Tariq Thachil will be presenting the findings from his paper 'Who Becomes a Slum Leader in Urban India' which he has co-authored with Adam Auerbach.
Abstract of the paper: How do the political brokers essential to urban machine politics emerge? Political brokers operate in an informal space between citizens and the state in which they facilitate the exchange of electoral support for access to goods, services, and protection. Studies of clientelism largely take these actors as a static given and do not address how they initially amass the following of urban voters that make them attractive to political elites. We address this question through a study of a pervasive broker across cities in India—informal slum leaders. We find these leaders emerge through bottom-up selection by slum residents. To identify the resident preferences that guide such bottom-up selection, we conducted an ethnographically informed conjoint survey experiment with 2,199 residents across 110 slum settlements in two north Indian cities. We find that shared ethnicity—the overwhelming focus of contemporary scholarship on political selection in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—is often matched or trumped by non-ethnic indicators of a broker’s connectivity to urban bureaucracies and capacity to make claims on the state. These findings shed important light on the origins of patron-client hierarchies and the political changes engendered by rapid urbanization across the developing world.
Tariq Thachil is Peter Strauss Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. His first book, Elite Parties, Poor Voters: How Social Services Win Votes in India (Cambridge 2014) examined how the BJP transcended its upper caste reputation to win support from Dalit and Adivasi voters across India. His current work examines the political consequences of urbanization and internal migration within India.