Since the 1990s, and coinciding with the onset of liberalisation, a “new politics” aimed at associating the hitherto disempowered with aspects of governance appears to have taken shape across India's urban, especially its metropolitan, centres. “Civil society” organisations that seek to make politics more accountable to the “consumer citizen”, are invariably, as this study based in the city of Chennai argues, middle class dominated, and while working to bridge the democratic gap between the ruling class and the governed, do not really involve themselves in primary concerns of the “urban poor”. That the urban poor then have no option but to seek the redressal of their concerns by associating themselves with political parties is just one of several contradictions that this new politics throws up.
Economic and Political Weekly, vol 42 No. 26, June 30, 2007, pp. 2716-2724