented at the Development Studies Association, London, November
Chhotray, V. 2010 ‘Disaster relief and the Indian state: Justice or Political Economy’, paper for the Global Environmental Justice Workshop, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, July 2-3.
Chhotray, V., 2009 'Unequal Imaginaries of Transformation: Multiple Crises and Livelihoods Recovery in Coastal Orissa, India', Paper presented at DSA Annual Conference, University of Ulster, September 2-4.
Chhotray, V., 2009 'Rejecting binaries in state-NGO relationships: How Samaj Pragati Sahyog works the state and why it succeeds' at the 'Experiencing the State: Marginalised People and the Politics of Development in India' conference at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, March 12-13.
Chhotray, V., 2008 ‘The Idea of “Anti-Politics” presented at a ‘Workshop on Citizenship and Democracy in honour of John Dunn’, University of Southampton, March 7, 2008.
Chhotray, V., 2007 'How Samaj Pragati Sahyog works the state and why it succeeds'. Presentation at the conference 'Civil society in water governance in South Asia', October 10-12 at Pune, India.
Link to Document
Chhotray, V., and Hume, D., 2006 ‘Contrasting visions for aid and governance in the 21st century: White House Millennium Challenge Account versus DFID Drivers of Change’, presented at the Hallsworth Conference on ‘Opening up Governance’, University of Manchester, Manchester and subsequently at SOAS, UEA and LSE in 2007.
Link to Document
Chhotray, V., and Woodhouse, P., 2005 ‘Legal and extra-legal channels for the redress of historical injustice: Water rights in India and South Africa’, presented at an International Workshop on ‘Water Poverty and Social Crisis: Perspectives for Research and Action’, Agadir, Morocco.
Link to Document
Chhotray, V., 2005 'Responsive to whom? The state and fast track participation in a south Indian district' , paper presented at the UN and Government of Queensland co-organised International Conference on Engaging Communities, Brisbane, Australia and the British Association for South Asian Studies, Leeds.
Link to Document
Chhotray, V., 2005 ‘Political entrepreneurs or development agents? An NGOs story of resistance and acquiescence’, paper presented at the 4th International NGO Conference, IDPM, Manchester.
Link to Document
Chhotray, V., 2005 'Depoliticisation through local institution building for participatory watershed development in India', paper presented at LSE Department of Geography & Environmental Seminar Series, and Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, International Development Seminar Series.
Chhotray, V., 2003 ‘The Politics of Development: Knowledge, Representation and Power’, paper presented at the Annual South Asia Conference, University of Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
If you are unable to access journals please email Vasudha at email@example.com
Lecturer DEV-1A21, Introduction to Development Studies
Convenor and Lecturer DEV-2D48, South Asian Development
Lecturer DEV-2D78, Politics and International Development
Convenor and Lecturer DEV-M002, Contemporary World Development
Lecturer DEV-M090, Political Ecology of Environment and Development
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