Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai
Attending to the diverse kinds of activities produced and managed by Asha, a community service organization, this chapter attends to how the organization attempts to manage the different kinds of political relationships it is entangled in. Asha’s leaders are urban specialists, and their authority is predicated on their ability to connect residents to different “programs” of the city councilors and of NGOs, which are not always aligned. Focusing on Asha’s role in a campaign against water privatization, this chapter describes how its politics of rights was brought into sharp conflict with the relations of patronage that sustained its work. As Asha’s members mobilized rights claims and protested the councilors’ willingness to “sell” their water supply, they did not forget that they continue to be subject to the discretionary and profane force of the city’s municipal system, which continues to be based on the violence of their exclusion.