POWER AND POWERLESSNESS: The Injustice of India’s Electricity System
Electricityis a basic need for practically all people, and it is also one of the most obvious failures of infrastructure in India today.Powercuts, load shedding, voltage fluctuations, and simple lack ofelectricitysupply are basic features of life for the vast majority of Indians. Simultaneously, and with farlessattention from the media,electricity-related projects – dams, coal mines,powerplants – have sparked conflicts across India. In both of these ways,electricityis a central issue in both policy and politics across the entire country.
In this book, we seek to ask – why is India’selectricitysector failing in so many different ways? What are the common threads between these myriad failures? Perhaps most importantly, what can those who care about justice, dignity and development do about those failures?
The answers we have found are not what one might expect. The structure of the modernelectricitysector in India hides more than it reveals, and there is a giant gap between the stated goals of that structure and the actual reality of the policies, institutions, rules and guidelines that make it work. This book is neither a policy manual nor a technical report on theelectricitysector – we aim instead to present a kind of map of this system. We hope that the findings here can be useful at multiple levels – to individuals, such as researchers, academics and those simply interested in the subject; to organisations working for social justice in local areas or at regional and state levels; and to groups fighting for larger-scale policy changes.
The Social Research Collective is a collective of researchers based in India. We aim to produce grounded, rigorous studies, particularly focusing on unorganised, understudied and new forms of production, labour and social action. The Collective currently consists of Shankar Gopalakrishnan and Trepan Singh Chauhan (both based in Uttarakhand), Ramendra Kumar, Anita Juneja and Abhinav Gupta (based in Delhi), and MS Selvaraj (based in Tamil Nadu).