The urban water reform project: a critical discourse analysis of the water policy making process in Delhi, India

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Making sense of policy processes in India requires an understanding of how particular ways of thinking about water have gained ascendancy in national and state discourses, and how they have determined the frame through which water is perceived, defined and handled. The way in which the concept of water is framed has important implications for the ways in which water reform policies come to be shaped. Shifting narratives of the causes and solutions to water issues in a neoliberal India both drive and produce policy processes, making available or constraining policy choices in which different forms of water knowledge can be available and mobilized. Using methods of critical discourse analysis, this paper uses the Delhi Water Reform Project as a basis for understanding how power and knowledge define spaces of engagement among a range of positioned actors like the World Bank, the Government of Delhi, and civil society. It argues that their strategies are constructed in a way that permits intervention in a manner so as to promote a particular kind of technical and managerial approach that lends persuasiveness to policy instruments.

Keywords: Discourse analysis, Public–private partnerships, Water policy process

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