Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai
“If Water Comes It’s Because of Politics”: Power, Authority, and Hydraulic Spectacle
This chapter explores the relationship between water infrastructure and political authority in Mumbai. Given that no one is quite sure who or what makes the water come, but everyone knows that it comes “because of politics,” much effort is made by local-level knowledge brokers (who tend to become party workers at election times) to provide evidence of a political party’s material sovereignty over the pipes. As elections are won or lost largely on the strength of local knowledge networks, those who can demonstrate command of hydraulic knowledge become politically powerful players in the city. While the project to transform Mumbai into a world-class city has presided over hydraulic chaos, the disembedding and reconfiguring of infrastructural knowledge has rescaled political authority in the city.