This book analyses the role of politics in the process of social sector policy reforms in the context of developing countries. Considered significant in the real world, politics is missed out by the dominant approaches used to design or analyse the policy process. In the small body ofliterature available, politics is viewed in a negative way - an obstruction which leads to failure. However, if we focus also on cases of success, we find that it works in a far more nuanced and complex way. Specially, if changes are viewed "downstream" as people experience them, the reform-politicsrelationship unravels as a deeply contested process. Comparing the case of educational policy reform in two Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, this book finds that unintended policy consequences, building allies amongst teachers, and a preference for collaboration with unions over more conflictual approaches, may have been responsible forbetter outcomes in Andhra. In comparison, the stagnation in Bihar was on account of weaker policies of teacher management, and elite capture of local institutions of school decentralization. Seeing the change process, in terms of the day-to-day conditions of policy implementation, close to wherepoor people experience it, helps in understanding the locally embedded nature of power relations. This book engages with the big world or power without necessarily romanticizing the local, or ignoring that leaders may indeed be pursuing political motivations while they seemingly work in the name ofthe poor.