How and to what extent do different citizens experience democratic governance on a day-to-day basis? What agencies do they utilize in order to have their voices heard and grievances addressed? How do they gain access to government agencies responsible for delivering social welfare services, such as education, security, health care, and poverty relief? Investigations conducted in two states of India inquired about the manner in which different social groups living in rural areas gain access to the welfare services of the Indian state. These results show that an intermediary is required for gaining access. Different types of intermediaries are consulted by separate segments of society. For a large majority of poorer individuals, a newly arisen type of mediator, the naya neta (literally, new leader), is the intermediary of choice. Neither usually low status nor high status, but younger and better educated than other types of village leaders, naya netas play important roles in shaping welfare consequences in these villages of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, most importantly, by affecting equity of access.
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