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

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The Multipolar Global Political Economy

Global trends indicate that the geopolitical transition towards a multipolar international system is matched by a growing diversifi cation of the global political economy. The desire for a unipolar order from hegemonic powers accompanied by force, interventions and hybrid wars will not reverse this trend, though there can be some upsets, with specifi c countries switching to become satellites of unipolar great powers.

The Global Rise of Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism was the dominant political form in the pre-constitutional, pre-democratic societies present in the form of monarchy and autocracy. Amongst its proponents were Aristotle and Plato making it a prominent part of the foundational political thought. But what makes it persist amidst other political alternatives in the present times? This reading list explores the evolving trends of authoritarianism across the world.

Karnataka’s ‘Surya Raitha’ Experiment

Solar-powered irrigation has expanded in India at an unprecedented pace—the number of solar irrigation pumps—from less than 4,000 in 2012 to more than 2,50,000 by 2019. It has been argued that besides giving farmers an additional and reliable source of income, grid-connected SIPs also incentivise efficient energy and water use—critical for sustaining groundwater irrigation. The Surya Raitha scheme was the country’s first, state-driven initiative for solarisation of agriculture feeders by replacing subsidy-guzzling, inefficient electric pumps with energy-efficient, net-metered SIPs. An early appraisal of Surya Raitha lauded the scheme as a smart initiative and argued that it could set an example for promoting solar power as a remunerative crop. However, the scheme was eventually executed as a single feeder pilot with some design changes in Nalahalli panchayat from 2015–18. The authors visited the pilot in 2017–18 and 2018–19 to assess if it had delivered the promises of Surya Raitha scheme. The results are a mixed bag and offer important lessons for implementation and scaling out of component C of the Government of India’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan policy.

 

COVID-19 Economic Stimulus and State-level Performance of Power Distribution Companies

As part of the COVID-19 economic stimulus package, the Government of India increased the borrowing limit of the states from 3% to 5% of the gross state domestic product. The power sector reform at the state level is one of the criteria to avail this extra borrowing. The efficiency parameters of the power sector are analysed here, and it is observed that there are statewise differentials in the financial and operational parameters. The average aggregate technical and commercial losses that should have been 15% by 2018–19, presently, on average, stand at 26.15%. The average cost of supply–average revenue realised has also widened. The operational parameters indicate widening inefficiencies across states in the power infrastructure.

 

Coal Woes: Are They Touch and Go?

To combat the coal shortage and prevent its recurrence, meticulous and efficient planning holds the key.

 

Changing Profile of Punjab Agriculture

This article examines the overtime profile of Punjab agriculture and the impact of paddy–wheat monoculture on agroecology. It is argued that it becomes imperative to diversify the cropping pattern, especially replacing the area under paddy towards other alternative crops, for sustainable agriculture.

Making Data Count

The Uncounted by Alex Cobham, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2020; pp 227, price not mentioned.

 

Bombay as Archive and Muse

Bombay Before Mumbai: Essays in Honour of Jim Masselos edited by Prashant Kidambi, Manjiri Kamat and Rachel Dwyer, Penguin Random House India, 2019; pp 428, 999 (hardbound).

 

Tribal Revolts in a Precarious Frontier

The Limits of Empire: Sub-imperialism and Pukhtun Resistance in the North-West Frontier edited by Sameetah Agha, Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan Private Limited, 2020; pp xvii + 231, price not indicated.

The 2015 Gram Pradhan Elections in Uttar Pradesh

The 2015 gram pradhan elections in Uttar Pradesh present a distinct picture of local elections as compared to state-level and national elections. Three factors— money, power, and violence with localised overtones— have driven the course of elections lately. Large-scale monetary benefits accruing from the position of pradhani motivate the contestants to make substantial investment in elections. The second important element is power that is primarily based on caste status. Although caste positions have changed, the power of caste remains intact. Middle castes have gained salience but relative empowerment of certain communities within the Scheduled Castes is a notable feature in rural societies. The most visible expression of power assertion is violence which is colloquially referred to as dabangai.

Genealogies of Nagaland’s ‘Tribal Democracy’

Compared to the bulky literature on caste and democracy, we still know little about the form and functioning of democratic politics amongst tribes. This is a serious lacuna, one which, at the level of sociology, impedes the kind of careful comparison that has long proven fruitful to capture the inner logic and intricacies of social life. If caste is deemed central to any understanding of contemporary Indian politics, what about those states and constituencies in which tribes preponderate numerically?

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