‘One‐Man Handled’: Fragmented Power and Political Entrepreneurship in Globalizing Mumbai


This article considers the fractured nature of state power in contemporary Mumbai. Based on a case study of the ongoing Dharavi Redevelopment Project, a 2‐billion US dollar initiative to redevelop Mumbai’s most infamous ‘slum’ settlement as a mixed‐use, mixed‐income township, it details the new state strategies emerging to support urban development efforts in India today. Identifying the structural weaknesses that have traditionally hindered development planning in Mumbai, it describes how a private developer, acting as a political entrepreneur, has worked to consolidate the authority and resources necessary to overcome these institutional gaps and structural weaknesses. Situating the analysis in theories of state restructuring, this case sheds light on how the local Indian state is responding to the pressures associated with neoliberal globalization and competitive urbanism. While a growing literature in this area has offered important insights into emerging configurations of power, it remains overly focused on the role of NGOs in these efforts, failing to provide an adequate analysis of alliances between the state and other private actors. This article attempts to address this gap with an in‐depth examination of the political entrepreneur as a site of institutionalized, but ultimately incomplete, power in globalizing Mumbai.