Debjani Dasgupta

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Department: Urban Studies and Planning

PhD Title:

Participatory Governance Reform in West Bengal: Policy Agendas and Local Responses

Supervisors: Dr. Glyn Williams and Dr. Steve Connelly



The 3-tier Panchayati Raj Institution in the state of West Bengal in India has globally been upheld as one of the high profile cases of successful participatory governance, in academic literatures as well as various reports of the UN. Debjani’s research-project will try to understand the factors that have shaped the opportunities for effective people’s participation in local governance structures over time, taking West Bengal as a case-study.


Short Bio:

Prior to beginning her PhD in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield in 2015, Debjani pursued a Post Graduate Taught programme on Poverty and Development at the Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, as a Chevening Scholar of the UK Government. She also holds another Master degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University, India.

In between her studies in India and the UK, Debjani worked as a development practitioner in India for 13 years in the fields of gender, education, planning, poverty management and rural development.

As the ‘State Coordinator for Gender Intervention and Girls Education’ in a DFID-UK sponsored project under the aegis of the School Education Department of Government of West Bengal, she was instrumental in policy formulation and educational planning for the girl child and gender interventions in the state. Subsequently, she moved to the Panchayat and Rural Development Department under the Government of West Bengal, where she was part of two projects funded by the DFID-UK and the World Bank aimed at installing more effective pro-poor local governance system in the rural sector of West Bengal, and overall system development through capacity building of the local self-government units of the state.

Her experience of working in these projects helped Debjani to develop a deeper understanding about the loopholes in the system and the need for changing poverty-eradication policies in India. Her research interests include governance issues, the role of people’s participation in poverty-reduction and the relationship between gender and poverty.