What are the conditions in Tamil Nadu that make provision of effective public services related to education and health a priority for governments? Conversely, why is it that Uttar Pradesh has not yet seen a similar kind of push in government towards basic public services for the people of the state? Multiple factors related to the sociopolitical and cultural history of the states play a role. I look at the explanations for this in broadly three categories – the nature of the state governments and ruling parties; the history of social movements and backward caste/ class mobilisation; and role of women/gender in politics.1