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Title: Underpowered : electricity policy and the state in India, 1991-2014
Author: Chatterjee, Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 1756
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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How has the Indian state changed with economic liberalization? While many scholars have explored the altered party politics and class basis of the liberalization-era state, few have studied its transforming internal organizational forms and functioning. This thesis aims to provide an empirically grounded answer to this question. To do this it uses the lens of electricity: the sector lies at the heart of contemporary capital accumulation, state power, and distributive politics, and has witnessed almost a quarter-century of institutional reforms since 1991. In the sector, new or reworked organizational forms—such as imported regulatory agencies, corporatized state-owned enterprises, and public-private partnerships—have been grafted onto the older statist system in a process of institutional layering. Favouring state-business collaboration and prioritizing rapid economic growth, this mode of state operation is distinct both from a liberal, market-oriented state and from India’s older state-led mode. It combines state intervention and selective adoption of parts of the Washington Consensus template to produce a reinvented mode of power governance that I term state capitalism 2.0. India’s new state-market hybrid is not a functional alternative to the older models, however. The layered process through which it has emerged means that it is distinctively dysfunctional. Organizations have emerged in an ad hoc fashion, each shaped and reshaped by multiple collective interests, while existing organizations are rarely destroyed. The resulting layered amalgam institutionalizes contradictory state strategies, co-optation by competing interest groups, and a dualistic system of services and subsidies. Consequently the sector’s performance remains poor. As a result, developments in the Indian power sector suggest that the state's 'pro-business' transition has been painful and incomplete. At least in this sector, the Indian state remains simultaneously more indispensable, more ambivalently pro-business, and more chaotic than much theory might suggest.
Supervisor: Harriss-White, Barbara Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political economy of markets and states ; Public administration ; Asia ; Public policy ; India ; electricity ; policy ; government ; energy ; economic reform