Vanita Leah Falcao is a public policy analyst who is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Scholar at King’s College London. Her research project ‘Imagined entitlements and real lives: Claiming the right to food in India’ explores if, and how the adoption of the rights-based framework (RBF) for social welfare provisioning in India, is enabling the activation of democratic citizenship.
In the past, as a member of the Social Protection and Labor – Global Practice of the World Bank, she conducted state-level assessments of safety nets in India. She has also assisted the Office of the Food Commissioners of the Supreme Court of India in monitoring the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013. She is a Fulbright-Nehru fellow and holds an MA in public policy from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, USA.
The project ‘Imagined entitlements and real lives: Claiming the right to food in India’ explores if, and how the adoption of the rights-based framework (RBF) for social welfare provisioning in India, is enabling the activation of democratic citizenship.
Since the adoption of the framework in 2005 several legislations have been passed by the Parliament to recognise socio-economic rights of individuals. Scholars argue that in a democracy the recognition of citizenship through rights is not adequate. How the state and citizens interact while entitlements are provisioned, is crucial to determining if citizenship is truly democratic.
Drawing on this relational understanding of citizenship, this doctoral project is premised on the argument that in order to understand if the vision of the RBF is being realised, it is crucial to examine the manner in which rights-based welfare programmes are being implemented.
Through conversations about the National Food Security Act 2013, with bureaucrats, activists, citizens, and their political representatives at the local level in rural India, this research explores if the everyday interactions between citizens and the state are transparent, responsive, and empowering? Further, are citizens able to demand accountability from the state while receiving or claiming their welfare entitlements?