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Digital governance and the reconstruction of the Indian anti-poverty system

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-10-14, 12:47 authored by Silvia Masiero
On a global scale, programmes of social protection for the poor are becoming increasingly computerised, and architectures of biometric recognition are being widely used in this respect. This paper seeks to illuminate how these architectures, inscribed in anti-poverty systems, structure ways to “see the state” for citizens living in poverty. To do so I study India’s Public Distribution System (PDS) in Kerala, a state that is augmenting its main food security scheme with the biometric recognition of its users. In government’s narrative, biometric technology is depicted as an optimal solution to the illicit diversion of PDS goods on the market. At the same time, through the multiple narratives collected across the state, beneficiaries are found to dispute this view in different ways, based on the mixed effects of the new technology on their entitlements under the PDS. The state’s capability to reconstruct its image, through the means of digital innovation, is hence found to be constrained by the perceptions derived by citizens in their encounters with the new technology of governance.



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Oxford Development Studies


MASIERO, S., 2017. Digital governance and the reconstruction of the Indian anti-poverty system. Oxford Development Studies, 45(4), pp.393-408.


© Oxford Department of International Development. Published by Taylor & Francis


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Oxford Development Studies on 16 November 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13600818.2016.1258050.






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