This chapter investigates the research context of community management in India. It explains that India is a vast and populous country that has varying levels of human development and access to rural water services. The chapter also explains the governance system for rural water services and highlights the tension between a highly decentralised mode of local self-government and the legacy of centralised State Rural Water Supply Agencies. It presents an overview of the governance arrangements found in India and an analysis and discussion about the different levels of development found across the country. The chapter argues that a key driver of differential performance in terms of development and rural water service coverage can be summarised as the political economy of the state. Using a political economy lens has become a common approach in a series of recent studies into rural water services.