Arshima - Report Published

Arshima's research involves an interdisciplinary exploration of the theory and practice of accountability spanning state and society. Following a few years of work experience as a medical doctor, she volunteered to do development work in rural Bihar, where 81 per cent of the population lives in poverty. At The Hindu Centre, Arshima will study the potential for rights-based action among Sahiyya (ASHA) health workers in Jharkhand.

Arshima's research involves an interdisciplinary exploration of the theory and practice of accountability spanning state and society. Following a few years of work experience as a medical doctor, she volunteered to do development work in rural Bihar, where 81% of the population lives in poverty (according to multidimensional indicators). Her doctoral thesis at the India Institute, University of London, explored the individual and institutional enablers of accountability in the rural health and development system in Chhattisgarh and Bihar. The study has made a signal contribution to interdisciplinary research and was well received at conferences on anthropology, political science, development studies, theology, and health policy and systems research (HPSR) in New Delhi, Cambridge, Portsmouth, Madison, Cape Town and Bucharest.

Arshima's first book project is titled Accountability from Village to State: How can state institutions become worthy of public trust? The endeavour rests on a grounded theory study of the Mitanin programme, a community health worker scheme training 74,000 women in villages and slums across Chhattisgarh, initiated by the State government and led by civil society. In ethnographic fieldwork carried out over a year, Arshima explored activities from village, block, district to State-level that have led to altered health-related behaviours in the community, reduced caste discrimination and gender-based violence, and improved rural sanitation and education.

Arshima's study also investigates social accountability efforts by Mitanin programme workers to tackle corruption in state nutrition schemes, campaign against the acquisition of tribal land, win a year-long legal battle against the State Forest Department, and fight for elected leadership positions in Panchayati Raj Institutions. These activities were compared with women's action in the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) programme in Bihar, and in Panchayats more widely in India.

Research :

At The Hindu Centre, Arshima will study the potential for rights-based action among Sahiyya (ASHA) health workers in Jharkhand. The study asks, how do rural citizens mobilise to demand health and social rights, and what underlies the responsiveness of the state for improved public service delivery? Altogether, the project will suggest avenues to enhance service delivery while highlighting an alternative pathway for strengthening decentralisation and democracy.

Read Policy Report Enabling Social Accountability: The Community Health Worker Programmes of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand here.

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