Agnihotri Anustubh, Gadgil Ashok, Madon Temina, “A Framework For Development Engineering” in Gadgil Ashok, Madon Temina, Anderson R, Casaburi L, Lee K, Rezaee A (Eds.) (2021) An Introduction to Development Engineering. Springer (Book manuscript accepted by Springer)  Chapter 1   Chapter 3

Agnihotri, Anustubh, and Rahul Verma. “Content Analysis of Digital Text and Its Applications.” Studies in Indian Politics 7.1 (2019): 83-89. Link  PDF

Post Alison, Agnihotri Anustubh, and Hyun Chris, “Using Crowd-Sourced Data to Study Public Services: Lessons from Urban India.”, Studies in Comparative International Development 53.3 (2018): 324-342.  PDF Link Abstract


As cities throughout the developing world grow, they often expand more quickly than the infrastructure and service delivery networks that provide residents with basic necessities such as water and public safety. Why do some cities deliver more effective infrastructure and services in the face of rapid growth than others? Why do some households and communities secure better services than others? Answering these questions requires studying the large, politicized bureaucracies charged with providing urban services, especially the relationships between frontline workers, agency managers, and citizens in informal settlements. Researchers investigating public service delivery in cities of the Global South, however, have faced acute data scarcity when addressing these themes. The recent emergence of crowd-sourced data offers researchers new means of addressing such questions. In this paper, we draw on our own research on the politics of urban water delivery in India to highlight new types of analysis that are possible using crowd-sourced data and propose solutions to common pitfalls associated with analyzing it. These insights should be of use for researchers working on a broad range of topics in comparative politics where crowd-sourced data could provide leverage, such as protest politics, conflict processes, public opinion, and law and order.

Agnihotri, Anustubh, and Rahul Verma. “Design-based approach in social science research.” Studies in Indian Politics 4.2 (2016): 241-248.Link  PDF

Smith, Todd G., Joshua Busby, and Anustubh Agnihotri. “Sub-national African Education and Infrastructure Access Data.” Austin, TX: Strauss Center for International Security and Law (2013).

Agnihotri, Anustubh. Patterns of regional disparity in health outcomes in India. Diss. 2012.

Working Papers

Agnihotri Anustubh, “Bureaucratic Preferences Over Relocation and Disparities in State Responsiveness” [Under Review] Abstract

(Link for Paper)

One of the essential functions of the welfare state is maintaining a uniform quality of governance across its territory. However, in some places, citizens experience an attentive state quick to address their demands, while in other parts, the same state can be unresponsive and apathetic. What explains these disparities in state responsiveness? This paper examines how the preferences of bureaucrats over being relocated to different jurisdictions create spatial disparities in state presence and local state responsiveness. Based on fourteen months of qualitative fieldwork, a unique dataset on the movement of mid-level bureaucrats, and granular administrative data on citizen-state interactions, I show that bureaucrats regularly lobby to circumvent organizational directives that place them in jurisdictions further away from their homes and relocate them over long distances. The lobbying efforts by bureaucrats increase the duration for which positions at the local level lie vacant, and higher vacancies are associated with lower state responsiveness towards citizens’ claims. Further, due to the over-representation of bureaucrats from more developed regions, the vacancies are concentrated in jurisdictions with lower economic development. This paper contributes to our understanding of the causes of disparities in the quality of local governance by examining how preferences of bureaucrats and their representation within the bureaucracy can produce disparities in state presence and have a negative impact on the quality of citizen-state interactions.

Agnihotri Anustubh, “How do informal institutions shape attempts to modernize bureaucracy using information-technology?” [Under Review] Abstract

(Paper Available Upon Request)

Can market competition between intermediaries improve the quality of citizen-state interactions? I test this question in the context of a public-private partnership (PPP) policy that created a network of digital intermediaries – individuals authorized to submit online and digitized applications on behalf of citizens for a fee. I use the overtime and staggered expansion of the intermediary network to identify the relationship between the number of intermediaries and the quality of citizen-state interactions. I use multiple indicators linked to state responsiveness to measure the quality of citizen-state interactions and find that having more intermediaries in a jurisdiction has no impact on the citizen experience in engaging with the state. Why does an increase in the presence of intermediaries not change how citizens engage with the state? I argue that digital intermediaries selected by the state have limited incentives to compete in the market for citizen applications. To establish the motivations of digital intermediaries, I juxtapose their functioning against informal intermediaries, who submitted paper-based applications before the state moved citizen applications online. Based on qualitative interviews and data on the transition from paper-based to online applications, I show that the design of the PPP policy creates entry barriers and limits market competition. The lack of relationship between the expansion of the intermediary network and the quality of citizen-state interactions has important implications for how low and middle-income countries deploy information technology for digitizing citizen interfacing governance processes. I conclude by providing policy prescriptions for how the digitization of citizen services can improve citizen experience engaging with the state.

Dasgupta Aditya, Kapur Devesh, and Agnihotri Anustubh, “State Capacity at the Front Lines: Evidence from Land Administration in India”

Agnihotri Anustubh, Bansal Samarth, and Verma Rahul, “Whom do India politicians follow on Twitter: A text based analysis”. [Presented at Michigan Politics in the Global South Workshop]

Agnihotri Anustubh and Chowdhury Anirvan, “Electoral Dominance in Democratic Regimes: Evidence from West Bengal, India.” [Presented at Comparative Politics Conference (COMPASS) at UCLA, 2019] Abstract

Can the decline of a hegemonic party through peaceful democratic transition create conditions for greater political contestation? This paper shows that lack of political competition has long term consequences for democratic practice. Using granular electoral data from a state in India, the world’s largest democracy, we find that local governments that experience electoral dominance under a one-party rule are less likely to be competitive when a new party comes to power. Further, we show that the means of coercion used to maintain electoral dominance: limiting contestation by political opponents through the use of violence and intimidation persist even after the incumbent party loses power. These results add to our understanding of democracy as a hybrid regime by examining how political parties can use decentralization of power to local governments to create the conditions for one-party dominance with semi-authoritarian characteristics.

Agnihotri Anustubh and Chowdhury Anirvan, “Party Alignment and Fiscal Transfers: Evidence from West Bengal, India.” [Presented at Americal Political Science Association Conference at Washington DC, 2019] Abstract

How do political parties influence the implementation of welfare policies in developing democracies? This paper explores the importance of party linkages between local and higher-level governments in determining the allocation of financial resources for welfare programs. We show that vertical party linkages between local and higher levels of government are crucial in explaining the allocation of welfare funds at the local level: co-partisan local governments are rewarded with greater financial resources while opposition strongholds see a strong reduction in funds. We suggest that the party adopts a reward and punishment strategy to consolidate its political position. The paper adds to our understanding of how non-programmatic implementation of policies is shaped by party linkages across different levels of government.

Agnihotri, Anustubh. “Exploring Attitudes Towards Lower-Caste Groups and Religious Minorities in Urban India”.

Non-Academic Writing 

How WhatsApp is tackling Indian bureaucracy’s biggest challenge – last-mile accountability

If 2019 is India’s first WhatsApp election, women should be given smartphones