Tank Irrigation of South India is largely considered “traditional”, “alternative”, or “appropriate” form of irrigation in the current academic and policy circles. Policy reforms have been underway in South India to rehabilitate tanks and hand them over to communities for management and maintenance. These efforts are guided by a premise that communities are better managers of natural resources. However, these efforts are not based on a careful inquiry about how internal power dynamics in the community results in inequitable distribution of the resource. Social Designs is based on a central argument that tank irrigation technology is shaped as a result of power relations in a particular historical, agrarian and social context. This technology as a matter of fact institutionalizes a particular pattern of resource utilization that favors only some users, and discriminates against some others. This book proposes that technological designs are socially shaped, and that through the means of technological designs society orders itself. By means of shaping and reproducing technology, a certain form of social organization or social arrangement is also reproduced. Extensive social anthropological research on tank irrigation technology and agrarian practices in Karnataka enriches this book. Shah has also drawn upon rich empirical material on the social and agrarian context of tank irrigation technology
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