Broadly, I am interested in the politics and institutions behind inclusive development. My research investigates when, why and how states work collectively with non-state actors to address complex social problems and promote inclusive development. My approach is interdisciplinary and involves field research using multiple methods: ethnography, interviews, focus group discussions, surveys, administrative data and field experiments. My ongoing research examines: (1) bureaucratic institutions and state capacity, (2) education reform and policy implementation, (3) police institutions and reforms for women’s security and (4) private governance and social welfare provision


I have conducted extensive field research across Indian states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi). My work has been supported by the World Bank, M.I.T. Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO), the Oxford Research England Global Challenges Research Fund, the American Institute for Indian Studies, and the NSEP David L. Boren Fellowship.

My CV is available here.


Making Bureaucracy Work: Norms, Education and Public Service Delivery in Rural India

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in the Comparative Politics of Education Series

[Forthcoming, November 2022]

The Indian Welfare State

Oxford University Press

[Under contract; manuscript in progress]

Journal Articles

Policing in patriarchy: An experimental evaluation of reforms to improve police responsiveness to women in India
(with Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner and Sandip Sukhtankar)

[Science, 377 (6602): 191-198.]

Social conflict on the front lines of reform: Institutional activism and girls’ education in rural India

Pre-publication PDF

[Public Administration and Development, 2022, 42(1):95-105. Special Issue: Street-Level Bureaucrats]

Media & Commentary: Harvard Mittal Institute 

Bureaucratic Norms and State Capacity in India: Implementing Primary Education in the Himalayan Region

Pre-publication PDF

[Asian Survey, 2015, 55(5): 882-908. Special Issue: State Capacity in South Asia.]

Virtue out of Necessity?: Compliance, Commitment and the Improvement of Labor Conditions in Global Supply Chains
(with Richard Locke and Matthew Amengual)

Pre-publication PDF

[Politics & Society, 2009, 37(3): 319-351.]

Understanding Child Labor in India

[Perspectives on Work, Summer 2009, 13(1):13-16.]

Book Chapters

The Indian Police: Managing Dilemmas of Internal Security. Forthcoming in Amit Ahuja and Devesh Kapur, Internal Security in India: Violence, Order and the State, New York: Oxford University Press.

The Indian Police: Administration, Capacity and Performance (with Vineet Kapoor). Forthcoming in Rudra Chaudhury and Milan Vaishnav, The Institutional Roots of India’s Foreign and Security Policy, Oxford University Press.

Papers in Progress

  • Embedded Translation: Local NGOs and Community Mobilization for Child Rights in Rural India (with Thomas Lawrence)
  • Becoming the Police: Gendered Spheres and Female Officer (Dis)empowerment in India
  • Looking like a State: Postcolonial Bureaucracy and the Reproduction of Hierarchy in the Indian Police
  • State Capacity and Organization Studies (with Devarchan Banerjee)
  • Engendering Policing: Activating State Capacity for Women’s Security (with Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner and Sandip Sukhtankar)
  • Bureaucracy (Chapter in progress for Cambridge Companion to Indian Politics and Society, edited by Indrajit Roy and Manali Desai)

Other Publications

Review of: Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India, by Rina Agarwala, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 67 (4), October 2014.

Preventing Child Labour in the U.P. Carpet Belt, Case Studies of Development in Practice, New Delhi: UNICEF India, 2007 (with Diksha Gupta and Afsoon Houshidari). [PDF]