Published by Cambridge University Press, 2015
A big cat overthrows the Indian state and establishes a reign of terror over the residents of a Himalayan town. A welfare legislation aimed at providing employment and commanding a huge budget becomes ‘unimplementable’ in a region bedevilled by high levels of poverty and unemployment. Paper Tiger provides a lively ethnographic account of how such seemingly bizarre scenarios come to be in contemporary India. Based on eighteen months of intensive fieldwork, this book presents a unique explanation for why and how progressive laws can do what they do and not, ever-so-often, what they are supposed to do. It reveals the double-edged effects of the reforms that have been ushered in by the post-liberalization Indian state, particularly the effort to render itself more transparent and accountable. Through a meticulous detailing of everyday bureaucratic life on the Himalayan borderland, Paper Tiger makes an argument for shifting the very frames of thought through which we apprehend the workings of the developmental Indian state.
Nayanika Mathur is an Anthropologist of South Asia with wide-ranging research and teaching interests in the anthropology of politics, development, environment, law, human-animal studies, and research methods. She was educated at the Universities of Delhi (B.A. and M.A.) and Cambridge (MPhil and PhD). She held postdoctoral research fellowships awarded by the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy at Cambridge’s Centre for the Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH).