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Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai

Lisa Björkman
Lisa Björkman

Lisa Björkman is Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs at University of Louisville, and Research Scholar at CETREN (Transregional Research Network), University of Göttingen.

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Duke University Press
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Book Chapter

“Good Doesn’t Mean You’re Honest”: Corruption

September 2015

Despite water engineers’ best attempts to explain water trouble as the result of technical difficulties, natural disasters, or shortages, dry taps are overwhelmingly described in private conversations, in popular discourse, and in media narratives as the result of an all-knowing, all-powerful state that is riddled with corruption. Notwithstanding the fragmentation of knowledge and hazy legalities that department engineers themselves must navigate in providing water to the rapidly changing city, Mumbai residents remain convinced that the water department possesses complete knowledge and exercises precise control over the water distribution system. Dry taps are thus assumed to be the deliberate designs of wayward officials. This chapter demonstrates how everyday experiences of the ever more erratic distribution system are effectively rendered comprehensible largely through these fantastic ideas about corruption.

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