ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Electricity, Politics and Regional Economic Imbalance in Madras Presidency, 1900-1947

In this paper, an attempt is made to understand various dimensions of the relationship between the electricity system and politics in colonial Madras presidency between 1900 and 1947. The colonial government, which introduced new technological systems such as electricity, had its own economic and political priorities. These interests came in conflict with the functions which the Indians wanted the electricity system to perform. This disjunction influenced the trajectory of development of the electricity system. There was a further interesting internal conflict. Local politicians, technologists and visionaries grounded their economic advocacy on their own ideologies and tried to allocate their own functions to electricity. The second part of the article deals with the relationship between regional politics and electricity. In Madras presidency, the electricity system was divided into two separate grids. This resulted in widening the economic gap between the southern and northern parts of the presidency, leading also to political tensions which, combined with linguistic regionalism, contributed to the split of the presidency and the emergence of linguistic states.

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