Water Rights and State Management in India and South Africa

Published on 1 January 2010

This chapter examines the relationship between citizens mobilizing for their rights to water in South Africa and India and the ways in which state policies may hinder the acquisition of socio-economic rights, even where the policies themselves are ostensibly aimed at promoting the socio-economic interests of the poor. As discussed in the introductory chapter, the ways in which poor communities mobilize to claim rights is essential to understanding how socio-economic rights make a difference to the lives of the poor, but the other side of the equation is what state actors’ responses are to different types of mobilization in relation to problems of policy implementation. This chapter illustrates that even when such rights are upheld by international laws, as well as national policies, they may still have to be fought for by ordinary citizens, and may be denied by the state in a number of ways. We refer here to the relationship between what Mehta (2006) has called ‘sins of omission’ and ‘sins of commission’ on the part of governments upholding rights in legal terms as well as in the ways they mediate citizens’ claims for both negative and positive rights.


Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

published by
Zed Books
Mehta, L., Thompson, L. and Nleya, N.
L.Thompson and C.Tapscott


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