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Electrifying IndiaRegional Political Economies of Development$
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Sunila S. Kale

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804787963

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804787963.001.0001

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Maharashtra and the Politics of Selective Rural Development

Maharashtra and the Politics of Selective Rural Development

(p.62) 3 Maharashtra and the Politics of Selective Rural Development
Electrifying India

Sunila S. Kale

Stanford University Press

This chapter analyzes the politics of electrification in Maharashtra, which provides the strongest example of how a politicized peasantry wielded the instruments of democratic institutions and an expanding state sector to channel resources to the countryside, although farmers in just a handful of districts cornered most of the gains. Even before independence, agrarian elites organized in the Maratha caste cluster began to command a large measure of influence in the nationalist movement. After independence, subsidized electricity along with support for cooperative farming and credit institutions bound the political order in Maharashtra to an emerging class of farmers and agro-industrialists, known as the “sugar barons.” In the period of market reforms, the government considered utility privatization an unattractive policy option. In its place, it adopted policies that were nominally market friendly but continued to protect the interests of powerful rural actors, for example, through the promotion of a bagasse industry.

Keywords:   Maharashtra, Maratha caste, rural electrification, Mumbai, Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB), sugarcane, bagasse, Enron, Dabhol

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