Over the past three decades, decentralization has been seen as the means for allowing local governments to become more accountable, and for encouraging the deepening of democracy and the building of village communities. By drawing on original village-level case studies of six villages in three different Indian states, this book presents a systematic analysis of the impact of decentralization on the delivery of social services at the local level within India. Supplementing national and state-level data and analyzing the different historical legacies in each state, the book argues that decentralization is not simply a function of the structure of the decentralization program or of the relationship between higher-tiered and local government. Rather, the possibility of decentralization affecting social outcomes depends on several interacting factors, including the distribution of power among local elites, the dynamics of political competition, and the level of civil society mobilization. By examining constitutionally-mandated political decentralization across India, this book identifies the circumstances under which local government structures can lead to improved social services and societal wellbeing, as well as presenting a substantial contribution to studies on South Asian Politics and Local Government.