ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Sudhir Chella RajanSubscribe to Sudhir Chella Rajan

Practising Theory in the Anthropocene

A response to the article “The Work of Theory: Thinking across Traditions” (EPW, 10 September 2016) by Prathama Banerjee, Aditya Nigam and Rakesh Pandey builds on their argument by proposing extensions to their new postcolonial theory.

Developmental Benefitsfrom a Low-Carbon Pathway

The Interim Report of the Expert Group on Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth neither prioritises inclusivity nor offers concrete solutions to adopt a low-carbon pathway. Such a growth path can produce co-benefits and savings while moving millions out of poverty in India. It is socially, financially and politically the right way forward, but it needs to be articulated in much more explicit terms than what is currently proposed by the government.

Warming Up to Immigrants: An Option for the US in Climate Policy

Climate migrants and exiles pose a unique challenge that requires a special international strategy, which only the United States, with its well-established and transparent regimes for legal immigration, has the experience and capacity to develop. To begin with, the US could take the initiative in formulating domestic policy to start absorbing a significant proportion of the most vulnerable climate exiles from small island states. It could raise and attend to an urgent issue on the impacts of warming and at the same time claim a leadership position in global climate negotiations by tacitly accepting its historic responsibility for climate change.

Global Politics and Institutions

This paper emphasises the political and institutional dimensions of a different possible world in the future that conjoins the desires of progressive social movements everywhere and gestures thus towards a hopeful vision of new forms of collective action. It tries to outline the politics and institutions that would be most compatible with meeting humanity's complex and manifold goals, even as other social, technological and economic changes take place. Its primary focus is the institutional arrangements that would facilitate a democratic global politics in the future, but it also describes some current trends that show promise towards realising such a future.

Electricity Reforms in India

The success of electricity reforms in India will depend critically upon the existence of some sort of restraining or disciplining mechanism in the sector, in the absence of which current efforts will likely result in a transition from inefficient public ownership to profit-gouging monopolies or oligarchies. In principle, such a mechanism could be strong, independent and effective regulatory oversight over public or private monopolies or significant competition among a large number of public and private entities. But it is important to examine without bias, and as thoroughly as possible, the feasibility and effectivness of both these sector-disciplining mechanisms before making any claims regarding the desirability of privatisation. The authors also argue that issues related to protecting the environment, extending access to the poor and other off-grid populations and strategic concerns related to import dependence and foreign private ownership need to be addressed upfront in order for the reforms to be in the broader public interest. [This paper is dedicated to the memory of Stephen R Bernow, 1942-2003.]

Power Politics

Power sector policy in India appears to have locked itself into adverse arrangements at least twice in the recent period. The first was when agricultural consumption was de-metered and extensive subsidies were offered; the second when Independent Power Producer contracts with major fiscal implications were signed by the State Electricity Boards. A third set of circumstances, with the potential for equally powerful forms of institutional lock-in, appears to be in the making with the reproduction of the Orissa model on the national scale. This paper provides an analysis of the social and political context in which power sector reforms have taken place in India. While a state-led power sector has been responsible for substantial failures, is the design of the reformed sector well aimed at balancing efficiency and profit-making on the one hand and the public interest on the other? The discussion of the forces and actors that have shaped the reform processes is intended to contribute to an understanding of how the public interest can best be served in the ongoing effort to reshape the power sector.
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