Public taps and private connections: the production of caste distinction and common sense in a Rajasthan drinking water supply project Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper analyses a drinking water supply project in rural Rajasthan, India, that deliberately sought to create greater equality across caste for water users through a combination of public taps and payment for water. Later, in the post-construction phase of the project, those goals were undermined by the counter-technologies of upper caste households and the village-scale institutions that supported them. The paper brings together geographic research on neoliberal water governance and caste processes in modern rural India to illuminate how neoliberal subjectivities deepened in the post-project phase. It shows the ways that caste norms, village water governance and state power converged to produce 'new' ways of thinking about water access and payment that undermined the social goals and the physical infrastructure of the project. The paper contributes to research on neoliberalisation and the creation of subjects by demonstrating the mutual constitution of caste inequalities and successfully marketised drinking water over the construction and post-construction phases of the project. © 2013 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

author list (cited authors)

  • O'Reilly, K., & Dhanju, R.

citation count

  • 12

publication date

  • December 2013